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Folks on the rock

Jennifer Geens
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 16/04) - It's time again to trek out to Long Lake, dip your toes in the sand and listen to music from all over the world -- including your own backyard.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Rita Chretien and Alan Yaciw dance during Folk on the Rocks last summer. This weekend will be the 24th time Yellowknifers have gone wild in the sun at the music festival. - NNSL file photo

The 24th Folk on the Rocks music festival kicks off tonight with the Warm the Rocks dance and continues all weekend at the Long Lake site.

Veda Hille, a musician from Vancouver, loves to create multimedia performances by collaborating with artists in other media. She arrived in Yellowknife a few days early to participate in a workshop with Diane Boudreau, Terry Pamplin, Leela Gilday, Pat Braden and Darha Philpott.

The resulting performance will take place Sunday afternoon at the festival.

On Wednesday, Hille didn't know what would result from the workshop.

"I've absolutely no idea but that's the beauty of this sort of thing."

Hille said her solo performance will be a combination of songs, stories and "epileptic piano playing."

Southern punk

Other southerners making the trek up include flamenco guitarist Juan Martin, the hip hop group Sweatshop Union, Les Batinses from Montreal, and Tegan and Sara, singing and songwriting identical twin sisters.

Tegan Quin of Tegan and Sara said their songs have more of a rock/punk sound than folk.

"It's not like there are 10 minute guitar solos, or that we're thrashing about on stage," she said.

But even acoustically, the sisters perform in an aggressive manner on stage.

"I'd say it's argumentative pop rock," Tegan said.

"We got the folk label when we started out touring as just the two of us with no band."

Tegan and Sara will perform on their own at the festival.

Their performances are usually soul-baring talkfests with a little music thrown in.

"It will be a mess," Tegan said confidently.

Performing acoustically is not Tegan's favourite way to play. She said a recent hour-long acoustic performance in Winnipeg felt like a couple of days. There's more pressure on the performers when there's no band sound to hide behind.

"It's different when everyone can hear you," she said.

"But I like focusing on harmonies and arrangements."

The Gumboots know all about harmony. This year's festival marks their return after a seven-year absence.

Chic Callas said the group, whose current line-up is Ray Bethke, Rich Hintz, Steve Lacey and himself, applied for this year's festival to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary.

"We'll be playing old favourites and some Stan Rogers' tunes," said Callas.

The musician said he always scans the festival line-up to see if any mandolin or fiddle players are coming to town he can jam with.

The Gumboots will give two performances Saturday, which leaves Callas with the whole day Sunday to enjoy the other musicians.

One act he wants to see is Street Noise, the percussion troupe from St. Patrick high school. He's missed them twice.

The Yellowknife Choral Society will perform at the festival for the first time. The singers will perform selections from their spring concert of African music.

"It's a different kind of music than what we usually do," said Margo Nightingale, the choral society's conductor.

"It's the first time we've had music that actually works with the festival."

They will also sing on the cultural stage with African percussion group Allakomi and later with The Gumboots.

"Some of the most magical moments of the festival come from the workshops," said Nightingale.

She said the energy and creativity that sparks when artists come together is what makes Folk on the Rocks a special event.