One of the main reasons for my trip to Yellowknife was for Folk on the Rocks, a two-day music festival held on the shores of Long Lake. This was the 31st edition, and I was really impressed by the line-up they put together.
The festival site is quite pretty. Easily accessible from town, it occupies a sandy stretch of land on the shore of a beautiful blue lake. There are three secondary stages (Left, Right, and the Beer Garden), a kid’s area, cultural performers area, and of course, the Main Stage for the evening performances.
I was happy to see a couple of Scene festival artists on the bill. The Deep Dark Woods and Luke Doucet both played during the weekend, and unlike during the Scene, I could listen to them without having to worry about any work-related duties.
The Deep Dark Woods on the Beer Garden stage.
Luke Doucet and the White Falcon play an afternoon set. Luke’s wife Melissa didn’t make the trip North – she was playing with Sarah McLachlan at the Hollywood Bowl.
The main stage performances at night were great. It was the first time I’d heard Rae Spoon and Owen Pallett perform live, and they both blew me away. Owen in particular is an incredible talent, and I look forward to hearing him play again sometime soon.
Rae Spoon performs a solo set on the Main Stage.
One of the other highlights of the festival was Fred Penner. Fred was everywhere over the weekend – playing tambourine with Ken Whiteley during a pre-festival gig at the hotel, performing a set for kids, taking part in the Sunday morning Gospel show. It always looked like he was having a good time.
Of course, the festival also featured a number of artists from Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Elisapie Isaac was really good, Kulavak nicely bridged traditional and contemporary throat-singing, and “Harmonica” George was a frequent guest soloist throughout the weekend.
The festival has the usual craft village, and the food offerings were very diverse – everything from tacos and burgers to red curry and samosas.
I should also point out that the festival t-shirt had a great design. I know how hard it is to come up with a compelling visual concept for the shirt, and I will admit to being a little envious that their shirt looked better than ours.
Folk on the Rocks takes place every year on the third weekend in July. If you’re looking for a little northern adventure coupled with good music, I highly recommend you check it out.