After dealing with far worse weather conditions in previous years, the fog wind and occasional intervals of rain were not enough to deter throngs of fans and guests from making the trek out to Canso to enjoy the diverse array of music to be heard at the 2018 Stan Rogers Folk Festival.
Set up on three stages, a roster of musicians – with the East Coast very heavily represented among them – offered guests of many musical tastes something great to listen to all weekend long, starting on Thursday and going steady – in rain shine and heavy Atlantic fog – until Sunday night.
“It’s a wonderful event; there’s quite the collection of artists, and there are some great people out here,” Billy Parris said. “The weather was a bit bad yesterday, but hey, you’re in Canso – that comes with the territory.”
When asked what musicians caught their attention, Parris and his wife Ruth, guests who showed up in the heavy fog on Friday evening, said the Celtic rock sounds of Rawlins Cross were a highlight, “until the rain took us out of the crowd.”
Parris noted that Martin Sexton’s unique singing voice also made for a good performance.
“It’s been a few years since we last attended, but this must be the eighth or ninth year we’ve been here,” Parris said.
Guests filed into the event over the course of the weekend, filling the adjacent fields to the festival site with tents and RVs, and the mood was one of busy jollity throughout the course of the weekend.
Chuck Brodsky, the first musician to play on the main stage on Friday evening, was impressed with the weekend’s turnout, saying, “it’s nice to see how full it is, and how much the other people love the festival – it’s really just a good night.”
“Generally, people were really enthusiastic, and the weather was typical Nova Scotian weather – foggy, cool and a bit rainy,” Brodsky noted, but in spite of the wet conditions, “fans who would normally celebrate under the sky just went under the tents instead.”
Brodsky, a Philadelphia-based artist who has performed at several other Stanfests since 2004, counted the community of people who flock to Canso every year for Stanfest as a significant factor in what brings him back.
Brodsky noted this year’s excursion to Canso was significant to him because it included a visit to the grave of an old friend in the area to play a song he wrote in his honour.
“I went up to the cemetery and sang a song I wrote for Arthur Christie. Some friends drove me up earlier,” Brodsky said. “I’ve made a lot of friends over the years here. It’s a unique, good festival, that celebrates beautiful music, and it’s in a beautiful area. It’s great to come up here.”
Carl Pond, a native of Canso, was emphatic about how beneficial the festival is for Canso. He applauded the variety of artists he performed alongside on the weekend as “without a doubt, opening people’s eyes to different cultures and genres of music – it’s quite a melting pot.”
“Since day one, (Stanfest) has been an opportunity to make lifetime friends,” Pond said, alluding to a Facebook post Brodsky wrote describing his arrival at Stanfest as “finally being home.”
“I think we can all relate to that, whether we’re international, national or even Maritime guests,” Pond said. “People feel like this is kind of a home-festival.”
As excited as Pond was on Saturday afternoon to play in some of the workshops, and the finale on the main stage, he took time, when he was not onstage, to listen, “cruising through the schedule, picking out the great workshops to catch.”
Pond was enthusiastic about this year’s decision to have three stages, “so that people can take in more performers at once and not have to divide their attention so much.”
He also applauded the decision to slightly lower the main stage, creating a more intimate environment by putting performers closer to their audiences, the increasing in size of the Fox Island stage – and the use of tents to protect fans from the rain.
“They picked a great weekend. (Friday) night, it cooled down, and people got a taste of the old Stanfest,” Pond said, alluding to bygone years, when the festival took place earlier in the summer.