At the top of the list: k.d. lang.
These days, lang is one of Canada’s most beloved artists. But when she played the RFF back in 1985, both her and the festival hadn’t reached the heights of still to come.
“There’s all these stories that people tell,” says Sandra Butel, artistic director for the festival. “We did our fortieth a few years ago, and people were telling stories of their favourites, and that one came up a lot. She had just put out her first album in ’84, I think. It was the first time [the festival] was all outside, and a lot of people remember dancing their faces off to this artist they’d never heard of before during this big rainstorm.”
Butel feels really lucky to have secured lang. They were able to get her because the Edmonton Folk Festival, which takes place on the same weekend, also booked her, making RFF a shorter flight and an easier sell.
“For a festival of the size that we are with the budget that we have, this is like winning the lottery for Regina.”
Of course, the festival isn’t just its headliners. (That list also includes Taj Mahal and KT Turnstall.) Every year, Butel develops a full list of artists, known and obscure, for festival goers.
She’s always on the lookout for such talent. For instance, she spotted one of this year’s artists, the fantastic Shotgun Jimmie, when he was opening for Christine Fellows. (A show the prairie dog featured on its cover.)
“For me, it’s always thinking about how everything is mixing together. Shotgun Jimmie is a good example of this, where it’s like, nobody else is doing anything close to what he’s doing. He’s a unique performer. He’s incredibly funny.
“I haven’t sat through a whole show in a very long time. I’m an ADD AD, as they say. I tend to listen to very short snippets of music. In this case, I sat through the whole show, and it didn’t feel like I was sitting through a whole show. It went by very quickly. This guy is very entertaining, and very fun.’ I think people will like him.”
At the same time, she knows that it’s the names at the top of list will draw in a lot of people. “People don’t expect things from artists they’ve never heard of before,” she says. Acts like Etran Finatawa or Aurelio Martinez may not have the name recognition, but Butel has faith they’ll win people over.
“It’s always the favourite part of the lineup for me to find those artists that after the festival, they’re saying, ‘Oh my God, they were the best.’ It’s inevitably what happens at every festival, that people come to hear the headliners, and they walk away in love with a totally new artist that they’d never seen before. That’s the biggest part of my job that I like, is watching the audience react to things.”
Check out after the jump for the complete list of performers at the 2011 Regina Folk Festival.
k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang
Coeur de Pirate
Michael Bernard Fitzgerald