Mariposa Sunday

By John Swartz

Sunday’s Mariposa Folk Festival had perfect weather to have fun. No rain and not too hot to frolic.

The Musical Instrument Petting Zoo

Especially if you were a kid out in the folk play area on Barnfield Point. There was plenty for them to see and do. The musical instrument petting zoo is always popular with quite a range of instruments the kids could play on. Some of them even thought they were making music. Funny thing is, from a bit of a distance all the random notes coming together aren’t exactly as annoying as Cindy two houses down practising the flute.

Some of the kids painted, TD Bank had a mural they could fill in with whatever colours they wanted, Otter Art Club was there with their hands-on booth. Some of the kids got painted. I saw so many kids, and a couple of adults, with designs on their faces. There were concerts for kids too.

Once in awhile a mom had to do the 100 meter dash, “I told you not to go into the water!”

What? Oh, this water?”

Of course you have to get to Tudhope Park early enough to witness the mayhem. I was lucky and finished up with writing in time. Well, that and realizing I was scheduled to introduce Steve Poltz for a 3 p.m. performance lit a fire under my chair.

You stand there trying to remember what it was like to something like that when you were a kid. You know you did. I think the best thing is seeing the young ones walking, sometimes running, and looking everywhere but where they are going, which means we have to do the looking for them.

A little art collective comes together every festival with Bewabon Shilling, Tanya Cunnington, Will McGarvey, Annie Kmyta Cunnington, Carley McCutcheon, and several others who set up and painting scenes from the park and festival.

Before Poltz’s gig, I stopped by the Barnfield stage for a minute to catch Colin MacDonald, John-Angus MacDonald and Jack Syperek of the Trews doing a workshop with another group, Quote the Raven (Jordan Coaker and Kirsten Rodden-Clarke).

Steve Poltz

Poltz gets my vote for most entertaining performer you didn’t expect to be so entertained by. He started his workshop set with a long tune that told the story of how he went from wanting to be on the school basketball team, but ended up on the wrestling team. It was a pretty funny tale/song.

Later, doing an unscheduled, between sets, side stage filler he, as usual, sang some songs in his energetic, animated way, but he also told two hilarious stories.

One involved Rufus Wainwright, who was next on the main stage. The two were opening acts for a Lisa Loeb tour. Wainwright noticed Steve was selling a lot more t-shirts and albums and said he was going to kill his sales.

“How are you going to do that?”

“You’ll see.”

That night Wainwright walked on stage and planted a kiss on Poltz. Poltz didn’t sell anything that night.

The other story was about when Poltz first moved to San Diego early in his career. He knew John Prine’s manager and really wanted to meet Prine. Poltz got a call one day from the manager asking if Poltz could pick up Prine and drive him to the Disney store for some shopping.

Poltz took the scenic route on Interstate 5, almost to Tijuana, turned around and drove back on the same highway.

“Weren’t we just on 5 south?” Prine said.

They got to the store and Prine looked out the side window of Poltz’s van and said, “Isn’t that my hotel?”

The Disney store was across the road from Prine’s hotel.

Earlier I saw Morgan Toney on the side stage playing some fiddle music. He had a Jingle Dress dancer is regalia working the front pit and sound cable alley, which the audience loved.

Meredith Moon

Before Gordon Lightfoot’s band (Rick Haynes, Carter Lancaster, Barry Keane and Mike Heffernan) took the stage. Mariposa president Pam Carter had Gord’s wife, Kim, and daughter, Meredith on stage along with Tom Wilson (who once again was eloquent marking the occasion)  to announce the main stage was being named the Lightfoot Stage, and Kim and Meredith got bouquets of roses.

Meredith joined the band to sing Pony Man. Tom Wilson sang Cold on the Shoulder, Tamara Lindeman of The Weather Station sang If You Could Read My Mind, and Poltz, both MacDonalds of The Trews and David Francey sang Sundown.  

I had a chat with Barry Keane before the show and mentioned it must be kind of tough since this could be the last time they’d play Gord’s music together.

Barry said there might be more opportunities like the kind planned that evening with rotating singers. They have inquiries to do shows they are mulling over.

Judy Collins was on stage before Gord’s band. She opened with Norwegian Wood and then did Both Sides Now. Collins is 84 and sings like a 29-year-old. I don’t think anyone could tell a difference between the songs as they know them from records and what she did live on Sunday.

She also sang Suzanne, but not before telling some Leonard Cohen stories. She said is Cohen who got her to start writing her own tunes, and she got Cohen to start singing his own tunes. He was reluctant.

“I put him on a fundraiser in New York and after a slow start, he got the idea when he heard 2500 people standing up and screaming for him to sing more,” Collins said.

I’ve never seen Rufus Wainwright and can’t say I’ve heard his music, but after seeing him Sunday evening, he’s got a new fan. What a great voice. I only knew one tune, a cover of the Mamas and Papas’ Twelve-Thirty. The one tune I really liked he didn’t sing in English. I don’t know Italian, so I can’t say what the song title is, but it was great. It formed part of an interlude of classical, opera style songs, “don’t worry, we’ll be back to the folk soon,” Wainwright said.

Mid afternoon the photographers got messages there would be no photos of Feist allowed. The note was pretty pompous (only approved 48 hours in advance, no one in the pit, shoot from the sound mixing board and if approved no shots tighter than waist to head, etc.).

I didn’t get the message because someone didn’t have me on their list. Everyone else got it and the message I saw appeared to come from her people, What I read looked like a screen shot of a contract and was something only a lawyer could come up with. I thought it was insulting and the photographers I spoke with were gob smacked. I’ve been asked by more famous people to take their photos. I didn’t feel obligated to stay for her set.

Rufus Wainwright @ Maraiposa 23

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(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: Judy Collins at the 2023 Mariposa Folk Festival


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