Saturday At The 2024 Mariposa Folk Festival

By John Swartz

Saturday evening’s Mariposa Folk Festival was a study in contrasts. One could start with the weather, which was cooler and less humid than Friday. While others might attribute the bump in audience participation to the lineup of musicians playing more upbeat music, it starts with the weather.

The best example of the difference was in the mosquito count. While on Friday a half can of BugOffTM to dissuade the 5,368,432 mosquitoes was needed, Saturday, with no spray defence in use, only one mosquito was brave enough to try a free lunch on this writer. The funeral was immediately conducted.

This was good for the performers too because the only clouds people saw was the wash of light on the generated fog on stage, instead of legions of flying things.

The other contrast was the general level of electricity and reception of the music by the audience. Maybe it was the cooler temperature encouraged people to be more enthusiastic, but I have to think it was the music was more energetic.

Irish Mythen acknowledging the stupendous applause when her set was over

The kickoff act was Irish Mythen. She has to be Mariposa’s favourite. There is no other performer as dynamic as she is. If one is not entertained by the stories she tells between tunes, just wait for the next song.

When her set was ending she remarked she only had a minute and a half left of her time, so she was going to do a quick one. She’d already taken off her guitar and having experience with her shows I had an inkling what she would sing next. I thought, ‘any of these people who haven’t seen her before have no idea what they’re going to get hit with.’ She launched into The Auld Triangle, which she performs with a passion like no one else who sings the tune. When it was over, the audience exploded with an ovation which has to rank on the list of all time great responses at Mariposa.

It’s too bad she was scheduled first because the audience normally doubles as the night goes on and, but you’d never know it by the volume of cheers and applause she got from the smaller crowd, or the singing along which at one point was almost as loud as what Irish was putting into the PA.

The Vaudevillian, which despite the singular name is a duo (Jitterbug James and Norah Spades). They turned the dial back to a more traditional kind of folk music, a jug band style, which is a get up and move, stomp your feet kind of thing, which the crowd did.

Next was Jesse Cook. This virtuoso guitarist had a quartet, (a second guitar, bass, fiddle and percussion) backing him. There is no other way to describe what he does other than awe inspiring. Like other solo guitarists (Al
Di Meola, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, etc.) Latin influences are part of the game and all one can do is think, ‘did I just see and hear what I think I did?’

I missed May Davis on the side stage. She was the first performer at the audition concert in April. I had to be in the Pub tent. Not for that, I was introducing the next act, Will Sheff. He was billed as Okkervil River, which is his band, but he was performing solo. I asked him about why he chose the name of the band and he said he didn’t know why, it was the other band members who liked it, but he wasn’t really keen on it.

I caught the first part of Amigo the Devil’s set on the monitor in the green room (having seconds of dinner with Ralph Cipolla, who’s Mariposa job is an important one – making sure the various beer stations are stocked and running smoothly), and the consensus was, the music was OK, but not great.

Different story when I got in front of the stage. Some of the tunes I heard the band do had humourous elements lyrically, and the front man, Danny Kiranos, is great at bringing the audience into the world and life experience he puts into his lyric writing. The sound was obviously better and the band kicked butt.

Loryn Taggart, also an audition test victor, told the audience this was her 8th Mariposa Folk Festival. The first seven of which she experienced being in the audience, and she was naturally overjoyed to be on the side stage, you know, for a change.

Noah Cyrus was next. She has her legion of enthusiastic fans. Advance billing suggested she is huge in the music world. Maybe, but while I found the show to be competent, I thought Mariposa would have scored big switching the order and having Irish Mythen in this slot.

The next side stage performer was Jeremie Albino. I bumped into Sean Murray (Reay) who said this was what he was looking forward to. I, on the other hand, was impressed with Cat Clyde’s obvious joy performing with Jeremie unencumbered by her band and guitar and only having to sing as a duet.

Next was a band I haven’t had much experience with, Band of Horses. Fellow journalist Patrick Bales told me they were huge with college students when he was in school. I could see why. They don’t so much as play energetic Rock, they attack their mission with zeal. What a fun band.

Saturday at the Mariposa Folk Festival - Amigo the Devil

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Day three is ahead with Donovan Woods, Bruce Cockburn (who, after his set will be given the keys to the Mariposa Hall of Fame), Joseph (really the Closner sisters), the old Crow Medicine Show and Dwayne Gretzky.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: Band of Horses closed out the Mariposa Folk Festival’s Saturday night lineup on the Lightfoot stage.

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