As the biggest music festival north of 60 and one of the top 10 in Canada, Folk on the Rocks is kind of a big deal for Yellowknife tourism. While there, I was able to get a hold of its recipe for success and lucky for you, I’m willing to share it:
– 5,600 crazy-huge wristbands being worn by northern hippies
– 2 days worth of shows on an itinerary I’m going to look over endlessly
– 1 beer garden with a parody-ing name (Drinks on the Rocks)
– 1 official T-shirt
– 50 gallons of paint to destroy it with
– 29 awesome bands and performers
Shake the ingredients along the Coast of Long Lake for one weekend in July and enjoy.
I arrived at the festival filled with excitement and anticipation and about 0.00003seconds after getting my wristband secured, darted towards the first stage I could find. Here, the band B.A.M! wasn’t only getting fans to rock out to their musical performance onstage, they had also set up several large blue canvases and containers of painters for fans to use to create a visual representation of their music. This seemed to be going over quite well with a number of acid-tripping hippies and I decided I was high enough on their concert vibes to join in.
Covered in paint, I was ready to fully get my groove on in front of the sandy stages along the beach. The venue was packed, but the majority of the crowd kept with a chilled folk vibe, enjoying the concerts and each other’s company. With this, I was easily able to dance my way to front row for the self-described whiskey-fuelled Owls by Nature, blues-y performances by The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer and the rockin’ sound of Grapes of Wrath. These guys were no stranger to Folk on the Rocks, having performed the festival in the 1990s and were eager to express how happy they were to be back.
Yes Nice and Hey Ocean! were crowd pleasers, with about half the crowd sporting T-shirts from the former by the end of the festival and the later being a big influence on my personal motivation to make my way to the festival in the first place. Hey Ocean! hails from Vancouver and pay tribute to their West Coast roots in several of their songs. Ashleigh Ball’s voice is the perfect complement to the group’s upbeat, pop-py songs, which, as someone who admittedly doesn’t listen to a lot of bands with female vocalists, should say something.
After an encore-filled weekend, the festival closed with a performance from the Traditional Yellowknife Dene Drummers and after huge applause, the crowd parted ways (although only temporarily, before being reunited downtown at The Raven for after-festival drinks).