081408 Don Ross and Andy McKee/Vieux Farke Touré/Finest Kind/D Rangers, Ottawa, ON

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Unfortunately for everyone (not) involved, I was never in the habit of buying passes for the CKCU Ottawa Folk Festival.  It’s too bad, as the fest brought lots of great shows to town that I wish I had seen, most of which fell very firmly under the “folk” genre (and not the wide, “never heard a horse sing a song” interpretation).  Also too bad, as the folk fest eventually gave up the ghost (sort of) and sold out to the Bluesfest due to a long dearth of financial success.  Not that my ticket money would have floated their boat, but still…

Piggy-backing that attitude onto the suppositions that emerge when gazing upon this lanyard and its reference to my workplace (the Ottawa Folklore Centre) for fifteen-odd years (some of them very odd), and one can only assume that I didn’t pay for this one either.  Oh, the guilt I feel.  I’m not sure I even gigged in return for this, though I very well may have done a set in the OFC CD tent.  

Regardless, I have it marked in my ticket book that I saw lots of great music over the course of the weekend, including a veritable festival unto itself on August 14th, 2008, the first night of the festivities, when I saw Ottawa’s own Finest Kind (including at least one member who also taught at OFC), Ottawa Valley’s acoustic six-string hero Don Ross, Mali’s Vieux Farke Touré, and (according to the trusty old ticket book) some band called D Rangers, who seem to be from Winnipeg or some such thing. 

I certainly recall standing with my back to Britannia Beach on the wonderfully wide, expansive lawn watching Vieux Farke Touré play.  This was just before my own trip to Vieux’s home country and my interest in music by him and his countrymen was nearing it’s peak.  When I’m attending the centrally-located and very convenient CityFolk Festival at Lansdowne Park and my mind wanders wistfully back to the good old days when the fest was out at Britannia Park, this set by Touré is one memory that always jumps to mind.  It was such a great place to hold such an endearingly good festival.

But I think I was perhaps most excited to see Don Ross.  Not only was I happy for a chance to see such a huge talent (again) but I don’t think I’d ever seen him share the billing with another guitarist before.  For this show he was playing with another guitar player steeped in fingerstyle flash, a twenty-something American named Andy McKee who did his very best to best Don in front of his home crowd.  And he almost did, but not really.  Good players.  They must have played a dozen (million) notes between them.  At once.  In open tuning.

And hey, it’s almost fair to say that in a roundabout way I opened for them, albeit on a totally different stage at a completely different time and quite possibly even on an altogether different day.  Or maybe it was them who opened for me?  Really, who can say after all these years?  I’m always willing to offer a little help to the up-and-comers.  

Either way, it was clearly a very guitar-heavy day for the lucky masses that got to witness it all.

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