Vancouver Folk Music Festival, featuring Taj Mahal, The New Pornographers, and more – July 15 to 17, 2022
After a two-year hiatus, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival is returning to Jericho Beach Park for its 45th year, taking place July 15th to 17th, 2022. The Festival is a Canadian cultural institution, a unique community-based celebration internationally renowned for presenting the finest traditional and contemporary folk and roots music from around the world. Each year, the Festival draws more than 40,000 attendees to beautiful Jericho Beach Park, located alongside the Pacific Ocean coastline, with nearby beaches and scenic mountain vistas.
Beginning on Friday, July 15th and running through to Sunday, July 17th, the festival features three daytime stages (down from previous years), as well as the evening Main Stage. On Friday, the gates will open at 3pm with music from 4pm – 11pm. The gates open at 11am on Saturday and Sunday with music from 12pm – 11pm. Tickets are free for children 12 and there’s concession priced tickets for elders, students, and youth. The 2022 festival features a Little Folks area, artisan market, food vendors, and an adult beverage garden.
Alejandro Escovedo, Allison Russell, Asleep At the Wheel, Beledrone, Bella White, Blue Moon Marquee w/ Duke Robillard, Christine Tassan et les Imposteures, Clerel, Debashish Bhattacharya, Five Alarm Funk, Ford Pier, Fortune Block, Frazey Ford, Golosa La Orquesta, Haley Heynderickx, Housewife, Kanatal, Lache Cercel & The Roma Jazz Ensemble, Lennie Gallant, Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway, Quote The Raven, Redbird, RevoluSon, Robben Ford, Russell deCarle, SGaanaGwa, Shovels & Rope, SINNOI, Stringband Sundae, Suzie Ungerleider, Taj Mahal, The Bros. Landreth, The New Pornographers, Vancouver Fiddle Club, VILDÁ, and Witch Prophet.
“I am so happy to have so many great Canadian and International artists coming this year,” says Artistic/Executive Director Debbi Salmonsen. “As well as legends like Taj Mahal, and many great Canadian and US musicians, we have artists joining us from Chile, Finland, India, Korea, Mexico, and Taiwan. This year our ‘folk music’ definition has really spread its wings into many roots genres. We can’t wait to see our Folk Fest fans, vendors and volunteers in person again this year. We are working hard to ensure a safe and joyful experience for everyone. I also want to express our gratitude to the Musqueam Nation for allowing us to hold our event on their unceded traditional land.”
This was my first year attending, and apparently it’s being presented as a much smaller festival than in previous years, making me think it’s likely somewhat similar in size to the earlier days of this festival. Either way, you can beat the location and vibe, with a crowd made up of families with young kids, seniors, and all in between. Many show up with their own lawn chairs, blankets, and even tents for kids at the far reaches of the space. There’s nothing better than outdoor music festivals.
As for the entertainment, much like “Jazz” festivals have morphed into a wider diversity of musical offerings, so have “Folk” festivals, with the VFMF being no exception. The sounds heard throughout the weekend go from Latin, Salsa, and Swing, to Country, Blues, Reggae, and of course traditional Folk. Diversifying the music is a great way to diversify your crowd.
Friday, I ventured out specifically to catch the legendary Taj Mahal, who put on a spectacular performance filled with tales of his musical journeys. He’s a true showman, and excellent musician, alternating between a number of guitars and other instruments, while his bass player and drummer kept up. His voice was top notch, given he’s getting up in age (turning 80 this past May). Yet another reason to catch these legendary musicians while they are still touring. He gave more than one shout out to Vancouver and the Festival itself, having performed at it a few times previously.
Saturday, I made it in time to catch Asleep at the Wheel, southern country rock/honky tonk from Austin, Texas. Again, legendary. Formed in 1970, and celebrating over 50 years of performing, the 8-piece ensemble didn’t disappoint the many fans who came out specifically to see them. Their traditional style music is combined with comical lyrics and hilarious commentary, a sign of true showmanship. Rousing through their one hour set, many in attendance were up on their feet two-steppin into the early evening. Closing out the set, they sang the classic “Happy Trails” tune, citing “Until we meet again.”
They were followed Montreal songstress Allison Russel who took over the stage with her powerful voice, not only lyrical, but political as well. It is a folk festival after all, where politics were always at the forefront from the beginning 45 years ago. She acknowledged we are all human, not matter our identity, ethnicity, or sexuality. She also strayed off into the Roe vs. Wade anti-abortion fiasco happening south of the border. Politics aside though, her set was tight and left me impressed for someone that hadn’t heard of her before. Thanks for being real!
Closing out Saturday night, hometown heroes, The New Pornographers grabbed the spotlight with their indie-folk rock performance. While there was a steady stream of (older) people heading toward the exit, there was a simultaneously stream of (younger) attendees heading toward the stage, replacing those there to see the previous acts. Announcing that they’ve now been around 20 years, it made a few people stop and think…what? While making dents in the pop charts with a few top single releases, seeing them live showed just how true to their folk roots they actually are, making them the perfect band for a headlining slot at the festival. Again, those there to see them were treated to an awesome show, as were those who just happened to stick around not knowing who they were.
Sunday was more a day to explore the smaller stages, featuring the more unknown and emerging, yet equally as talented artists. There were also more intimate sets that featured some of the main stage acts, giving for a completely different experience. There were also workshops and talk backs, along with a great artist vendor area, a kids play zone, and a wide variety of internationally flavoured food trucks.
The evening Main Stage featured the universal beats of Texan Alejandro Escovedo , and youthful jumpin jams of Vancouver’s Five Alarm Funk. Overall, while smaller in size, it was just as large in talent and presentation. Looking forward to attending this Festival again, and so should you!
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.