Folks, you’re in for a rare treat during the next few days. The Powers at mspmag.com have mistakenly given me—an old school, where’s-the-whiteout, damn-the-Web writer with questionable judgment and knack for sleeping in—the keys to the Internet kingdom (we’re talking passwords, access codes, recording devices, wireless gizmos, the works) to head north and cover the Winnipeg Folk Festival. And I mean COVER it. There will be words, pictures, video, emoticon, hieroglyphs, smoke signals, and anything else they’ll let me throw up on this infernal invention, the Internet.
Now you must understand: The normal, everyday content you see on mspmag.com has been vetted by teams of editors who toil through the night checking facts and polishing copy to a glossy sheen, serving it up to you free of errors and as accurate as an actuarial table in Einstein’s basement. Had any of them seen the previous sentence, they would have immediately checked to see if Einstein really had a basement and, if he did, whether actuarial tables were actually stored there. Upon discovering that the whole sentence was a complete fabrication, if not an outright lie, they would have deleted it in the belief that they were saving you, the precious “visitor,” from having to read such nonsense.
No such censorship will contaminate my postings in the coming days. If you check in between now and Sunday, you will be reading the raw, uncooked viscera of my thoughts, posted with almost no regard for grammatical sense, factual accuracy, or burdensome questions of “service” to the reader. This is a folk festival we’re covering, after all, so things must, by definition, be significantly more half-assed than usual.
Why the Winnipeg Folk Festival?
That’s a fair question, so I’m not going to answer it. Suffice it to say that this is the festival’s thirty-fifth anniversary, and anytime an event logs an anniversary divisible by five, we media types feel compelled to cover it. I don’t know why—it’s just one of those immutable laws of journalism that no one has the courage to mute, not even me.
I’m almost packed and will be hitting the road shortly for the seven-hour, 400-mile journey to Winnipeg. Unfortunately, my fifteen-year-old son, who just got his learner’s permit last week, will be driving part of the way, so I cannot guarantee that I will get to Winnipeg or that I will even live to be able to inform you that I am now, in fact, dead.
If we do make it, though, rest assured that I am fully prepared to spend four days outdoors listening to folk music of every kind in whatever conditions Mother Nature decides to hurl at me. Among the most important equipment I’ve secured are:
—A 1970s flashback detector to anticipate moments of extreme nostalgia
—Banjo tolerance pills (two bottles, just in case)
—An earnestness mood ring, to warn me when I start feeling like I should do something more sincere and meaningful with my life
—A Remington TX2000 mosquito tracer gun specially designed to take down a species of insect known as the Canadian Vampire
—Special booties that not only reduce my carbon footprint, they leave no footprints at all.
—A nasal-bypass surgery kit (the home edition) for Saturday and Sunday when the collective body odor can reach toxic levels
—A Canadian/American dictionary to ensure successful communication with the locals
—Plenty of foods packaged in waste-free containers that I’ll throw away when I get home
Wish me luck. Lots of great musicians are playing at this year’s festival: Bela Fleck, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, Ray Davies (of The Kinks!), Nancy Griffith, Joan Armatrading, Justin Townes Earle, Kathleen Edwards, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Danny Gotham, Outlaw Social, and plenty more. We’ll also be checking in with Minnesotans Spider John Koerner and Peter Ostroushko, both festival veterans who may be able to share some historical perspective on the madness in Manitoba.
The Winnipeg Folk Festival runs July 10–13. I’ll be updating you on my adventures every day, so check back to see what has happened in the past few hours. I promise I’ll burden you with as little information as possible as often as possible.
On to Winnipeg!