I’ve been to Shelter Valley Folk Festival in one capacity or another for 11 of its 13 years.
I played the first year, hosted the second year, ran workshops and did documentary work in the third year… was it the fourth year that I helped put together the Living Archives project? Can’t quite recall, but I know I did that for a number of years. I was on the board for three years, maybe 2007 to 2010. I missed the festival in 2010 for a wedding, but was back the next year to host and then I think the following year I may actually have bought tickets. It gets a bit fuzzy. I know I was brought back to perform & host for the tenth anniversary. A couple years ago things got a little intense and I only showed up for an afternoon, and then last year I missed again because I was in the Northwest Passage.
But in 2016 I got the nod once more, to host and to perform–this time with my band, Uncharted Waters.
I can’t even express what an incredible homecoming it was, after so many years and frankly after everything that both the festival and I have been through on our journeys, to stand on that stage again.
And when the audience rose in a standing ovation, I believe I could not possibly have felt more welcomed or at home.
The same feeling prevailed through the weekend. Pinching myself: are you kidding me? I wind up next to Lennie Gallant in a workshop, and now he’s playing along with me and complimenting me on my songs? This is the same guy who took me aside at a pub jam in Halifax in 1994 or something to teach me to play in 6/8 time. I was a kid and he was already great. And here I am sandwiched between him and the amazing up-and-comer Leonard Sumner, with my pals Jory Nash and Shawna Caspi rounding it out.
Speaking of pals: how about when Jory and I got to join our friends Eve Goldberg, Jane Lewis and Ian Foster, as Lennie’s vocal chorus to close his Saturday night show?
I could go on. Honestly, I could go on in real time about that weekend, because every moment was that good. All three of my kids were on the site; one has grown up there and the others are in the process. Massive numbers of friends and extended family. Perfect weather, the glow of the campfire, the smell of the lavender, the feeling of just taking it easy for once. Not just me, but the festival too.
Did I mention I felt completely at home? Yeah. That. Thanks Shelter Valley. We needed that.
Photos by the brilliantly talented David Goodfellow.