Monday, July 14, 2008

Not About Running.

Joan Armatrading had Sunday night's audience waving their hands... 12,000 people waving their arms in unison is a sight to behold... another festival experience for the memory book.
A blog about running occasionally needs to stray off the beaten path, like today.  The Winnipeg Folk Festival was amazing and aside from the teeny twinge of guilt from not running for 5 days, I had the time of my life. I've attended about 30 of the 35 folk festivals, most as a volunteer.  I started volunteering in grade 10 or 11 and have stuck to it ever since except for a few years where travel, school, or life prevented me from attending.  For the last 13 years I volunteered at the front gate box office.  It was a good job but there was a fair bit of stress, especially when it came to balancing out out at the end of the shift.  I applied for the schlepper crew which is the most sought after crew of the festival (always has been, always will be).  It's very rare for an opening on this crew and even so the wait list is huge so I didn't expect to make the cut.  Well, someone out there must like me (and I think I know who... a thousand thanks!) because I got the job! A schlepper transports people, equipment, and just about anything imaginable to where ever it's needed on site.  We drive little golf cars, trucks, or vans (mostly golf carts).  We're also hooked up to a radio so you hear all the chatter between security and the other crews... it's incredible how much happens behind the scene.  It's so cool to be a part of that entire scene!
Up really, really close with Seun Kuti and Egypt from Africa at the make-shift Saturday night main stage.  Afrobeat/ Afrojazz at its pinnacle!  THE most amazing festival memory ever!
A first for the festival.  The winds were so intense on Saturday that the main stage performances was relocated to a MUCH smaller but sheltered stage.  As luck would have it Saturday night was one of my three shifts.  The complications of transporting equipment and musicians across acres of rain drenched soggy prairie was enormous and I had the stunningly pleasure to be a part of the entire process.  My job was to transport musicians from the plush backstage  "green room" to the makeshift  backstage "green room" at the new much, much, much smaller new main stage (Green Ash stage).  Imagine wet grass.  Now imagine wet soggy grass... imagine mud... imagine lots of mud... imagine sucked out Chrysler mini-van... slipping mini-van... mini-van getting stuck... security pushing me out... precious musicians... My job was to get them as close to back stage as humanly possible.  Under normal circumstances this wouldn't have been a big deal, but under the circumstances of Saturday night it was, ummm, an event to remember... yes, definitely an event!  
The last band of the night was the 15 member Afrobeat/ Afrojazz band Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 from Africa. They were simply amazing... a once in a life time experience.  Under normal circumstances schlepper do not have direct back stage access but this time I did.  The stage manager told me to wait backstage while they played.  As the photos show I was right up front and personal.  It was simply the best folk festival experience ever.  
I could go on and on, but I better stop.  This is a running blog after all! It was a very good day to be alive.  Yes indeed... a very good day to be alive.  M
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