Wave after wave of concert and festival cancellations rocked Edmonton’s music scene in March, as COVID-induced isolation, social distancing measures and travel restrictions hampered the spring, summer, and beyond.
But when the Edmonton Folk Music Festival announced its cancellation in early April it sent a particularly icy chill through the Festival City.
Four months later, during the week when construction crews, food vendors and artisans would have been setting up stages and staking their claim, Cloverdale Hill offers a stark reminder of all the things music lovers are missing out on during a particularly cruel summer.
The grass won’t be trampled by hordes of folk fans. The sound of music won’t ring through the river valley. Organizers won’t fear wind or rain, smoke or lightning this weekend.
Instead, The Hill at Home will offer up an experience unlike any other in recent memory, broadcasting past mainstage performances on YouTube and festival-related programming on CKUA from Aug. 7-9, helping to fill the void left by the Folk Fest’s cancellation.
“We have built such a strong community over the years with festival goers, volunteers, the neighbourhood, food and craft vendors, sponsors and funders, and of course artists, so we are bringing them together to celebrate as best we can this year,” said festival producer Terry Wickham.
This year’s festivities will also include the premiere of The Hill, a documentary celebrating the Folk Fest’s 40 years, on Friday at 7 p.m. and available for free viewing throughout the weekend at thehill.favatv.com/.
“When we found out that the Folk Fest wasn’t going to happen this year, co-producer Andrew Scholotiuk and I reached out to Terry Wickham with the idea of producing a film in time for what would have been the festival weekend this year,” said director Dave Morgan. “Our editors began building a narrative that captured all the iconic elements of the hill; the artists, the music, the people and the unique qualities that make this a world-class festival.”
A collaboration between the Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta (FAVA) and the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, The Hill offers a retrospective of interviews and concerts certain to entertain and rekindle memories for long-time festival attendees.
“We had over 30 terabytes of footage shot on multiple formats, so it was a lofty goal,” Morgan said. “We had seven weeks to do three months’ worth of post-production. While many productions have been shut down or delayed, this group of FAVA members have been able to complete a feature length film in an extraordinary short time period and during a pandemic.”
Aiming to replicate something as close to the festival experience as possible, arts and crafts will be offered online through Pulp Studio’s downloadable festival-themed colouring book and craft instructions.
The Folk Fest’s legions of volunteers will be treated to a party via Zoom on Saturday at 10 p.m. featuring folk-rockers Altameda, and the festival will wrap up Sunday with a video-submitted sing-a-long of Four Strong Winds with Grammy-winning artist Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Folkies eager to get in on the virtual act can visit edmontonfolkfest.org/thehillathome/ for full programming and festival information, including a list of food vendors, edmontonfolkfest.square.site/ for merchandise, and efmfartisanmarket.myshopify.com/ for a Folk Fest-affiliated artisan market.