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photos by David, Blair Lewis and Jules

**for more festival photos go to VFMF photos

July, 2003

Vancouver Folk Music Festival

Vancouver from the air. DF

Back again! It was hard to believe that we were lucky enough to be back at this festival for the third time. Each visit has surpassed the last and this visit was no exception. The music of the world brought to Jericho Beach. While Stanfest held the appeal of the new, the Vancouver FF was the pull of the known. To quote the Beatles, "a splendid time is guaranteed for all". And lo it was.

As always, the overall direction of the festival gave one the feeling that everything was being looked after and that there was nothing to do but enjoy the perfect day ahead. That feeling of being in the right place is all to lacking in the world. I enjoy it to the fullest when it is presented to me. The fact that I have many old and new friends on the coast makes this feeling all the better.

Ani Difranco, Sunday night. DF

The heartbeat of the festival was set by the presence of Utah Phillips, Billy Bragg and Ani DiFranco, writers who observe and question the decisions in the world. The theme was well accepted by the crowds around the workshops and main stage. Everywhere there was the music of joy and celebration that is so often missing in the everyday. It literally came from around the world, from many tongues and traditions. It strikes me as remarkable that I can be having a game of hacky sac with the boys while a whirling Dervish dances under the high sun. This festival is the epitome of cooperation, on stage and on the grounds. It all works.

The Bill Hilly Band cranking it up on the main stage. DF

I have a tendency to go on about who we played with and who we saw, and that list in this case would be far too lengthy. A midwife friend of mine has a bumper sticker that says "practice random acts of kindness". Those acts are what I recall while writing this. Dave, Geoff and I were back of the main stage, waiting to go on. It was a moment for sober second thought and no small amount of tension. Utah Phillips took the time to come 'round the back of the stage, climb the steps and wish me well on the show - out of the blue. I was profoundly grateful at the time and now as I write. He was the first to greet us afterwards as well. A thoughtful and remarkable man.

Utah Phillips. BL

The stage crew was a pleasure to work with, kind and considerate, and we took the stage among friends, both behind and in front of us. The mountains surrounding the harbourage, the lights of the freighters winking on and the sun on its way out, magical doesn't come anywhere near to describing what met our eyes. The half hour passed all too quickly.

Dave, David and Geoff, Saturday night, mainstage. photo by stage crew

I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Dugg Simpson for yet another trip to the west coast. It is a pleasure to be part of the vision. We appreciate all the efforts on our behalf, by so many volunteers and organizers, the company we got to keep on the workshop stages and the rush of being part of the finale on Sunday night

David sings "Nearly Midnight" Sunday night. Jules

(front row) Ani Difranco, Utah Phillips, Geoff, David, Dave and Po' Girl. Jules

There were performers from all corners of the globe, from diverse genres of music, from the famous to the unknown. The Festival did what all good festivals do. It acted as the great leveler and the great exalter simultaneously. And that is no mean feat.

night audience. DF

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