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Photo Beth Girdler
David and Geoff
Jasper Folk Festival

Photo Beth Girdler
Beth has a quiet moment on Whistler

Photo Beth Girdler
David and Geoff, Mainstage, Jasper Folk Festival


We readied ourselves for the drive to Jasper. It was a lovely tour along the Yellowhead Highway, and we watched the mountains grow from a blue cragginess on the horizon to their full majesty as we entered the park hours later. Breathtaking is a word that leaps to mind when describing them. Wildlife proliferated on the highway, Big-horned and Dahl sheep, elk and eagles. Jasper is still a beautiful town, nestled in the valley between towering mountain ranges, blessed with vistas at every point of the compass rose.

The weather turned harsh for the first time in on the tour, and the rain was falling steadily as we checked into the Festival grounds. The Jasper festival is being reborn after a three year hiatus, manned by a new crew of administrators and volunteers and while there were the not unexpected organizational trials, the festival staff were unfailingly helpful and determined to make it work. That they did. Our Friday night mainstage concert took place in a downpour, the sky over the mountains blackening up and settling in for a stay, shrouding the peaks. Somewhere during the course of the concert the rain lifted and as I stood on stage I was treated to an astonishing view of the Colin Range (appropriately enough). The audience, God bless them everyone, hung in there under blue tarps and clad in bright yellow rainsuits. Incredibly enough they remained attentive and enthusiastic throughout. The backstage tent for the performers was a particular treat as we reacquainted ourselves with the likes of Karen Savoca and Pete Hietzman, Luther Wright and the Wrongs, and the ever-entertaining Andy Donnely. The workshops on Saturday were intimate and well structured, and we shared the stage with some exceptional talent, most notably the Bill Hilly Band, Maria Dunn and band friend and favorite Andrea Revel Trio. A highlight was hearing Andreas sitar player Meg accompanying Garnet Rogers on "the Final Trawl", with the rest of us adding harmony. The concert by Karen Savoca and Pete Hietzman was a showstopper and we were appropriately transported.
Many wonderful things have happened on this trip but being asked to sing Red winged Blackbird on the mainstage at the closing ceremony will stay with me forever. The musicians and volunteers were all on stage and the audience readily joined in, and the entire experience was manifestly humbling and thrilling. Many thanks to Tim Pare, the festival artistic director, for his support and kindness. The party afterwards was a great success and was a stunning showcase for the Bill Hilly Bands astonishing musical talents. This is a band not to be missed. Absolutely brilliant playing.

The morning after found us boarding a Cable Tramcar to the top of Whistler Mountain, where we hiked the remaining kilometers straight up to the summit. When our breathing returned to normal and the reflection on pulmonary heroism that only twenty-five years of smoking can give you passed, the views were inspiring and massive. It took us a while to tear ourselves away but upon completion of our highest hacky sac round of the tour, we wound our way back to Edmonton, with the night falling and the mountains receding into the distance. Until next time, all the best from the road, from all of us to all of you,

Tuesday, August 14
Jasper and the Mountains

David Francey appearing next week:

August 17-19
Owen Sound, Ontario

Click here for the complete summer schedule...