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GALLERY: Growth year for Trout Forest Music Festival

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
Ryan Weber of The Weber Brothers grows a third arm during the band’s Saturday night main stage set at the Trout Forest Music Festival, Aug. 10, in Ear Falls. Photos by Chris Marchand

The fattest, juiciest Trout

By Chris Marchand

Darkness had nearly settled over Ear Falls Waterfront Park by the time I had cranked all the do-hickeys and buttoned down the canvas flaps.

Just across the highway at the Frank’s Tavern stage, beat-boxing freestyle poet CR Avery of Vancouver was already challenging the ‘folk’ footholds that the festival has built itself up around.

To cap off the Trout Forest Music Festival’s opening night, more of a warm-up to a perennial all-night campfire jam, Winnipeg blues trio The Perpetrators were the kind of rhythm section-driven act that the Trout normally builds toward on Saturday’s main stage, leaving Friday to flirt with fiddles and banjos. Not so this year.

With the Perps blasting electric blues to a swollen beer garden, it was clear to all that the game was on.

It was a growth year for the 18 year-old festival which typically attracts a large Manitoba clientele.

New camping areas were opened up to accommodate larger volumes of visitors to the Trout.

On the stage a more diverse, often eclectic spectrum of acts.

Musical Director Devin Latimer says this year’s 30 act lineup relied less upon the Winnipeg talent pool than in previous years.

“I definitely tried to make sure there’s geographic diversity along with all of the other considerations,” says Latimer. “It’s a challenge to bring people from far away — the finances involved and the travel time. People like Catherine MacLellan (from PEI) is a kind of great folk star in Canada right now. She loves to play and to come to these kind of things. We had quite a few people from B.C. this year like CR Avery and Geoff Berner. Ghostkeeper is from Alberta.”

Folk diversity was another element with acts like Toronto’s The Ventanas proving themselves skilled ambassadors of the traditional music of Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria.

Geoff Berner’s comedic accordion tunes were steeped in the Yiddish Klezmer tradition.

Saturday evening’s festival highlights were an appearance by The Weber Brothers, Fred Eaglesmith’s Travelling Steam Show and headlined by Winnipeg neo-traditionalists The Duhks.

“Once people get out here for the first time, they get hooked really fast,” said Latimer. “The Trout, to me — bringing my family — is just more chilled out. You’re never more than a few minutes away from your tent. The kids can just run around. There’s a beach to play at. It’s not like dragging them to the big festivals. It’s a small friendly town.”

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