Folkfest fans in Ottawa must be quaking in their duck boots.
There is word today that the Ottawa Bluesfest is bailing out the Folkfest, which has been bleeding money for more than a decade. The suggestion came from Mark Monahan, the head poobah of the Bluesfest who offered to cover the Folkfest’s whopping $150,000 debt, and revive it this coming summer.
That’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the Folkfest will finally come off its respirator. The bad news is, no doubt, that the Folkfest will be a very different kettle of organic fish when it reasserts itself during the doldrums of August. The festival will be moved because its current location at Brittania Park is too difficult to navigate. While it’s a lovely bucolic setting, it’s like the Scotiabank Place with no parking — too far to go to see Lynne Miles, too far to drive back after a few brews.
But there will be much bigger changes once Monahan gets his mitts into it. The Bluesfest may offer platitudes about giving back, Blues in the Schools, and so on. A lot of people think the Bluesfest is about making noise, but it’s really about making money — a concept that was almost dirty in the eyes of folkies. And making money means bringing in the big guns — bands that draw kids and drunks — to pay the bills for the more traditional acts. This will piss off the folkies for sure. There was almost a peaceful protest when the Folkfest board tried to change up their lineup a few years back, bringing in Michael Franti and Broken Social Scene. Folkies nearly spit up in their chai teacups.
Imagine what will happen once Monahan and his group take the reins. Guns and Roses, that’s what I’m expecting.
The Bluesfest isn’t taking over the Folkfest in some friendly manner to please granola eating organic coffee drinkers. Bluesfest is taking it over because it (the Bluesfest) can’t get any bigger given its current restrictions. It’s just a different way to make money.
Getting ready for it, Ottawa. Bluesfest, too.