Mariposa, the 10-year-old authentic folk festival now in its third year on the Toronto islands, got off to another sunny, easygoing, goodnatured start yesterday, the first of three days of Mariposa.
In contrast to the hyper-intense rock festivals of this year and last, Mariposa is as easy to take as a picnic in the country with music - and that's exactly what it is.
Four afternoon workshop areas were officially set up on Olympic Island, and dozens of others sprang up spontaneously (it seems every guitar and other stringed instrument in Toronto finds its way to Mariposa annually). Subjects ranged from the music of India to the element of the supernatural in folk music, and audiences from just a fellow guitar-picker to upwards of 500 people.
The latter showed up for a concert-picnic-celebration with the Perth County Conspiracy, a communal group from Stratford. Various members of the Conspiracy sang, played and passed out fruits, vegetables and cheeses for two hours.
Elsewhere on the island, the Toronto Blue Grass Committee kept up a seemingly endless series of concerts and picking sessions, Merrick Jarrett hosted a children's concert attended by more than youngsters and Billy Vanaver of the Pennywhistlers demonstrated the how-tos of several styles from Bulgarian folk songs to cowboy ballads.
Except for one brief interval the sun shone continuously on a young, roving crowd (no fences are set up) short on stylish clothes and mannerisms and long on blue jeans, knapsacks, t-shirts, babies, musical instruments and free-flowing dresses and hair. Many were footloose young Canadians pausing in their travels.
As usual, Mariposa is relying on authentic folk performers more than "name" recording stars. The few well-known pop singers this year are Joni Mitchell (making her sixth consecutive appearance), James Taylor, Doug Kershaw, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Odetta.
Odetta performed at last night's pre-sunset (7.30 p.m.) to midnight concert along with the Pennywhistlers, Rosalie Sorrels, Elizabeth Cotton, Bruce Murdock, Raoul Roy, the Eskimo Drum Dancers, Perth County Conspiracy and Michael Cooney, who was official folksinger-in-residence at Guelph University last year.
There is a wide spectrum of workshops planned and more likely this afternoon and tomorrow (highlighted by Jack Elliott's session on the legendary Woody Guthrie).
Tonight's concert performers are Edith Butler, Sandy Crawley, Jack Elliott, J. B. Hutto & the Hawks, Doug Kershaw, Fred McDowell, Alanis Obomsawin, the Olympia Brass Band (from New Orleans) and Robert Pete Williams.
Sunday night's performers will be Joni Mitchell, David Campbell, Sara Grey, Norman Kennedy, David Rea, James Taylor, Merle Travis and Alexander Zelkin.
Transportation to the festival is by the Toronto Island ferries, which leave from the foot of Bay St.
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