Let’s get Folked up

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The Carillon’s guide to getting drunk at the Regina Folk Fest

John Cameron
Editor-in-Chief

This year, the Regina Folk Festival is happening from August 5-7, and while we’ve had a bit of lead time before this issue, we have to shamefully note that we’re a newspaper full of students, and we have to take time during the summer to work real jobs, establish regular sleeping patterns, and eat non-frozen vegetables.

So tracking down artists in the short period in which we were able to wrangle our staff together was always kind of a zero-sum game. But don’t worry – while other media outlets might be able to provide the Taj Mahal interview you so desperately crave, we’ve got something to help you out during your time at the Folk Fest.

More responsible and professional outlets might provide you with a guide to what you can see and hear. The festival is about music, so that makes sense; however, if we did that, we’d be kind of redundant. So instead, we’ve brought you a guide to the various ways you can do the other thing there is to do during the Folk Fest’s annual takeover of Wascana Park besides listen to live music from the likes of Shotgun Jimmie and The Sojourners: get roaringly drunk.

Drink during the festival

The obvious first way to get drunk is to do it during regular festival hours. But be warned, says local comic and shame-spiral expert Dan MacRae – watching the daytime sessions while plastered carries plenty of risks, from expected ones like dehydration to heat exhaustion to more local environmental factors.

“You are not going to be able to deal with the people from NORML [the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws],” MacRae, who says his comedy is as “wussy as twee but nowhere near as endearing,” warned. “They’re sweethearts, but you’re attracting an argument you don’t wanna have, which is just as well. Plus you might get into a fistfight over Buffy Sainte-Marie.”

But getting liquored up between sessions on storytelling in song and the music of life on the road has its benefits, too, like giving you a feeling of “regalness,” MacRae says.

“You’re out in the day, and you know something that other people don’t, and it’s that you’re drunk. Even though they do know that. It’s a false sense of pride.”

The good news about drinking at the RFF this year is that the festival has opened a daytime beer garden due to popular demand. Named the Rock Garden, the new addition to the grounds will carry a full line of festival sponsors Big Rock Brewery’s products, including the low-calorie Gopher lager.

And while you can still go the route that young ne’er-do-wells have in the years previous by bringing your own beverages – MacRae suggests fountain drink cups full of Canadian Cooler – it’s a good idea to frequent the festival’s official and legal services once in a while.

“First of all, you think you’re helping the economy – you’re not – but then … you’re making necessary concessions, you know,” Macrae said. “The $15 you spend on domestic beer suddenly becomes collateral damage.”

Among the big problems facing drunken daytime session attendees – accidentally falling asleep on the grass, attempting to buy out an entire vendor’s stall worth of ethically-made apparel, and dancing shirtless to every song –  is that most of one’s abilities to interact with people in a normal, non-threatening way disappears.

Dealing with artists this way is one thing – MacRae suggests grabbing them by their clothes, putting your mouth next to their face, and telling them how much you liked their set – but it gets risky when you’re splayed out in Wascana Park next to a family trying to enjoy Fred Penner. If you find yourself in that situation, though, MacRae says there’s an easy way to deal with it.

“Get Fred Penner to side with you that you’re right. If they don’t like it, those pussies can go to Raffi.”

Drink at the afterparties

The RFF’s After-Dark Carnival, which began as a thank-you party for volunteers, has expanded over the last few years to become one of the must-visit destinations for festivalgoers. On the Friday and Saturday nights, the afterparty venue – which this year will again be the German Club, near the corner of Saskatchewan Drive and St. John Street – fills up with raucous, rowdy folksters.

It’s a perfect place to go get plastered during the festival, and it’s not just because the German Club’s downstairs bar will be open and serving its impressive array of tall, cheap imports.

“There are certain things that you get [at the afterparties] that you don’t get at the Folk Fest, even,” explained After-Dark Carnival logistics coordinator Meghan Trenholm. “It’s more intimate; rather than having thousands of people around you, [there are] a couple hundred, and it just makes that experience of seeing these wonderful musicians really come to life in a different sort of way.”

Trenholm and her fellow coordinator Misty Selinger, who were interviewed separately, each had certain musicians they were particularly interested in watching at the afterparties – Trenholm mentioned wanting to see Niger-based band Etran Finatawa, while Selinger enthused about Quebec’s Marco Caliari.

But both were excited about the performance of Vancouver, B.C.’s Hey Ocean!, who are performing on Saturday night.

“[A] friend of mine a couple of months ago was talking about how they saw Hey Ocean!,” Trenholm laughed. “Like, ‘Aw man, best live show I’ve seen in so long, so great.’ And then [Folk Fest artistic director Sandra Butel] comes and says, ‘Oh yeah, Hey Ocean! is going to play Saturday night.’ Well, great!”

Artists don’t just show up onstage, either. Plenty of the festival’s performers come out just to take in the atmosphere – and the booze. In previous years, you could catch everyone from Rock Plaza Central’s Chris Eaton to Jully Black’s backup singers hanging out and joining the party.

“It would have been not last year but the year before, we caught Chad VanGaalen jumping the fence to get into the party,” Selinger remembered. “That was a particularly special moment.”

This year might present you with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, then, to get circus drunk, track down Andrew Bird, and ruin his otherwise pleasant evening by slurring into his face how much you liked his work as Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs.

But even if you aren’t into Andrew Bird – or if you don’t have the total lack of shame or dignity that certain Carillon staff do – Trenholm and Selinger say that the festival’s reputation with artists almost guarantees that you’ll have the chance to get way too familiar with at least one of your favourite performers.

“I know a lot of artists, when they arrive in Regina to perform at the Folk Festival, they’ve already heard about our parties here from from our entertainers here in the past and they’re eager to join in on the mayhem,” Selinger said.

But as fun and long as the afterparties are – anyone who knows someone who’s been to the after party has heard stories about wobbly, half-remembered bike rides home at sunrise –  it’s important to at least be a bit responsible. Selinger reminds partygoers who want to drink to plan a way to get home that doesn’t involve your own car keys. Trenholm’s advice is succinct – and applicable to almost any situation involving alcohol, large numbers of people, and quasi-celebrities.

“Don’t do anything truly stupid – don’t hurt anybody or yourself or damage any property, and don’t get yourself kicked out.”

Volunteer next year and accept a hangover as thanks

It’s a little late to do this year, but if you want a great way to be able to party with relative impunity, just volunteer to help out at the festival.

If you’re on one of the teams that does setup and takedown before and after the festival, you can relax during the days with a hard-earned beer at the Rock Garden. And if you’re on one of the teams that is responsible for helping keep the festival’s gears moving during the day, you have an excuse to go put a few back at night. Either way, volunteers get better treatment from fellow volunteers and festival attendees alike at the afterparties.

They even get a special volunteer-only afterparty at the end of the festival, featuring special performances and, this year, extended liquor sales hours.

“The volunteers do put the festival on in so many ways,” Trenholm explained. “It’s best to be able to say thank you in an interesting way, and being able to drink for an hour later is one of them this year.”

More than that, though, volunteers get the warm, fuzzy feeling of having helped out with the festival. Traveling around the festival site and recognizing that you contributed something to such a massive and fun event gives you a buzz that might even convince you that you don’t even need to drink until after supper.

Aside from all the perks and the feeling of accomplishment, Trenholm says, volunteering also connects you to the community behind the Regina Folk Festival.

“You become aware of this whole network of people that put it on. It’s like, ‘Oh, ok, so maybe it isn’t just me and five staff people and whoever’s in charge of me.’ It’s actually hundreds of people who are putting this whole excitement on.”

END OF ARTICLE NOTE:

While we’re not going to pretend that it’s not fun to get drunk, we’re also not going to pretend that it’s a good idea to be a fucking idiot when you do it. Please make sure you have a safe way home, and no, sitting in your car and “waiting it out” doesn’t count. In the words of afterparty coordinator Misty Selinger: “Walk to the parties, bike to the parties, carpool with a sober friend to the parties, take a cab home. Make sure you come with friends. Stay alert. Stay safe.”

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