'99 Phila Folk Fest Review

I just arrived home from attending the 38th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival, the event that I have been talking about for the last two months to whomever would listen.

I'm not sure why this particular year has me in such an excited state, perhaps I've been infected with my very own Y2K bug with its symptoms being euphoria, autistic hallucinations and profound nostalgia. Whatever the reasons, there was something very magical about attending the last Phila Festival of the century.

If any of you are followers of the national weather then you would know that the mid-Atlantic states have had a terrible drought this year. I was as surprised as anyone when nearly half of the 26 inch shortfall was made up in the two days immediately preceding the festival, giving those already on site, my kids included, a sense of diluvian reality. Oddly enough, by the time I arrived on Friday all talk of 'arks' and 'divine retribution' had been replaced by prayers for relief from the oppressive heat. And what kind of relief were they expecting??? Go figure.

I'd like to be able to tell you that I attended every performance of every performer and didn't miss a beat, but I can't. After arriving late Friday morning and going about the task of re-building our campsite, I was too beat to make it to the Friday Afternoon Showcase, even though a good friend was performing. I missed Stacey Earle, Vance Gilbert and Broadside Electric, as well as my dear friend Deb Pieri's storytelling performance. I did make it to the Friday evening concert and so my tale begins.

For those of you who do not live in Bayou country or who haven't been exposed to the music thereof, Dewey Balfa was a cajun fiddler. But to say he was just a cajun fiddler is like saying "Beethoven just wrote some music". Dewey Balfa was an icon and he and his brothers brought the cajun music idiom to the masses. Of the children who grew up at the feet of the Balfa's, Christine Balfa is the first to bring her unique perspective to the performers stage. Her band, Balfa Toujours, includes her husband Dirk, and her 17 year old nephew who ably represents the next generation of Balfa musicianship. So good was this band that I now refer to the county I live in as Montgomery Parish, Pennsylvania, filled my aquarium up with crawfish and listen to cajun music at least once a day. So long le poisson (pronounced lu PWASOHn).