From July 22-24, the amphitheatre in Hawrelak Park transformed into the Interstellar Rodeo
. The annual festival began five years ago and is organized by Six Shooter Records
, a label that specializes in eclectic music that includes folk, roots, country, and blues. Often compared to the Folk Festival but on a smaller scale, each main artist performs for about an hour on stage, with a few shorter "tweener" sets that introduced local or regional acts.
Another unique aspect of Interstellar Rodeo is that each major artist is paired with a wine that a professional sommelier feels captures the essence of the artist's music. However, in the case of country legend Marty Stuart
, who was one of the performers who kicked things off on Friday night, it was a beer pairing. Marty Stuart had the crowd enthralled with his greatest hits, his incredible musical abilities on guitar and mandolin, and also the talents of the other members of his band who all took turns at the microphone. Canadian indie folk-rockers The Strumbellas
had the crowd jumping, along with them, to close the evening.
Some of the crowd favourites on Saturday were solo singer/songwriter Cat Power
; country artist Sam Outlaw
(who played a stripped-down set due to most of his band not being able to cross the Canadian border); Winnipeg-based The Mariachi Ghost
, fusing Latin American music with alternative rock and funky makeup and outfits; husband and wife duo Whitehorse
, with their multi-instrumentalist abilities that included looping and sampling on stage; and alternative folk headliners Lord Huron
, a band that played at the Folk Fest last year.
Sunday's line up also wowed audiences, even though many of the acts have not yet gained mainstream success. Reuben and the Dark
, originally from Calgary, captured listeners with their brooding yet energetic brand of alternative folk. Singer/songwriter Kathleen Edwards
, with her introspective lyrics and catchy melodies, was also a fan favourite, while up-and-comer Jose Gonzalez
, from Sweden, has been gaining an international following.
Interstellar Rodeo employed social media to enhance the audience experience. The audience was encouraged often from the emcee on the stage to use the #iRodeoYEG hashtag on their tweets and Instagram posts. A smartphone app provided stage schedules, artist bios, and other festival information. The app has been used in previous years, but for 2016 it completely replaced printed programs.
Interstellar Rodeo comes to Winnipeg with a different line up in mid-August.