The basics for an overnight folk festival!

folk festivalHey all! Mike Hauk here. Before I became a folk singer, I used to be just like you. Waiting in massive line ups to see your favorite singer and get their autograph, camping out overnight to see your favorite band, going up to who-knows-where for a weekend long festival. I’ve done it all, and as of recent years I’ve been on the other side watching it all happen before my eyes. Fans are the greatest aspect of being a musician, we would be nothing without you guys! So I wanted to share a few tips with you about the best camping gear and how to camp safely and properly!


Finding the right tent can be a long and expensive journey if you don’t do it right. Start out by doing a bit of research on the kind of tent you need and what attributes best suit your needs such as amount of people, weather resistance, and more (try checking out for some pretty unbiased info on camping gear). Seeing what your options are and weighing your needs is the first place to start. There are tons of awesome tents out there, some specialized for camping, some tailored to families. My best suggestion for a more than 2 person tent to bring to festivals and camping would be the Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent. It’s affordable, easy to set up, and fits 4 people pretty easily.

Sleeping Bags

Comfort is key when you’re tent-camping. Generally you won’t be bringing a mattress (unless you happen to have an inflatable one on hand), so you want something that make your nights sleep as cozy as you can get under the circumstances. There are tons of different styles that run at all sorts of price ranges. Finding something that will keep you warm, is easy to transport, and washable is important. If you’re just using it for summer camping and festival-going, you won’t have to worry as much about keeping warm in cold climates. Summer nights can get chilly though, so don’t cheap out too much! If this is you though, I’d probably pack something like the Wenzel Conquest 25-Degree Sleeping Bag. It’s very affordable, pretty cool looking, and you can curl up pretty well in it.


Let’s face it, you’re going to have to eat during a festival. Sure, most will have food carts and the sort, but why blow all your money on food when you probably spent a decent amount to get in there in the first place? Picking yourself up a little camping grill or stove will save you tons of money in the long run. You’ve got gas powered, propane, coal, and butane to choose from. Basically whatever best fits your needs and is easiest to manage for you will be the right one. I don’t suggest cheaping out too much in this category though. Cheaply made stoves can be have a short life and possibly be dangerous if not handled with utmost care.


If you’re more of a backpacker and want to carry it all yourself, there are tons of great backpacks out there for travelers and outdoor overnighters like you. Some small, some massive, make sure to pick one that is not oversized for your frame. You can do some damage to your back and legs if you’re carrying too much! Just make sure when doing your research that you take into account everything you might need to bring with you (food, water, sleeping bag, supplies, etc).

Have some fun at your next festival!

Best Festival Food You’ll Find (Some Deep Fried Favorites!)

Below we have another story from a reader of the site, Marie Jackman. She had a good break last summer with various festivals and gigs, and wanted to share a fun post about the greatest food she found on her various festival stops. Take it away, Marie!

Last summer was hectic, though it was surely a wonderful experience. I arranged to appear at several different folk music festivals in Ontario and attend many more. Being a rather young musician and a developing singer, this was quite a break for me. I was seen and listened by thousands of people, while I was having the time of my life. The atmosphere in music festivals is fantastic; everyone is smiling, everyone seems happy. There is much dancing taking place, quite a lot of drinking and of course, lots of eating!

In Eaglewood I had the best hot dogs. A big, juicy sausage was perfectly grilled and placed within the best hot dog bun I have ever tasted. It was topped up with a rich, spicy, homemade sauce, some green salad and deep fried onion rings.

At the Mariposa festival I had an incredible deep fried chicken (I may or may not have gone right home and searched for deep fryer reviews). It was served on moist pita bread, sprinkled with fresh parsley and green onions. You could choose between 5 different dips and I went for the spicy honey and mustard. It was fantastic.

fried fish platterThere was a vendor in Home County that had 5 huge trays of different deep fried seafood on his stall. There were clams, shrimps, crab, cod and some kind of fish fingers, the truth is that I never asked what it was. All I cared about was how amazing it all tasted. Different batters were used to coat different foods. It each matched the consistency and texture of the particular food and it was spiced accordingly. The large sauce selection was reinforcing already delicious dishes. I never got to taste the salads; I was already full before I got to them.

Deep frying is not particularly healthy and I usually avoid it for healthier ways to cook, but these were three occasions in which I could not resist. Especially in the last case it was impossible to keep away; I ate almost a plate of each. Although deep fried food has been linked to elevated cholesterol levels and coronary disease, no one can deny how scrumptious fried food is.

amazing_deep_fried_chickenHowever, the grilled beef steak I had in Summerfolk was equally mouth watering. The meat was great; it was properly seasoned and perfectly cooked. It was accompanied by roasted potatoes and a fresh, green leaf salad.

By far the best dish I had was simply a beef burger. It was in Red Rock festival if I recall correctly. The burger was grilled on the spot. It was large, juicy and a little spicy. The bun was a whole meal, homemade piece of heaven. It was filled with a crunchy mix of very finely chopped vegetables, red and white cabbage, carrot and cucumber combined with herbs. The final touch was a thick, homemade barbecue sauce.

I had much more over the summer, but these were the most memorable dishes that make me drool just thinking about them. It was particularly surprising that I did not gain any weight over the two months I was on the road.

Blood Symbolism in Justin Timberlake Lyrics

Justin Timberlake is now on tour with his new album, “The 20/20 Experience.”  I was fortunate enough to see his kick-off show in Indianapolis, IN back in December, and one of the numbers he played was entitled “True Blood.”  As the song began, the stage fell completely dark, and then was suddenly lit up with deep red.  Not surprising, considering the subject matter – it was a dramatic choice, it incorporated elements of both sex and horror.  This is nothing new, of course – fear and arousal are very closely related in the brain.  In fact, a psychologist conducted an experiment in which she approached men and asked for their numbers both on a city street and on a suspension bridge that was swaying precariously in the wind.  The men she approached on the bridge were far more likely to call her than the men on the street, leading the psychologist to believe that the sense of danger led to more heightened feelings of sexuality in the encounter.

And we need also to look no further than the namesake of Justin’s song for another example of this phenomenon: the HBO hit series “True Blood.”  Poll any young lady and you are likely to hear that she has strong romantic feelings for at least one of the vampires on the show – either Eric or Bill, or both.  There is something about darkness, about the treat to one’s life, that draws us us inexorably.  Indeed, the vampire as sex object seems to be dominating the public consciousness these days.  The rabid Twilight fandom is certainly a strong indicator.  Perhaps it has something to do with the exchange of essential fluids as the ultimate intimacy.

This, in any case, is the vein Timberlake takes with his lyrics.  Justin sings about a woman who “got a bite of my type she told me [and]s found her perfect blood mate.”  He seems to indicate that not only does she have a taste for the gory, but that a certain ultimate intimacy can be reached through becoming acquainted with each other’s blood.  He mixes horror with arousal when he claims that “the bones in my body start to quake/Straight up from my toes to my mind/She controls me but I don’t want to escape.”  He plays with the way in which both passion and fear root you to the spot and take control of you – he finds himself surrendering to the seduction, and allowing it to possess him.  He employs the sensual when his lyrics talk about how he can “smell it in you” – the “true blood.”  It is as if, once exposed to this woman, his senses have become heightened and he finds himself seeking her out because of a certain quality to her inner fluids.

The song even includes an evil laugh towards the end, likely a tribute to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”  “Thriller,” too, exists within the tradition of the erotic mixed with fright.  Jackson employs imagery of being frozen in place, of being taken over in the same way that Timberlake does – though with a far more masterful music video, and with the voice of the great Vincent Price.  One only has to gace around to find a number of excellent examples of how we conflate both the fearful and the sexual throughout the media we consume.

Reader Story: The Most Unique Gig I Ever Did

Below is a story from a reader, Janice. Janice has been experimenting with folk music on and off for most of her life, and shares her story of a unique gig she got to play.

Folk is the Only Way to Do It

Hi. My name is Janice and I just love singing, especially folk songs. I do not know what makes this genre so attractive to me but I have been so into it since I was a small girl. I guess I love the style and the sound of folk songs, especially the instruments that folk singers use. I love the combination of the violin, harmonica, and guitar in the song.

At first, I was not a good singer. When I was younger, my neighbor used to complain about my singing. She used to throw cans on our rooftop when she could not stand my voice. I understand that she might a bit grumpy and old but I think I overdid it. It did really sound awful, at least that’s what my sister told me. But I never gave up. I was determined to develop my singing and improve it so that I could be one of the greatest singing sensations someday.

Imagine this, but about dental products!

Going all the way to my singing career

It is incredibly hard to make it and be known as a professional singer. So, I tried to pursue it and I guess I needed to try harder so that my neighbor keeps her cans off our roof. So I practiced hard until I finally improved. I started to sing in different gigs and I tried to join some amateur singing contests.

One of the most interesting parts of my singing career is when I got into this unique singing project. I was luckily chosen to sing a song and play music for a local dental company. They have cool products such as toothpastes, toothbrushes, dental floss, gargles and mouthwash, teeth whitening products and more. This local dental company had just opened a new branch in our little town. The company was really big in this industry:

Got to do my best on this unique gig

I gotta tell you, I have never made music for a dental company before…so there were a lot of weird feelings. The company provided me the lyrics for the song and I had to make the music so that it would sound like a pretty cool little folk song promoting their products. They wanted it to be more traditional and at the same time, unique. Therefore, I worked with some musician friends to get the tune just right and give them something refreshing and hip. I wanted the music to stick to their minds, something that they could not easily forget.

This was very unforgettable for me. I had to put the music and the lyrics together. The hard part is to incorporate the names of the products in the song (“Come on down, yeah, come on down – they’ve got the top oral irrigators in the town”…yeah, I know, right?). Well, it did go alright, though. When we did the recording, everything went fine. The dental company was happy and I was happy, too.

This was one of the greatest accomplishments of my singing career. At least, I do not have to enduring the clanging and banging of cans and whatnot on my roof anymore. Maybe she will love the song that I did when she hears it (“best electric flossers, top rated toothbrushes, mouth wash galore, oh yeah!”). After all, I stand behind both my song, and honestly, the dental products I promoted. I was able to get a great education about oral care and they even offered me some great samples and dental advice/work for my work.

How To Have Great Looking Hair On Musical Tour

Being on a musical tour can be tough on anybody. It can be particularly tough on your hair as you are combining traveling, with different weather climates and if you are a performer, sweating through your hair during each performance and suffering from the heat of industrial lights. The end result is dried out, brittle hair and you may not always have access to a hairdresser to assist you.

Of course one way to have great looking hair while on a musical tour is to have your own hairstylist travel with you at every moment. Most people on tour however, do not have that luxury. Instead you have to be smart and savvy with regard to what hairstyle will work and endure on a music tour and what hair styling products and equipment one should bring with them to meet any hair emergency.

The first thing one should do is plan out, day by day what are the hair requirement needs during the course of the music tour. Will you be performing everyday or will you have off days where it does not matter what your hair will look like. This will help you to select your initial hair length and cut style to suit your musical tour needs. It will also help you plan out what aides, whether human or equipment that you will need to carry with you. This will help you avoid those emergency excursions through unknown cities to track down your favorite conditioner or shampoo.

guitarAfter you have planned your look, you will next need to plan your hair styling equipment and accessories. The staple item is your hair curler. You need to have more than one in case of loss or damage and you should pack a separate bag just for your hair tools. Take the time to research and try which styling products work best for you. One great place to start is so you can start checking out the right styling tools for your look.

You will next need to prepare an inventory of your must needed hair styling products. This would include shampoos, conditioners, oils and other related products. It is easy to run out of these products when you are at or near your home, but when you are on tour, you cannot instinctively run to your favorite store because you know the store stock by heart. Pack multiple bottles of everything that you will need and shop on line your favorite products. In this manner you will be able to refill without loss of time or creating stress.

The last tip on how to have great looking hair while you are on a music tour is to scout out hair stylists in the city that you plan to travel though. Unlike most of their clients, you will have he benefit of knowing your schedule and can book potential appointments months in advance. You can always cancel or confirm the appointments as you get closer to the schedule date. This will also help you relieve the stress of being on tour. The less stress the more vibrant you hair will be while you are on tour.

The History of Canadian Folk Music

The cultural diversity of Canada is noteworthy and this is why Canada is considered to have one of the richest and most culturally varied folk music traditions. During the 16th and the 17th centuries, vast amounts of population from England and France migrated to Canada bringing with them their musical folklore. Most, settled in the coastlines, fishing and farming, where what later became New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and the St. Lawrence River valley of Quebec. However, some moved further north and west, into the Canadian forests to deal with fur and lumber. Some mixed with local aboriginal tribes to generate a population known as non-Treaty Indians (Metis).

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Agrarian settlement in western Quebec and southern Ontario nested many ballads and folk songs of English origin, which are still kept alive today. Folk music tradition of French origin is also kept alive by a large Franco-Ontarian population, as well as from many Acadian communities of the Atlantic Provinces. In the mid 19th century, Scottish settlements mostly in Cape Breton, established the Gaelic music. About the same period, the famine in Ireland forced large Irish migrations to North America. By the end of the 19th century, Manitoba hosted large Icelandic and Mennonite settlements. From then on and for about half a century, there were mass migrations to western Canada from Europe (i.e. Ukraine, Poland and other) and Asia, adding to the already diverse Canadian folk music mosaic. For example, an Okinawan settlement residing in Alberta, brought with them a very distinctive musical tradition.

As a result, it is not possible to talk about Canadian musical tradition, as the term is incredibly broad. Academics classify Canadian folk music according to ethnic traditions or regional traditions. Ethnic traditions include Irish-Canadian music, which is predominately of Celtic origin and found mainly on the eastern coasts of Canada, Acadian music of a French origin centered in Quebec, Blackfoot music, Inuit music, Innu music, Metis fiddle and many more. The last four refer to traditional folk music of indigenous tribes of the North America. Inuit reside on the Arctic regions and are known for throat singing. Metis are an Aboriginal-European blend. Blackfoot and Innu music are both based on percussion. The regional traditions classification is used mostly for eastern Canada and comprises of Quebec music, Cape Breton fiddling, Newfoundland music, etc.

The amazingly diverse Canadian folk heritage has been an inspiration and has made a huge contribution over the past decades, to the contemporary folk music genre globally. It has much to show for. Some of the best-known songwriters of the folk revival of the 60s include Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young. Their poetry has touched and shaped millions around the world. Canada’s musical influence is bound to continue. It has an amazingly active folk music scene nowadays, comprised of inspired young artists, committed to vividly carrying on the legacy of traditional and contemporary folk music.

How To Get Ready For A Big Show

Most people get nervous when required to perform in front of an audience. Performance anxiety, or more commonly stage fright, is this nervousness/anxiety, fear or even phobia that an individual develops during or even long before presenting himself/herself in any way to a large group of people. Some of the symptoms include heart pounding and limp tremor, sweating and dry mouth, facial nerve tics and dizziness. The severity of the symptoms varies significantly among individuals. In few cases, stage fright can be a manifestation of a social anxiety disorder. However, in most people the aforementioned symptoms arise in anticipation of a show.

It has been reported that there are many famous people with stage fright. There are some, like Hugh Grant and Robbie Williams, who have been deeply affected by stage fright to a degree that has influenced their career. Hugh Grant states that to get through a movie he had to keep filling himself with antidepressants and this is why he retired early, while Robbie Williams cancelled his extremely profitable tour in 2006 and did not tour again until 2013. Nonetheless, there are numerous cases that managed to overcome their performance anxiety. These include Adele, Barbara Streisand, Olympia Dukakis, David Brenner, Peter Coyote, Richard Lewis, Michael Gambon, Jason Alexander, Mose Allison and many more.

There are many ways to deal with stage fright and learn to unwind. The most important part is to relax your body and mind on the day of the performance. To accomplish this, a good tip is to hum gently. Reciting a favorite poem or song can also do the trick. A familiar tune can help you feel peaceful and in control. You will then feel more comfortable with your performance. To boost up your mood it is also very helpful to laugh. Watch a comedy or spend some time with your funniest friend on the day of the show. This will take your mind off your anxiety.

Make some time, at least thirty minutes, to get some exercise. Exercise releases endorphins, our brain’s natural opiates and eases tension. Stretching your limps, shoulders and back is as important in reducing tension. Your body will then be full of positive energy, yet calm and ready for an incredible act.

Another good way to relax is meditation. Even if you are not familiar with meditating, take fifteen minutes before the show to clear your mind. Find a quiet, isolated room where you can comfortably sit on the ground. Close your eyes and become aware of your breathing. While keeping your focus on your breathing, try to relax every part of your body in turn. Repeat until there is nothing on your mind.

how to prepare for a big show

Are you doing all you can to be mentally and physically prepared for your next big show?

Chewing gum can also help ease the tension from your jaw however chewing for too long or on an empty stomach can upset your digestive system. Eat a banana. A banana is a full yet light meal. You won’t get bloated but you’ll get all the energy you need. Some citrus juice just before your performance can also provide you with energy and vitamins, while at the same time lower you blood pressure, thus your anxiety. Avoid caffeine and any other kind of stimulant.

Don’t allow anything to go wrong. Get there early and get familiar with the space to feel in control. Talk to people in the audience, as the room is gradually filling up and make sure there are some loved ones in it. Finally, promise yourself that you will allow nervousness within a certain time frame. From then on anxiety will be out of the way.