Incredible volunteers abound within the Ottawa Folk Festival community. We started profiling some of our community members in June 2010 as a way of recognizing their work both as part of the festival and beyond. Check out these amazing Ottawans — they are a few of the many faces of our community.
The Festival Volunteers
Inspired by our early volunteers, Chris White (Founding Artistic Director) wrote the following song in August 1995.
O, we all got a phone call one fine day
From a person whose name is Suzanne
She asked us to sign on the dotted line
To support a magnificant plan
She told us a folk fest was happening
She asked us to volunteer
To slug and slog and to work like a dog
For a t-shirt and one glass of beer…
We are bold, we are bright, we are beautiful
We are filling the world with cheer, cheer, cheer
As we work night and day at Britannia Bay…
We’re the festival volunteers!
So we formed into teams and we pledged our time
To ensure that the plan would succeed
We wanted the fest to be one of the best
So we vowed to fulfill every need
No matter how rough the road ahead
Our engines were running to the Max
We built every stage never earning a wage
To support all those folk music acts
Then the weekend arrived and ten thousand folks
Rolled in from near and far
We were steadfast and sure as we kept them secure
And we helped them to park ev’ry car
We served them burgers and bevrages
And pizza by the ton
Every grown-up and kid loved the things that we did
In that weekend of magic and fun
Jo loves getting involved in music! She first volunteered for the Ottawa Folk Festival through the parking crew but then moved to the KidZone where she has remained ever since. Supervising a crowded tent of active kids is fun but it can be intense so she’s glad when she gets time off for various performances. She’s also helped out at the dish tent, a very busy place that always welcomes the extra hands.
Jo especially loves the lively Quebecois band La Bottine Souriante and thinks it would be great to see more francophone participation at the Festival. She adds, “Also, First Nations … they would be the ‘folk’ of the place (Canada).” And of course, she feels that kids are important to the Festival.
When she’s not enjoying the festival Jo likes to draw, sew and volunteer with other organizations involved with the arts. A few years ago she was part of a duo with a neighbour that performed at retirement homes – she played the guitar while he sang. She’s also offered assistance to anyone who needs help, most often disabled folks.
Written by Jamie Anderson, posted March 2012
Lynn & Dave Haggarty
Lynn – Heading home from one Ottawa Folk Festival, Lynn Haggarty’s granddaughter exclaimed “That was a really good party, Grandma!” This type of feedback makes Lynn happy as she says “That’s exactly the atmosphere we hope to deliver to everyone.”
Lynn first became involved with the Ottawa Folk Festival the first year she was responsible for corporate sponsorship for Bell-Northern Research and she has attended the festival every year since. Early on, Lynn enjoyed the festival as audience member but the last five years she has volunteered on the media team, as co-chief for the Info Booth/Merch Tent, and for two years as Stage Host Messaging. Her primary work, however, has been year-round and behind the scenes as a member of various board committees (HR, marketing, and governance) and as a board member for three years including a one year stint as president (until November 2010). Now she’s a member of the Living Archive crew.
Lynn loves when the Arrogant Worms come to the festival because they “…engage every age with their inspired silliness.” Kris Kristofferson’s self-deprecating presentation was entertaining. She really enjoyed Bruce Cockburn too and called them both class acts. Other favorites include the Carolina Chocolate Drops for their enthusiastic toe tapping good music as well as Odetta who performed just weeks before she passed away. Lynn could go on but these are just a few of her favourite performances at the festival.
Lynn is now retired after holding many different positions including teaching and corporate communication. When she’s not volunteering for the festival Lynn enjoys researching and arranging two or three vacations a year. In addition, she’s a member and convener of several interest groups under the University Women’s Club of Ottawa (particularly international cuisine and book groups). She takes exercise classes (“So I can continue to cook and eat!”), and especially enjoys spending time with their two grandchildren and energetic dachshund. It seems that where ever Lynn is, there’s a party.
Dave – Dave attended his first festival in 1995 because his wife knew Chris White, one of the co-founders. Dave had recently retired and figured he had time to help. In the early days he was on the set-up crew but later on, he became a festival photographer.
One of his favourite moments was taking a picture of the Arrogant Worms. When the band saw him, they slid over to the side of the stage and in the middle of a song turned toward him and gave a big thumbs up. The audience burst out in laughter and Dave got a great photo. The signed print hung in the festival office for many years.
Some of his favorite artists over the years include Anne Davison (for her wonderful work on the cello), Tatiana Sadovksa (for expressive throat singing) and Kris Kristofferson (for his self deprecating humour).
Photography is something he loves to do even when he’s not at the festival. He also loves to travel.
Written by Jamie Anderson, posted March 2012
Les and Linda Colbran
Les and Linda have loved volunteering with the Ottawa Folk Festival for eleven years. They work in check-in services and are the first face of the festival for performers, media, and other VIP. Les fondly remembers checking in the very gracious Emmylou Harris a few years back. As he walked her to the main stage she chatted with him, saying that the site was beautiful.
He checked in Natalie McMaster once and decided to play a little trick on her, acting like he didn’t recognize her. He asked if she was a performer or crew but didn’t wait long to tell her he was kidding and that he loved her fiddling. She responded with a good natured slap across the arm. Les comments, “She was great!”
Another favourite act was the Cottars, a band that included sisters and brothers from Cape Breton. They were the same age as students Les was teaching at the time. Les and Linda had a wonderful 20 minute conversation with them. “Terrific kids!” they said.
Les and Linda are now retired and enjoy spending time with their three grandkids. They also love to travel, shop, and relax at their cottage.
So say hi to Les and Linda next year. Just don’t slap him… only Natalie McMaster is allowed to do that.
Written by Jamie Anderson, Summer 2011
A new resident of Canada, Narada is really glad he attended the festival in 2010 – it was his first year volunteering and he worked in signage. He also took photos even though he wasn’t an official photographer as it he really enjoys the activity.
Some people’s spirits were dampened with the rain last year but not for Narada and many others who attended the indoor concerts and other impromptu jams that sprung up. He found it inspiring… “Surely, they showed what the music should be.”
Favourite performers from 2010 included Horse Feathers, Krista Muir, Melissa McClelland and the Jim Cuddy Band. He loves female singers and Jim Cuddy impressed him with his lyrics and songs that reminded him of classic and alt rock. Naranda also enjoys discovering new music and would love to see some European folk artists and Asian artists booked at the festival.
While he was unable to attend in 2011, he’s excited to promote the festival to his friends through social media and other means and plans to attend every other year he lives in Ottawa.
Written by Jamie Anderson, Summer 2011
Joyce has been involved with the Ottawa Folk Festival since before it even began. “I had been a huge fan of Festival for the Folks and was a dedicated Space Cadet (fan of the CKCU FM folk show Canadian Spaces) so when I got wind of a new folk festival blowing into town, I wanted to be part of it.”
She called her friend and fellow folk fan Pam Marjerrison and told her that if they volunteered for the festival they’d get in free. She jokes, “Literally thousands of volunteer hours later, I am not sure Pam would have been so eager to come to that first meeting had she known how much work was in store for her and her husband Alan over the next many years.”
At the first meeting at Mike’s Place on the Carleton University campus, they met Max Wallace and shortly after, Chris White, the co-founders of the festival. “These two amazing people inspired and guided us over the next several months and in the years ahead. The organizing committee was a diverse group of volunteers who met one night after work each week at Rasputin’s Folk Cafe to plan and plot and report on our progress. Six weeks before the festival, we lost our venue and relocated to Victoria Island but everyone bravely soldiered on.”
Her favourite moment will always be the first day of that first festival on Victoria Island. Earlier in the day it was pouring rain. All of their hard work was almost washed away. By opening time, though, the sun came out, and people streamed in through the gates. “All of us who had worked so hard for months were relieved and elated beyond belief.”
The next year the festival moved to Britannia Park where it was held until 2010. Fond memories include the natural beauty of the park – the sun glinting off the water, colourful sunsets, shooting stars and even double rainbows.
She’s heard many wonderful artists over the years but the top of the list is Murray McLauchlan, someone she’s loved since she was a teen. “He is an amazing lyricist and engaging performer, who never fails to put on a great show.”
“While it was absolutely thrilling to see musical greats like Bruce Cockburn, Judy Collins, Kris Kristofferson, Arlo Guthrie and Ramblin Jack Elliott, I equally enjoyed the workshops during the day that matched all kinds of performers.” She also mentions loving David Francey, Ferron, the Mighty Popo, Lynn Miles, the Arrogant Worms and Ian Tamblyn.
She has worked for the festival for all 18 years in a myriad of positions, from Media Liaison to stage crew and now, as festival historian. As a part of her current job she wrote, directed and narrated a short documentary about the festival. She doesn’t think she’ll return to the stage crew since she fell off the stage.
This is a woman who truly loves live music, the festival and volunteering. As long as she stays away from heights, she’s good.
Written by Jamie Anderson, Summer 2011
Jamel Touati began volunteering with the Ottawa Folk Festival shortly after moving to Ottawa in 1998. Being new to Canada, Jamel was very busy settling in with his family along with attending school full-time and working a part- time job. He had enjoyed a few free Jazz Festival concerts in the streets downtown in Montreal so when he heard from his Nortel colleagues that the Ottawa Folk Festival was free for volunteers and had great music, he signed up!
Volunteering with the Ottawa Folk Festival was the perfect relief from a busy routine – not only did it fit the family budget but it was also a great place to meet new friends. “I volunteered largely to meet new people and feel like I was having a mini-holiday without going anywhere.” And so it was! “We practically lived at the Folk Festival for the week-end. Very good memories!”
Jamel found the Festival to be a very friendly place from day one when people helped him along on his first volunteer shift. In fact, the friendly atmosphere of the Festival helped Jamel feel welcome as a newcomer to Canada. “It helped me to feel not so new. It helped me to feel like I was part of the city. It helped me to understand about how some things work in Canada and how important volunteers are. Canada has a lot to offer and as a new Canadian I hadn’t realized how much of that comes from volunteers. It was good to be a part of that.”
Many years later, Jamel and his wife Anneke still volunteer with the Ottawa Folk Festival when they get the chance. He says his favourite part is still sitting under the stars at night and listening to the music, a tradition enjoyed at folk festivals by many
Written by Trish Silk, June 2011
Erin Posthumus — volunteer extraordinare — is from Tara Ontario, a small town of 800 just outside of Owen Sound.
Prompted to move to Ottawa for school, Erin became involved with the Ottawa Folk Festival three summers ago after being impressed with the line up she saw on a poster. The only volunteer positions that were still available at the time were with the envirodish crew and she bit the bullet. She loved the experience so much that when the following year arrived, she immediately signed up for the same crew. Erin’s commitment to the Festival doesn’t stop there as she also helps year round in other ways such as with the OFF booth at the Great Glebe Garage sale and playing at the Community Cup (despite her self-reported lack of soccer skills!).
Erin’s generous spirit knows no bounds. She has worked on capacity development in Vietnam and after the Tsunami of 2004, she helped build houses in Sri Lanka. However, no matter where she travels, Erin always finds time to get back to Ottawa in time for the Folk Festival.
Further proof of Erin’s adventurous spirit is that her favourite memory of the Festival is rooted in the infamous thunderstorms of last year. For her, it was a great time! “We were absolutely soaked in mud and rain and everyone was doing everything they could to make the best of a potentially awful situation. That night, a group of us (friends that I had made through the festival) went to the hotel. Everyone deserved a beer that night. My highlight was sitting outside in the wee hours of the morning with a group of about ten volunteers and musicians with instruments in hand playing loudly as another storm system swept through around us. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.”
Written by Holly Ellingwood, May 2011
Pam and Alan Marjerrison
In recalling the torrential rains at the 2010 Ottawa Folk Festival, long-time volunteer Alan Marjerrison makes a connection with the very first festival held on Victoria Island in 1994. He remembers how singer Valdy countered the beginning of a rain shower by singing “Rain, Rain Go Away”, to which the shower responded by promptly stopping.
2010 might not have repeated that particular magical moment, but such memories are sprinkled throughout Alan’s 18-year experience as a Festival volunteer, along with the equally long volunteer service of his wife Pam.
“Sharing these moments with other people is a wonderful experience and is one of my favourite things about the Festival,” says Pam, describing a memorable moment when singer Odetta rallied Festival spectators during a power outage. Odetta led a singalong of “This Little Light of Mine,” remembers Pam. “The audience was mesmerized. It was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop.”
“There has always been a feeling of intimacy with the performers on stage at the Folk Festival,” explains Alan. “That is what makes the event so special.”
Over the years, both Alan and Pam have held an impressive list of volunteer positions with the Festival. After acting as crew leader for the performer transportation crew for the past 17 years, Alan is stepping down to take a much deserved break. He was a member of the Festival steering committee for 12 years and served as Board Secretary for 2. Pam was a member of the artistic and steering committees for 13 and 14 years respectively as well as being Vice President of the Board for 10 years and President for 2. She stepped down at the end of 2008, but continues to volunteer as a member of the Festival Kitchen crew and is currently working on the Festival archives. Pam notes that “the Festival’s been a big part of my life for the past 18 years.”
The couple credit Pam’s friend, Joyce MacPhee, with getting them involved. In the fall of 1993, Joyce and Pam attended an initial meeting about organizing an Ottawa folk festival. “The rest is history,” finishes Pam. Her journalism degree helped here, as she proofread and edited the Festival program, wrote and sent out news releases and helped to publicize and run Festival concerts. “I was happy to put my degree to full use!”
Alan quite naturally followed his wife into the volunteering life, beginning by taking pictures and looking after the transportation needs of singers Penny Lang and Valdy.
Now retired, Alan and Pam are happy to spend more time with family and friends in addition to pursuing their hobbies and recreational activities, including canoeing and cross-country skiing. And of course, both are now no doubt looking forward to next year’s fest.
“Over the years,” says Pam, “I’ve got to know some wonderful people who have selflessly volunteered their skills and countless hours to make the Festival a success.” “I just enjoy being a volunteer for such a fantastic event,” adds Alan.
Written by Colleen Addison, spring 2011
Shelley Morris has been integral to the culture the Ottawa Folk Festival since 2008. It all started when she was asked by the Ottawa Folk Festival to be part of a team of “mystery shoppers” where she assessed and reported on the accessibility of the festival for people with disabilities. Since then she’s been the leader and pioneer for the Accessibility Crew, affectionately named the A-Team.
It was at Folkfest that Shelly had a truly life altering moment. The first time she heard That One Guy in the dance tent she was forever moved by the energy of his performance! She recalls not being able to see him very well but that didn’t matter; his music is now the soundtrack to her very active life. Shelley trains for triathlons (she will be participating in three over the course of this spring and summer) and participates every year in a race to climb up the CN tower. Prior to 2006, participants in this race were allowed to listen to music as they climbed the 1,7776 stairs to the top. Since they restricted the use of listening devices in the race she has trained to and memorized That One Guy’s music, which sets the pace of her climb to the top.
Shelley’s passion for music and the festival atmosphere in Ottawa is truly apparent. At the Folk Festival, she happily reminisces about hearing the breeze in the willow tree and the beautiful harmonizing in the background as well as other favorite moments such as seeing Joel Plaskett, Steven Page, Bruce Cockburn and Anna Muira play together on August 23, 2009.
In 2010, Shelley thoroughly enjoyed hearing Rambling Jack Elliot speak of Woody Guthrie, dancing to Arrested Development and naming Sunday “the day the monsoon hit”. Both of us agreed that the weather allowed for some great grassroots moments in the festival, creating some once in a lifetime in-prompt to jam sessions, dances and gatherings; truly capturing the magic of the Folk Festival.
Being a part of the Accessibility crew is very important to Shelley. “The best part of being in the crew is that organizers and fellow volunteers actually listen to what we suggest. I get to combine my passion for live music with my passion for accessibility. I am truly in my element!” Shelley will continue working with the festival again as a member of the accessibility crew. When asked what she would like to see at the festival in 2011: “I would love to see more people with disabilities volunteer with and attend the festival.”
Written by: Christine Seguin, spring 2011
Beginning her love of folk music began at a tender age, Angela Larose has been attending the Ottawa Folk Festival for a number of years. Now 18, Angela began volunteering three years ago on “a whim” as a member of the floater crew. Now a co-leader of the Box Office, Angela loves being one of many who help to make purchasing festival tickets a fun experience.
Helping patrons is only the start of what makes the festival an unforgettable adventure and must-participate annual event for Angela – it’s the people she works with too. “That first year volunteering I met so many people who are now some of my best friends. We come back every year. I feel like I have a little Folk Fest family. We pick up new people every year. The best things about the Ottawa Folk Festival are the simplest things: Wandering around, sitting with your friends, chatting, listening to music, eating some good food, dancing in the dance tent, and making a customer’s day by selling them a ticket in a memorable way.”
Friends are one of Angela’s fondest memories of the festival. Each year she looks forward to how everyone gathers for the final acts on the last day and afterwards gets together to reminisce about the festival highlights. She describes it as “that feeling that we don’t want the festival to be over that makes me realize how much fun the festival really is.”
Despite moving to Montreal to begin her first year at McGill University, Angela has still found time amid her pursuits of photography and avid biking and reading to continue on with the Ottawa Folk Festival. In fact, she has volunteered her time in Model UN, international affairs and photography clubs in high school and intends to volunteer in her new university surroundings while still keeping the Ottawa Folk Festival close to her heart.
Written by Holly Ellingwood, Aug 2010
Since stepping into the role of coordinating volunteers at the Ottawa Folk Festival, it’s been such a pleasure to meet many of the incredible people that are the heart of this organization. Jeff Dubois is definitely one of them and it was such a privilege to sit down over tea to learn about his life and experiences, including those with the Ottawa Folk Festival.
Jeff began volunteering with the Festival seven years ago when he heard about the opportunity on CBC Radio’s All In A Day. While he had never attended the festival, he had always been a passionate fan of folk music and was more than happy to get involved. Since that first year, he has worked on the floater and security crews, and has most recently been postering for various Folk Festival events around town. Jeff is without a doubt an incredibly reliable, enthusiastic and wonderful volunteer!
Growing up in a musical family, Jeff’s father played fiddle and he had a brother who step danced on the Don Messer show in 1958. With many siblings who played the guitar, Jeff picked up the instrument as a child and has continued to play until this day. His passion for music also includes singing and song writing.
Jeff made a career in aerial photography and ocean floor mapping in various parts of the world. Following his retirement, he returned to University completing degrees Psychology and Law and is planning to return to Carleton University this autumn to pursue a Master’s Degree in Law. When he’s not in town keeping busy with friends and checking out music, he likes to spend time at his cottage with his dog Molly.
Jeff loves the Ottawa Folk Festival because of its laid back and relaxed environment, similar to the other music venues around town that he likes to go attend. “I like small venues like the Black Sheep or Irene’s because you can sit down and talk with the artists. That’s the thing with folk music, it’s very unpretentious.”
Two very special moments stand out for Jeff in terms of his Folk Festival experiences. One was when he caught Willie P. Bennett playing the Festival. Then in 2008 after Willie P. Bennett died, Jeff remembered the wonderful tribute at the Festival… “For me, that was really really special.”
Jeff speaks highly of his volunteer experience. As he points out, putting up posters gets him out around town and getting exercise. He also genuinely likes helping out. “I’d do anything to help if I have time. I like the Festival. What I really like is the way the volunteers are treated. It’s very sincere.” Jeff is a very interesting person and always such a pleasure to be around. We are very lucky to have him be a part of the OFF family!
Written by Emily Addison with assistance from Adele Ho, August 2010
To read Ravi Philar’s volunteer ‘rap sheet’ (from a 1978 -81 stint as project manager overseeing the upgrading of the Nicholas St. gaol hostel, to the more recent work in Hintonburg, coordinating the serving of 700 Christmas Day meals at the Carleton Tavern) one might assume Ravi to be a retired man. However, this is not the case, and in true altruistic volunteer fashion, Ravi takes time off from work to help provide enjoyable summer festival memories for others, joking that his wife becomes a “Festival Widow” during this time. However, his wife and two daughters are equally active volunteers.
Since 2000, Ravi has volunteered with the OFF in many different roles (Envirodish, Security, VIP Check-In, and Performer Hospitality) and has thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities and experiences each role provided. Three years ago, when OFF decided to vend its own beer and wine, Ravi was the natural choice to become the “Beer Sales Crew Leader,” since he had honed that precisely needed skill set through another one of his volunteer gigs: that of Bluesfest’s Beer Tents Area Leader. As a comparison of scale, OFF will sell as much beer in its 3 day run as Bluesfest can in one hour; at Bluesfest, Ravi coordinates 650 volunteers versus 35 at OFF. He also notes the differences in the flavour and feel of each festival. “The scenery, boats on the water, the setting sun…few places can match the beauty of the OFF location.” Ravi says that not only is the Folk Fest less hectic and a “chance to relax at the end of the summer and actually see and hear some of the music,” but that the festival attracts “a different crowd altogether and has a relaxed, homey feeling.” To illustrate this, he highlights the fact that at OFF, artists and volunteers sit and eat together and mingle freely: “conversations just happen!”
Ravi has made numerous – and totally unexpected – connections and friendships over the years with OFF musicians. He says that this is the key for him… to go in with no expectations (other than wanting things to run smoothly under his hand), and just be open to the magic that might transpire. Two very specific examples of that special magic that can occur between artist and volunteer/audience member immediately jump to mind. In the first case, he fondly recalls the charming, sweet and genuinely interested personality of Buffy St. Marie as he was tasked with escorting her from one stage to another. “She asked my name, stuck her arm in mine, said, “Let’s go,” and chatted away with me the whole way. People later commented that it looked like I was walking on air!” The second example is actually the musical highlight of Ravi’s life, which happened at the 2008 Folk Fest dedicated to Woody Guthrie. After a wicked storm chased many patrons home and threatened to shut down main stage for the night, Kris Kristofferson eventually took to the stage and played an intimate show for those hardy few who remained. Ravi describes the stunning visual of watching Kristofferson on stage, the cool wind blowing off the river into his face as he sang an emotionally-laden version of “The Ballad of Tom Joad” with all 17 verses flawlessly rendered.
When asked why he continues to volunteer with OFF, Ravi notes the fun of interacting with patrons and the “wonderful feeling” of helping to put the festival together. He also speaks with pride of the efforts of his team and the connections the volunteers make with one another. For Ravi, the payback is obvious: “I am greeted by so many volunteers each day, hugged, patted on the back, and thanked for creating fun. I don’t need to eat; I don’t need to drink – I’m just so happy!”
Written by Deborah Scully, August 2010
Like the Folk fest logo? Now meet the woman who designed it, Folk fest veteran volunteer Roberta Huebener, a visual artist and musician who’s been helping the organization since the beginning.
“It kind of chose me,” says Roberta, describing a chance meeting with Folk fest organizers Chris White and Gene Swimmer which first led to her involvement. Roberta was a regular attendee at other folk festivals all over Canada when she ran into the pair backstage at an Acoustic Waves concert in 1993. Her offer to do a little “pro bono and signage work” led to a volunteer stint that lasted for 15 years and is still ongoing.
“ I was very willing!” says Roberta, who was delighted at the chance to help create Ottawa’s own fest.
She hasn’t rested on her laurels since designing the logo. When asked to comment on her favourite part of the fest, Roberta cites a range of activities that speak to her extensive commitment to the fest. Among the fun are such varied events as “making a ukulele,” “late night jams,” and “dancing to the beat of many world cultures.”
“Guerrilla cultural development can be great fun—the challenge of making something out of nothing and surviving the experience,” says Roberta, who speaks proudly of Ottawans as a force for cultural event-making. “There is no aspect of the arts in Ottawa that hasn’t been built by like-minded people who wanted to see it happen.”
Now retired, Roberta is a visual artist specializing in calligraphy, painting, and mixed media. She worked for 30 years as a high school visual arts teacher, a job which Roberta credits with giving her great skills that she now uses as a Folk fest volunteer. She is also an amateur musician; her strong interest in Folk fest-type blues/folk/roots music is on display in her “proverbial kitchen (porch, living room, and basement) party and band,” in which she sings and plays guitar and mandolin.
“If one is going to volunteer,” she explains, “one should do something close to one’s heart.” It’s clear that Roberta has done just that.
Written by Colleen Addison, June 2010
Jake Morrison loves the nation’s capital and the Ottawa Folk Festival. While he grew up in Minnesota, he was immediately struck by the beauty of Ottawa when he moved to the city nearly forty years ago. “Just gorgeous” was his first impression and it stuck. His love for the city and the arts led him to the Ottawa Folk Festival.
Jake became involved as a volunteer three years ago through the parking crew.
Although parking wasn’t his first choice of crews, he found the role a rare joy because it provided the opportunity to be one of the first people that festival attendees meet when they arrived on site. Jake considered it “a wonderful experience” and has been volunteering with the festival ever since. He progressed into the Photography Crew which he co-led last and this year. Jake looks forward to the music and people as well as the sites and sounds that the festival has to offer.
A carpenter by training, now working in oil spill response research, Jake has had a long and abiding passion for photography. His eclectic experiences led Jake to appreciate the diverse facets of the Ottawa Folk Festival. He is fascinated by “seeing people make music and dance, adding their talents together and making something new.”
Jake finds that the most rewarding aspect of volunteering for the festival is “being a part of something bigger than you are.” He describes the Ottawa Folk Festival as “a community that’s there to do the things that I love: dance and music. It’s a creative community. The community is wonderful.”
Written by Holly Ellingwood, June 2010
Relocating to Ottawa in 2007, Sean Taylor knew that one of the fastest ways to find a community of like-minded, music-loving souls was to jump right into a volunteer role in a local music festival. Having background knowledge with running a festival and stage set-up, he knew that the “Production Crew” was the spot for him and that is exactly where he spent his first awesome year with Ottawa Folk Festival. Sean is currently the Production Crew Team Leader, a role he walked into for the 2008 festival, happily admitting that he was simply in the “right place at the right time.” His crew members and other OFF organizers couldn’t be happier for this serendipity as Sean leads a great crew of keen volunteers who help provide the technical stage needs (sound and lights).
As a crew leader, Sean is unflappable in the face of stage crises. His calm demeanor and wide, beatific smile keep his crew members equally calm and focused. Even with all the running around and problem-solving to be done, Sean takes the time to enjoy the music and mood of the fest, insisting that his crew also take the time to do so. Sean describes the mood as “a family reunion of friends and community, a chance to re-connect with folks over three wonderful days and then we go our separate ways for another year.” He is grateful that OFF has allowed him to “meet so many people who share a common love of live, performed music,” and he is delighted to support and give back to the organization through his volunteer role. He gains satisfaction knowing that he is helping an organization that “appreciates it on an honest level.”
A highlight of Sean’s musical life occurred at last year’s Ottawa Folk Festival (2009) with the “Songs from the Road” performance, featuring a shared stage between Bruce Cockburn, Ana Miura, Stephen Page, and Joel Plaskett. “It took the musicians out of their comfort zone and threw them together for an afternoon. The music was so intimate. I remember Joel’s story about being stranded in a New York airport and Bruce Cockburn hanging on every word. It brought the musicians down to our level – physically – I mean they were on a 6-inch riser!” Of course, one of the perks of the Production Crew is getting to meet the musicians, but equally fun, Sean says, is meeting so many of the festival attendees and seeing the incredible age-range this inclusive and accessible festival gathers in. “There’s programming for kids and seniors and everybody in between!”
Written by Deborah Scully, June 2010