Alianait Festival 2011 – Day One

With the July long weekend comes the hottest, coolest festival on top of the worldAlianait!  Alianait is Inuktitut for something that is wonderful – or being very very happy.  It has been an exciting few days and now that it’s winding down, we can start giving a day by day recap.

As with many other large events in Iqaluit, it lives and dies by the efforts of the volunteers.  Ian and I have been helping out again with this event and enjoying every minute of it.  I took some time off of work on Thursday to help out manning the ticket and merchandise tables.  It was grey, and most people were working, so not very busy.  But we met some of the other volunteers, including a woman (Hi June!) whose mother grew up a few houses over from where we lived in Kitchener…small world!

Ian modeling the cool schwag you get as a volunteer...

There are two main stages for the festival…the Big Top and the Main Festival stage.

This is the Big Top Stage.

This is the main Festival Stage (in Nakasuk School).

The Big Tent held showcases, a square dance and workshops, and the main Festival Stage was where it was at each evening of the Festival.  The first night was a nice introduction to some great Canadian (and international) music.  Lots of blurry pictures and low quality videos ahead…what do you want for a basic point and shoot camera?

First up was the April Verch Band.  The band is based out of Ottawa, but bassist/banjoist Cody Walters is from North Carolina and guitarist Clay Ross is from Brooklyn, NY.  April herself is phenomenal on the fiddle and performs Ottawa Valley Stepdancing while fiddling.  Pretty amazing.

Next up were the Gregor Boys from Labrador.  The “boys” included an eclectic range of ages of men playing “traditional” Inuit rock.  I unfortunately don’t know if I’m spelling their name correctly – they don’t seem to have a web presence and appear to have been a replacement for someone in the program.  Regardless, they rocked the house and got some folks up on their feet and dancing.

Coming from Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory was a quartet of women playing old time string music with pretty amazing vocal harmonizing – Annie Lou.  They were a little too country for my liking, but you can’t deny that they were good at what they did.  The music was highly evocative of another time, and certainly another place.

The final performer of the evening was Angu Motzfeldt.  An indie musician from Greenland, the program described him as “Greenland’s male opposite to Bjork but with a touch of U2’s ‘Joshua Tree’ and the psychedelic rock of Blow Up Hollywood”.  Not necessarily how I’d describe his music – it was more like Chris Martin of Coldplay with an Inuk twist.  No matter…truly beautiful work.  I definitely picked up his newest CD Burning Blue Skies which also features his band.  But Angu on his own is soulful and dreamy.  Perfect for helping someone sleep in the 24 hour sunlight…

And really, what night would be complete without me stalking someone for an autograph or a picture.  😉

Is that a smile? Or a look of worry? Don't worry, Angu. I am still having trouble opening the CD to be signed. You can run away while I'm distracted!

Don’t forget to keep checking for the rest of the Alianait posts…they’re coming soon…

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