The Silver Skate Festival overflows with action and monument — where almost any type of winter race you can imagine happens in the shadow of the beautifully impermanent ice castle nearby. Music and art are a big part of its appeal, too.
Besides the famous sculptural fires at 7:45 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through the fest’s 10-day schedule, dozens of musical slots have been filled down at Hawrelak Park, Feb. 9-19.
Oh, and it’s all free — though do note that the ice castle is technically a separate entity which you can book online.
Roots alchemist Jay Gilday is a fine example the sort of tunes you’ll hear down in the Silver Skate big tent, and — scheduled to play Friday at 5 p.m. — he’s honest and lighthearted about his repeat experiences at Silver Skate.
“There’s a couple different feels to it dependent on the weather,” he explains.
“It’s super fun, lots of people down there. Last year, it was essentially raining, and they were trying to start the fire at the same time. They have that big burn that they do. They were having a hard time with that, but regardless, it was a lot of fun.
“It’s Canadian tuning — the heater pumping at your feet and the cold air blowing in from the back of the tent.”
Another local folksinger, Nadine Kellman, says the tent has improved with experience. “The first time I played, it was -30 C or something. It wasn’t all covered like it is now — the front was open, so we froze. The heaters were basically just blowing warm air at your bum,” she laughs.
Kellman’s playing 4 p.m. Sunday, but the music starts Saturdays and Sundays at 12:45 p.m., with hilarious banter king Jason Kodie often in the first slot with his accordion. Friday’s musical entertainment starts at 4 p.m. with Brooke Woods, and blues powerhouse Caleigh Cardinal is on at 8 p.m. Saturday, the night’s last act.
Gilday, who originally hails from the Northwest Territories, thinks nothing of playing in the winter — it’s in his bones, and he’s a Yellowknife Caribou Carnival frequent flyer: “Essentially dogsleds and maple syrup and skating and log cutting — it’s great.
“We grew up doing winter festivals like this — you can’t just sit on your hands till the summertime, the winter’s just too long.
“(This is) definitely one time a year where it’s guaranteed skating.”
Gilday won Edmonton Music Awards trophies last year for singer-songwriter and artist to watch and things have been heating up for him lately, gig-wise. “It’s not just the awards. I’ve been parenting for the last four years — I have four kids. I never had the time to make a push.
“People were waiting to give me an opportunity and now’s the right time,” he says.
He has two boys, ages 12 and nine, and two seven-year-old twin girls. They seem interested in music, he laughs, “only when we’re not looking.
“We’ve tried them in various lessons, but every once in a while we’ll hear something happening in the basement. They boys are playing the guitar and the girls are on piano.”
I suggest a family band, and he says, “Oh, they would hate that. I might just do it anyway — my dad did it to me.”
When Gilday plays, the whole family heads down to Silver Skate. But “They won’t hang out with me. They’ll go play broomball and run around and skate, look for cotton candy.”
Kellman, meanwhile, likes the festival because it’s something to do during the less busy winter months — but she also digs the family vibe. “I don’t get to play in front of kids ever, because I usually play at bars and halls, so it’s cool to see the kids running around and jamming out.
“Kids, if they like it, they’ll let you know. And if they don’t, they’ll cover their ears, which has happened to me before. Like, fair enough, buddy, I might be singing off key.
“It’s great for them to see different kinds of music instead of just playing Old MacDonald, kind of showcase what Edmonton has to offer for everyone.”
Executive producer Erin Di Loreto has been with the fest 10 of its 28 years and notes the 209-square-metre heated tent is indeed enclosed and warm, with a surrounding beer garden behind a snow wall.
“We’ve got a great base of musicians here, and we can offer an eclectic selection at Silver Skate. I love being able to showcase the diversity and beauty and artistic vitality Edmonton has to offer.”
She lists off Mariel Buckley, Mercy Funk, Garry Lee, John Spearn, Josephine Van Lier, John Guliak and others. This year, because of construction on Churchill Square, Silver Skate inherited Downtown Defrost, DJ event, playing 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18. Check the official site for full details.
Back to temporary public art, the fest is also hosting its 12th annual Snow Sculpture Symposium, with teams both local and from U.K., Germany, Mexico, Belgium and France. The carving happens Friday and Saturday, winners announced Sunday — and the sculptures stand for the duration.
“The only international artists we bring in are snow sculptors, so local artists and international artists can learn and work together as a community,” Di Loreto says.
In charge of all this is local sculptor Ritchie Velthuis — known for his portraits of the entire SCTV cast — the fest’s creative director.
“When I started,” says Di Loreto, “we were a three-day festival with 5,000 people in the park. Now we’re 10 days and have around 100,000.”
Though it’s a free, non-profit event, she jokes: “I wish my revenues increased as quickly as my audience. But we’re pretty lucky, aren’t we?”
Source : http://edmontonjournal.com/entertainment/music/silver-skate-festivals-10-days-includes-punchy-music-temporary-public-artThank You for Visiting My Website