By Francesca Schoettler, August 6 2023—
The Cool Like Dat session took place on Friday, July 28 at Field Law, Stage 3. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Calgary’s Folk Festival, sessions are collaborative hour-long ensembles that feature several artists. Sessions are known for their unpredictable and unique sound as different groups come together to create something raw and never heard before, which is what makes them so special in the first place. Cool Like Dat consisted of Five Alarm Funk, Beats Antique and dumama + kechou, which together created a modern, timeless and electric sound.
Five Alarm Funk is an eight-member Vancouver-based band, now together for their 20th year. The band is made up of Tayo Branston, Gabe Boothroyd, Oliver Gibson, Jay Smith, Thomas Towers, Kent Wallace and Carl Julig. Their music, as they describe it, is a horn-powered, percussion-fuelled, sonic and visual assault. Beats Antique, a well-rounded trio including Zöe Jakes, David Santori and Tommy Cappel, incorporates French Hot Club jazz, Balkan wedding music, hip hop, flamenco, dub reggae and Middle Eastern music to create a multi-sensory musical experience. dumama + kechou consists of Gugulethu Duma (dumama) and Algerian-German Kerim Melik Becker (kechou), featuring percussive, instrumental and vocal sounds drawn from Northern and Southern Africa.
The seamless blend of instruments and artists created a captivating soundscape that celebrated the spirit of folk music. Each member came together to share their stories through song, fusing their specific style to capture the very heart and soul of the audience, and believe me, they did. There was something about this session, an inviting mixture of electric, funk and folk music, that felt both serene and inescapable — jumping from moments of tranquillity to more upbeat and dynamic sounds within a matter of seconds. The Field Law stage reverberated with the liveliness of artists and listeners alike, a delightful reminder of the communal spirit that folk music fosters. I couldn’t see a single person sitting still — the funk and folk mash-up just made you want to get up and dance.
Cool Like Dat celebrated the essence of folk music and its ability to connect and empower people at such a raw and human level. It reminded me of the loveliest parts of humanity, the desire to come together with no objective in mind other than to be together and create something wonderful.