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Life at the Calgary Folk Music Festival

Photo: Ron Sparrow
CFMF super volunteer, Peter May

“It’s this mind and soul expanding experience,” says Peter May. “I think we can all use a little bit of that.”

He pauses, laughs. “Maybe a lot of it.”

He’s talking about Calgary Folk Music Festival (CFMF). May knows it well; he’s been a volunteer for 25 years.

Starting on the instrument lockup crew, he now puts in over 200 hours a year as a volunteer manager and board member.

The joy and solidarity CFMF creates are needed, he says. It’s why he returns every year.

“I love the music. And I love what the music provides – an opportunity to get together as a community of people around a common interest, with a common vibe. I love that feeling.”

Volunteering is a deeper dive into the fest experience, he says.

“I think volunteering helps people understand each other, helps to build bridges,” he says. “As a society I think we’re less good than ever at understanding each other and working together.”

CKUA and the CFMF, however, have been working well together for decades, supporting each other’s work and collaborating to make sure local musicians are being lifted up and encouraged.

A bass guitar and harmonica player in folk group Horizon Ridge, May has felt this firsthand when CKUA hosts play his band’s music on air. “It feels really good. It’s a recognition that we’re a certain quality; it introduces us to different listeners. It’s fantastic.”

May’s been a CKUA fan since his 1989 move to Calgary. When asked what keeps him listening, he took a breath. “Boy. A lot of things.” The quality of the shows and the excellence of the hosts, he says. “They’re people with deep expertise and connections in the music world. You’re getting the real deal.”

The folk fest’s volunteer crews are now full! They’re taking waitlist applications; check out Volunteer | Calgary Folk Music Festival.

Here’s Peter’s music pick: