Folk Fest profile: Dan Mangan back on the road

Dan Mangan will perform at the Bear Creek Folk Festival at Muskoseepi Park in Grande Prairie, Alta. in August 2019.

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After a six-year respite from touring, Dan Mangan is making his way through Europe and Canada with a stop at the Bear Creek Folk Festival in one weeks.

For Mangan, his career between 2006 and 2012 was “non-stop insanity” with as many as 200 shows in a year.

“I kind of hit a wall where I was starting to lose my enjoyment of it,” Mangan said. “Interesting how slowing down makes you want more of it.”

The Vancouver-based musician has a number of achievements to his name, such as winning two Juno awards and scoring a soundtrack for the feature film “Hector and the Search for Happiness” starring Simon Pegg.

But even those with success require a break now and again.

“I didn’t tour for a number of years after my first kid was born,” Mangan said. “I just sort of took a few years off from the grind and then one kid turned into two.”

This touring hiatus lasted from 2013 to 2018. Mangan didn’t retire from music completely during this period, putting out a studio album, “Club Meds,” in 2015.

“In recent years, I’ve sort of had a little more fuel on the fire and I’ve been touring a little bit more,” he added.

“And I (have) to say, it’s sort of nice to be back on stage.”

After making stops throughout Canada this month, including Grande Prairie, Mangan is touring Europe late September and early October where he will play in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom. He will then spend late November performing in nine Ontario communities.

Relaxed and folkish

Mangan isn’t one for labels, but if a border guard or an otherwise inquisitive soul wanted to put him in a box, he would describe himself as a folk singer-songwriter.

“Of course, nobody likes to put a label on what they do but that is the simplest label that I can (provide),” he said.

Mangan is also a newbie to both Grande Prairie and the folk festival

“Smaller town festivals can be really nice, actually,” Mangan said. “When you’re at the big, large festivals, it can be kind of chaotic.”

He noted how small town festivals tend to be “pretty low key” in terms of their relaxed atmosphere. This opportunity can allow for musicians such as Mangan to have a breather on an otherwise hectic tour schedule and explore the locales.

“I’m always curious, you know, like where’s the bookstore or where’s the best cup of coffee or whatever and just kind of wandering around,” he said.

Mangan described his enjoyment with connecting to his audience—big or small—as almost a kind of high. It requires one to remove one’s armour and get into a “flow state.”

“My goal is to remove the pedestal between the stage and the audience (so they can) just sort of be a bunch of people in the room,” he said.

“You have these songs and what you hope is that people find something in them.”

The fourth annual Bear Creek Folk Music Festival takes place Aug. 16 to 18 on Borstad Hill in Muskoseepi Park within the heart of Grande Prairie. Tickets and more information are available at bearcreekfolkfest.org.

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