Winnipeg Folk Festival

Sharon Van Etten

Dusdin Condren

Birds Hill Provincial Park // July 9-13

Big Names // Ben Harper, Hurray For the Riff Raff, Baskery, Sharon Van Etten, Aimee Mann & Ted Leo (as The Both), Bry Webb, Daniel Romano.

Local talent // The Bros. Landreth, Sweet Alibi, Chic Gamine, JP Hoe.

Cost // Day passes start at $48, five-day passes are $145 and if you wanna camp it’s $220.

Free Parking


Sharon Van Etten is familiar with compromise, whether it be balancing relationships while away from home or the struggles of performing vulnerable songs night after night.

She and her band are in Denver setting up for their next show on a long, arduous tour, and it's “perfectly sunny and breezy all at the same time.” Even after spending eight hours on the tour bus, Van Etten is still able to step back and enjoy the whirlwind that is life on the road.

“My van is another home and my band is my family away from home,” Van Etten, a self-professed homebody, says with a chuckle. “Another thing I'm learning is that home is everywhere, it's who you surround yourself with and my home in New York is just one of those places.”

The catalyst for the tour is Van Etten's fourth full-length album Are We There, a hauntingly beautiful collection of songs which she produced herself.

“I didn't know subconsciously what I was doing at the time,” Van Etten says of the project, which took shape over the last two years while she toured her breakthrough Tramp LP. “Inadvertently I was documenting the struggles of trying to have a career while having a home life as well.”

Although balance is often a rarity when it comes to an all-encompassing career in music, Van Etten has been able to find solace in friends and family that understand her work and hectic schedule.

“I might have to be gone nine months out of the year to do what I do but [my friends and family] also know that it's not selfish, that I hopefully help people and that I'm hopefully doing it for the greater good, for myself as well as for other people, and they understand,” Van Etten says.

Between the heavy songs and the gruelling schedule, “you need to have people around you who support you and that are positive people,” she says of her band/second family. “It's all about sharing the weight together, but also sharing the successes. You need to have both. Everybody that I've worked with is a road dog and gets it. They're really just equal so I have it pretty lucky.”

The raw, personal subject matter of Are We There is a quality that creates arresting music, yet can make touring a trying experience, performing sometimes painful memories.

“There's things that I've gone through that I feel lucky enough to get out of my system, file it away, compartmentalize it, and it helps me move on in a way. But sometimes performing them can be pretty hard and taxing, pretty draining. I still feel those things even if I'm beyond it. It helps to release it, too, in performing it. I can let go of my emotions for a minute and look around at everyone who's grounding me.

“It's worth it,” Van Etten says with a laugh.


Sharon Van Etten will be headlining at the Big Bluestem stage as part of the Winnipeg Folk Festival on July 13.

Part of the series: 2014 Summer Festival Guide

Published in Volume 68, Number 28 of The Uniter (July 2, 2014)

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