Reprinted From Penguin Eggs Magazine Issue 32, Winter 2006 Winterfolk V by David McPherson
Brian Gladstone, a child of the folk revolution of the 60's, was bred on Dylan. Forty years on, he still sports the hippie-long locks as a physical reminder to this seminal time in roots music. Meeting the founder of Winterfolk for a pint, one learns how this former design and research engineer gave up a six-figure day job to pursue his passion. "It's a vision I had," he says. "Its one of those spur-of-the-moment things that came to me and it has taken on a momentum of its own" What Gladstone did with this musical momentum, from the outset, was try to emulate a summer festival. He lined up a bunch of venues in close proximity on the Danforth, in Toronto's East End, so people could walk from stage to stage and venue to venue. "You have to be there to experience it. There is a magic in the air. Everybody on the street is a Winterfolk person … it's quite an energetic time. As a musician with four albums to his credit, Gladstone understood how hard it is for roots musicians to make ends meet, especially in the winter. Now in it's fifth year, Winterfolk does its part by providing a state to some of these struggling artists. This year, over the course of three days (Feb 9-11, 2007), more than 80 artists will hit the stages at half a dozen clubs at that Gladstone now bills as a roots and blues festival. And, borrowing another key mantra from the 60's, the three-day fest this year is free. Gladstone reveals this decision was reached to appease the club owners since they felt many attendees, after spending the money to get into the bar, were not spending any more cash on drinks, so the club owners were losing revenue. "The only way to work in harmony with these venues and not interfere with their business was to make it a free festival. It will be a struggle, but it's something I have to do. I believe it will help the festival expand and increase its longevity"