Published Aug 10, 2014How much can Geoff Berner push the line? At the Regina Folk Festival, his main set — other than workshop appearances, a tweener set on the main stage, and a reading from his novel, Festival Man — was at three p.m. on the day stage with the most non-RFF foot traffic coming by. What does he do? He drinks beer onstage, encourages the crowd to yell "Fuck the police!," and is his general, rabble-rousing self. That's the thing: when the world-trotting first man of accordion klezmer provokes, Berner fans will know it's coming to some degree, but it never fails to surprise.
Stirring shit up isn't Berner's only goal, though. For one, he's got an ear for tunefulness, heard this day on tracks like "It's All Just a Matter of (Where You Draw the Line)" from Carolyn Mark's Duets album and his cover of Kris Demeanor's "One Shoe," about the death of Neil Stonechild. Within those songs, he's always looking at the institutions of power for the black humour involved. If he's not bringing insight then at least he's bringing clarity.