Sad news on the passing of Mitch Podolak – co-founder of the Winnipeg Folk Fest and the West End Cultural Centre.
The Winnipeg Folk Fest is one of my favourite festivals and has become a tradition for our family to attend together and for this I am very grateful. Mitch’s contributions to the Manitoba music scene will continue to live on.
With sincere gratitude and sympathy to his family and friends.
From the Winnipeg Free Press:
Mitch Podolak was born in Toronto on Sept. 21, 1947, the youngest of three children. His clarinet-playing, classicalmusic- loving father died when he was nine, and he was raised by his mother, sister Alice and brother Mark.
His life and political views changed when Alice took him to see folk musician Pete Seeger at Massey Hall when he was 13, Leonard said.
“He saw Pete Seeger play and the next day he bought a banjo and became a communist,” Leonard said with a laugh.
He ran a coffeeshop in Toronto and famously turned Neil Young down for a gig because he said he couldn’t sing. (“That was one of his mistakes,” Leonard said.) He headed west to set up a chapter of the Young Socialist Alliance in the late 1960s.
Podolak made radio documentaries for CBC, and he and his wife, Ava Kobrinsky, moved to Winnipeg in the early 1970s, about the time the the city was looking for projects to fund as part of its centennial celebrations.
Continue Reading about Mitch’s exceptional life here.