2012 Festival Artists
The Atomic Duo (TX)
The Austin, Texas-based Atomic Duo is fiery mandolin player Silas Lowe and Bad Livers co-founder Mark Rubin on guitar. This dynamic pair of present-day Woody Guthries deliver a bold, witty and clear-eyed commentary on America, inspired by foreclosure evictions, harsh immigration laws and the failed assumptions of trickle-down economics. Although deeply immersed in Americana and old-time string band music, Rubin and Lowe also have an intrepid punk rock conviction onstage. As engaging grassroots performers, they come armed with two National Resophonic guitar company instruments and a hefty dose of sardonic humour.
The Barr Brothers (QC/RI)
Brothers Brad and Andrew Barr left their Providence, Rhode Island home to move to Montreal in 2005, and there encountered harpist Sara Pagé and multi-instrumentalist Andres Vial. Together as The Barr Brothers, they play an Americana folk that draws from a range of musical traditions including the Mississippi Delta and West Africa. The combination works, and their self-titled debut album, was released last year to popular and critical acclaim, garnering them a coveted performance spot on the David Letterman show this January.
Geoff Berner (BC)
Geoff Berner expresses his goals succinctly: “I want to drag klezmer music kicking and screaming back into the bars. I want to make original klezmer music that’s drunk, dirty, political and passionate. As a Jew of eastern European descent, I feel I have a calling to make this music live, not just preserve it under glass like something in a museum.” Cynical, insightful, hilarious and brilliantly talented, this klezmer punk rocker is forging new musical pathways with an outspoken, visionary glee.
Mark Berube (QC)
Since he last performed at the festival in 2009, this hotter-than-hot songwriter/musician has been pretty much on the road full time, yet managed to record and release along the way – the latest being the much-lauded June in Siberia. Multi-instrumentalist Berube and his band’s music both amazes and warmly embraces his listeners. It’s original and poetic folk music that features Berube’s soaring voice, and delivers a lush and engrossing chamber-folk sound.
Besh o droM (Hungary)
Hungary’s Besh o droM explodes the notion, the very definition of “fusion” music right out of the water. Crossing over both traditional folk and contemporary music styles, and employing everything from the traditional cymbalon to turntables in their instrumentation, they travel between jazz and world. Their music has roots in a stunning range of influences: Transylvanian, Jewish, Turkish, Afghan, Egyptian, Lebanese, Armenian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Macedonian and Greek musical traditions. This is an astonishing group that will have everyone talking.
Bette and Wallet (NS/QC)
Singer, accordionist and pianist Mary Beth Carty (“Bette”), from Antigonish County, NS and singer, foot percussion, banjo and guitar player Wallet (“wal-ette”) aka Gabriel Ouellette from Poutneuf County, Québec make recycled music, a culturally-ecological artform designed to combat cultural-imperialism one sing-along at a time. They sing of squeegee kids, haunted condos and Walmart while drawing on the traditional sounds of their regions: lilting Irish, Scottish and Québécois call and response melodies and dance tunes – in both official languages. Add klezmer, Cajun, blues and more, and you got yourself a 21st century kitchen party!
Blitz the Ambassador (NY)
With a lightning-fast mind, the political boldness of Chuck D and the sixth groove sense of Fela Kuti, the Ghanaian-born, New York-based MC, composer, producer and school teacher Blitz the Ambassador is about to unleash psychedelic Afrobeat colors and triple-time rhymes on Vancouver. Driven by a blindingly bright clarity and a spot-on sense of flow, he evokes lovelorn sighs on Accra buses, émigré alienation, African poverty and history’s shadows, all set to swirls of brass, distorted guitars and the crackle and pop of old amps.
Bombolessé gets dancers thinking and thinkers dancing. This Montreal-based 7-member samba-reggae outfit brings together diverse musicians to perfectly fuse funk and rock with Brazilian and African rhythms. On stage, they’re a contagious source of fun. Their music, sung in French, Portuguese, Spanish and Creole, is an ode to joy while raising awareness of the problems and inequities in our society.
Bryan Bowers (WA)
“…This man makes more music from an Autoharp than you can imagine from a 12-string guitar and a harpsichord combined. He has more stage presence and charisma than any stage performer in recent memory.” (The Washington Times)
Bryan Bowers is to the autoharp what Earl Scruggs was to the five-string banjo. We’re thrilled to welcome back this brilliant singer-songwriter, storyteller and master autoharpist who plays that chorded zither like no one else. With a penchant for funny stories and moving songs, The Houston Post calls him one of the finest all-around entertainers on the folk and bluegrass circuit.
These Montréalers deliver the hottest mix of cajun, zydeco, country, blues, bluegrass, ragtime and rock garage music you find west of… well, pretty much west of anywhere. Canailles began in the summer of ’09, improvising their own versions of bluegrass, country and blues standards – but moved quickly into writing songs in Québécois joual and crafting their own sound. These eight self-taught, self-described “hyperactive” musicians have graduated from whisky nights to playing SXSW and the VFMF. Don’t miss them.
The Cave Singers (WA)
The mystery of Seattle’s Cave Singers is that they never listened to much folk music and they never intended to play folk music. They had no conscious plan to find a ‘style’, yet this strange trio is writing and performing (maybe channeling) some of the most hypnotizing folk music around. Cave Singers’ brand of folk is approached by the way of punk rock – sparse, melodic, a little creepy and alluring. It’s music that wiggles its way into your subconscious and resides in your head.
That’s what folk music does too!
Chatham County Line (NC)
Sometimes called the “Beatles of Bluegrass,” this Raleigh, North Carolina quartet fuses old-time mountain music bluegrass with a love of traditional and ever evolving American handmade music. Formed out of the non-traditional mold of rock and roll, they create original songs inspired by the southern rural experience. With stellar songwriting, harmony-heavy tunes and strong string-picking, their live performances are where it all comes together as four guys in dapper matching suits and skinny ties “work” a single mic in that classic bluegrass ballet.
The Johnny Clegg Band (South Africa)
UK-born, Johnny Clegg has become one of South Africa’s most celebrated sons. As a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, anthropologist, and musical and political activist, his infectious crossover music – a vibrant blend of Western pop and African Zulu rhythms – not only broke down musical barriers in his adopted country, but helped change the face of music world-wide. He was harassed and jailed for his outspoken views against apartheid, and continues to speak out on the plight of South Africa’s migrant workers and other issues of injustice in the world. Since the late 1970s, the music and cultural trailblazer has sold more than five million albums worldwide.
Amelia Curran (NF/NS)
Called “one of this country’s finest singer-songwriters” by the Montreal Gazette, Amelia Curran is a songwriter by trade, a writer at heart – crafting lyrics that express the inexpressible and describe the indescribable. This homesick Newfoundlander sings unforgettable melodies that immediately get stuck in your brain. Her poetic, insightful and incisive lyrics always cut to the heart of the equation.
In a world full of artifice and pretension, the two voices of Dala stand out as an authentic, talented breath of fresh air. Soprano Amanda Walther and alto Sheila Carabine are besties who started singing together in high school in 2002. Since then, their gorgeous harmonies and insightfully-written acoustic folk pop sound have garnered accolades including Juno noms, a “Best Vocal Pop” Canadian Folk Music Award and devoted audiences.
Kat Danser (AB)
Kat Danser’s music traces a direct line from the wheat fields of Saskatchewan to the cotton fields of Mississippi. Dubbed “The Queen of The Swamp Blues,” this Edmonton-based guitarist, songwriter and vocalist’s style is steeped in tradition, yet distills a refreshing 21st Century approach to roots, blues and gospel. She has a deep passion, understanding and respect for Delta blues. Kat’s music is rich in tradition yet modern in tone as she chronicles her unique musical journey along the rivers and rails of this continent.
Ani DiFranco (NY)
It’s been 20 years since a very young Ani DiFranco first played this very festival – an up-and-coming singer-songwriter driving herself from gig to gig, as a self-described “Little Folksinger.” She immediately connected with festival audiences, and that connection has endured here and far beyond. She’s used her voice and her guitar as honestly and unflinchingly as she could, writing and playing songs that came straight from her own experience, her boundless imagination, her sharp wit, and her ever-more-nuanced understanding of how the world works. She did it with nothing but a shaved head and a lone guitar in 1992, and she’s doing it with renewed intensity today.
Colleen Eccleston (BC)
You may know her best as one third of The Ecclestons, the popular band she and her brother play in with adopted bro Greg Madill. A prolific songwriter and concert performer in her own right, Colleen is renowned for her glorious voice and infectious stage presence. She also plays acoustic guitar and bass. Growing up in Newfoundland gave Colleen a profound love for Celtic music and that passion comes through in every note she plays.
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott (CA)
Bob called him “King of the Folksingers.” Johnny said nobody he knew had covered more ground, made more friends or sung more songs. Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is one of the last living links to the great American folk tradition and a legendary figure in folk music; the last musical partner of Woody Guthrie and sonic grandfather of just about every folksinger in the Western world. Jack’s travels, stories, songs and recordings take us to the passions of life and the tunes and the voices of real people. Treasure this opportunity to come sit a spell and listen to what this travelin’ man has to sing and say.
Veering wildly between Polish cabaret and chamber pop and on to a whimsical and delicate old-Hollywood vibe, the smart and enchanting women of e.s.l. spin Romany-esque melodies that will catch your ear and entangle you in their spell. Their dynamic show takes you from orchestral soundscapes to underground dance clubs with prohibition-era abandon. These gals’ taunting, tempting songs are modern tales of urban sensibility that rant against rampant consumerism and celebrate love as play, conveying an awareness and heartfelt reflection on reality in a materialistic era.
David Essig (BC)
David Essig was first introduced to Canadian audiences back in 1971 at the legendary Mariposa Folk Festival. Now, over 40 years on, he has an international career as one of Canada’s finest interpreters of original, contemporary folk music and is considered to be one of the finest songwriters and blues & slide guitarists around. Always paying homage to his roots in bluegrass and country blues, David uses these traditions to create timeless new songs. Whether on the lap-style Weissenborn or the electric slide guitar, his spontaneous style crosses all the borders between country, blues and the avant-garde – crafting a sound that could peel the petunias off your mother’s porcelain.
Mike Farris & the Cumberland Saints (TN)
Get ready for a groove so thick and juicy you could eat it with a spoon! Nashville’s Mike Farris is one of those special artists that transcend genre and defy categorization. And while this Festival is chock full of those kinda folk, let’s just say that hearing Mike Farris sing stops you dead in your tracks and shakes you to the core. Merging roots, blues and traditional gospel sounds with some New Orleans thrown in, Mike and his Cumberland Saints have enough heart, soul and power to light up this whole darn city.
Fearing & White (Stephen Fearing & Andy White) (NS/EI)
Stephen Fearing and Andy White, two of roots music’s finest, have put together a rare and wonderful thing – a collaboration that is a joy to behold from top to bottom. Fearing is a double Juno winner and one of our most accomplished songsmiths, storytellers and guitarists. Northern Ireland born and raised White has earned a global following for blending folk and pop stylings with a poet’s sensibility. These longtime friends got together to write and record, and the result, says the Ottawa Sun, is “a blues-rock album with a big Celtic soul…it’s been aeons since I heard something so beautifully written and recorded.” Heard live, we’re told, it’s even better! Come hear them for yourself.
Roy Forbes (BC)
Last September, at two totally packed-out concerts in Deep Cove, Roy Forbes celebrated 40 years in the music business. Over the course of each evening, the concert hall vibrated with memorable hit after hit as the singer-songwriter picked from his bulging catalogue of great tunes. This July marks 41 years now that Roy has been a potent musical force on the scene and, as the Vancouver Observer’s Paul Grant said: “…the kid can still rock!” Celebrate 41 with Roy at the Festival’s 35th – we both just keeping getting better and better!
Jaron Freeman Fox and the Opposite of Everything (ON)
Canada’s next folk hero has entered the building! Contorting the violin into new traditions, fiddler Jaron Freeman-Fox dances down the line between the poignant and the ridiculous, while taking some bold new steps in Canadian instrumental music. The Opposite of Everything, described as “xtreme fiddlecore superheroes,” takes Jaron’s music on a romp around the block! With a diverse cast of Toronto’s finest and most adventurous musicians, this band somehow combines bluegrass with Indian music, African beats with sea shanties, and klezmer with the blues, and make it sound like the most natural thing in the world.
Tret Fure (WI)
Over the course of Tret Fure’s almost 40 years in music, she’s donned many hats: singer-songwriter, gifted instrumentalist, producer, engineer and women’s music pioneer. She blazed a trail in the women’s acoustic music movement, yet her songs reflect universal themes that touch every heart. She sings of relationships, of peace, poverty and social justice, incorporating folk, pop, rock and other influences. Throughout, hers is a voice with an energetic spirit, full of passion for life – as strong and vital now as when she first recorded in 1973.
Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto (Colombia)
Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto are musical icons throughout the Caribbean region of Colombia – they carry the torch for the most traditional rhythms and sounds of Cumbia, a mixture of indigenous, Spanish and Afro-Colombian heritage. Members of the Kogi tribe, Los Gaiteros combine indigenous instruments — notably the long-tubed vertical gaita flutes and maracas — with African drums. The music stokes the fire of fast-paced regional dances like the puya, porro and bullerengue. Founded as many as 70 years ago, the group is a crucial link between traditional gaita music and its contemporary renewal. Los Gaiteros’ first album, Un Fuego de Sangre Pura, won the 2007 Latin Grammy for Best Folk Album.
Leela Gilday (NT)
From Yellowknife, this member of the Dene Nation is a soulful performer and captivating singer/songwriter. Gilday’s songs reflect her northern roots and embrace the essence of Dene life from an urban, contemporary perspective. She sings about identity, death, love and life with a unique blend of folk, roots and traditional Aboriginal sounds. Her unbound and naturally powerful voice transports listeners to a world where freedom and joy balance sorrow and injustice.
Good For Grapes(BC)
Just formed in 2010, Good For Grapes is a very young alt folk-inspired band who have already created a buzz locally and caught the ears of some music industry heavyweights on the national scene. They’ve garnered two Canada-wide victories in both the Roger’s Music “Battle of the Bands” and Supernova’s “Band on the Run to the UK.” At the core of their acoustic-based sound are strong vocal harmonies. Add that to youthful vitality and a passion for their music, and you’ve got a great local band on the rise. Catch them now!
The Head and the Heart (WA)
They met at a Seattle open mike in 2009, and recorded a self-funded, self-titled album in early 2010, selling burned copies in handmade denim sleeves at local shows within a few weeks. That was enough to get a head of steam going for the rising force that is The Head and the Heart. Their music pulses effervescently—both explosively danceable and intuitively intelligent. With Americana roots and strong vocal harmonics, this band finds its anchor in solid songwriting that has even the jaded humming along by the second listen. From the first months of their life, their reputation as a phenomenal live band has preceded them wherever they play. Now we get to see!
Hey Rosetta! (NF)
Swapping one coast for the other, Hey Rosetta! comes to us from The Rock as a powerful music force whose explosive live shows have earned them a devoted following. Primary songwriter Tim Baker crafts poetic takes on memorable moments, books he’s read, experiences shared – all with a mature lyrical depth. The band creates a massive, layered sound by incorporating piano, violin and cello into their traditional four-piece garage rock base. Their influences include The Beatles and Jeff Buckley, while also incorporating the layered production of contemporary indie bands such as Arcade Fire and Hope of the States. So – here’s where the fest really rocks!
Veda Hille (BC)
Veda is simply one of the most creative, ingenious and savvy singers and composers around. She follows her muse wherever it takes her and the results, over the years, have given us some fabulous songs and shows about nature & science, Emily Carr, and Craigslist (with Bill Richardson) to name just a few. Veda has been composing for dance, film, theatre and special events since 1994. She wrote an amazing song cycle for the Festival back in 2002, and this year, in honour of the Festival’s 35th year, she’s composing for The Memory Project.
Read Veda’s request below and to view The Memory Project page click here:
As a lucky assignment I have been asked to write songs based on your memories of the festival. Our Festival. I am going to be knuckling down to this exciting task over the next few months, in order to have these songs ready to sing back to you this July at Jericho. I know the fest has been asking for memories already, and I just wanted to extend that invitation and add a small twist of my own. Please do send your strong remembrances; they do not necessarily have to be happy. I am not looking for criticisms, but a range of powerful experiences would be excellent. No true portrait without shadow and light together! So send ’em in. Thanks, Veda
Experiencing H’Sao live in performance is an unmitigated thrill – dynamic, electrifying, galvanizing. Drawing from traditional African music and their Chadian roots, blending in soul, R&B and gospel to fashion an Afropop sound of their own – this is a band that just keeps getting better and better. H’Sao’s potent harmonies and vibrant dance set this Montreal family-based sextet apart on the world music scene. It is more than time we welcomed them back to Vancouver!
Jaffa Road (ON)
“Jaffa Road blends Jewish, jazz, Indian and Arabic music with electronica and dub. The result is fantastic.” CBC Radio One
This acclaimed Toronto based world music group is made up of some of Canada’s most exciting and innovative interpreters of inter-cultural music. Their music draws organically from the worlds of Jewish music, Classical Arabic and Indian music, modern jazz, electronica, rock, pop, and dub. Their song, L.Y.G. recently won Grand Prize and a Lennon Award from the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Contest and they won Best World Music Artist at the 2010 Toronto Independent Music Awards.
Martyn Joseph (UK)
One reviewer, after seeing Welsh singer songwriter Martyn Joseph in concert, likened the experience and content to “the beautiful business of being alive with all its jokes, absurdity and sadness, seared by music for the heart and head.” Always charming, sometimes alarming, Joseph is a unique songwriter who digs deep and delivers an ultimate, life affirming message. One of the most unusual and compelling performers you are likely to encounter.
The content of K’NAAN’s rap has roots in his real life story. As a child in war torn Mogadishu, Somalia, he narrowly escaped death at age 11 – and the experiences of those early years remain with him today. His name translates as “traveler,” and his music explores and connects Somali rhythms and percussion with Western styles and production, rock choruses with rap verses. His words and beats are delivered with urgent intensity and conviction; he is passionate about the struggles for human rights and social justice.
Murray McLauchlan (ON)
Throughout his long and eventful career, Murray McLauchlan has been performing lyrical sleights of hand, taking insights about himself and observations about the world around him and spinning them into songs that are both meaningful and memorable. His sensitive tales of growing up and growing older, his razor-sharp portraits of the downtown and the downtrodden, and his wry depictions of love lost and love found represent a formidable body of work, one that places him firmly in the forefront of Canada’s best songwriters.
Dan Mangan (BC)
Dan was a first-time folk fest performer when he knocked all our socks off at the 2009 Festival. And since then? Dan’s songs, his signature graveled vocals and understated humour have been winning him massive and enthusiastic support everywhere – and most recently, it won him two Junos. He took both the New Artist of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year at the 41st Junos in recognition of his third album, Oh Fortune – and industry and fans alike rejoiced that this very talented fellow is getting such major recognition. We’re more than ready for round two with this very talented and engaging artist.
Marley’s Ghost (CA)
“Our [musical] criteria,” says guitarist Mike Phelan of the California-based five-piece multi-instrumentalist band Marley’s Ghost “has always been: bring it, let’s run it! It’s not about genre or style.”
Casting music industry marketing dogma to the winds, Marley’s Ghost just plays whatever they want, nimbly avoiding glib categorizations or easy labels in the process. Call their music a truly engaging blend of old-timey, blues, reggae and acoustic folk, call it Americana roots with a reggae twist – call it whatever you want, this intriguing amalgam of music virtuosi makes every song they play sound just like Marley’s Ghost. This band, this music, you cannot miss.
Emel Mathlouthi (Tunisia)
January 29, 2011 – the street is boiling in the centre of Tunis, Ben Ali has fled, and the people sing. In the middle of the crowd, Emel Mathlouthi’s striking voice rings out. Her lament for her homeland, “Ya Tounes Ya Meskina” (Poor Tunisia), a soundtrack to the uprising along with the celebratory “Kelmti Horra” (My Word is Free). This extraordinary singer and activist became the Voice of the Tunisian Arab Spring, the Jasmine Revolution – and helped to inspire her nation’s revolution with her protest songs. In turn, the revolution inspired her to make her first recording. Her music has Arabic roots with western flavours, including rock and trip hop. Mathlouthi plays guitar and cites Joan Baez as an influence. The power of music lives in this powerful new voice.
Minor Empire (ON)
An electrifying new sound has exploded onto the Canadian world music scene. With modern soundscapes of Turkish music, electronica and jazz, the Toronto-based ensemble Minor Empire has forged a style that is simultaneously contemporary and traditional, adventurous yet accessible. The band’s membership features the crème of TO’s jazz and world music players and Canada’s Turkish music elite. Together they produce a startlingly fresh music with ground-breaking sounds that’s creating major buzz.
An Indian band in the global village, Mrigya is a fascinating contemporary group that ventures to stretch the boundaries of music. Their sound is a unique fusion, offering a rich blend of blues, funk, folk, Latin, Indian Classical, and jazz. The objective of this group is to expand in all directions and to sing and play music without borders, with instrumentation that includes violin, tabla, dholak, mridangam, drums, keyboard, and guitars.
Holly Near (CA)
Holly Near comes out of the tradition of Woody Guthrie, Aunt Molly Johnson and Pete Seeger – artists whose passion for music is equaled by their passion for human rights and dignity. She is a unique combination of entertainer, teacher and activist. An immense vocal talent, Near is a skilled performer who continues to sing with power and maturity. She is also an outspoken ambassador for peace and social justice – one of the most articulate political artists of our time.
The Once (NF)
The Dictionary of Newfoundland English defines “the once” to mean “as soon as possible, right away.” The Once is also the young trio of Geraldine Hollett, Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale that’s taking Newfoundland’s folk music scene by storm. Their jaw-dropping three-part a cappella harmonies (what they call “Newfoundland’s tiniest choir”), multi-instrumental skills and unique take on both traditional and contemporary music will make it very easy to say “Let’s go see The Once the once.”
evalyn parry (ON)
Accompanying herself on guitar, water bottle, shruti box and loop pedals, evalyn parry shoots from the hip and aims for the heart. This award-winning songwriter, poet and ironic social commentator is gifted with a sharp pen, a quirky musical sensibility and a wicked sense of humour. From 19th century cycling heroines to 21st century sailors; from ‘feminine protection’ to bottled water to the quest for the Northwest Passage, evalyn’s outspoken creations hold out a powerful vision of social and personal change, while her irreverent wit holds nothing sacred.
Pied Pumkin (BC)
Pied Pumkin and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival go back, way back – so it’s entirely right and proper that these two BC icons celebrate the Festival’s 35th together. Legendary folk trio, the Pied Pumkin String Ensemble, have been creating original, infectious and timeless music for going on…well, lots of years. Shari Ulrich, Joe Mock and Rick Scott’s combination of dulcimer, violin, guitar, flawless harmonies, fearless arrangements and irreverent humour have made the group a longstanding West Coast favourite. It’s fun to invite good friends to your birthday party, and when Pied Pumkin is in the park, you know everyone’s going to have a great time.
Possessed by Paul James (TX)
He has been known to enchant and captivate audiences, throwing all present individuals into fevered states of ecstatic jubilation. Possessed By Paul James is the stage name of multi-instrumentalist Konrad Wert. He was raised Mennonite with Amish roots in the swamps of Immokalee, Florida and presently resides in the Hill Country of Texas. Wert’s performances are so energetic that he could easily be mistaken for a small crowd. His songs are very honest. Not only are they completely personal and sincere, but they transcend identity and touch on the human condition.
River City Extension (NJ)
Joyous live shows and unflinchingly honest songwriting; a boisterous yet intimate sound featuring trumpet, cello, mandolin and banjo. Toms River, New Jersey octet River City Extension leaps genres and expectations to deliver a powerhouse symphonic sound that crosses from folk to bluegrass, mariachi and calypso to indie-rock with a punk-thrash vibe. Townes Van Zandt and Feist are cited as influences. Intrigued? Meet us on site Festival weekend, and we’ll investigate further.
Alejandra Robles (Mexico)
Alejandra Robles is an Afro-Mexican singer originally from Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, a community in the Costa Chica region of Mexico, where many of the people are of African descent. In her music and dance, Alejandra fuses her Afro-Mexican heritage with the charm and rhythms of the Caribbean and beyond. Her musical influences range from the bolero to bachata, the cumbia, the currulao, to waltz, rock, rap and classical music. Alejandra’s roots in the rich origins of Afro-Latin and Mexican music, her immense talents as a singer and her adventurous spirit have brought her many fans, and she is considered one of Mexico’s great new voices.
Serena Ryder (ON)
Ranging musically between folk, roots, country and adult contemporary music, Serena Ryder is blessed with a three octave vocal range,which allows her to express a myriad of emotions and draw her audience right into her songs. Her controlled, well-toned voice slides from jazz crooner in one tune to folksinger in the next, and then on to indie rocker and beyond. The pure and amazing talent of this Juno Award winner is backed by a skilled and intuitive band.
Shakura S’Aida (ON)
She’s a powerful and fiery blues diva with a great stage presence and soul-deep emotions to match. Shakura’s career has spanned genres and countries and taken her to some of the most notable stages in the blues and jazz world. Her intense, smoldering vocals, backed by a powerhouse band, breathe fresh life into ‘40s and ‘50s classics and nail funky originals. She epitomizes the sound of 21st century blues.
Silk Road Music (BC)
For over 20 years, the journey of Silk Road has been a unique story of an extraordinary musical vision. Since 1991, this Vancouver-based band has been smashing stereotypes about Chinese music and taking traditional Chinese instruments in new artistic directions. Its pioneering musical fusions have merged Chinese folk and classical music with Brazilian, jazz, Celtic, Spanish, Arabic, Aboriginal, blues and even flamenco music. Ever evolving and moving forward, we eagerly anticipate where the silk road will take us next.
This rootsy singer-songwriter from the Goa region in northern Mali weaves beautifully-textured songs; his music is a type of songhaï blues that draws inspiration from traditional music and religion, but is equally informed by western blues and rock. Accompanied by a guitarist, calabash player and traditional violin (sokou) player, Sidi’s music immediately draws listeners to an ancient place tucked between the flowing Niger River and the undulating sand dunes of the Sahara.
Wake Owl (BC)Performing songwriter Colyn Cameron is the creative force at the core of Wake Owl, a Vancouver folk/rock collective that’s been generating some critical raves and hard core buzz since they released their debut EP Wild Country last fall. There’s “energetic folk, creaking guitar, textured vocals and a splash of the woodsman about the 5 track affair.” Wake Owl calls their music “Alternative Folk Melodramatic Popular Song.” There’s some good listening in store here.
Cedric Watson et Bijou Créole (LA)
Riding in from the dusty plains of Texas with a fiddle under his arm, an accordion on his back, and a song in his heart, a Creole cowboy named Cedric Watson recently swaggered onto the Louisiana music scene. When this outsider burst into local saloons, first locals were taken back by his mastery of tradition and then by his ability to seamlessly integrate polyrhythms and grooves from beyond. Roping in the old with the new, Cedric Watson et Bijou Créole captures the rich Caribbean, African, and European heritage that underlies Creole culture, while galloping through an unexplored frontier.
Wazimbo is The Golden Voice of Mozambique, and his music a mix of big band sounds, Latin melodies and unique African dance rhythms typical of Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) Africa. He is one of the most famous singers for the style of music called marrabenta, an urban dance music which emerged in the 1950s and became closely identified with the independence struggle. After Mozambique’s independence in 1975 Wazimbo worked with the big band of the national radio station, Radio Mozambique – which went on to become the much-loved Orchestra Marrabenta Star De Mozambique. Together they developed a full, funky style of marrabenta that featured electric guitars, powerful horn lines and soulful vocals – classic African dance music at its best.
Ken Whiteley and the Levy Sisters (ON)
Ken Whiteley is an award-winning Canadian roots music performing and songwriting legend whose remarkable musical journey has included playing jug band music, folk, swing, blues, children’s music and gospel. A gifted guitarist, mandolin player and entertainer, he’s been called “a cross between Pete Seeger and Tony Bennett.” Performing with Ken are the gorgeous harmonic voices and percussion of Amoy & Ciceal, the Levy Sisters. With deep roots in the gospel tradition and Toronto’s gospel community, they’ve been connected to Ken for about 15 years. This brilliant collaboration promises us some soul stirring, ground-shaking music. Amen to that!
Lucinda Williams (LA)
Named “America’s best songwriter” by Time Magazine in 2002; nominated for 15 Grammy Awards, winning 3 times; had a day named for her in Santa Cruz in 2008 – Lucinda William’s career has been marked by accolades and recognition. This critically-acclaimed American rock, folk, blues and country music singer and songwriter has charted a path of her own through the music business, celebrated by audiences and her peers alike for the excellence and vision of her work. Now she brings her own special brand of Americana roots music to us. About time.
The Wood Brothers (GA/NY)
Two brothers decide to form a band, adapting the blues, folk and other roots‐music styles they loved as kids into their own evocative sound and twining their voices in the sort of high‐lonesome harmony blend for which sibling singers are often renowned. And, fifteen years later, after they’d each gone out to do their own thing and come back together, they did just that! Now, their musical chemistry is as profound and productive as ever, as Chris and Oliver Wood refine their rich, spacious roots sound – never far from the currents that formed their musical connection in the first place.
Royal Wood (ON)
The years singer-songwriter Royal Wood has spent perfecting his craft of balladry and pop music are definitely paying off. He’s been nominated for a Juno Songwriter of the Year award, named iTunes’ Songwriter of the Year, Best Pop Album and Pop single, toured, and got himself a couple of his songs on TV. All of this because of his voice, songwriting and musical prowess, and his collection of heartrending and honest tales of love, loss and life more impressive than anything that he’s done before. It all adds up to an artist on the rise, building an upward trajectory, one fan at a time.