2008 Artists

Abigail Washburn and The Sparrow Quartet featuring Bela Fleck with Casey Driessen and Ben Sollee – USA

Abigail Washburn’s plan to be a lawyer got derailed by a love of Chinese culture and the banjo. Her love affair with China began in 1996 when she went there as a student and discovered her knack for the language and love for people. Following repeat visits to China, Washburn returned to the US determined to explore her own culture. Picking up the clawhammer banjo brought her to the world of Appalachian music. She now composes songs in both Mandarin and English and found three extraordinary companions to accompany her on her journey of musical exploration.

The Sparrow Quartet has been called “a gathering of superlative musicians with adventure on their minds.” Widely recognized as one of the finest banjo players in the world, Bela Fleck’s musical adventures include playing with New Grass Revival, touring steadily since 2001 with the Flecktones, and countless other collaborations, earning him 10 Grammys along the way. Casey Driessen is a fast and inventive fiddler who translates his passion for tradition and improvisation into new American music. Cellist and singer-songwriter Ben Solle’s soulful voice and unique style of playing reflect his deep connection to roots music.

Washburn says playing with the quartet has become an “intimate exploration of crossing global and cultural lines within myself,” grounded in her reverence for both American and Chinese cultures. “As more and more people engage in this struggle for a new direction for the human spirit, we’ll recognize that we’re morphing into a global species.”

Kiran Ahluwalia – India/USA

Kiran Ahluwalia,born in India, raised in Canada, and now living in New York City, is the 2065 recipient of a Juno Award for Best World Music Album for her debut, Wanderlust. Those lucky enough to hear her live will understand why. On the album, Ahluwalia mixes ghazal words and melodies with African grooves and the nostalgia for unrealized dreams present in Portuguese fado music. The sound, melancholic yet still soothing, is full of unexpected instrumentation and musical combinations. Like the title of the album itself, Ahluwalia wanders from Continent to continent in an effort to unite disparate worlds and disparate sounds into her own unique creation.

Ahluwalia’s presence at this year’s Festival is a real treat for listeners. She is one of the few people in the Western hemisphere composing new music for ghazals, a poetic form from Persia consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain. The word literally means “speaking with women”and is an expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. Ahluwalia pores over poetry, both classical and modern,to search for words to set to music. It’s through those words, singing about desire and heartbreak and romantic passion and longing ,that the listener is captivated and soothed into a musical trance. All listeners should be forewarned that although she sings about longing and unfulfilled desires, she unites diverse inspirations to create a compelling sound that will leave you wanting more.

Bill Bourne – Alberta

Born to musician parents in Red Deer, Alberta, Bourne could be found as a two­ year old asleep behind the piano while they performed. The location and the vocation instilled an early love of nature, music and people gathering to celebrate. So it’s little wonder that when asked to list his musical influences, his cites names like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix,and Ludwig van Beethoven, but ends with “trees water and mountains. And the smile of a friend.”

The multiple Juno award-winning Bourne has a style so uniquely eclectic that his powerful rhythms and soulful songs arrive steeped in world beat, blues, cajun, celtic, folk, flamenco, funk, and so much more. The latest of his 10 CDs , Boon Tang, was released last year and proves that the man with the unclassifiable style is still capable of taking the listener somewhere he hasn’t taken them before. When you listen to his most un-reggae version of “No Woman, No Cry,” it is-as if you are hearing it for the first time. Then we switch to a rhythm that evokes the Middle East and Orient. Bourne has also collaborated with such artists as Alan Macleod, Shannon Johnson,and Eivor Palsdottir, who provides vocals on four of the tracks on Boon Tang. He appears at this year’s Festival with Madagascar Slim.

John Boutte – USA

The Big Easy has endured some very hard times since Katrina hit in 2005. John Boutte was one of the first musicians to return to his battered hometown after the hurricane. The jazz singer also did some of the first gigs in the aftermath, singing to crowds who were reverently appreciative to see the return of music to their besieged city. “I’ve always performed with drama.” He told the online magazine All About Jazz.” But since the levees failed, I’ve had to dig a little deeper. lt takes a little more meditation and preparation than it did before. I have to connect with people’s suffering and find a way to bring them up…You do it by being as human as you can.”

Boutte lifts his audience’s spirits with a divine tenor voice that shines with the influence of his city’s music. The eighth of 1o children, he was born into an old Creole family that goes back seven generations in Louisiana. He grew up in the rich musical environment of the Seventh Ward, playing cornet and trumpet in school marching bands and singing with a couple of street a capella groups.

The Village Voice called him “New Orleans’ best-kept secret, and possibly its strongest voice.” Boutte is certainly not under-appreciated at home where he is a perennial winner as Best Male Vocalist in the local music awards. His masterful renditions of jazz, soul and African-American gospel songs, sung with tremendous heart, win him fans wherever his voice is heard.

The Carrivick Sisters – United Kingdom

Bluegrass sensations Laura and Charlotte Carrivick are 19- year-old twins who hail from the seaside town of Salcombe on the southern tip of Devon in England’s South West. Young but already accomplished musicians, they play a variety of instruments . including guitar, mandolin,­ dobro, guitar and fiddle and are both fine singers as well as songwriters.They grew up playing at home together and busking around town. In the past few years they have started gigging as a duo, recording their first CD, My Own Two Feet, at age 16 in their bedroom or “Pigsty Studios” as they dubbed it. Their music mixes traditional and contemporary bluegrass with folk and traces of other influences, featuring their sweet clear voices that lend themselves well to the “high lonesome” sound.

Part of a lively young bluegrass scene in the UK,the twins also play in the youth bands Blue South and Miles Apart,and have recently recorded their second album Better Than 6 Cakes at Modern World Studios. They won the 2007 South West England buskers and street entertainers competition that earned them a place performing at last month’s 2008 Glastonbury Festival. English folk legend Ralph McTell counts himself as one of The Carrivick Sisters’ big fans, saying they are “One of the best young duos I’ve heard. The girls sing and play as one and their work is characterized by great musicality. They are not only very talented instrumentalists and singers, but they write really good songs as well.”

Charanga Cakewalk – USA

Michael Ramos is such a busy man it’s hard to image how he found the time to record his own CDs as Charanga Cakewalk. ln addition to producing albums for other artists, Ramos has appeared as a sideman to the likes of John Mellencamp,Paul Simon,and Patty Griffin.When preparing for his 2006 release, Chicano Zen, Ramos reflected on his achievements. He felt he had reached the goals he’d set out towards the realization of his own American Dream: a successful session musician, recording his own CD, owning his own home,performing on TV and radio. But that wasn’t”it.” His first release, Loteria de la Cumbia Lounge was recorded in his own studio, Cumbia lounge,and it is also where the video was filmed..

With his second release he brought in an array of other musicians with diverse backgrounds and talents adding to the symbolic theme of the CD: “We are all one people no matter what you believe in.”The cover design for the CD incorporates Mexican flaming hearts, and flour and corn tortillas to create the yin yang symbol. His music also reflects this theme. He has combined the many different cultural influences he grew up with in small­ town Texas and the changes that technology has brought to music to create his own unique sound. He balks at the people who believe this creates a less authentic music, and embraces it as just another instrument.

The members of Charanga Cakewalk are all talented musicians in their own right and we’re very fortunate to have them with us this weekend.They are: front man Ramos (vocals, accordion, keyboards, trumpet, melodica),Jacob Owen (guitar), Kyle Thompson {drums and percussion), Ryan Bowman (bass guitar),John “El John” Nelson (percussion), and Claude McCan (keyboards).

Les Chauffeurs a pieds – Quebec

One of the best things about les Chauffeurs a pieds is the way the three members of the band are able to express their unique personalities through their music. Antoine Gauthier’s vocals, fiddle, mandolin, and banjo playing draw inspiration from a childhood filled with traditional Quebecois folk music.His mother,an accordionist and pianist, coordinated regular jam sessions throughout his youth. Those sessions, alongside traditional recordings and later jams with fiddlers from Quebec City, contribute to the vast repertoire of jigs and reels that he draws on now.

Multi-talented Benolt Fortier’s musical career also started at an early age. In high school he began playing medieval and Quebecois songs on the recorder. After meeting Antoine, he took up playing the harmonica and singing traditional songs. He now holds a Masters degree in performance on the French horn and is adept at playing the acoustic bass and piano.

Olivier Soucy,the newest member of the band, joined in 2006. He’s played guitar since childhood and at 20, taught himself to play the fiddle after listening to other Quebecois musicians. Adding his vocals, guitar,banjo, fiddle,and feet to the mix, the three men make the most of every possible instrumental combination.

Come out and hear les Chauffeurs a pieds’ unique blend of music for yourself. But don’t be surprised if you find your feet tapping, your head bobbing, and your entire body moving to the music. Wanting to dance, though not a prerequisite,will be the end result. lt always is.

Jason Collett – Ontario

Here’s to Being Here, released this past February, is the fourth solo CD by Jason Collet! This is a simpler CD than his previous releases. There are no horns or strings to embellish the music.”I think it sort of helps make the record more cohesive with the absence of that indulgence,” says Collett. “lt’s not like we really stripped things down, it’s just that we never gussied them up.” He does indulge his wry sense of humour though, as in his video for I’ll Bring the Sun where we see him bath-bombing a rubber ducky. He cites Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and Nick Lowe as influences on his more roots-based style, but feels his latest effort is true rock ‘n’ roll.”Rock ‘n’ roll music encompasses all sorts of influences-country, blues, gospel-all those things, and I’m just part of that tradition.”

Starting out as a member of Andrew Cash’s band, Collett has also performed extensively with Broken Social Scene, but he has always been a solo artist first and never stopped writing his own tunes. Most of the 40-plus songs written by this father of three over the last few years have been written while on tour, finding the sanctuary and perspective he needs while on the road. His songs, melodic, catchy,guitar-driven and toe-tapping, have a familiar yet fresh feel to them. “I’ve always tried to make records with a classic sensibility,” reveals Collett. “So that they’re records you can listen to 20 years from now.”

Creaking Tree String Quartet – Ontario

Just try to sit still when the members of the Creaking Tree String Quartet are onstage. One listen and you’ll understand why they walked away with Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Instrumentalists and for. Pushing the Boundaries last December for their third album, The Soundtrack.These guys seem to have the Pushing the Boundaries award all sewn up, having received it as a group two out of the three years it has been presented, with one of the members having won it the year in between-and the rest of the group was on that CD as well. In a combination of instruments called “old-time” almost a century ago, this string quartet is comprised of Andrew Collins on mandolin, Brad Keller on guitar, Brian Kobayakawa on bass, and John Showman on fiddle. In addition to three CDs and countless award nominations, this past fall the Toronto-based foursome completed and performed a commission for CBC’S Glenn Could Cele ration.When they originally formed, the group had a strong bluegrass flavour, but Showman says of their development, “Once we started to get to know each other, it was like, there’s so much music that we all like, from crazy free-form improv, to really dark heavy metal, to really cool modern classical stuff.So why don’t we try to communicate the rest of this stuff and play whatever the heck we want?” And it makes for a heck of a listen.

Dawn Tyler Watson and Paul Deslauriers – Quebec

Montreal’s “queen of the blues” Dawn Tyler Watson found an amazing musical match in guitarist/singer/songwriter extraordinaire Paul Deslauriers. Both artists bring a wealth-of talent and experience to this unique partnership.

Tyler fronts the Dawn Tyler Blues Project with her powerful stage presence and sultry voice, earning awards such as Maple Blues Female Vocalist of the Year twice, and Quebec’s Lys Blues Female Vocalist of the Year four times. Her repertoire ranges beyond the blues to include jazz, soul and folk as well as her own original songs that blend humour with poignancy. Deslauriers has been honing his blistering electric guitar style for years, performing with his own band and touring with artists like Amanda Marshall, France D’Amour and Garou,and is viewed by many as one of the country’s finest guitarists. He is also a fine singer and songwriter.

Since they joined forces in 2004,Watson and Deslauriers have created refreshingly honest and evocative music by stripping things down to the bare·bones simplicity of two voices and a six·string guitar. The 2007 debut album En Duo captures their raw and unencumbered sound, described by one critic as “Two deeply heartfelt,often soaring vocalists meshing their instruments into a single voice.” This mighty musical partnership captivates audiences with its intimate style, diverse material and their strong rapport on stage. A major buzz in national and international blues and folk circles is definitely building about these two as they tour across Canada, France and the US.

Delhi 2 Dublin – British Columbia

Delhi 2 Dublin comes to the Vancouver Folk Music Festival’s stage with their distinctive brand of Punjabi-Celtic-electro-acoustic dance music. The five­ piece ensemble consists of tabla player and electronics whiz Tarun Nayar, violinist Kytami,sitar player Andrew Kim, tabla and dhol player Ravi Binning, and vocalist Sanjay Seran. The band fuses the traditional sounds of tabla (Indian drums), dhol (double sided barrel drums), fiddle, and sitar with touches of reggae, break beat, drum, bass, and hip hop to create a multicultural dance celebration.Their influences, like their instruments,draw from a variety of traditions, including the Afro-Celt Soundsystem, the Transglobal Underground, Cheb I Sabbah,and the Dhamaal Soundsystem. Although these influences can be heard in their music,the members of Delhi 2 Dublin succeed in bringing the sounds of North India and Ireland together to create a their own unique sound.

Delhi 2 Dublin didn’t set out to write fusion music. In fact, they came together for just one performance during Vancouver’s Celtic Fest in March of 2006. But the project soon took the band down a path that none of its members expected. Just last summer, Delhi 2 Dublin opened the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Where they collaborated with Irish and Indian dancers and the National Circus School. Now, Delhi 2 Dublin draws on the traditions and backgrounds of all its members, from Indian to Irish to Anglo-Saxon to Korean, to play music that makes people want to get up and dance.

Del Castillo – USA

Del Castillo is one of those bands that is hard to classify. Calling them heavy metal flamenco or a hard-charging Gypsy Kings comes closest, but even those comparisons fall short of capturing the essence of a band that can alternate between singing epic love ballads and straight-up rock and roll. At the heart of Del Castillo are six guys, a fantastic rhythm section, and an urge to create music that crosses cultural boundaries. The two del Castillo brothers, Rick and Mark, along with Alex Ruiz, Albert Besteiro, Mike Zeoli, and Carmelo Torres, blend flamenco, rock, blues, and world music into a sound that is at times melodramatic, intense, and rollicking.

The two brothers planted the seed for the band in the early part of the decade when they worked together to create an album of Latin/Flamenco­ style songs for their parents and friends. Soon after finishing their album, the one-off project evolved into a full-fledged band. Today Del Castillo plays all over the world and their list of plaudits and awards is massive. At last year’s South by Southwest festival the band was named Best Latin Traditional Band and earned Album of the Year for Brotherhood.

Their shows, like their music, are unpredictable, exuberant, hold-on-tight good times. For fear of being hyperbolic, there are few other bands that bring their music to life with the same abandon as these guys. Come see for yourself.

DNA6 – British Columbia

DNA6 is already garnering a steady following in Vancouver’s underground music scene and will be a welcome treat on the Vancouver Folk Music Festival stage for fans of hip hop, funk, soul, and jazz. Although the band’s second album, Human Condition, may be categorized by casual listeners as a standard hip hop album, it’s much, much more than that. The mellow harmonies of cool jazz,the seemingly improvisational interplay of the guitar, saxophone, and beat box, and the poetic rhythms underpinning the lyrics mark a departure from traditional hip hop to a crossover sound rife with the ability to surprise from beat to beat and note to note. Top musical talents, Alex Maher (vocals, sax, guitar, percussion, beat box), Brett von Brendel (vocals) and Mario Vaira (vocals and guitar) create a distinct sound that draws influences from such varied musicians as Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo, Sade, and The Police.

In discussions about their music, DNA6 urge their listeners to understand hip hop as more than just simply a style of music. To them, it’s a form of expression that transcends art and culture; in truth it’s a lifestyle. As such, they dedicate much of their songwriting on Human Condition to understanding the ways people choose to live their lives in a dehumanizing world. It should be said, however, that although many of the songs deal with dark themes, their lyrical musings are tight, controlled and, most of all, danceable. Listening to DNA6 will see as a welcome respite from the struggles of the modern world that they sing about.

Dubblestandart – Austria

If you missed Vienna’s Dubblestandart at the 2006 Festival, be forewarned, you do not want to make the same mistake twice. Dubblestandart’s band members Paul Zasky, Robbie Ost, Ali Tersch, and Herb Pirker serve up a sound that is rooted in both the modern European precision of electronica and the old-school Jamaican back beats of the ‘6os and ‘7os. The collective, begun in the early 199os, emphasizes the vintage attributes of dub by incorporating the use of sound flexing tools, analog delays, and synthesizers with the naturalism and socially conscious lyrics of reggae.Through the band’s lyrics, Dublestandart is able to emphasize how music can serve as a bridge to social equality, while still making you want to get up and dance.

Having already released 10 studio albums,2oo7’s Immigration Dub being the most recent, Dubblestandart continues to get better and better. One listen to this CD will convince anyone that the above claim is based in hard-boiled fact. The band moves past the expected echo effects and sluggish bass lines characteristic of some dub bands to create danceable gems that invite listeners into a world in which reggae, electronica, grunge, and soul, live in inexplicable harmony.

Come dance, groove, and dance some more when Dubblestandart plays songs from Immigration Dub and slips older gems, from their hefty back catalogue, into the mix.

Etran Finatawa – Niger

Etran Finatawa, translated into English as “the stars of tradition,” create a sound that is best described as nomadic blues. The band,formed in 2004, brings together members of two tribes, sometimes at odds over land and water rights, to create music that incorporates modern rock guitar, spirited percussion, and the sound of traditional chanting. Singing in Tamasheck, the language of the Tuareg tribe, and Fulfulde, the language of the Wodaabe – Fulani tribe, Etran Finatawa’s synchratic music draws on the musical customs of both tribes. Taking tribal chants punctuated by the textured blend of a multiplicity of voices from the Wodaabe tribe and the use of string instruments including the violin, and more recently, the guitar, from the Tuareg tribe, the band brings added rhythm and melody to their tradition­ inspired songs.

In keeping with the desire to blend the tribes; the ever-changing touring ensemble always consists of three members of the Tuareg tribe and three members of the Wodaabe-Fulani tribe. Coming to the Festival this year are Bammo Agonla, Alhousseini Mohamed Anivolla, Bagui Bouga, Mamane Tankari, Goumar Abdoul Jamil, and Aroudaini lsmaguil.

The music of Etran Finatawa speaks about the hardships and joys of their nomadic lives but understanding the words is not important when you consider that their voices, rhythms, and melodies will go further than any words can to recreate the sounds of the desert.

Ferron – British Columbia

Well into a 30-year career, Ferron is still one of the most influential writers and performers of folk music today. With her rough-hewn singing voice, vocal agility, and exquisite lyrics, she is often compared to the likes of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen, while also being credited with influencing other singer-songwriters, including Ani DiFranco, the Indigo Girls, and kd lang.

Ferron learned to play guitar at age 11 and moved out on her own at 15. She recorded her first and second albums, Ferron and Ferron Backed Up, with the help of some friends in a 4 track radio station, using the basement of her home as a distribution centre. Those albums, recorded in 1977, and all, subsequent recordings, cemented Ferron as a plainspoken singer and songwriter, a person that audience members could relate to, a person that you might like to sit and have a cup of coffee with, and a person not shy about letting you into her life through song. On her newest CD, Boulder, released in May Of this year, Ferron continues to captivate listeners with her intimate and sparsely arranged melodies. Other musicians, including Samantha Parton of the Be Good Tanyas, JD Samson of Le Tigre, and Lyndell Montgomery of Ember Swift’s band, contribute to the album.

Ferron’s long-time fans know that for her, singing and performing is a revolutionary expression of the soul. So even if you’re not already a fan, you will become one when you come join Ferron in experiencing your own soul’s revolution. Ferron is accompanied this weekend by singer-songwriter, Bitch, who also produced Ferron’s most recent album.

Eliza Gilkyson – USA

Reminiscing, Gilkyson shared, “I realized that ‘IT’ wasn’t going to happen for me. I was too old (like, older than 35), the music I made was never going to be hip enough. Kind of corny in an ex­ hippie sort of way. I was alone by the side of the road.” What better proof that she is no longer alone than that she shared this in her keynote address at the 2oth Annual Folk Alliance in February. Daughter of prolific songwriter Terry Gilkyson, music was in her blood. One reviewer proclaimed, “Gilkyson’s signature as an artist is her courage. She lays it all bare, in song and on stage.” Her first recording, Love from the Heart, came out in 1979 but it was seven years before the next of her more than a dozen CDs would be released. In 1999 she started her own recording company, Realiza Records, before finding her home with Red House Records. Gilkyson’s music appears to have simple, light melodies providing huge contrast to the subjects in her lyrics. Along with the obligatory songs about relationships are suicide bombers, natural disasters, and it doesn’t get any more poignant than “The Ballad of Yvonne Johnson,” a song that deserves a new verse to further this tragic tale. To quote more of her keynote address: “Thank you for being here, for following your heart’s desire,for inviting the muse to have her way with you, and for having the courage to share your gifts with the rest of us.”

Jenn Grant – Nova Scotia

“If Jenn Grant could bottle enthusiasm and sell it on the street, the world would be a better place,” observed Megan Wennberg on The Coast. Jenn Grant was born on Prince Edward Island, but has lived in Halifax since she was 10. Although she has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, Grant was invited to record her first full­ length album at CBC’s Studio H in Halifax. Clearly her enthusiasm has paid off. Her CD Orchestra for the Moon includes tracks with Ran Sexsmith, Jill Barber, and Matt Mays among others. Grant started her career singing with a family trio, and then became a touring member of The Heavy Blinkers.”That showed me a different way of performing,” says Grant,”because when I performed with Heavy Blinkers, I didn’t have a guitar. I go into a different headspace. l feel really theatrical…like an old romantic movie.” Her vocal style has been compared to Feist, Sarah Harmer, and Patsy Cline, but she really has a style all her own. Grant hasn’t given up on the painting, and it’s not her only other artistic talent either. The red guitar she usually plays onstage has flowers from special people or places pressed onto it. However, the true heart of this artist may best be seen in the acknowledgments she wrote on her CD: “To everyone who sang or played on this record, please come over for supper soon.”

Harry Manx and Kevin Breit – British Columbia/Ontario

One of the great pleasures at a folk festival is seeing artists who have never met before get together on a workshop stage and create amazing music. That’s how the collaboration of Harry Manx and Kevin Breit began.

Breit tells the story of their meeting in 2001: “We were both at a folk festival in Owen Sound and were asked to share a workshop. We were introduced, we shook hands, and we went on stage and started to play. No rehearsal,no set list, no plans. And it was magic!” That musical connection led to the two Canadian guitar virtuosos recording a couple of albums together, including last year’s Juno-nominated In Good We Trust. This on-going musical partnership has developed in tandem with each artist’s very busy solo career.

Harry Manx was an accomplished blues player when he spent five years in India as the disciple of master musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Since his return to Canada in 2000, Manx has gained ample fame making music that beautifully melds East and West, mixing blues traditions with classical Indian ragas. When not touring with the likes of Norah Jones or Cassandra Wilson, Kevin Breit is in constant demand for studio work with scores of artists. A brilliant player on a range of stringed instruments, he also leads three bands of his own.

Together, these two make magic. Guitar Player magazine calls them a match made in guitar heaven, and we think you’ll agree.

Jayme Stone and Mansa Sissoko – Ontario/Mali

Together Jayme Stone and Mansa Sissoko create music that fuses elements of the blues, folk, and traditional African melodies. Their songs take listeners on a blissful romp into the roots and lost history of the banjo.

Stone, an accomplished banjo player with an uncanny compositional ear and an ability to draw upon a vast catalogue of musical influences, is a very special musician but not just for the reasons listed above. What makes Stone a superior musician is his drive to get inside the music, to understand the roots and traditions that underscore the music he plays. His ever-evolving musical journey to uncover what he does not already know is a continual search for melodies, instruments, and people that will help him take his music in new and unexpected directions.

In fact,that thirst for knowledge is what brought Stone to West Africa,and to Mansa Sissoko. Sissoko, a Malian griot, is an accomplished musician in his own right, using song to provide a semi-literate society with its moral roots, grounding, and oral history. For the past 15 years, Sissoko has been performing his traditional songs with his 21-stringed harp as accompaniment in large urban centres and small rural villages across Mali.

Much like traditional African music, the fusion of their sounds is best understood when you immerse yourself in the rhythms and stories they tell. And to do so at the Festival is an opportunity not to be missed.

John Reischman and the Jaybirds – British Columbia

One of the best things about a festival like this is the opportunity to hear music from around the world. And sometimes it’s just about the music from our own community. John Reischman and the Jaybirds are one of those. With four critically acclaimed albums, two Juno nominations groups (including one for their latest recording Stellar Jays), two Canadian Folk Music Award nominations, and several European and North American tours under their belts, it’s hard to imagine how they have time to work on other projects as well. Their music offers a fresh blend of original songs and instrumentals, old-time heritage, and bluegrass power.

Though based in Vancouver, the individual band members make their homes on the West Coast of both sides of the border. Accompanying Reischman on mandolin, the Jaybirds-Jim Nunally (guitar), Greg Spatz (fiddle), Nick Hornbuckle (banjo), and Trisha Gagnon (bass)–create a unique bluegrass sound. Sing Out! magazine said of them,”Though Reischman is the leader and front man, he gives each of them plenty of room to shine, and together they produce music that is seamlessly excellent and rewarding.” This latest CD let’s them shine in a way they haven’t before as it marks the first time all five have contributed original material to a Jaybirds album. We’re glad to have them back on stage with us.

Jorane – Quebec

Jorane, aka Johanne Pelletier, draws freely on alternative rock, folk, classical, and ambient idioms when writing and performing her music. Notable for her ability to sing while playing cello at the same time, her sound ranges from quiet and folksy to soaring rock. The interplay of her vocals and her cello elicit comparisons to artists such as Kate Bush, Bjork,Tori Amos, and Sinead O’Connor. Last year, Jorane garnered 12 nominations at ADISQ (Association quebecoise de l’industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la video), including Songwriter of the Year and Artist Most Recognized Outside of Quebec. She also picked up two Juno nominations.

On previous albums, Jorane sang predominantly in French, or in a mellifluous jargon referred to as “jabberwocky,” but on her most recent album, The You and the Now, the songs are in English. lt’s on this album that Jorane delivers a deeply personal and introspective collection of songs. Through her ethereal English vocals she gives a part of herself that she was not yet ready to give on any previous album. As is evidenced in these songs-as in all of her songs-her singing voice and that of her cello intertwine in ways that are mysterious, otherworldly, and somewhat indescribable.

Jorane succeeds in creating a distinctive sound of her own, not quite ambient, not quite folk nor classical, but nonetheless a sound that is compelling and beautiful, a sound that is distinctly Jorane.

Harrison Kennedy – Ontario

Nominated for the first time in 2004, Harrison Kennedy was not your typical Juno nominee. Ten years after leaving Detroit’s famous band Chairmen of the Board, Kennedy decided to embark on a solo career and was truly alone. He had no record label. No publicist writing press releases, arranging interviews, telling him how to dress, where to go and what to say. Kennedy didn’t even have a manager. He couldn’t have recorded his first nominated album, Sweet Taste, without a loan from a friend to pay the bill at Hamilton’s Catherine North Studio. In fact, he wouldn’t have known he had to fill out an application to be considered if a friend hadn’t asked him if he’d done it yet.

Sweet Taste is a testament to one of Canada’s top vocal masters at his finest. Kennedy’s original compositions showcase the chameleon quality of a voice at ease performing funk, soul, rock, folk, roots, gospel and blues. The album’s only cover tune, ”I’m the Chairman,” is a remake of the hit single Kennedy previously recorded as a member of the Chairmen. Both of Harrison’s follow up releases, Voice & Story (2006), and High County Blues (2oo8) were also nominated for June Awards.

Kobo Town – Ontario

Toronto-based Kobo Town has rejuvenated the national music of Trinidad by injecting calypso with the enthusiasm of a new generation, and infusing it with other Anglo-Caribbean sounds like reggae and dub. Named after the historic neighbourhood in Port-of-Spain that lays claim to being the birthplace of calypso music, the band’s music is solidly rooted in old-style calypso and West Indian folk music. Kobo Town also incorporates non­ traditional elements and instruments and explores new sounds and arrangements, creating songs that the group says “resonate with the satire, storytelling and social concern that lie at the center of Trinidad’s national art.”

In his teens, bandleader Drew Gonsalves moved from Trinidad to Toronto where he studied classical and flamenco guitar, as well as the Trinidadian instrument the quarto. Homesickness inspired him to orient himself back to the music of the Caribbean. After playing throughout the 199os with reggae/calypso/funk fusion band, Outcry, he formed Kobo Town in 2004. The buzz about this group is definitely building,thanks to their satirical songs underpinned by powerful and infectious rhythms, dance-floor-packing live shows, and a critically acclaimed debut CD. The album is a collection of stories offering a running commentary on a wide variety of social and political themes, including domestic violence, homelessness, globalization, the war on Iraq, and the various frustrations and betrayals of the post­ colonial era. The music magazine Exclaim! put the band’s first album Independence on its Top 10 list for 2007, saying that, “Kobo Town resurrects, reinvigorates and redefines calypso for the new millennium.”

LAU – Scotland

The three members of LAU take the stage at this year’s Vancouver Folk Music Festival with their unique brand of folk-jazz improvisational hooks and melodies. The band takes its name from an Orcadian word meaning “natural light,” an apt monikerfor a predominantly instrumental band formed as a deliberate contrast to the frenetic drum ‘n bass bands popping up all over the country.

Coming off a win at this year’s BBC2 Folk Music Awards Ceremony for best group, LAU, also nominated for best album, Lightweights and Gentlemen, and best live act, are a trio to experience on,stage and in person. Accordionist Martin Green, fiddler Aidan O’Rourke and singer/guitarist Kris Drever transport the audience with every note and beat they play. All three men, experienced musicians who’ve played in various bands before joining LAU, weave together their disparate musical influences into a sound seldom heard in folk music circles. From traditional Celtic jigs and reels, to the complex rhythms and spikes of Balkan music, from the alternative country and folk traditions of Americana,to the jittery atonal forays into free jazz,their music takes the listener on a journey through musical history at it’s best.

There is no doubt that the propulsive sounds of LAU’s folk-jazz fusion, already widely heralded in the UK, will continue to be talked about the world over for years to come. They are a band not to be missed.

Maeve Mackinnon – Scotland

One of Scotland’s finest young Gaelic and Scots singers, Maeve Mackinnon grew up in a political family in Glasgow where she spent much of her 198os early childhood learning to walk and talk on peace marches. Dick Gaughan was the first singer she saw performing live and he remains one of her major musical influences. She began singing at an early age, with summer holidays spent on the Isle of Jura cementing her appreciation of traditional music. While listening to radio there, she discovered the music of the Celtic super group Capercaillie, which fired her interest in folk music and Gaelic singing. Although not a native Gaelic speaker, Mackinnon began learning the language at age 17 in order to be able to “sing the songs properly.” She is an Honours graduate of the Royal Scotland Academy of Music and Dance where she majored in Gaelic song and developed a strong interest in Scots and Irish folksong and bluegrass.

Her debut album, Don’t Sing Love Songs, is an enticing mix of Gaelic and traditional songs from Scotland, Ireland and North America. Reviewers of the album lauded her “achingly beautiful voice,” and “fluid, supple singing.” She was nominated’ for the 2005 BBC Young Traditional Musician of the year, and in 2007 she won the Scots Trad Music award for up-and-coming artist of the year. She is fast making a name for herself with her fresh and contemporary interpretations of traditional Gaelic and non-Gaelic material.

Aimee Mann – USA

Throughout Aimee Mann’s career, a career that spans a quarter century, she’s written sweet nuggets of pop that serve to lay her emotions bare. Her catalogue of songs-songs for herself, songs for her listeners, and songs that tell stories about mistakes made and promises broken-come from deep within those soft, squishy places that people never let you see. Ever since she took the helm of ‘Til Tuesday, the band that catapulted her front and centre into the music world, she’s been a lyrical songwriter who’s been able to move seamlessly from those concrete, cerebral ideas that pick at all of us in the still of the night, to those ethereal, emotional ones that none of us are willing to say out loud, especially not to a room full of strangers. And that, that right there, is what makes Mann’s music special.

Her solo career started soon after ‘Til Tuesday broke up in 1988. Her first release, Whatever, received universal critical acclaim. The releases to follow, however, were mired in legal wrangling that overshadowed the tuneful gems on each album. it wasn’t until the release of the film Magnolia in 2000, and her subsequent academy award nomination for the song, “Save Me,” that her·career received the overdue push it needed. Since then, she’s released two more solo albums, cementing her place as a pop music icon.

To hear Aimee Mann live is a special treat. And to listen as she reaches into those squishy places is a privilege.

Carolyn Mark – British Columbia

Carolyn Mark’s first foray into performing happened in elementary school when she took to the stage as Templeton the Rat. Fortunately for listeners everywhere, she decided that musicians are more fun to hang out with than actors. In the early 199os she formed the all-girl band The Vinaigrettes, which survived for seven years, six CDs and many roster changes. Mark notes the band toured “Across Canada several times, but then, after a few years, Brigette, the smart one of the group, consulted an atlas and we started venturing south when we realized that Los Angles was closer to Victoria than Edmonton.”

She grew up on a dairy farm in Sicamous, BC where her dad taught her to play piano at an early age. Visitors would be treated to duets by Mark and her violin-playing father. After her stint with The Vinaigrettes, Mark bounced between Hat Head, The Fixin’s, The Show Business Giants, The Metronome Cowboys, The Corn Sisters (with label-mate Neko Case), Monster Tweety, and Klugman before finally embarking on a solo career in 2000 with her first solo release, Party Girl. Most recently she released her sixth Mint album, Nothing is Free, which was recorded at Beaver Point Hall on Saltspring Island, lending credence to her description of it as “woodsy and introspective music that conjures up a Sunday evening spent playing instruments and singing songs on the back porch of the cabin.” Appearing with her this weekend is Kingston-based singer-songwriter, country-punk-folk, troubadour, Luther Wright.

Markus James and the Wassonrai – USA/Mali/Guinea

Markus James and the Wassonrai blend tog her the blues at the heart of the Mississippi Delta with the melodies at the heart of Africa. Their sound simmers just beneath the surface ready to burst through when it’s least expected. Accompanying James (acoustic and electric slide and vocals), are the Wassonrai, featuring Karamba Dioubate (jembe, bolon,vocals), Amadou Camara (karinye, kamele n’goni,calabash,vocals), and Adam Goodhue (drums, percussion).

lt should be noted that this collaboration is no happy accident. James’s first taste of West African music came at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. When he was just four years old, James’ musical radar picked up the sounds of Alhaji Bai Konte, a Gambian singer and kora player. Since then, James, born and raised in the United States, has continued on his quest to know more, learn more,and experience more. During the past few years, he’s spent time in Mali with the goal of understanding the relationship between traditional Malian music and the music of the American blues.In fact, many of his compositions draw from West African song structures by forgoing familiar blues chords in favour of harmonies that place an emphasis on lyrical expression. In addition,the members of the Wassonrai complement James’ textured guitar and vocals with ethereal harmonies and brooding rhythms of their own.

Together, Markus James and the Wassonrai start at the Mississippi Delta, journey to West Africa, and land in a special place in between. Listeners would do well to go along for the ride.

Eneida Marta – Guinea-Bissau/Portugal

Guinea-Bissau may be a poor and small country – One of the smallest in continental Africa-but this tiny West African nation is blessed with tremendous musical riches. Gumbe is the joyous national music that melds some of the country’s many different types of traditional music with modern sounds into something a bit like a poly-rhythmic samba. This cultural wealth can be found in abundance in the magical multilingual music of Eneida Marta.

One of the brightest lights in a new generation of Bissauan musicians, she grew up in a musical family singing at weddings, circumcisions and harvest feasts. Marta left Guinea-Bissau in her late teens to join the vibrant African exile musical community in Lisbon. She has recorded three albums since 2001 and her fame has spread across Europe. Marta and producer Juca Delgado mix Bissauan musical styles like gumbe with other influences including Cape Verdean morna, Portuguese fado, Nigerian Afro beat and a touch of jazz to create captivating soulfilled. music. Her voice is sweet, supple and evocative as she sings in a multitude of languages, including Mandingo, Fula, Kriol, Futa-fula, Balanta, Papel, Mandjako, Biafada, Bejago, and Portuguese. Many of her songs pay tribute to the to struggles of her homeland and in particular of the women of Guinea Bissau. Her people have endured the hardships of civil war and desperate poverty while still creating wondrous music imbued with their vitality and spirit. Now we have the privilege of experiencing that music via the gracious presence of Eneida Marta.

Bachir Attar and the Master Musicians of Jajouka – Morocco

The Master Musicians of Jajouka might be the oldest musical group still in existence. The name for this all male ensemble comes from the village of Jajouka, a rural enclave perched in the foothills of the Rif Mountains in Northern Morocco. It’s there that each member of the band is born, raised and taught from early childhood musical traditions unique to Jajou. Their music, a combination of nasal buzzing, up tempo rhythms, and steady percussion, has the ability to move the listener into a trance like state. ln fact, once the musicians become Masters it is said they attain the power to heal. The instruments, like the music, dates back centuries. Many of the members of the band play the rhaita, a double-reed instrument reminiscent of the oboe, while others play the drums.

“Discovered” in the 1950s by William Burroughs and Paul Bowles, the Master Musicians have subsequently recorded several of their own albums and have been featured on albums by Ornette Coleman, the Rolling Stones, Randy Weston, Maceo Parker, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant. Today, the Master Musicians are one of the truest examples of a living, breathing folk tradition. Every current and past member of the band was born into it and learned the craft from their father who learned it from his father and so on and so on. A tradition like that, dating back more 4000 years, is one that everyone would be well served to experience for him or herself.

Michael Franti and Spearhead – USA

Michael Franti puts the active in activist. In addition to a steady diet of touring, he plays countless benefits and free shows for everyone from Brazilian favela kids to US Iraq war veterans. He produces the annual Power to the Peaceful free music and arts festival in San Francisco, works with the organization Headcount to register US voters, and has his own FrantiV channel on YouTube. Since Spearhead’s last visit to Jericho Park in 2003, he has also become a filmmaker.

For his 2006 documentary, I Know I’m not Alone, he travelled to Iraq, Palestine and Israel to explore the human cost of war. As Franti says in the film, “This trip made me realize one very important thing, which is that I’m not on the side of the Americans, Iraqis, Israelis, or Palestinians. I’m on the side of the peacemakers…whichever country they come from.”

The film has been described as an antidote to despair, which is also an apt description of Franti’s music. Blending hip hop, dub, funk, reggae and rock, Spearhead (CarlYoung on bass, Dave Shul on guitar, Manas Itiene on drums and Raliegh Neal on keys), mixes positive political messages with an upbeat party vibe. Franti says he has always seen music as a way to stir the soul and a vehicle for social change. “My role is as a storyteller and a songwriter. I’m somebody who is trying to keep the spirits of other people up, despite all the chaos and fear around us.”

T. Nile – British Columbia

British Columbia native Tamara Nile, aka T. Nile comes to our stage poised to release her much anticipated sophomore album, Coming Back From Everything. There is little doubt that her new album, much like her debut, will delight listeners with the lush sounds of her country-tinged folk music. In creating her sound, T.Nile draws on influences as far-reaching as Bob Marley, Gillian Welch, and Dock Boggs. The reggae beats sprinkled into some of her country melodies give the music a unique edge that at times makes it hard for you to stop yourself from getting up to dance.

T. Nile, adept at playing the guitar, mandolin, harmonica, and the claw­ hammer banjo, is a performer’s performer. She’s played with the likes of Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, Corb Lund, Luke Doucet, and David Francey. Her career started at the age of six when she accompanied her busker father to sidewalk shows throughout North America. Now fully entrenched in her own career, T. Nile is receiving the recognition she deserves. Once named the Best New/Emerging Artist at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, T.Nile returned last year, nominated in the Best Contemporary Vocalist category. She was also recently named the Critic’s Favourite New Discovery in Penguin Eggs magazine.

When T. Nile performs, you’ll wish you could take a ride to the see the places and meet the people she’s singing about. Hers is a show that will keep you tapping your feet for a long time.

Faith Nolan – Ontario

To call Faith Nolan a folk singer doesn’t come close to doing her justice. She is the director of Sing Elementary Teachers of Toronto; has founded three different choirs in Toronto as well as the Kingston Women Prisoners Choir; produced a film, Within These Cages,about women in prison; and continues to fight for a better understanding of how poverty has created a disproportionate representation of poor women, especially black and First Nations, in Canadian prisons. And still this list just scratches the surface of her many accomplishments.

Her passion for uncovering the injustice of our justice system stems from her own childhood. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she is of African, Miq Maq, and Irish heritage, and grew up in the working-class neighbourhood of Cabbagetown in Toronto. To try and make ends meet, Nolan’s mother was a bootlegger and operated a gambling parlour out of their home. “I grew up with people going to jail all the time. The police were always busting into our house and taking her or somebody off to jail.” Self-taught, her music has been described as a mix of blues, folk and jazz, with a taste of funk and reggae. You can find your toes tapping and body swaying to one of her songs and suddenly realize you’re dancing to a song about a murder or racism. Is it any wonder that a self-proclaimed queer, African-Canadian, working-class woman has chosen to use her gift to try to bring about social change for a fairer and better world?

Outlaw Social – British Columbia

Spawned in Victoria’s lively roots music scene, Outlaw Social say they were “born out of friendship and tempered by a mutual passion for traditional string music.” Bassist, singer and former Bill Hilly Band member, Oliver Swain was approached one night in 2004 at the lucky Bar by banjo player Catherine Black and guitarist Pharis Romero, who had been playing old-time and bluegrass as a duo called Horsefly. The three joined forces and added guitar whiz Adam Dobres and Paperboys fiddler Kendel Carson to create one the of most inventive roots bands on this coast.

Outlaw Social draws deep from the well of American music, Appalachian singing and picking, gospel, jug and Cajun traditions, and pours those influences into the original songs that are interspersed with traditional ones. The eclectic range of material reflects the fact that all five members came to the band as well-established musicians with strong repertoires.Their sound features exemplary musicianship on a range of instruments,including non­ traditional ones like electric guitar, plus spine-tingling vocals from the three lead singers, with a thread of rock and roll woven in. Attempts at labeling them include bluesy folk grass or alt-old-time string band.

The band has earned an enthusiastic following in their hometown. In 2007 they were voted in for both best folk/roots band and favourite album for their latest disc, Dry Bones, by the readership of Monday Magazine in that Victoria weekly’s annual awards. This weekend will see them win plenty of new fans on the other side of the Georgia Strait.

Ozomatli – USA

Their sonic recipe mixes hip hop, rock, cumbia, salsa, and funk with the spice of Jamaican, Asian, and Middle Eastern influences, in utter defiance of categorization. Ozomatli simply call it the people’s music.

Ozomatli is the Aztec astrological sign of the monkey, a god of dance, fire and music. It’s the perfect tag for a band whose roots are in street politics and whose sound is as rowdy as a block party. Throughout its 13-year history, he group has demonstrated its commitment to activism, from its beginnings with the Peace and Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles, to winning the 2007 LA County Courage Award for community work and music that communicates “positive messages of unity, peace and justice.” Ozomatli’s music also infects its audiences with the band’s essential party spirit and, after years of near constant touring, this crew are serious crowd­ pleasers. Their latest release, Don’t Mess With The Dragon, is their fourth full­ length studio album and one the group describe as the “most cohesive, polished, and joyous record to date.”

The multi-ethnic band and their hybrid music reflect the diversity of their hometown. “Los Angeles is a microcosm of the world;” says band member Jiro Yamaguchi.” You can drive through this city and hear music and experience cultures from all over the world. That’s who we are.”

Please welcome Ulises Bella, Wii-Dog Abers, Raul Pacheco,Justin Poree, Asdru Sierra, Jiro Yamaguchi, Jabu Smith-Freeman, Mario Calire and Shef Bruton for their first appearance at Jericho Beach.

Pascale Picard Band – Quebec

The Quebec-based folk-rock group, Pascale Picard Band, blend folk, blues, and pop music on their 2007 debut CD, Me, Myself & Us. After one listen, it’s not hard to pick up on all those elements, along with the slight strains of jazz, rock and electronica woven throughout. The band, fronted by Pascale Picard, with Mathieu Cantin on guitar, Philippe Morissette on bass, and Stephane Rancourt on drums, is being lauded as one of the hottest discoveries of the year. Deft singing and songwriting that effortlessly weaves modern folk and pop into every composition, is a large part of the reason why Picard’s passionate vocals and the band’s smooth, accomplished playing is another.

The band really took off after a debut appearance on Musique Plus. Fans of the program flooded the show’s studios with emails pressing for the band to be invited back. And they were. Following their second performance, the band released their song, “Gate 22” to radio stations throughout Quebec. After garnering solid radio play, it earned great acclaim. The song climbed into the Top 50 on the Anglophone chart and stayed there for 12 straight weeks.

Although a fairly recent discovery, the members of the Pascale Picard Band have, to date, performed in a total of 3,000 live shows. This is a band going places fast. Just think, if you come see them now, you’ll one day be able to tell your friends how you saw them back in the day in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Murray Porter – British Columbia

Murray Porter is Mohawk, Turtle Clan, born and raised on the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in southern Ontario, but his tour itinerary includes not just North America but the unlikely combination of Australia, Egypt, Israel, Germany and Haiti.

Porter started a solo career in 1994. The following year he released 1492, Who Found Who? comprised of all his own words and music. Before his solo career he performed for three years with The Pappy Johns Band. He reunited with them in 2003 to record Full Circle, nominated for Aboriginal Recording of the Year and boasting seven tunes written by Porter. Murray made his television hosting and writing debut on Rez Bluez TV, a 13-part performance series broadcast in 2005-2006 on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, SUN-TV and the BRAVO Canada channel. In addition, he wrote and performed the theme song for the series.

Porter sums himself up best in his song “Colours” where we hear the refrain, “I’m a red man,singing the black man’s blues, living in a white man’s world.” His taste developed early when at the age of 11 he heard B.B. King on the radio singing “The Thrill is Gone.” Last September his Career reached dream status for him when he was the opening act for King and Etta James, and was later invited back to King’s bus after the show to help celebrate the blues legend’s 82nd birthday. lt’s a dream come true for us to have him at this year’s Festival.

Red Chamber – British Columbia

Red Chamber is an exciting ensemble of four masterful musicians that take their inspiration from the traditional Chinese “plucked string” repertoire. Their music straddles traditional ancient Chinese string band music and contemporary western bluegrass and jazz fusion. These virtuosic performers set the stage on fire with hot licks, power and passion.

The group is led by internationally acclaimed zheng (zither) master and ethnomusicologist, Mei Han. Han toured five continents as a former soloist with the Zhan You Ensemble in Beijing. After jamming with bluegrass musicians on festival stages, her fascination with this type of stringed music began. Believing there was a parallel between the music of Chinese string bands and bluegrass, she contacted mandolin master John Reischman about taking some mandolin lessons. Through this initial encounter, Red Chamber recently completed a very successful cross-cultural venture with John Reischman and the Jaybirds, culminating in a rousing octet performance of tunes from the Chinese repertoire and Jaybirds originals.

The other highly skilled and accomplished members of Red Chamber include Guilian Liu, one of the world’s top five pipa (lute) masters; Zhimin Yu, a ruan (lute) virtuoso and formerly a principle player at the China Broadcast Performing Arts Troupe in Beijing; and Geling Jiang, an award-winning multi-instrumentalist and a former member of the Chime Bell Ensemble of Hubei province. Having them with us this weekend is a unique opportunity to hear music that is seldom, if ever, heard in the west.

Haley Sales – British Columbia

Hayley Sales is just 21 years old but you’d be hard-pressed to believe it the minute you pop her debut CD, Sunseed, into the car stereo and set out for a drive down the coast. Her songs and winsome voice, best described as a laidback surf-folk-pop­ rock melange, are often likened to Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, and Suzanne Vega. Apt comparisons for someone surrounded by a litany of similar musicians since the day she was born. As a child, Sales used to dance to the sounds of jazz, rap, folk, and rock coming from her father’s basement recording studio. Turned on to such a wide range of musical styles at such a young age, it’s no wonder she credits artists like Judy Garland and Miles Oavis, as well as the jazz of the 1946s and the rock of the 1960s with making her the musician she is today. On Sunseed she explores those musical influences and succeeds in making” sure each beat resonates with yet another reminder of days gone by.

These days Sales calls a blueberry farm on Vancouver Island home. lt was on that farm that she wrote, produced, and recorded all the songs for her debut CD: The feel of slow life on the farm sneaks into more than a few songs on the album serving up the perfect antidote to a summer in the city. One can only hope that the multi talented Sales will be around for at least another 21 years.

Martin Sexton – USA

Journeyman singer, songwriter, and guitarist Martin Sexton comes to the Festival ready to put on one of those blistering live sets he’s renowned for. Touring in support of Seeds, his seventh studio album released just last year, Sexton manages to infuse a timeless appeal into every soilg, drawing on elements of gospel, country, blues,rock, and pop. With his soulful vocal style, an amalgamation of the best parts of Van Morrison, AI Green, Aaron Nevilie, and Otis Redding, he makes listeners want to hang on every word.

Although Sexton, a performers performer, is one of those musicians you can’t ever remember not knowing about, it wasn’t always that way. A self­ taught guitarist and singer, Sexton formed his first rock band in the eighth grade.Then in the early ‘gos after moving from Syracuse to Boston, he released a self-produced album, recording it on an 8-track tape. Busking on the streets o.f Boston;he sold over 20,000 copies of the cassette out of his guitar case. In 1994,Sexton won the National Academy of Songwriters’Artist of the Year Award and in 1996, he was sharing the stage with artists such as Art Garfunkei, Jackson Browne, and John Hiatt.

All of Sexton’s records, from the first to the last, capture the roots of the American folk rock tradition. So,when you come see him live, be prepared to hold on tight as he takes you on a rollicking journey through the history of the blues, soul, gospel, R&B, rock and country.

Slide to Freedom – British Columbia/India

In their own words, “Slide to Freedom is a celebration of’lndian Slide Guitar meets North American Dobro and Slide Guitar, or ‘Blues meets Indian Music,”‘ featuring slide masters Salil Bhatt and Doug Cox and tabla player Vineet Vyas. Although some songs seem more eastern and others western, it is always clear that they are still figuring out where one style starts and the other stops, and that’s no easy task.

Doug Cox plays a dobro, while Vineet Vyas adds tabla, and Salil Bhatt plays the satvik veena, an instrument of his own design that has 20 strings (three for melody, five for drone and 12 sympathetic strings). Bhatt holds a Masters degree in music, has released over 10 CDs, and represents the 10th gene·ration of the famous Bhatt lineage, where music has been flowing for more than five hundred years:Bhatt’s father, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, is the inventor of the mohan veena, a slide guitar he designed that has 19 strings. He makes a few guest appearances on the CD and even wrote some of the tunes for it. Cox teaches at Guitar Camps around the world, from the Sore Fingers Camp in England to the Kerrville Blues Camp in Texas, to the Acoustic Alaska Guitar Camp. Cox and Bhatt Jr. met quite by chance and communicated by phone and email extensively before meeting face to face. When they finally did, Cox asked if he could study with the two Bhatts for a week, but Salil suggested they record an album together instead. The result: Slide to Freedom.

Madagascar Slim – Ontario/Madagascar

Madagascar Slim, born Randriamananjara Radofa Besata Jean Longin, taught himself to play music on his older brother’s guitar when he was jusa child. His music, inspired by recordings of BB King, Jimi Hendrix, and the traditional songs of Madagascar, mix together nicely to create a unique sound that is equal parts roots; blues, folk, R&B, reggae, and world music. Dulcet vocal harmonies, propulsive guitar playing, uplifting and complex rhythms that surprise and delight, are all trademarks of his infectious music.

Sent by his parents to study accounting at Seneca College in Toronto,Slim couldn’t let go of his music. While in school be became a founding member of a French Canadian folk ensemble, La Ridiane. lt’s been a long road for Slim since then,but he now has three Juno Awards to his name: World Music Album of the Year in 2000 for his solo album Omnisource; another in the same category for his 2005 collaboration with the world music group African Guitar Summit; and Roots & Traditional Album of the Year prize in 2001 for another collaboration, this time with folk music group Tri-Continental.

Meghan Smith – Nova Scotia

After finishing school, Meaghan Smith headed to Halifax for a job in animation.While there she received a Factor grant and began the career that brings her to us.-Her 2005 debut CD Lost with Directions was nominated for two Nova Scotia Music Awards (Best New Artist and Best female Artist), and won her the Galaxie Rising Star Award. This year she has topped herself with the release of her second CD, Take Me Dancing, featuring string quartets, mellotron samples, and a full horn section. Although her smooth, soaring vocals have inspired comparisons to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, this CD is clearly not from their era. She invited renowned Canadian DJ Kid Koala to join her and he added his unique turntable manipulations to two of her tracks. Before writing her latest CD, Smith had been suffering from writer’s block for about a year.”[A friend] gave me the best advice I’ve received. He told me to go home and write the worst songs I possibly Could. So I did! I got over my fears of writing bad songs and instantly the dam was broken. Besides a flare for music, this young talent is also a breathtaking painter. “I guess I paint when I’m inspired by something that I see,it doesn’t even have to be beautiful, something ugly can also be inspiring. With music it’s the same, only it’s experience that makes me want to write.” Here’s to more experience.

The Sojourners – British Columbia

This trio was practically formed by accident. They provided background vocals on Jim Byrnes’ Juno award-winning CD House of Refuge and his delight at their contribution led him to dub them The Sojourners. They have gone on to open at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival for Dr. John and for The Five Blind Boys of Alabama. The three have different backgrounds that led them to Vancouver. Will Sanders grew up in Alexandria, Louisiana, where he sang in the church choir and played in the school band. He was always drawn to gospel and his first foray into musical theatre was his Jessie Richardson Award-nominated performance in When the Rains Come at the Arts Club. Fon Small is originally from. Chicago and started his singing career in the US Air Force where he joined The Pearls,who won a military talent show that resulted in a guest appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1958. Two years later he chose to make Canada home. Marcus Mosely grew up in the segregation-steeped Crosby County of Texas in a tin-roofed tar paper and clapboard shack beside an empty two-storey house deserted by the boss. His mother worked hard and sang her way through it all, leading to Mosely’s awareness of his own passion. Ten years of missionary service afforded him the opportunity to sing the world over before moving to Vancouver in the 1980s. All three of The Sojourners have performed in various musical theatre shows and are members of the Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir. We’re very fortunate to have them gracing our stage once more.

Spirit of the West – British Columbia

In an era of one-hit wonders,longevity is not the expectation of contemporary artists, but this year marks the 25th anniversary of one of our most reno ned local bands, Spirit of the West. The group has been through a few changes in members, and they originally started as the trio Evesdropper in 1983, but Geoffrey Kelly and John Mann have remained two of the consistent elements. Also joining us in the Park this weekend are Hugh McMillan, Vinee Ditrich, and Tobin Frank. With a dozen albums to their credit, the members of this group have other projects on the go as well. Along with releasing a solo album, Mann has been acting on stage and screen, including a recent turn as Mac the nife for Vancouver Opera’s production of The Threepenny Opera. Originally from Scotland, Kelly has not only appeared as guest artist with other bands, he produced the debut album for The Paperboys. Vinee Ditrich joined SOTW in 1990 after having worked with Long John Baldry,Doug and the Slugs, Bachman Turner Overdrive,and Sue Medley with whom he earned his first gold disc in 1989. ln addition to performing with SOTW, Tobin Frank can often be seen performing with The Paperboys. Hugh McMillan joined in 1986 to play bass, chapman stick, keyboards, and guitars, but has expanded this to a list long enough to impress the most versatile musician, as well as producing a number of albums for other top Canadian bands.

With songs like “Political” and “Save this House” getting major air play, Spirit of the West has made a name for themselves, and their music remains passionate and of significance. We’re pleased to have them with us for their Silver Anniversary.

That 1 Guy – USA

Often lauded for his invention of The Magic Pipe, That 1 Guy, aka Mike Silverman, should also be lauded as a classically trained bassist, as a winner of a Dave Brubeck Jazz Scholarship, and as a bizarre musical genius. His Magic Pipe is seven feet of galvanized steel and hardware store trinkets, and the metallic, one-stringed instrument is brought to life by an array of electronic gadgets. Silverman claims the pipe, “not only has a limit ess harmonic and sonic range, but limitless rhythmic possibilities as well.” Drawing on his classical music training, Silverman writes songs that combine elements of classical music with indigenous tribal rhythms and electronic beats.

When That 1 Guy performs live, sometimes singing two of his seminal arrangements from Songs in the Key of Beotch,“lt’s Raining Meat” and “Weasel Potpie,” he is one of the most original performers you will ever see.

He often uses both hands, both feet, and all thirty-two of his teeth to make The Magic Pipe, an instrument akin to a didgeridoo, produce wholly original melodies. Since the early 1ggos, Silverman has shared the stage with artists such as Ani DiFranco, Soul Coughing, and Naughty By Nature. He has also performed around the world, and received the Tapwater Award for Best Musical Act at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The songs from The Moon is Disgusting, his recent follow-up album, serve as further evidence that Silverman is a completely original songwriter who will be selling out shows-for years to come. We are fortunate to have him with us at this year’s Festival.

T-Model Ford – USA

When your career doesn’t start until your 58th birthday,it’s a good thing you’ve still got it going on when you’re in your 80s. T-Model Ford didn’t even make his first recording until he was 75 when-he produced the first offour albums on the Fat Possum label. Ford was born James Lewis Carter Ford on a farm in Forest, Mississippi. His fifth wife gave him his first guitar on his 58th birthday so he decided to try his own rendition of the music of Muddy Waters and Howlin’Wolf. Next thing you know he’s playing, and fighting, on Nelson Street.

Ford has always been able to handle himself and spent time in and out of jail, including serving the first two years of a 10-year sentence for murder. When asked about how much time he’s spent in jail, Ford answered, “Every Saturday night there for awhile.” His life had always been rough. By age 11 he was plowing fields behind a mule for a father who didn’t let him go out at all, not even to go to school, until he was 17. Before being a musician he worked in a sawmill, drove a truck, and worked in a logging camp. Now Ford plays in the loose, “front porch” blues style of the early 2oth century. He performs seated, grinding out fuzzy guitar riffs, stamping on the floor, and moaning words that defy formal language. “They tell me I’m 86 years old, but I’m still a ladies man.”

April Verch – Ontario

Some people are just born to their calling. At the age of three April Verch had enrolled in step dancing classes in the Ottawa Valley city of Pembroke. She was immediately drawn to the fiddle and received her first one on her sixth birt day. By the time she was 10, she knew she wanted to make a living playing fiddle and dancing. In 1997, Verch was awarded the title of Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Champion, and a year later the Canadian Open Fiddle Champion. She spent one year training at Boston’s Berklee School of Music, but her big break came when she was spotted by Rounder Records at the annual Folk Alliance Conference in 2000 and was signed on the spot. She quickly released her first CD with Rounder, VERCHuosity, and earned a Juno nomination that helped expose her to a wider audience. In 2003 she released From Where I Stand, adding singing to her step dancing and fiddle playing accomplishments. Three years later Verch showed how much she wanted to explore this new instrument with Take Me Back.

Preferring not to have her style labelled, she reinvents herself on each new CD with influences ranging from French Canadian, Appalachian,and even a Latin flavour. Her style still has a base in old-time Canadian fiddle music, but she has made it uniquely contemporary as well. “If I was still playing old­ time style, I’d be tired of it by now. But it was great training for me, figuring out how to play a tune five different ways. That’s just as challenging as improvisation.”