Adham Shaikh’s Dreamtree Project – British Columbia
There’s always a performer or group that, when it comes to programming a festival, has a special place in your musical heart. Adham Shaikh’s music has always resonated with me since hearing his 2004 release, Fusion. A brilliant balance between organic sounds fused with soaring texturally produced beats, Adham is a master at his craft of sonic creations. Internationally renowned, Juno nominated, and Kootenay-based, Adham has been producing music for more than 18 years with a keen ear towards music of the world, weaving the sounds and instrumentation of India, Bali, Australia, Africa, Jamaica, the Middle East, Slovakia, Scandinavia, Turkey and North America, into all aspects of his production.
When playing live, Adham brings the sensibility of the global village to the stage as both a solo performer and alongside a collective of world musicians.Fusing together soundscapes of the ancient and the immediate with the tribal dub groove, his renowned sets bridge the gap between the organic and the electronic, making his music accessible to all ages. This weekend, Adham presents his Dreamtree Project at the Festival,an Indian dub fusion collective weaving a magic carpet ride of classical Indian raga afloat a dub cloud of swirling tabla, mystical flute, spacey beats and booming bass lines. Beyond notions of East meets West, the Dreamtree Project conjures a space for all who long to be seduced by the power of music and communal enlightenment.
The Dreamtree Project also features sitar virtuoso Uwe Neumann and tabla player Shankar Das. After studying classical and jazz guitar in Germany from 1974 to 1986, Uwe sought out a more melodious style of music and moved to India where he lived and studied full-time for 10 years with the sitar maestro, Pandit lndranil Bhattacharya. He received both a Bachelor and Master of Music degree on sitar from Indian University in Shantiniketan. Uwe performs in several groups and is a lecturer of the sitar at the University of Montreal. Shankar Das studied with legendary Alia Rakha and Zakir Hussain almost two decades ago in India,and has since mastered the art of percussion. Drawing on the influences of Indian classical, folk, Middle Eastern and tribal rhythms, Shankar has created his own original Eastern sound and groove. Flautist Marty Carter rounds out the Dreamtree Project quartet.
Whether sitting in a trance or grooving out to the hypnotic melodies, Adham Shaikh’s Dreamtree Project will take you on a journey to higher realms of ecstatic bliss. Hold on!
The Be Good Tanyas – British Columbia
Looking back now, it seems a little like Trish, Frazey and Sam not so much formed a band as conjured one forth during late nights on the edge of Chinatown, blending vapours drawn out of Pontchartrain, Harlan County, and a misty dawn on the Inside Passage.
Part local scene, they were also connected by late-night highways and other long dark journeys to coffee houses, clubs, and most especially, to other artists who were digging into acoustic music. Their travels followed the music back to roots deep in the south, to Texas and New Orleans, back tracking the trails of those who had first brought so much great music north out of the delta and the hollers. Their passion and respect for hard core roots music melded with the travelling and the people they met along the way into a sound like no other.
From the first track on the first record, it was up close and personal and sounded better than buff. It sounded like what it was: real music made by real people who loved what they were singing and frailing and strumming their way into three steps at a time. Their songs slipped easily into the ears, and then, it seemed, into everyday life. They created the kind of songs you might find yourself singing while you were getting things done, or walking down the street, or to the store, or every time you played the record. Folk music, I guess, and they were fearless the way they’d go for feel over shine, with mics set so close you could hear every breath, and the pick strumming strings, like they’re following a sound they could just barely hear, and every year their steps get a little more certain and the songs come to mean a little more.
The Be Good Tanyas are one of those rare groups who weave together strands from what happened then and what’s happening now and make it all one song in a way. lt reminds me of back when some other young Canucks and an American friend rented an ugly old big pink house in upstate New York and came out a while later with some songs and a sound that still stands 40 years later.
Geoff Berner – British Columbia
We’re transiting an era of almost startling conformity, an information economy disguising a surveillance society oozing fear and distrust in a way that some days seems to inspire trivial fascinations and a permanent hunger for cultural comfort foods of all kinds. In such times, a tunnel canary couldn’t be blamed if it thought about it a few times before going off. An artist who self-brands as “the lucky goddamn Jew,” though, is probably well past that moment of decision and that is only one of many remarkable things about the artist known as Geoff Berner.
In recent years, he has been engaged in a passionate pursuit of the roots of klezmer. It is music born of Jewish communities in Russia and eastern Europe, made by bands of Jewish musicians mixed with Roma, and other players that were the live entertainment at weddings and other Celebrations. lt’s music from communities where pograms were always possible and that was decimated by the Holocaust.
While Geoff Berner may be the spirit guide and the Brand, the Wedding Dance of the Widow Bride is the work of an ensemble. Diona Davies’ fiddle playing wails with a mad joy that scratches at the window and whispers away into the night. Wayne Oavies’ percussion is primal tribal, throbbing like a late night one minute and Zen subtle the next. lt’s a good start on reclaiming a traditional music that like blues, rembetika, and other great voices that came out of hard lives and late nights, mixed with lust, liquor and knives, is too often decaffeinated or even gelded into something smooth and buff. lt’s not pretty, it’s beautiful: passion, pain, laughter and a yearning that can strip paint. Geoff’s serious study of klezmer included a band pilgrimage to homes in the hills of eastern Europe to meet tough old men and learn.That learning, blended with punk, Weil, a 500 channel universe, and what some claim was already a pretty bad attitude, makes music that kicks ass, then spits in your eye and dares you to listen to the next song.
Bitch and the Exciting Conclusion – USA
“Fasten your seat belts. lt’s going to be a bumpy night.” Invoking Bette Davis when introducing an artist who self brands as Bitch to such a literate audience might seem like an unnecessary admonition, especially when that same Bitch has brought her oral and musical skills to these stages before. But then I thought I knew what to expect when I pressed play to listen to her most recent recording. I knew she and Animal had parted ways, and she’d taken some time off the road back in Michigan. I’d also heard she was flying in a new musical formation, and had a new partner in music and in life, a woman named Daniela Sea who plays a character named Max on The L Word, a TV series shot here in town.
I thought I knew what to expect and I was wrong. This is an artist moving at another level. She is certainly as certifiably angry, outspoken and fearless as the last time through town, and with very good cause given the increasingly conservative times in America these days. Her sonic palette has expanded a lot to include more textures and tones, more space and dynamic range. The same can be said for her singing and her use of the spoken word. She seems to have entered that synergistic zone in the creation of her own voice, where discovery and confidence are dancing together. It’s the central evolutionary process in the creation of a real artist and Bitch seems, to my ears, to be putting that pedal to the metal.
One writer described their listening experience as “A menage a trois featuring Sandra Bernhard, Laurie Anderson and Che Guevara.” Another suggests she is “One part Ani DiFranco, one part Indigo Girls, and one part Laurie Anderson.” All of which brings us back to Ms. Davis. Fasten your seat belts, OK?
Carolina Chocolate Drops – USA
They’re working from an·old tradition,very old indeed when one considers the banjo began in Africa. But the band itself is a pretty recent event. It was just two years ago when the members met at a four-day Black Banjo Gathering at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina and discovered they shared a passion for country music.
I’m not talkin’ about that SUV-drivin’, low fat latte sippin’, buffed-up New Country, friends. This country comes out of the hills that run through the Carolinas and Virginia. They’re called Piedmont. And it’s where the blues, according to Reverend Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, Scrapper Blackwell, and so many others sprang from, and where Libba Cotten’s roots ran deep. String band music, of the kind usually thought of as Appalachian, was also popular with both black and while players and dancers.
The main difference between the Piedmont and Appalachian old-style is in the role that the banjo plays. In Appalachia, the banjo is primarily a rhythm instrument while the fiddle plays lead. In the Piedmont style, the banjo and fiddle players “swap” melody lines. Some say it also kicks a little harder, with more emphasis on rhythm than showcasing a particular instrument. Listen for yourself and see if you agree.
The Drops’ mentor, Joe Thompson, played at dances and other celebrations way, way back in the day (he’s 86 years young) and through him they’ve come to know the music and a lot of other useful things about life. With his guidance, they went into the studio for a couple of days and recorded their first CD, Dona Got a Ramblin’ Mind, just a year after that Banjo Gathering. It was produced by the Music Maker Relief Foundation, an organization dedicated to the preservation and propagation of American roots music, and to raising funds for those elderly performers of this music who no longer have the means to support themselves. That’s folk!
The Carolina Chocolate Drops are Rhiannon Giddens (banjo, fiddle, and voice); Justin Robinson, (fiddle and voice);and Dom Flemmons, (guitar, banjo, jug, harmonica, snare, and voice). Their name “is a tribute – or homage, if you will – to a band from the 1920s called The Tennessee Chocolate Drops that was a well-known black string band with Howard Armstrong who was a fantastic fiddler and mandolin player.”
Liz Carroll and John Doyle – USA
There is not currently a shortage of fiddlers in Ireland. If anything, their numbers have been growing the last 30 years. This only makes it even more remarkable that, in the Emerald Isle, a woman from America is regarded by those who know, as one of, if not the, premier Irish fiddler in the world these days. Liz Carrell has won the Junior All-Irelands, the senior All-Irelands, and in a rare case of an artist also being appreciated at home, was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship, the highest accolade in America in folk and traditional arts.
She’s the daughter of first-generation Irish immigrants, and she grew up on the south side of Chicago, the city she still calls home. lt was there she started to play the fiddle, encouraged by her parents and the players at the weekly sessions of the Irish Musicians Association. She is a prodigious composer of hundreds of tunes, only a few of which she’s recorded herself. Her music reflects her understanding of the music of Cape Breton, the Cajun tradition, and bluegrass, but it is first, last and always, Irish: lyrical, rhythmic, emotional and dynamic.
Her phenomenal output as a composer, breathtaking technique and trans-continental reputation are all the more remarkable when one considers that she is also a mother of two, and though her family supports her music whole-heartedly, it’s only as the kids have grown older that she’s been travelling more widely. In keeping with the way the music came to her, she devotes much of her time to teaching and encouraging younger players.
Playing with Liz is John Doyle, a guitarist who first came to many ears playing with Chanting House and Susan McKeown. Next up was Solas, the Irish-American band he co-founded that took the roots world by storm. He’s toured with Eileen Ivers, Tim O’Brien, Kate Rusby and linda Thompson, to name a few, and is in constant demand as a studio player as well. Their work as a duo is legendary: a musical connection that seems almost telepathic and there have been countless requests in recent years to bring them to the Festival. We’re thrilled to finally welcome them to Jericho.
Cornerstone – British Columbia
lt’s incredible how influential the human voice can be. With a lot of music these days focusing on fusing layers of sounds together, the sound of voices only is becoming less and less heard, yet more and more powerful.
Cornerstone brings a certain type of electric rawness to their performances through the simplicity of the voice and has been stirring chords deep within audiences.
Influenced by the a capella quartets from the 1930s, Detroit native and East Vancouver favourite Khari McClelland sought out the beautifully talented voices of friends Ora Cogan, Matt Anderson, and Frazey Ford. Together during the spring and summer of last year, they sat around the kitchen table listening to old records of the gospel and blues greats, learning not only their songs, but the histories and tales behind their stories. The result is an alchemical magic of four fresh voices that start from the foundation of music, spreading the power of gospel and displaying the unity of voices.
Kellylee Evans – Ontario
I’m far from the first to be thrilled by the way Kellylee brings the art and craft of jazz vocal traditions to the songs she has written about her life. Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, Kurt Elling, Jane Bunnett and Tony Bennett have all been impressed by her voice and the energy she brings to the stage. That special energy, which you can experience for yourself this weekend, may have something to do with living a dream. lt’s been several years now since Kellylee turned from the path of academic success and the law, for the life of an artist.
Few would describe the life of an artist as an easy road, but in a way she’s been preparing for it for a long time, as her life before was full of challenges too. Like many children of recent immigrants, she was raised in a family that placed a high value on achievement and excellence. An honours student at school, she had several part time jobs at the same time, and even singing as a hobby was serious business. At 15, she had an ulcer. Three years later, she was working on two degrees, in literature and law, but while writing her thesis she gave birth to her eldest daughter. “Quality time” took on a whole new meaning, her thesis taking second place to motherhood. It was not long after that she knew that she also had to make music.
She flew to New York for two days where she hooked up with some musical friends to record her first CD Fight Or Flight. It led to an invitation to participate in the Thelonius Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition at The Kennedy Centre in Washington, DC, where the judges included some of the artists I mentioned earlier. They awarded her second place, a phenomenal showing for a young artist with only a few performances to her name. Her life has revolved around music and family ever since. This summer is her first Canadian tour and the plans consist of bringing the whole family, including a son born this spring, and I hope it’s the first of many visits to our town.
Mike Ford – Ontario
lt’s a given in Canada that our best art is often shaped by the contours of this vast land. Our best folksingers use their art to chronicle the country and the people who have shaped it.
For years, Canadian singer-songwriter Mike Ford has been writing and collecting songs about characters and events in Canadian history.”The Canadian countryside draws me to this tradition, not just by its immensity and diversity, but also by the myriad stories of our interaction with it, and by the fact that these landscapes largely go unsung,” he says. Mike knows the land of which he sings. He spent many years touring from coast to coast to coast with Canadian folk-pop band Moxy Fruvous. He is an avid student and teacher of Canadian history and is a contributing editor to McGraw-Hill’s new secondary school history textbook. He also collaborated with singer David Francey on a series of songs called The Laker Music Project. With his June nominated CD, Canada Needs You (Volume 1), Exclaim! Magazine said he “managed to make Canadian history interesting, worth further investigation and, amazingly, singable.”
His Canada In Song project helps students explore the history, land and peoples of this country in what Mike calls ” a musical journey through our collective past.” He brings shanties, ballads, anthems, work songs, satirical verse, spirituals, rap and “protest” songs into high school classrooms.” I see history as the realm of echoes and ghosts. If we listen close enough, those songs together is my attempt to be some kind of receptor and amplifier of those past vibrations.”
David Francey – Ontario
Count Basie once said it takes 20 years just to learn what to leave out. David, as it happens, spent none of those years on stage. He was no babe in the woods when he first stood up to the microphone, put his hands in his pockets and started singing the songs he’d been writing for years. Perhaps that’s why he seemed to arrive there fully formed and full of songs that others began to sing almost as soon as he did.
His onstage choreography is nothing if not understated, and he didn’t even begin to learn the guitar until he’d already won two Juno awards. According to any number of How To Make lt In The Music Business textbooks, Mr. Francey should probably still be grabbing a large cream and sugar at Tim’s sometime before sunrise on his way to a job site to hammer together somebody’s new roof, or working another of the trades he learned before he took the artist’s way. And yet for some years now he has instead been happily writing, recording and singing for audiences that are continually growing. His songs are part of the lives of people across Canada, the US and the UK, and are sung by choir members, other artists and even at hockey games.
On his latest CD, Right of Passage, he sings about all the different paths his life has taken, both good and bad. Some were written from experience gained aboard an Algoma Central ore carrier. Some were written about people he met out on the road or the places he ended up. Some are memories recalled and described. All deal with transitional moments in life, mileposts on the hopefully long march where we all earn our ‘right’ of passage.
Together with Mike Ford, he recently completed The Laker Project, realizing a long-time dream to sail on a Great Lakes freighter, inspiring kids in schools along the lakes with songs and stories about the Seaway.
The Fugitives – British Columbia
The Fugitives is the collective of multi-talented Vancouverites Barbara Adler, Mark Berube, and Brendan Mcleod. Each a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and award-winning performance poet in their own right, they have merged their diverse styles into one distinct mixture of poetry and song, backed by accordion, guitar, piano, banjo, beat box, and melodica to great effect. This flexibility of their individual crafts has been a major contribution to the group’s success as a whole. David Wooley, Executive Director of the Dylan Thomas Festival in the UK, calls their performances “one of the best events we’ve ever had…Right up there with Alien Ginsberg and Ken Kesey.”
Their music is hard to describe: slam-folk, folk-hop, spoken word folk cabaret, it is essentially storytelling, incorporating elements of stand up comedy, folk tales, music lyrics, and performance poems. The innovative group manages to carefully balance the responsibilities of music and poetry in their work, aiming to bring each to the stage equally with compelling and home hitting lyrics and riffs. In concert, The Fugitives give a show that is lyrically and musically comedic, energetic, insightful, and melancholy, often all at once, calling in banjos, accordions and sweet melodies to marry their poetry to song.
The Fugitives’ current releases include In Streetlight Communion, featuring collaborations with members of the Be Good Tanyas, Po’ Girl, TOFU, and the Breakman, and a live recording release, The Face of Impurity, is an hour-long, strictly spoken word play recorded live at two Vancouver high schools, commissioned by the Canada Council of the Arts Storytelling Project as an initiative to bring poetry to youth.
Emerging from the ever-growing bag of talent that is putting East Vancouver on the map, expect nothing less from this bright-eyed group than a song and a dance, while merrily stealing away your heart.
Ganga Giri – Australia
From within the darkness, the spirit roars. Emerging from the south eastern coast of Australia, Ganga Giri brings forth unparalleled ancient rhythms and future explorations of sound. Using the didgeridoo (yidaki) as a tool of communication, Ganga invokes an ancestral world in the present moment through his music. Anyone who experienced his Saturday night closing set last year will know how electrifying and pulsating he can be.
Ganga Giri features musicians, percussionists, Aboriginal singers and dancers, a DJ, and visual artists from all corners of the globe, including Saltspring Island, Australia, Europe and California, to present a full-on multi-sensory performance. This year at the Park, the emphasis will be on dance and visuals with the music as the rhythmic undercurrent. The latest release, Raising It Up, is a great example of the exploration between raw, deep primal sounds and complex grooves with the beat mimicking the heartbeat of the Earth and its people. Their live performances emphasize this dynamic energy tenfold.
The future of music lies within this group. Go , hear, feel and move with the body, heart, mind and soul. Allow the purring rhythms to vibrate into the great mystery within yourself. Never underestimate the power of music to create change as Ganga Giri exemplifies through his story.
And yes, dancing is encouraged!
Hip Hop Hope – British Columbia
Hip Hop Hope is a program offered by the non profit organization Power of Hope, which is dedicated to delivering arts empowerment programs to youth. Hip Hop Hope brings artist mentors and 14 to 18·year-olds together to spend five days learning about the history of hip hop as a youth-driven creative tool for social change, while connecting with people from diverse backgrounds, building community, and creating and gaining skills in all the hip hop elements. A group of talented youth has been assembled to speak their truth for you this weekend. Prepare to be amazed by the beat boxing, MCing, and soul singing of this crew. Kia Kadiri, one of Vancouver’s most respected and powerful women on the mic, will be hosting these sessions. Kia is a notable recording artist and has dedicated her voice, time and energy to the local hip hop community and beyond. Open your minds and your hearts and get ready to be inspired by Hip Hop Hope.
Jam Camp – British Columbia
Jam Camp is a musical adventure for youth of all ages at all stages of musical development. During Jam Camp participants explore diverse world music, from bluegrass to bhangra. Jam Camp is about having fun with music. We sing songs from a variety of cultures, drum in interactive rhythm circles, and learn dance styles from around the globe. The focal project during Jam Camp is the creation of original songs that participants write in groups, and record and perform at the end of camp. Nature, friendship, the joy of dancing and singing, and social and environmental issues that are explored during camp inspire the original songs.
To mark the fifth anniversary of Jam Camp, a group of young camp participants will be performing an original collection of camp songs that were composed, written and arranged over the years. They will be performing in the style of Jam Camp, with all the cultural and musical diversity, positive and contagious energy, that has made Jam Camp the highlight of the summer for these youth.
For more information on Jam Camp, including Jam CampVancouver, please visit www.jamcamp.org
Jamaica to Toronto – Ontario/Jamaica
lt’s a tale that brings to mind a Jamaican-Canadian version of Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club. Forty years ago, immigration from Jamaica to Canada was booming. The new arrivals included some stellar musicians like Jackie Mittoo, Bob & Wisdom, the Mighty Pope and, Wayne McGhie and The Sounds Of Joy. They helped create a vibrant, island- flavoured R&B and soul club scene in staid Toronto. This magical era started in the late ‘6os and died in the mid-7os with the birth of disco. The stars of the time faded from view and their records became rarities.
Fast-forward three decades. A small Seattle indie record label, Light in the Attic, teams up with Vancouver-based DJ Sipreano to track down the recordings and the artists from the old R&B scene. Three years in the making, Jamaica to Toronto, Soul Funk and Reggae 1967-1974, is both a brilliant compilation and a documentary record of a brief and brilliant moment in musical history. The CD gets rave reviews, hits a number of top ten lists and garners some wider and long overdue recognition for these veteran Jamaican soul stars. The release also prompts a number of the surviving musicians to return to the stage for a packed reunion concert at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre last summer.
Though many years have passed, this posse has lost none of their musical chops and now these old pros are taking their show on the road. We are privileged to have them here this weekend in Jericho Beach Park so we can enjoy a great soul sound that was for a time forgotten, but luckily for us all, not lost.
Jim Byrnes, Steve Dawson and The Sojourners with the House Band – British Columbia
Every year the best gospel music moment in the city happens Sunday morning at the Festival: and this year, we are going to have Church like never before. With his latest release, House of Refuge, blues guitarist and local legend Jim Byrnes has dug deep into the traditions that have influenced the whole of his life and come up with perhaps the most inspired and soulful album of his already accomplished and storied career. He’ll be joined on stage by The Sojourners, and some of Vancouver’s finest players, led by Steve Dawson, and some very special guests, including Marcus Mosley’s Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir for go minutes that’s going to be sweeter than sin. Church never sounded so good.
Martyn Joseph – Wales
Vancouver is close to being a second home to Welsh singer songwriter Martyn Joseph. This is the third birthday he has celebrated with us at Jericho Beach Park, and he has often performed concerts in town. Small wonder he is so popular. Martyn has a profound effect on his audiences. Songwriting connoisseurs enjoy his lyrical narratives sharing the lives and day-to-day struggles of people who seem very familiar. Others feel their spirits rising in songs of protest and of people making important changes. Guitar aficionados enjoy his delicately textured and intricate playing style. Did we mention that he also writes one heck of a love song too?
Martyn brings it all to the stage very live and direct with passion, faith, and a sense of justice that is all too rare these days. Songs like Yet Still This Will Be, He Never Said, and The God In Me, can move you with his anger at injustice or touch your heart with a whisper. Martyn says,”What I do is try and write songs that might make a difference.”
When he’s not writing, performing or recording, Martyn is actively involved with the MST, the Landless Workers Movement in South America. In Brazil recently, he witnessed the forcible eviction of agricultural families from the property of corrupt and sometimes murderous landowners. Out of that experience came Till the End, a song and CD that has raised thousands of dollars and wider awareness for the MST cause.
Twenty years past the fork in the road where he chose music and left pro golf behind, he’s toured with Suzanne Vega, Joan Armatrading, Clannad, Chris De Burgh, Jools Holland, Art Garfunkel and even Celine Dion. Five of his songs reached the Top 50 in the UK. BBC Radio 2 featured him on their popular Singers/Songwriters series, keeping company with Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson, Mary Chapin Carpenter and other luminaries.
Today Martyn is a resolutely independent artist in control of, and responsible for, his own business, and keeping the faith in our ability to change the world for the better.
Andrea Koziol – Ontario
“What Aretha Franklin might sound like were she given Sarah McLachlan’s backing tracks to wail over.”
That’s how Alexander Varty describes Canada’s “torch-folk” chanteuse Andrea Koziol. Andrea returns to the Festival this year toting her newly, released CD Songs and her baritone ukulele, which has been the inspirational for “an array of sad little songs written very late at night.” We can’t wait to hear them.
If you’ve seen Andrea channel beauty and heartbreaking intensity through songs such as Forgiveness, Wonder and Mission: Bliss, you know her CDs aren’t produced, they’re birthed. And, sometimes, like Songs (originally slated to be called Waving), her albums rename themselves . A musician who’s firmly rooted in the rhythms of nature, Andrea is delighted that her new work has that kind of spirit and gumption, which isn’t surprising, ’cause it’s “packed with a serious amount of JOY.”
As co-owner and headline recording artist of Big Ass Records, Andrea makes visceral music happen. She was a pioneer in the early days of the Festival’s Collaboratory and inspired its first-ever vocal session. While her artistic roots hearken back to Billie Holiday and Van Morrison, Andrea senses all the luscious possibilities of collaborating with musicians across genres, including Ritesh Oas and the Toronto Tabla Ensemble. Her voice can soar and then touch back to earth in a down or world beat. Songs, she says, is “probably the brownest record you’ve ever seen. “And to craft it, she worked with Toronto musicians Ian de Souza, Justin Abedin, Kevin and Gary Breit, Gary Craig, the singers of LUSHUS and Ron Lopata.
At this year’s Festival, this siren-piped songstress intends to premiere snippets from the opera she is currently penning. Her dream is to have Ronnie Burkett stage it and for Bill Brennan to lead the band. (We hope they are reading this.) Undoubtedly, Andrea’s performance this year will knock us off our feet and then, in greatest kindness, pick us up again. As one of her new lyrics states, “The simplest things give us wings.” Watching Andrea sing for the sheer joy of it makes us believe that we all can fly.
Kutapira – British Columbia
At the Festival we are extremely proud ofthe initiatives we have undertaken to bring musicians from differing backgrounds together through our Collaboratory and music program processes. One group that has emerged through such initiatives is also the youngest Kutapira. Translated from the word “sweetness” in the Shona language of Zimbabwe, Kutapira is Vancouver’s next generation of artists, a group whose upbeat dance grooves, inspired by Southern Africa’s joyful marimba music and driven by Afro Cuban rhythms, evoke such joy. How sweet it is.
Although their oldest member is only 20, Kutapira’s story can be traced to an innovative and successful world music summer program started six years ago by the Roundhouse Community Centre and the Britannia World Music Program in collaboration with the Festival.The vision was to invite local artists from a variety of cultures to share their percussion skills with youth through the oral tradition. Lively Up Yourself is now an annual event, introducing kids to Afro-Cuban percussion, West African drumming and balafon, Japanese taiko, Zimbabwean marimba, Brazilian samba, and Javanese gamelan.
Since Kutapira came together two years ago, the group’s musical development has continued to be mentored by professional percussionists, and it shows. Their mastery of traditional and contemporary African and Afro-Caribbean styles is a tribute to their work with artistic director Jack Duncan and percussion maestro Myles Bigelow, as well as their considerable talent and dedication. In performance, this high energy quintet show their virtuosity by switching effortlessly between soprano, tenor, and baritone marimbas, drum kit, and authentic African and Afro-Cuban hand percussion.
Not only are these kids performing with the likes of D’Talle, Shari Ulrich and David Francey, they are touring and playing festivals around the province; are teaching workshops and classes to other children through the oral tradition; have recorded a self-titled CD with national distribution; and this summer they have been invited to perform at the Aberdeen International Youth Festival in Scotland, the largest event for young performers in the world, an incredible accomplishment.
We are extremely pleased to present to you a new generation of talented local musicians. Let Kutapira inspire you with their youthful energy and momentum. Their groove will make you move.
The Life and Times of Ginger Goodwin
Albert “Ginger” Goodwin was a coal miner who started on with Cominco as a smelter worker in 1915. An excellent orator, he spoke out against the conditions in the mines and labeled World War I an attack on the international working class, encouraging all workers to refuse participation in the war. In 1917, when the draft was introduced in BC, Goodwin demanded the labour movement use the general strike should any workers be drafted against their will. Soon after his demand, Goodwin became involved in an organizing drive at the Cominco smelter with the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter workers (Mine-Mill). Though he’d already failed a military physical, he was called up again, and this time, though his physical condition hadn’t changed, was passed and told to report for active duty.
Suspecting treachery, Goodwin fled, hiding in the hills on Vancouver Island near Cumberland. A frustrated provincial police force hired a local barkeep and hunter named Dan Campbell to assist in hunting the fugitive. Along with a few of the Island’s legendary cougar hunters, Campbell led provincial police into the woods near Comox Lake. On July 26, 1918, Campbell happened upon Goodwin, and shot him, killing him with a bullet in the throat. There were no witnesses,leaving folks to wonder if Goodwin’s death was an accident or murder.
In the days after Goodwin’s death, BC underwent its first general strike, and Cumberland was overrun as thousands of people turned out for Goodwin’s funeral. Buried with all the attendant rites the labour movement could offer, Goodwin became a symbolfor an increasingly radicalized population. When workers across Vancouver put down their tools in protest, they offered a brief preview of the labour strife that would become a six-week general strike in the spring of 1919. When, after a short investigation, Campbell was not even charged with Goodwin’s shooting, further protest occurred. By the time the war ended a few months later, Goodwin had become a martyr of the left in BC, a role he fills to this day.
Join Utah Phillips and Joe Keithley as they probe the life and times of the union activist, socialist, and “workers’ friend,” and examine how far things have really changed in 90 years.
Los Munequitos de Matanazas – Cuba
As the VFMF celebrates 30 years of people’s music, this crucial Cuban group is 55 and kicking. The players of Los Muiiequitos de Matanzas are premier practitioners of rumba, an elemental ingredient of black Cuban roots music using percussion and voices to connect dance with the spiritual, rumba’s complex African-born rhythms have weathered slavery and colonialism. Traditional Cuban rumba uses no melodic or harmonic instruments, relying instead on a symphony of percussion topped with call and response vocals for its sonic power. The music was melded into its current form by dock workers in the port cities of Havana and Matanzas singing, dancing, and pounding out rhythms on packing crates during their down time.
In 1952, a group of workers in a bar in Barrio Marina, Matanzas began to play on tables with glasses, spoons and bottles. The enthusiastic reception of the bar patrons to this spontaneous barroom jam session spurred the young friends to form a band. In the over five decades since, Los Muiiequitos de Matanzas have become Cuba’s most celebrated rumba group. Called “keepers of a sacred flame” by Latin Beat Magazine, the band has been instrumental in the preservation of Afro-Cuban traditions. The threegenerations of rumberos who constitute Los Muiiequitos have won fans the world over with their joyous, high-energy performances. As group choreographer and dancer Bilrbaro Ramos says,”Cuban music gives new lift and rejuvenates the soul. It doesn’t matter where you are from, it will make you feel re-born!”
Los Muiiequitos are Diosdado Ramos, Jesus Alfonso, Ana Perez, Rafael Navarro, sarbaro Ramos, Agustfn Oiaz,Vivian Ramos, Israel Berriel, Facundo Pelladito, Eddy Espinosa and Freddy Jesus Alfonso.
Dougie MacLean – Scotland
Dougie Maclean grew up in the country working on farms, and when he’s not bringing his music to stages in Europe or over this way, he lives there still in what was once the schoolhouse that he attended as a boy. The music started back then too, first at home with his dad on the fiddle and his mother on mandolin, and then at school playing with a couple of mates named Andy Stewart ad Martin Hadden.
He was busking one day back in 1974 when a fella named Ray Gullane comes up and asks if he wants to join the Tannahill Weavers. He says, yeah, all right, and the next seven years he’s a Tannie, touring all over Europe and North America. lt was early days in the traditional music revival then. Then was no “circuit,” a few festivals were just getting started and a travelling band faced a hard road. All of us owe a lot to those brave souls that stuck it out and inspired the musical evolution we enjoy today.
At any rate, by 1981 Dougie had had enough of that fun and took a break, and he’s been primarily a solo artist ever since. He set up his own label in 1983, and during the last 25 years he has become one of the finest songwriters and performers in Scotland or anywhere else. His songs reflect his love of the land and its history, the rhythm of the seasons and the power of the tradition. Some are already so widely known and loved it’s clear they’ll be sung for generations to come like Aly Bain and Dick Gaughan, there have been invitations to bring some of his music into the classical world and it’s been very well-received there. His music has been used in films, and a remix of his tune “The Gael” was a dub hit in Germany and Ibiza in 1999.
For a’ that, his songs are profoundly personal and he is a master of the art and the craft of bringing his music to an audience. For all the gentleness in his songs and style, his performances have a singular intensity and it’s beef far too long since we’ve had the pleasure here.
Mihirangi – Aotearoa/New Zealand
lt’s not often that the Festival brings back an artist the following year. But after her mind-blowing performances last summer in the Park, both solo and collaborating with others, we knew we couldn’t let her get away. Raw and engaging, she is captivating to watch as she raises the spirits of her ancestors while grounding down in her performing presence. Utilizing the power of her voice, Mihirangy spreads a message that is clear and poignant, one that breaks through the trials and tribulations of humankind and honours the love and beauty that surrounds us.
As her mum went into labour while on stage, you could say Mihirangi was literally born into music. Growing up on the road in New Zealand, the former member of all-female vocal groups, the Stiff Gins and Akasa, she now performs solo, with a sound that is rich and complex. Traditional chants and calls of Mihirangi’s tribe, the Ngati Maniapoto, are proudly displayed in her music, but interpreted by modern production techniques.What makes her sound so unique is her use of loop pedals to create layers of intricate harmonies with vocal bass lines. Mix that with lyrical content that speaks of inequalities, freedom, personal triumphs, fears and political convictions on contemporary culture, and you’ve got this incredibly compelling one woman powerhouse.
Her voice has been compared to Billie Holiday’s, and her new body of work, showcased on her latest solo album, Kulcha Nation, invites sensuality and dancing against a commentary on indigenous and global concerns. The beauty of her music comes from her connectedness to her culture and magnetic presence which is part innocence, part diva. Get ready to be transformed.
Sarah-Jane Morris, England
Ms. Morris has been described as sultry, seismic, provocative, infamous, outspoken, unorthodox, truly independent, her own woman, uncompromising, soaring, swooping, sensual and sophisticated, river deep, mountain high, and as one of the world’s great jazz-soul vocalists. Writers on several continents have also alluded to “goose bump-raising,” “shivers of passion,” “if you could hear voluptuousness,” “an urgent charisma, deep, earthy,” “soul driven sexuality and emotional resonance” and “soul, with all its passion and pain, joy and sorrow.”
When these writers, as they do so often these days, reference other singers in their attempts to describe her singing, the names most commonly used are Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Macy Gray, Nina Simone, Janis Joplin, Bessie Smith, Julie London, Big Mama Thornton, Joan Armatrading, Grace Jones and Annie Lennox. These writers in the New Musical Express, Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Observer and many others, including the 2003 edition of this modest publication, have noted her own gifts as a songwriter with references to her “snarling, dick shriveling lyrics that make Dylan and Costello look like toothless eunuchs.”
Her musical co-workers over the years have included Jimmy Sommerville, Marc Ribot, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Hector Zazou, and Test Department, among many, many others. If we told you the names of some of the artists who have written lyrics for her, you wouldn’t believe us. But you can certainly believe that we are thrilled that she is able to return for this special anniversary edition of the Festival. Appearing with her are Neill MacColl and Caluin McColl.
Geoff Muldaur – USA
According to Richard Thompson,”There are only three white blues singers. Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them.” That’s high and warranted praise for a guitar picker and vocalist, a musician’s musician, whose career spans the last 40 years.
Even as a little kid, Geoff had, a knack for memorizing solos, the rames of players and record labels from his brother Charlie’s record collection. Charlie would show him off to friends by dropping the needle on any part of a record for a split second, then lifting it up, and Geoff would start identifying. With such an early and extensive introduction to jazz, and the occasional quirky album, (such as Jimmy Durante’s Go On Home Your Mother’s Crying, Your Father Got Stuck in the Washing Machine), it isn’t surprising that Geoff has birthed, bent and blended a bevy of musical traditions. Blues, folk, folk-rock and country peek out from between the bars of his songs.
Back in the ‘6os and ‘7os, Geoff was a founding member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and Paul Butterfield’s Better Days group. He has collaborated with Amos Garrett, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Van Schmidt and Jerry Garcia, and performed alongside David Lindley, Otis Spann, Victoria Williams, and The McGarrigle Sisters. In the mid 198os, Geoff took a break from performing and composed scores for film and television, and produced albums for Lenny Pickett and the Borneo Horns, and the Richard Green String Quartet.
Most recently, Geoff may be heard as a regular guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. His solo albums, including Password, Private Astronomy and The Secret Handshake, have garnered critical acclaim for both original compositions and re-interpretations of classic American song. On The Secret Handshake, a tribute to the blues and gospel of Vera Hall, lead belly and John Estes, Geoff revealed his visceral response to the power of music: “When I last saw John Estes, he sang a blues to me. ‘Good-bye Geoff, if I never see your face again…’ He couldn’t see that I had dropped to my knees as he sang.”
Mushfiq Ensemble – Canada/Afghanistan
Though we hear the word Afghanistan in the news daily, few of us know much about the place, let alone the music. This weekend, The Mushfiq Ensemble provides us with an exquisite opportunity to correct some of that deficit.
Mushfiq Hashimi was born in Afghanistan, growing up in a family immersed in culture and music. In addition to his ample musical skill, he is also a painter and seventh generation calligrapher. As a young graduate he started his own music academy in Kabul. In 1991, when a Taliban rocket demolished the school, destroying Mushfiq’s musical instruments and 300 of his favourite paintings, his family fled the country. After living in Pakistan, and then earning a master’s degree from the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music, Mushfiq settled in Ottawa. There he founded The Mushfiq Arts Centre to promote and teach South and Central Asian art forms.
The Mushfiq Ensemble is another way to share this rich heritage. They are mesmerizing in performance: powerful vocals, rich sonic textures and intricate rhythms performed on tabla, violin, tanpura and harmonium. Singing in a dozen languages, they play Afghani and Indian traditional folk, devotional songs, audience clap-along qawwalis and more. “For me, my art is my prayer to God. I do not do art to be a millionaire, but I love to do it. Through art I do my responsibility to the world, to help bring a bit of peace to society and bring people happiness,” Mushfiq says.
The ensemble is Mushfiq on vocals and harmonium, Said Moheb Hashimy on tabla, Cindy Babyn on violin and Sujata Verma on tanpura and supporting vocals. Said Moheb Hashimy is the disciple of Ustad Arif Choshti and Ustad Ejaz Hussein of the Punjab Gharana. He has been teaching for 15 years in four different countries around the world. He is a percussionist of renown, a composer and a professional performing artist. Cindy Babyn pursued studies in classical music performance at the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music in Holland, and then returned to Canada to complete her Bachelor of Music Degree in Performance (Honors) at the University of Toronto. Sujata Verma is from India and is an advanced student of Said Mushfiq Hashimi.
At last year’s Festival we added a certain element of surprise in the Park, taking performance off the stage and bringing it to areas of the Park where little activity happens. Who better to activate these spaces then Nucleus? Did you fall in the path of the grumpy old man in the wheelchair? Or see the boy who waved goodbye to his balloons? Or fall in love with the beautiful ladies in white on stilts? If so, then you were spellbound by the magic of Nucleus. This year, the collective will continue to entice, surprise, and catch us falling into their arms while roaming through the grounds of what is their playground.
The elements behind Nucleus stem from those of the vaudeville era of the late 1800s. Vaudeville became one the most popular entertainments in North America because of its spontaneous live element of surprise incorporating musicians, dancers, actors, magicians, acrobats and more, all in one show. However, with the rise of the film and radio industries in the early 1900s, the live mixed bag element of vaudeville soon disappeared. It has only been in recent years that several performance collectives throughout the west coast of North America have reprised the vaudeville-esque scene to audiences again. Vancouver’s Nucleus is one of the groups on the forefront of this revival.
Evolving since 1997, Nucleus engages circus arts, physical theatre, movement, costumes, props, and masks, to bring forth a dream-like world that is passionately playful; humorously macabre, and amorously raw. Fire dancing, acrobatic balance, juggling, shadow arts, stilt walking, aerial silks, clown, mask work, martial arts, butoh, contact improve, and creative dance, open and frame, but do not contain, their dance performances, alternative circus presentations, and movement-based theatre productions.
The players include Rup, Candice Curlypaws, Dee, Nayana, Sara Kendall, Alison Roy, Gabrielle Martin, Tarran the Tailor, and Zaaq. No one knows where they will show up, what stage they may “play” at, or what mischief they will indulge in this weekend. We do know, though, that audience participation is encouraged. The Park is our stage and YOU are the actors! If you’ve ever wanted to run away with the circus, then let Nucleus sweep you away.
For a woman whose songwriting has been compared to that of Bob Dylan, Gillian Welch, and Johnny Cash, you would think that success would go straight to her head. Yet Oh Susanna, aka Suzie Ungerleider, has firmly kept herself on solid ground, continuing to make the music that best suits her, and has done so for the past 12 years. Her songwriting is immense, ghostly tales from the dark end of the street, about things not working out too well, and places you can never go back to. Her songs sound like they were lifted from old Folkways records, field recordings from back in the hills sung by a woman who has spent more than her share of time alone. She grew up a Vancouverite, not too far away from Jericho, staring at the ocean, mountains and railroad tracks through sheets of rain. She sought refuge with song under burnt-out warehouses and in darkened clubs.
Her latest album, Short Stories, was released this spring, and is a compelling follow-up to her self-titled hit album of 2003. It is a dramatic collection of songs inspired by both the lives of the people in Oh Susanna’s family, and by those recorded in 20th century American writing. It shares personal fables of heroes and antiheroes as if through the lens of a documentary film. Keeping the folk, rock, and country vibes alive through her music and words, Suzie brings a special and warm presence to her live element and captures her audience with her all-knowing and feeling abilities. One feels drawn to listen to this one-woman storyteller with her simple subtleties that call out much louder than expected. “I want to communicate some kind of eerie beauty. The kind of beauty you find in folk music, in spirituals, blues and in mountain ballads. Intense and terrifying music that evokes mystery.”
In the beginning of her career, she made 50 copies of a cassette she’d recorded with some friends one night and mailed them around to music industry folk. One of these cassettes was mailed to Dugg Simpson with a note that said simply, “You should hire Suzie for the Festival,” written by her parents. And in 1997 we did. Ten years later, and after presenting some of Suzie’s heroines at the Festival, performers like Eliza Gilkyson, Sarah Harmer, and Iris Dement, she is back to share her riches of the beauty of music, songs and stories that only Oh Susanna can bring to us.
Old Man Luedecke – Nova Scotia
Mr. Luedecke (pronounced loo de key) seems too young to be so old school. He is something of an enigma, a rural man who writes of cities, a banjo player in the time of the turntable, and unplugged in extremis during a very wired era.
Unlike some young folks who’ve pulled a few licks together in these glory days of the alt-Americana-old-time roots revival, he does not seem keen to be “A star.” He does not have the comfort and cross over potential of a rhythm secion, and he has devoted himself to an instrument that even in folk zones is rarely filed under “cool”. If there is an acoustic version of buck naked it is very close to a voice, a banjo and a foot-tapping time. These simple tools, though, in the hands of this serious craftsman, create a world very much his own, which seems to be curiously peaceful and complete. There has always been a trance quality to a well-frailed banjo and tapping foot. It is such an intimate and abidingly human sound that in the right hands, it can create and maintain a Zen state all its own. There’s a ring of meditation in his music too, that speaks in part to a sense he’s listening as he plays.
Mr. Luedecke is engagingly literate, a seeker of knowledge in areas of music, literature and other areas of human endeavor. His singing bears all the hallmarks of a good listener who had devoted quality time to old songs that first appeared on thick lacquered platters spinning at 78 rpm and only later that, line by line, can be Blakean, beatnik, Farquarsian and/or Romantic in the style of poets many never returned to after their last exam. It is as though Bascom Lamar Lunsford is singing about when they cut off his cablevision or Mike Seeger sharing a song about quitting his day job ‘cause there were better things to do.
It’s too early to say whether he is the harbinger of a rising Young Weird Canada to come, but there is no doubt he is a musical singularity to be savoured and shared.
Ndidi Onukwulu – Ontario
Every once in a while you come across an artist you’ve never heard of before, and within seconds of listening to them, you’re knocked on your kiester. I had such an epiphany listening to Ndidi’s 2006 debut album, No, I Never. Every track crackles with electricity. From the Hendrix-like “The Weight,” with its wailing wah-wah guitar licks, to the gospel and work-song moaning of “May Be the Last Time I Don’t Know,” to the blues-tinged “Horn Blower,” she covers a lot of musical ground.
Ndidi’s vocal prowess is steeped in emotion. She has the remarkable ability to find every nuance and shading in her songbook. Whether she’s belting out a bluesy shouter in the style of Big Mama Thornton or crooning a mellow jazz ballad, Ndidi’s interpretation is soulful and moving. Her voice and style have been compared by critics to Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, and Odetta. Fine company, indeed.
As a child, her father’s King Sunny Ade records and the joyous sounds of Nigerian juju music filled the house. For Ndidi, this was just the starting point in her musical evolution. Ndidi’s mother recognized her daughter’s extraordinary vocal gifts early and encouraged her, entering her in a number of singing competitions at a young age. She was only seven when she began singing in regional talent contests in small towns in rural BC. By the time she was a teenager, her ears thirsted for new sounds and she ended up in New York to pursue a singing career. Singing a capella in the cafés on open mic night or sitting in with blues and hip hop artists, Ndidi began to form her own musical identity.
Relocating to Toronto as a young adult, Ndidi’s songwriting skills have grown as strongly as her voice. Honing her chops in the club scene and at festivals across Canada, Ndidi has emerged as one of the brightest lights among the newest generation of blues artists. Her repertoire is filled with songs of struggle, oppression, loneliness, and endurance. In other words, Ndidi’s got the blues in her soul.
Next – British Columbia
The Collaboratory was created for the 25th annual Festival. It grew from conversations with artists from all over the planet, literally and figuratively, about the limitations of the traditional Festival “session.” We learned that bringing artists together onstage from very different traditions and backgrounds was not the same as when everyone played blues or Celtic or bluegrass music. Being introduced onstage to instruments, tunings and time signatures one had never heard before was not a recipe for “magic.” At best, it was well-intentioned naivety, and at worst cruel and unusual punishment.
The Collaboratory brought artists together before the Festival weekend to get to know each other, learn about each other’s music and develop new music together for the weekend. The response from artists and audiences was so strong and so positive that our anniversary project has been remixed every year since 2002. Many of the artists have gone on to create new work together afterwards, and Collaboratories have been created at the Folk on the Rocks Festival, the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, and this summer the Ottawa Folk Festival is doing one.
This year’s Collaboratory, Next…, is the first to be presented on our Evening Concert Stage. It’s based in the Festivals’ growing creative community and in the neighbourhoods and nightclubs of Vancouver. Like past collaborations, it’s based in music but from the earliest discussions, we all wanted this version to go further. Dance, performance art and video will all be part of this special event. Beyond increasing the fear factor, complexity and resulting flow of adrenalin, everyone felt more voices was the right step.
Some participants have been part of past Collaboratories or other programming here and some are making their Festival debut. As this is written, Next… is evolving out of common history, geography, curiosity and feelings of potential. After 29 years here, these seem to be at the heart of that elusive feeling of community.
For the team,
The core creative team for Next… is:
Tarun Nayar is a composer, DJ, inventor and a co-founder of the Beats Without Borders collective. His work reflects his travels as a student and a teacher, and a background in science gives him a comfort level on the tech side of creating music and transforming virtual communities into great programming.
Rupinder Sidhu is a musician, vocalist, teacher, writer and performance artist known for his own work, as an accompanist, and with Nucleus, the performance group who managed to startle even former Mothers of Invention here last summer.
Suez Holland is a veejay who’s been expanding horizons at live events in Vancouver and beyond in recent years. A regular contributor to Beats Without Borders nights, she’s also been an agent provocateur at the Festivals’ after-hours programming.
Sarah Kim arrived as an intern from Capilano College in the winter of ’05 and has become one of the city’s new programming visionistas for the Festival, the Car-Free Commercial Drive Festival, and the recent Earth Day celebrations. As Miss Bliss, she also spins sets up and down the coast of North America.
Namchi Bazar‘s travels and studies in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and India, are part of her dynamic personal style of dance, evoking mystery and solidarity on stages across Canada and abroad.
Paul Belen is part of Vancouver’s no luck club, Vancouver’s DMC champion, and the Festival’s ranking scratch DJ. He’s an improvisor, a percussive thriller and he adds his skills as an improviser to create lead lines, rhythms and harmonies.
Jaron Freeman-Fox began appearing at the Festival in the company of the Valley Fiddlers and Twisted String. Now his violin tendencies are being honed at VECC’s music school and on stages all over Vancouver.
Allison Russell see Po’Girl
Adham Shaikh see Adham Shaikh’s Dreamtree Project
Anupam Shobhakar is a sarod virtuoso who has been playing since he was eight. His glowing reputation as a musician, composer and teacher is growing both here and in India, and his latest release is called The Wine of the Mystic.
Gopi Sian has played dhol and dholki for over 10 years. He has participated in local and international bhangra competitions with the award winning VIBE dance team and the traditional group PAAR Club. He also plays with Signia and the Surya Brass Band.
Boris Sichon is a one man global music celebration. Originally from the Ukraine, he’s a singer, dancer and multi-instrumentalist who has performed in over 40 countries on five continents, learning more than 200 rare musical instruments in his travels.
Tanya Tagaq see Tanya Tagaq
Utah Phillips – USA
Any analysis of this Festival’s DNA would turn up a whole lot of Utah Phillips. His passions, and they are many, for music, history, justice, fun, and his intense curiosity and ability to see connections, have inspired much that is good about this weekend in the Park.
He is radical about many things, and in his songs and in his stories, he is living proof that there are few things more essential to any radical toolbox than a long memory, especially one laced with the wisdom of those who have fought before you. This kind of remembering has the power to buttress us up against any number of spinning doctors, ingenuous ne’er do wells snarling at the trough, and high holy-rolling hypocrites of any number of ideologies.
At the same time, he is perhaps the only artist who will sit down on any given festival stage and tell you straight out that “folk music is boring.” This from a man who has ridden the rails, walked picket lines, found himself freezing on a battlefield, and other things many artists only know from movies and books. He’s the artist advising a giggle of girls about their business plan involving re-usable plates and toonies, and whose consulting fee is one poem, to be written by them and read to him. And late Sunday afternoon, they were back, with a poem and their pockets jingling.
He makes speaking out seem as natural as breathing, which is one of the reasons artists like Ani DiFranco and Dan Bern look to him as a mentor. Utah will tell you straight out if there is a growing divide between your talk and your walk. In music, word, and deed, he’s a beacon that always points back to the community, to talking and listening and working together with your friends and your neighbours. It is a very, very special pleasure to welcome back a man who is truly an elder of this Festival. He is joined this weekend by his son, Brendan and his band, Fast Rattlers.
Po’ Girl – British Columbia
An anniversary year would not be the same without the presence of our hometown heroines, Po’Girl. With several appearances at the Festival in previous years, Allison Russell, Awna Teixeira, Trish Klein, Diona Davies, and drummer John Raham, have been favourites among several generations of audiences. They are a natural beauty, driven by harmony and subtlety. Where Allison’s voice is rich and bluesy, Trish, Diona and Awna Teixeira offer a smoother tone. Put together, their effortless harmonies retain a dreamy quality urging you to forget your worries and bring you back to the present moment of beauty. Their strength is in the power of gentle, a skill only a few possess.
With so many musical influences and styles, defining Po’Girl can be a challenge, yet this only adds to the fun of classifying their sound. Summoning the blues, the wail of the gypsy fiddle, punk rock street poetry, Cajun love songs, Depression-era jazz, R&B and soul, Po’Girl is all of this plus their added touch of sweetness, passion and presence. Add in their collection of instruments (banjo, clarinet, slide guitar, piano, accordion, gutbucket bass, harmonica, penny-whistle, mandolin, violin, and more) and you’ve got a group like no other, one that puts Vancouver on the map in the world of music, bridging styles, voices, instruments, and genres together into a gorgeous palette of song.
Their latest CD, Home to You, released earlier this year, has already taken them on tour to four continents. Good thing the group are pros when it comes to the road. Most of their new material is about travel, longing and the notion of “home.” All self-confessed former “teen-age runaways,” it appears that “home” is together, driving down a winding road in Shaggy the Love Van. Among the lyrics about winding roads, clocks ticking, bee pollen or the sweet southern sun, a wistful preoccupation with the natural world is quickly revealed; one which is continually quashed by the urgent need to gather everything up and leave for the bright lights of the next city without so much as a goodbye.
We are honoured to present Po’Girl at the Festival this weekend. Welcome home ladies and gent.
Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem – USA
On their 2003 CD Gambling Eden, charismatic groove band Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem quote Dick Powell when he asks, “How many hours have we all spent trying to come up with names for the music we love?”
Folk fusion at its finest, this quartet of ace musicians refuses to be categorized. Two-stepping expertly across musical idioms, daisy mayhem mixes fiddle, guitar, standup bass, suitcase bass drum and tin-can cymbals below seamless four-part harmonies and Rani’s expressive lead vocals. Their canon dips into and glides through 200 years of American music history, punctuating re-interpreted standards with punchy original numbers.
Rani’s rich life experiences as a mother, veteran performer and songwriter intertwine with years spent as a member of a honky tonk and a Balkan rock and a folk-bluegrass band to produce a compelling voice that is unsparingly honest and touching. Her fiddle-playing is raucous, soulful and hurtin’ in turn.
Bassist Andrew Kinsey, Rani’s singing partner for 15 years, began his musical career as the youngest bagpiper in his town and is the rock-solid foundation for the band’s gleeful romps into improvisation. His wry and infectious humour informs the band’s musical sensibility, while guitarist Anand Nayak pilots the group through genres by way of his fearless experimentation with world instruments and music. Finally, drummer Scott Kessel exemplifies the band’s eclectic and energetic style through both his rhythms and the recycled drum kit (comprising a cardboard box, cat food tins, a Danish butter cookie tin and a suitcase) that he plays.
Original musical thinkers of the highest order, daisy mayhem has “a rare gift for fashioning hip, sleek sounds from the solid cloth of vintage American music.” And, along with Dick Powell, this group knows that great music flows from “honest souls” who share what they love.
Salt – British Columbia
Nothing is more powerful than the human voice. And when it comes to some of the most wide-ranging voices around, Allison Russell and Awna Teixeira have some of the sweetest that this country has seen.
Allison and Awna began crossing paths in 2000. Travelling in similar circles at gigs and with friends (Awna was in the old-time Victoria group The Derby, and Allison was playing with Tim Readman and other Celtic formations in Vancouver), the two knew that there was a connection, but it wasn’t until four years later that they were able to sit down and watch their connection grow musically. By then, Awna had formed Barley Wik and Allison and Trish Klein from the Be Good Tanyas had started Po’Girl.
It wasn’t until last year that the Double As branched off from their respective groups to concentrate on their duo together. In 2006, with an already existing fan base around the globe, they toured extensively in Europe and North America and recorded their album No Shame, released this summer. It’s no surprise that the Salt phenomenon has taken off given their on-the-road dedication, pure sincerity and talent. Between them, they are a two-woman powerhouse using the likes of the guitar, gutbucket bass, clarinet, pennywhistle, accordion, banjo, bodhran and harmonica. The sweetness that lies in their voices melts away any fears, stress or concerns. Using the folk tradition, they have a passion for music-making and sharing and exchanging their traditions with those they have met along the way, making new musical friends in all sorts of places. Now based in Toronto and Montreal, welcome back to the city and to the stage two of our Festival favourites. –
Karen Savoca – USA
Grit and sensitivity. Percussion and groove. Karen Savoca and partner Pete Heitzman craft and perform duets as “sinuous as two skaters gliding across ice,” and they lay their voices across soul, R&B, and world rhythms that conjure a communion between audience and stage.
Even way back when honing their style as members of a band that played each Monday night in a bar just off Syracuse University’s campus, Karen and Pete reveled in patrons’ enthusiastic dancing and improvised call and response routines. This same two-way chemistry sparked an enchanted scene in 1999 when 10,000 Vancouver Folk Music Fest-goers removed their shoes and waved them over their heads in response to a quip Karen made on the Evening Concert Stage.
Karen’s joyful and hypnotic compositions originate in the unique musical world she has inhabited since childhood. The Savoca family moved from New Jersey to a log cabin in the mountains of upstate New York when Karen was 13. There, she revealed an astonishing ability to learn the lyrics of any song in one hearing, was given piano lessons (rather than the drum instruction she craved), and began composing privately on a guitar she bought with saved birthday money. When she met Atlanta-born guitarist Pete Heitzman, their artistic attraction was so intense that they jammed all night. They’ve been honing a spare and dynamic sound ever since, one that is beautifully evoked by the photographs on the front covers of their CDs which place single chairs alone in natural settings, a snow-covered wood or a harvest-time wheat field.
Since 1993, the duo has produced seven CDs. All My Excuses (2002) featured their distinctive vocal, percussion and guitar style, plus backing vocals by Greg Brown and bass work by T-Bone Wolk. In 2003, Live at the Black Sheep captured original and traditional songs by a triple-bill of Greg Brown, Garnet Rogers, and Karen and Pete as they performed together in an extended round-robin song swap. In the Dirt (2006) mixes poetic and plainsong images in lyrics such as “What do the birds think when they look down at us/Tugging and pulling and kicking up dust.”
Get on your dancing shoes and prepare to be moved.
Adrian Sherwood – England
It was 1979 when Adrian Sherwood and OnU Sound bubbled up in London releasing a 7-inch single by The New Age Steppers. It was the first of more than a hundred singles and albums that would be released over the next decade. In many ways, the Steppers were a classic OnU Sound posse.
A jumble sale of Anglo UK punks, including members of the Slits, the Pop Group, and Public Image Limited, hooked up with transcontinental toasters, singers and players from Jamaica and Brixton, including Bim Sherman and Prince Far I. Soon they were joined by the Sugar Hill rhythm section from Brooklyn, known for putting the kick into crucial hip hop tracks like “Rapper’s Delight” and “The Message.” It was a potent musical cocktail. Black and white artists had made music together at Stax and in Mussel Shoals in the American South in the ’60s, but by the ’80s the global operating system had changed to Greed Is Good and the only change a’ comin’ was for the worse. While you could hear the roots and the respect on every OnU record, you could also hear the tension as voices sang, swore and chanted down on hypocrisy at the highest levels. Big bass lines and pounding systems gave the music a physical as well as a spiritual power.
At the heart of this revolutionary situation was Adrian Sherwood, mixing and mashing-up sounds, but also strong personalities from very different cultures in a very polarized country. For more than two decades, he’s mixed singers and players into new combinations in the studio and onstage, creating a distinctive sound admired and respected by artists from John Lydon and The Clash to Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails, the Asian Dub Foundation and Portishead. In 1994, Sherwood mounted Pressure Sounds, a new label dedicated to reissuing seminal reggae and dub releases from the likes of Lee “Scratch” Perry, King Tubby, Augustus Pablo, Jackie Mittoo and Horace Andy.
The pace at OnU has relaxed in recent years while Adrian has released two albums under his own name. The music is remarkably unaffected by “The Latest Sounds,” continuing to mine the deep, rich dub groove and in classic style, sampling and recycling bass lines, rhymes and riffs from the past into new combinations and revelations for the next generation.
Songs of the Pacific Northwest – British Columbia
Since 1951, from Union Bay to Tahsis; Nakusp to Fort St. John; Lillooet to Anarchist Mountain, Phil J. Thomas (1921-2007) ventured up the dusty roads recording more than 100 singers and collecting hundreds of songs that make sense of our working lives and this place called British Columbia. His collection has preserved much of our oral song tradition that would have been lost.
When only fragments were found, Phil re-worked them into a song and then checked with the informants to confirm that the words accurately reflected the event. When printed material had no music, Phil found and wrote tunes to fit the context. Many of the songs he collected can be found in his book Songs of the Pacific Northwest, extended and republished in 2006. Much more than a simple song book, this valuable resource contains extensive photographs and notes on the historical and cultural context of the songs.
Phil was a man of many talents: art teacher and educator, musician and mentor, ham radio operator and raconteur. His singing with his partner Hilda inspired singers of their generation and subsequent generations to sing and maintain songs in the oral tradition and to make new songs of our social and working conditions. A powerful legacy. Thank you, Phil. -Barry Truter
Performing Phil’s collection of songs this weekend are Fraser Union, Plough and Michael Pratt and Lynn McGown.
Fraser Union is Dan Kenning, Henk Piket, Roger Holdstock and Barry Truter. They’ve enjoyed performing together for over twenty years, singing songs that tell stories of lives past and present from BC, Canada, and other traditions. Their four strong voices present some songs a cappella and others accompanied by a variety of instruments including guitars, mandolins, dobro, and banjo. A Fraser Union set combines the pleasures of meaningful music delivered with humor and energy. For the Festival, they are joined by Barry’s son, percussionist Duncan Truter, who also guests on their latest CD, This Old World.
Plough is Linda Bull, Karla Mundy, Patrick Metzger and James Scholl. All are well-known musicians in their own right who have come together over their love of roots music. Between them they play fiddle, banjo, guitar and upright bass, accompanying themselves on an array of traditional and contemporary songs. Their vocals shine, occasionally a cappella, more often in leads and duets.
Michael Pratt and Lynn McGown are well known in the Vancouver folk music community as the organizers of the Jericho Folk Club, and the friendly hosts of regular concerts staged at their Celtic Traditions store and music school. Michael plays the concertina and fiddle and both he and Lynn have beautiful voices, weaving gorgeous harmonies in their singing together. Their CD, Thousands or More, reflects their eclectic musical tastes with songs of the sea, Canadian history, love, humor and songs of Quebec. Michael and Lynn are joined by accomplished guitarist, Craig McGregor.
Adam Shaikh’s Dreamtree Project – British Columbia
There’s always a performer or group that, when it comes to programming a festival, has a special place in your musical heart. Adham Shaikh’s music has always resonated with me since hearing his 2004 release Fusion. A brilliant balance between organic sounds fused with soaring texturally produced beats, Adham is a master at his craft of sonic creations. Internationally renowned, Juno nominated, and Kootenay-based, Adham has been producing music for more than 18 years with a keen ear towards music of the world, weaving the sounds and instrumentation of India, Bali, Australia, Africa, Jamaica, the Middle East, Slovakia, Scandinavia, Turkey, and North America, into all aspects of his production.
When playing live, Adham brings the sensibility of the global village to the stage as both a solo performer and alongside a collective of world musicians. Fusing together soundscapes of the ancient and the immediate with the tribal dub groove, his renowned sets bridge the gap between the organic and the electronic, making his music accessible to all ages. This weekend, Adham presents his Dreamtree Project at the Festival, an Indian dub fusion collective weaving a magic carpet ride of classical Indian raga afloat a dub cloud of swirling tabla, mystical flute, spacey beats and booming bass lines. Beyond notions of East meets West, the Dreamtree Project conjures a space for all who long to be seduced by the power of music and communal enlightenment.
The Dreamtree Project also features sitar virtuoso Uwe Neumann and tabla player Shankar Das. After studying classical and jazz guitar in Germany from 1974 to 1986, Uwe sought out a more melodious style of music and moved to India where he lived and studied full-time for 10 years with the sitar maestro, Pandit Indranil Bhattacharya. He received both a Bachelor and Master of Music degree on sitar from Indian University in Shantiniketan. Uwe performs in several groups and is a lecturer of the sitar at the University of Montreal. Shankar Das studied with legendary Alla Rakha and Zakir Hussain almost two decades ago in India, and has since mastered the art of percussion. Drawing on the influences of Indian classical, folk, Middle Eastern and tribal rhythms, Shankar has created his own original Eastern sound and groove. Flautist Marty Carter rounds out the Dreamtree Project quartet.
Whether sitting in a trance or grooving out to the hypnotic melodies, Adham Shaikh’s Dreamtree Project will take you on a journey to higher realms of ecstatic bliss. Hold on! -SK
Fraser Union is Dan Kenning, Henk Piket, Roger Holdstock and Barry Truter. They’ve enjoyed performing together for over twenty years, singing songs that tell stories of lives past and present from BC, Canada, and other traditions. Their four strong voices present some songs a cappella and others accompanied by a variety of instruments including guitars, mandolins, dobro, and banjo. A Fraser Union set combines the pleasures of meaningful music delivered with humour and energy. For the Festival, they are joined by Barry’s son, percussionist Duncan Truter, who also guests on their latest CD, This Old World.
Plough is Linda Bull, Karla Mundy, Patrick Metzger and James Scholl. All are well-known musicians in their own right who have come together over their love of roots music. Between them they play fiddle, banjo, guitar and upright bass, accompanying themselves on an array of traditional and contemporary songs. Their vocals shine, occasionally a cappella, more often in leads and duets.
Michael Pratt and Lynn McGown are well known in the Vancouver folk music community as the organizers of the Jericho Folk Club, and the friendly hosts of regular concerts staged at their Celtic Traditions store and music school. Michael plays the concertina and fiddle and both he and Lynn have beautiful voices, weaving gorgeous harmonies in their singing together. Their CD, Thousands or More, reflects their eclectic musical tastes with songs of the sea, Canadian history, love, humour, and songs of Québec. Michael and Lynn are joined by accomplished guitarist, Craig McGregor.
Tanya Tagaq – Nunavut
Once in a long while, there is an artist who is so original that it becomes startlingly clear how traditional most music is these days. Traditional not in the “banjo” sense of the word, but traditional in its instrumentation, structure, duration, textures, chord progressions, and even audience expectations. Tanya’s music is not like the others. She’s not even like any other Innu singer, but she is deeply grounded in the tradition. It is something you can hear and something you can see. She not so much makes music as she IS music. Her music does not exist in isolation from who she is: her work is deeply informed by, and is an expression of, a culture not a style.
When she’s onstage, she is “present” like few other artists I’ve ever seen. She has a vivid musical imagination and she’s a visceral performer, making it very clear that “throat singing” is a very limited label. “Total singing” or voix de corps are closer, invoking a little of the sonic range and sensuality of this music, and some respect for the physical demands involved. Innu culture goes back for millennia. Spiritual life is an inseparable part of daily life and it includes a shamanistic tradition, stories, singing and dance. It’s all present in Tanya’s music and one of the pleasures of the past decade has been the chance to hear her music evolve.
For a number of years now, she’s been collaborating with Vancouver producer and DJ Michael Red. With Ableton Live on his laptop, and a few other tools, Michael is able to loop and process Tanya’s voice as well as weave in samples collected up in her hometown in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. His improvisations on themes and rhythms, reinvented each night, are the contemporary equivalent of the second voice found in the tradition, when two women would sing to each other as part of a game. Her other collaborators in recent years have included Björk, the Kronos Quartet and her daughter. -DS
Tapia et Leturia – Basque Country
It was 1996 when a letter arrived at the Festival office from the then-president of the Vancouver Basque Cultural Organization explaining that a duo of Basque musicians would be in North America in July, and it was her considered opinion this would be a great addition to the programming. Inasmuch as Basque music had never been performed at the Festival, and the music they made was superb, I had to agree. And so, Tapia eta Leturia came to Jericho following a gig in Idaho, where, it turns out, many Basque immigrants lived. They were the descendants of shepherds who had been brought over in the 1800s because they excelled at their trade. From Vancouver, the duo would be going on to perform at the opening of a Basque museum in Québec documenting about 400 years of visits by fishermen.
The Basque country straddles the border of France and Spain, encompassing the Bay of Biscay and the foothills of the Pyrenees. The origin of the Basques is a mystery, and their language is unrelated to any other recorded language in human history. The combination of isolation and the historically repressive policies of both France and Spain toward linguistic and cultural minorities brought Basque culture to the brink of extinction at one point, but it’s now undergoing a healthy revival, especially since the death of Franco in 1975.
Their music may seem quintessentially traditional to our ears, but at home Tapia eta Leturia are regarded as The Pogues of Basque music. From their early days in 1984 as a duo of trikitixa (diatonic accordion) and tambourine, their passionate approach has amped up the level of interest in the music at home and abroad. Their travels and festival performances have seen them cross paths with artists like Sharon Shannon, Martin Carthy, and members of La Bottine Souriante, all of whom have since travelled to the Basque Country to carry on the musical conversations. Their work has been a key factor in the surge of interest in traditional music among young people at home, as well as an enhanced awareness abroad, of this ancient country beyond newspaper headlines and Picasso’s Guernica. They continue to expand the possibilities of their tradition, and joining them in that this weekend are violinist Arkaitz Miner and pianist Txus Aranburu. -DS
30 years in 60 minutes with Timothy Wisdom – British Columbia
When programming for a festival that only turns 30 once, ideas start running through your head of how to represent and celebrate a special anniversary, musically speaking. Facing the challenge of showcasing the groups and music that have been presented at the Festival for the past 30 years in one set, the Festival sought out and commissioned Vancouver’s DJ / turntablist extraordinaire Timothy Wisdom to produce a 60-minute musical soundscape that moves through the decades and brings us to the present at Jericho Beach Park.
Timothy, an active participant in last year’s Collaboratory sessions, has been DJing for over a decade across the country. An engineer at the decks and on the mic, he is known for his crazy scratching, instant remixes and amusing antics, earning him the title of “one of Vancouver’s top party DJs.” Tim has taught children the art of turntablism, and in 2001 he created the first digital force feedback turntable, earning him a Masters degree at UBC. He has his art down to a science. Now a master of the ‘mash up,’ mixing elements of two different songs and genres together to produce a new track, Timothy was the natural choice to come up with a ‘mash up’ of the Festival’s musical history.
With access to Dugg Simpson’s vinyl and CD collection of past performers, Timothy has sorted through hundreds of songs and pieced them together like a musical quilt. Premiering at the Festival this weekend, we’re not sure what 30 years in 60 minutes will sound like, but we do know it will certainly get you moving and listening for the inflections of the performers you have come to love throughout the years here with the Timothy Wisdom signature sound. Enjoy! -SK
Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra – Mali
Once in a long while artists, places and times align in such a way as to create music that opens listening ears to the sound of change. A Love Supreme, Blue, My Aim Is True, What’s Goin’ On -I’m dating myself-but if you love music, you probably have your own list of albums where after one listen, you knew the world would never sound the same again.
Toumani was born in 1965 in Bamako, Mali into a family of griots. His first trip to London was in 1986, and, in the years since, he has recorded his own music and duets with both Taj Mahal and Ali Farke Toure. This record represents years of work, creating an exquisite and refined musical vision. Developed during many nights of long sets onstage at the Hotel Mandé in Bamako, it’s passionate, essential music reflecting the contributions of an all-star team of acoustic players from across West Africa twisting and burning through changes.
“At our gigs we play for hours on end, with guest musicians coming and going. It’s like a jam session, a public rehearsal. This means our music is always being renewed. We get a lot of ideas and energy from this.” It’s a consciously democratic project, based in respect for each other’s skills and Mr. Diabate’s vision, then polished to perfection with a live audience on the dance floor. The result is a pan-national groove spanning centuries, empires and continents. From the market in Bamako to Mussel Shoals, from London to Havana, this music positively vibrates with global history and possibilities. Orchestral and funky, melodic and joyous, it sings with confidence, a global musical awareness connected to some of the deepest musical roots on the planet.
Heard in the context of current albums by Youssou N’dour, Rokia Traore, and more than a handful of others, it’s clear that we’re into a new era in African music. Mr. Diabate’s path as an artist has been graceful and assured, considered and passionate. He is a musical visionary, and such artists come along rarely in a lifetime. With the Symmetric Orchestra, he has created a new sound of great hope and beauty built to last, and just right for the heart of a Saturday night. -DS
The Truckers Memorial – British Columbia
Given the seriously unbelievable amount of music getting made these days that finds its way to our office, it’s not too surprising that every once in a while one slips by. That said, there does seem to be some sort of benevolent force out there that keeps certain discs from drifting into the various mountains in several rooms of our house.
Such was the story of one CDR that had been handed to me by a friend a while ago, and to make a long story short, when I dropped that CDR into the player, it was not much later I called her up and said, “I don’t know what was wrong before, but I would like Truckers Memorial to join us at Jericho this year.”
Truckers is Rodney DeCroo and Rae Spoon. They make fine music of a kind that’s far too rare these days. Both have roots up-country, and you can hear it in every note they play and every note they sing. This is not some college kids’ post-modern, vaguely ironic country music. Rodney and Rae don’t seem to need any sort of “alt” distancing from straight-up, uncut, sh*t-kicking country. They just write it and play it and sing it, every note, like they mean it.
Maybe because they do.
There is a bare-bones – or maybe it’s a bare knuckles – sincerity in their songs that cuts deep, and makes it clear as day they simply love a good song, and they love singing it. I’m told they share an uncommon pleasure in just jumping on a bus and heading down the road toward anywhere people might share that love of a good song sung the way it should be. Listening to that CDR again as I write this, I believe they would. If you like yours buff, this is not your stop. But if you like it human as hell, with some bite, you’re in for a fine time. -DS
Twilight Circus Dub Soundsystem – British Columbia/The Netherlands
Dub music plus large soundsystem plus Jericho Beach Park equals some of the best sonic sessions this city has heard.
After the initiatives the Festival took last year in the name of dub, we noticed more and more fans of this low-frequency, bass-heavy sound coming out of the framework. Even if you hadn’t heard this music before, you couldn’t help but sway, groove and dance to its pulsating heartbeat throughout the weekend. Continuing with this momentum, we endeavour further this year with some of the best known names in the realm of dub.
Twilight Circus Dub Soundsystem is Vancouver-born, Amsterdam resident, Ryan Moore. Moore’s musical career started here in his hometown playing the bass guitar with local outfits Uzume Taiko, Tippy Agogo, Sarah McLachlan, and the legendary Vancouver band, Animal Slaves. It was while he was working with Cevin Key, and other members of Skinny Puppy, that he met the lads in the Legendary Pink Dots, an Anglo-Dutch experimental rock band. He ultimately moved to the Netherlands in 1991 as a member of that band. Influenced by the dub sounds early on in his career, it was in 1995 that he released his first solo release as the Twilight Circus Dub Soundsystem. Since then he has released an album every year, a feat that not many artists accomplish. Moore’s take on dub is a radical application of the ideology of dub pioneers King Tubby, Lee Perry and Augustus Pablo. His bass lines weigh tons, his atmospheres are spacious and dynamic, and his thick and deep arrangements are multi-textural templates. His dub is fueled by real bass and drums, not by electronic means, with drops by the likes of the heavyweight vocalists in the reggae / dub worlds: Luciano, Fred Locks, Michael Rose, Big Youth, Queen Ifrica, and many more.
Twilight Circus Dub Soundsystem premiered at the Festival in 1997, and, like 10 years ago, we know that his solid dub sounds will groove the Park. Dub music is the heartbeat of the folk, and Ryan Moore will certainly make you feel it. -SK
Under The Volcano – Rhyme and Resist! British Columbia/USA
Spread the good word. UTV is back in the house this weekend, and next month bringing the word on what’s going on, what’s going wrong and what we might want to do about that.
After taking a year away from hump-busting on the annual festival to stand back, breathe deep, rethink and renew, you know that Cates Park is going to be busting out with some of the finest, freshest music and rhymes of resistance you’ll ever hear. Programmer Meegan Maultsaid is here to give us all a special taste of the flavour you can hear lots more of in a few weeks. Like the festival, this session will be jamming on change and bringing powerful perspectives forward. This year she’s brought together another special Jericho session featuring Xicano MC Olmeca (LA), Brigee K & Kia Kadiri (female tag team / Vancity), Sara Kendall (beat boxing / Vancity), Carlo Sayo (poet / Vancity) and some break dancer crews (Vancity). As the weekend unfolds, you can catch some break dancing that will take your breath away, and keep your eyes open for some of the visual art we’ve commissioned Gabriel to make for the site.
It’s a sample of what’s coming up soon at the Under the Volcano Festival. If you have a social-changing bone in your body, you owe it to yourself to truck over the bridge for a day that might change your mind about a few things. -DS
Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration – British Columbia
One of the great pleasures of the past couple of years has been learning about the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration and working together with the people who make it happen. From a conversation one night over donuts at Tim’s has come one of Vancouver’s most amazing events where some dedicated volunteers bring together 500 performers to dance, sing and celebrate the music and dance from an old tradition that’s going through some big changes right here in the GVRD. They are on a mission to celebrate, elevate and illustrate all things bhangra and share it with all of us. To that end, we’ve been working together to follow-up last year’s introduction with some special presentations that will take us deeper into bhangra.
We start with Bhangra Authentic, a custom-built presentation created by the VIBC that’s going to fill the Friday Evening Concert Stage with some of the different dances and instruments that all contributed to the creation of what we know today as bhangra. Saturday afternoon, head out to Stage 6 for a chance to learn a few moves yourself at what may be the biggest bhangra dance class, and then try them out during a set by one of Canada’s best contemporary bhangra bands, Signia.
The bhangra beat has inspired dancers for centuries, or even a millennium, according to some scholars. The roots are in the country with music that helped keep things moving at harvest time in Punjab, a region spanning northern India and north eastern Pakistan. The main instrument, traditionally, is the double-headed drum called the dhol. In recent years it’s been adopted by artists such as Madonna and Brittney Spears and our part of the world is one of the global hotbeds for innovation and excellence.
Many of the artists you’ll see in these presentations are coming to you straight from the community where they spend hours practising and preparing for the time they’ll take the stage at a competition here or in other cities across North America and the UK. If you have ever seen one go off, you know the standards are high and on a given night, any team in the house might win. Here in Jericho, though, it’s all about the pleasure of the dance and the joy in the music. We’re really happy to be working together with the VIBC and the Harrison Festival of the Arts on this summer celebration. –DS
The Wailin’ Jennys – Manitoba
The Wailin’ Jennys: Two albums, two Juno nominations, three extraordinary voices.
Founding members and Winnipeg natives, Ruth Moody (soprano, guitar, banjo, accordion and bodran), and Nicky Mehta (mezzo, guitar, harmonica, ukulele and percussion) are joined in this new version of the trio by New York-based alto and pianist, Heather Masse, and their chemistry is magical. It’s a perfect on-stage illustration of the lyrics in the Jennys’ definitive song, One Voice. “This is the sound of voices three/Singing together in harmony/Surrendering to the Mystery.”
Jennys 3.0, as the group is affectionately now dubbed by fans, was launched by an impromptu audition in a bathroom backstage in Philadelphia. Harmonizing through raw versions of Amazing Grace and a Hank Williams standard, all three women heard a perfect vocal blend and sensed the potential in this new creative grouping. As Ruth explains, there is a “sense of completeness and wholeness that can only come with three female voices. The Jennys provide a sense of continuity that threads through my entire life.”
Each member of the trio brings her own impressive credentials to the collective. Ruth, former lead singer of the Juno-nominated act Scruj MacDuhk, is a versatile singer of traditional and Celtic music, and a song writer. Nicky is a poet and song writer whose wise, sorrowful and humane lyrics prompted Sing Out! to list her among the most promising singer/songwriters in North America. Finally, Heather brings a wide jazz repertoire and her experience of performing with the contemporary bluegrass super group, The Wayfairing Strangers.
During the last six years, the Jennys have toured the world and offered audiences crystalline solace for broken hearts and life’s setbacks. The trio are regular favourites on the National Public Radio show A Prairie Home Companion for their meadow-bright harmonies and easy humour. As Nicky notes, The Jennys originated “as a bit of a lark. Ti shows that sometimes a one-night stand can turn into something quite lovely.” – PM
Hawksley Workman – Ontario
Riding a wavering line between wistful tongue-in-cheek idealism and heartbroken dismay, Hawksley Workman doesn’t shy from the hard topics, though he might try to soften the blow somewhat. “It’s still an apocalypse record, but it’s more like a children’s apocalypse record,” he says of his new album, Treeful of Starling, released in 2006. Having gained a wider audience after winning two Junos in 2002 for Best New Solo Artist and Best Video for “Jealous Of Your Cigarette,” and touring extensively around the globe, he remains steadfastly committed to his art and to reinventing himself. With roots in rural Ontario, writing Treeful of Starling was “an exercise in remembering what it is about music that is important to me.” From this mission statement come stories of songs with simplistic directness and awe-inspiring beauty that cling to truths and heartfelt emotions.
Workman’s always intimate live performances offer something new even for long-time fans, as he often reinvents his songs to suit his audience, from cabaret to chamber-string epics. Calling on a wide repertoire of musical styles ranging from a ska-inspired indy rock to contemplative folk, he growls and purrs with a trembling, quasi-sexual intensity, croons in a delicate baritone, then swoops into a wail so rich and powerful that the walls shake and you can feel the full-throttle vibrato deep in your bones. He howls, shrieks, murmurs, whispers and even in a packed venue, there is a deathly silence. Tall tale telling is integral to his live performances where he has been known to circulate stories of his time spent in the circus as a “mad-maker” (the one who goes into the cages to make the lions mad before their performances) during his youth to help his family get by financially.
Expect his songs and stories this weekend to bring you back to the wonder of life as he invites you to share in a sincere celebration of lasting joys. -SK
You are Here – Yukon/Alberta
What would you get if you took a third-generation Yukon storyteller, added the musical stylings of a transgendered banjo player raised up by Albertan evangelicals, and stirred in the visual musings of a bilingual world traveller who spent her early years living in the house across the street from the northern storyteller? Top it all off with a 10-day road trip in a 1990 white Cadillac hearse inherited from the banjo player’s stepfather’s funeral home and you will get a taste of Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon’s brand-new multi-media adventure. You Are Here is one part family legend, one part home-town lament, and one part commentary on the corporate colonization of our country, flavoured by bluegrass ballads and served with a side of super-8 home movies from the ’60s. -Ivan Coyote