One of the few musicians for which the adjective “legendary” is appropriate. Canada’s Bruce Cockburn has spent four decades capturing the joy, pain, and faith of human experience in song. Whether singing about retreating to the country or tackling imperialist lies, he has always expressed a tough yet hopeful stance: to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.
The professional/personal pairing of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland has given us some of the finest alt/folk/Americana out there, a beautiful blend of voices, talent and playing. Their lyrics will sear themselves onto your brain, their harmonies will haunt you long after the last note.
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings
One of the finest roots orientated bands in North America, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings (Colin Linden, Tom Wilson, Stephen Fearing) return to Canmore Folk Fest with a new album and a couple of decades of finely-honed harmonies and rhythms that have truly earned them the mantle of Canadian icons.
Soon to be a household name and you can say you saw him here first. Deep roots in Nothern Ireland, his place of birth, and drawing equally from the musical traditions of the southern USA, Vance is a staggering talent. Soft and crooning, raw and painful, his lyrics will sear themselves into your brain. He’s only the second artist signed to Gingerbread Man Records, a division of Atlantic Records started by Ed Sheeran, with whom Vance has toured and shared recording/songwriting credits. Executive producer on his latest album The Wild Swan was Sir Elton John, with whom Vance has also toured. ‘Nuff said.
An utterly compelling performer whose silky, soulful voice and heart-baring lyrics demand, command attention. Hailing from Banff, she’s previously appeared at our Stage 4 pub. We are happy to see her returning after a few years of touring including an appearance at the Calgary Folk Festival.
Birds of Chicago
The spine-tingling wayward and lonesome harmonies of Allison Russell and JT Nero. The profoundly magical message of their lyrics and the raw, intense passion they bring to their demands, nay, commands, you lean in, laser in and hold your breath. Prepare to be transported
Coco Love Alcorn
Wow. Just…wow. Somewhere between a spoken word artist and a smoky-bar torch singer lies this incredible talent from Owen Sound, Ontario, topping the folk music charts for the last year or two with her latest album Wonderland. Soaring, jazzy, hip-hop and sultry, folky, jazzy and bluesy, she just owns whatever she chooses to do.
Hailed by B.B. King as Canada’s premier blues performer, Harrison Kennedy is a vocal chameleon, at ease performing funk, soul, R&B, folk, gospel and blues. With a unique acoustic folk-blues approach, he combines voice, harmonica, mandolin and guitar talents into an unforgettable package with unforgettable lyrics.
Prepare to be gut-punched. This is a woman for whom the acronym OMG was invented. Her breathtakingly powerful stage presence and deeply relevant songwriting have led to a steeply rising career that, in recent years, has earned her spots performing alongside Rod Stewart, Gordon Lightfoot, Melissa Etheridge and Lucinda Williams and billings on major festival stages the world over. Irrelevant, irrepressible and… have we already said powerful?
James Hill and Anne Janelle
He’s been called “possibly the best ukulele player in the world”; she a cellist of astounding talent. Together, they have been making world-class music at festivals and concert halls around the world for the better part of a decade. The uke is high, the cello is low. The uke plays short notes, the cello long bow strokes. Like watching a pair of perfectly matched dancers execute the most intricate moves.
Ay yai yai!! Hope you’re bringing your dancing shoes! This LA-based Afro-Mexican-Caribbean melting pot of rhythms, poetry, passion and politics is the perfect balm for our troubled times. Guaranteed, it’s the first time any performer has brought a donkey jawbone to the Canmore Folk Fest as one of their instruments! But oh my, my. From the Lincoln Centre to the Montreal Jazz Fest, these guys are truly setting the world on fire. In a good way.
With lyrics that speak to universal truths, pain and poignancy, joy and redemption, Slim is a Dylan Thomas-esque poet with a sweet, howling voice that soars, growls and mesmerizes. He strips himself raw and forces us to do the same. A bit of high-energy rapture coming our way!
Maestro of the claw-hammer banjo, musical chameleon steeped in a world of eclectic folk, roots, and world music, scion of the legendary Winnipeg folk family, Leonard Podolak is nothing short of visionary. Founder and leader of the Duhks, he comes to us this year unaccompanied, ready to slide in where needed and wanted. And he’s definitely wanted!
A Dene singer-songwriter based out of Yellowknife, Gilday has a sleeveful of awards, including a Juno and two Western Canadian Music Awards – recognition of the powerful voice and stories she brings to the stage. This woman leaves it all on the table.
Tune up those dancing shoes! Franco-Canadian folk/rocker Melisande brings to the table a rich panoply of traditional francophone songs delivered with a feminist perspective and a distinctly modern sound. It’s an irresistible blend of heritage, pop and electro, with a mix of acoustic and electric instruments.
No telling what the mountain weather will be like this summer, but guaranteed Oscar Lopez will be bringing the heat. The Chilean/Canadian guitar virtuoso, unparalleled throughout the world for his passionate Latin acoustic music, leaves it all on the stage with every performance. In the middle of a downpour, a snow squall, a thunderstorm… Lopez will have you enthralled and silent. A true master!
Fusing Inuit throat singing with traditional blues, Tiffany Ayalik and Grey Gritt bring a mesmerizing blend of spoken word, exquisite harmonies and powerful messages about the realities of Canada’s indigenous peoples and the beauty of a culture and nation about which both are passionate
The lead vocalist and bassist for iconic Canadian rock band Prairie Oyster has finally released a solo album and is road-tripping across the festival circuit this summer with an infectious blend of TexMex, western swing and slow, languid slow-burning country ballads. With a fine, lean, mean and lived-in voice, he takes us on a journey of road, rails, heartache and love.
Ten Strings and a Goat Skin
A wicked fiddle, a well-worked guitar, and a hand-held drum, plus three East Coast lads well steeped in the Irish/Scottish/Acadian roots of their forefathers and… well, you just get up and dance, eh? The trio weave old-school traditions with wickedly current grooves and clever quirks, flirting with indie’s best moments. To call them infectious doesn’t do them justice.
The Paul McKenna Band
Dubbed “The best band to come out of Scotland in the last 20 years” by the New York Times, these lads combine beautiful flute and bodhran, guitar and mandolin, fiddle and exquisite harmonies to create a uniquely contemporary spin on traditional Celtic music.
The Steel Wheels
From the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, The Steel Wheels bring a contemporized blend of traditional bluegrass wedded with percussion and keyboards, exquisite harmonies and a strong whiff of ancient field hollers and southern gospel. A strong social conscience weaves through their lyrics, showcasing a passion for human rights and individual freedoms. Music with a message, so sweetly delivered.
Three Women and the Truth
Three towering powers of the folk music scene over the last 40 years – Eliza Gikyson, Gretchen Peters and Mary Gauthier, one one stage, sharing their collective and individual talents as singers, songwriters, and musicians. How could this get any better?
A singer/songwriter from Manitoba’s Peguis First Nation, Prince has stepped commandingly into the tradition of early John Prine and Willie Nelson, with a silky baritone and a master storyteller’s ability to hold your attention until the last quiet note. A beautiful soul with a beautiful talent.
A rising country-soul singer/songwriter from Bristol, UK, recently voted ‘UK Artist of the Year’ at the AMA UK Awards, brings a spectacular voice and exquisite harmonies to a play list heavily influenced by ‘60s country, Stax-era soul and gospel ranging from The Staple Singers to Otis Redding. Spoiler alert: she’s collaborated with the McCrary Sisters (Mike Farris’ backup singers), The Fairfield Four, Willie Watson, Jan Howard, James Brown, Elizabeth Cooke and the legendary Stax Band.
School of Song Featuring:
Bow Valley Locals
Elk Run and Riot
The Raven & The Fox