The Milk Carton Kids hearken back to the era of blended voices, blended guitars and powerful, message-filled lyrics that defined folk music in the middle of the last century. Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan have long become accustomed to the comparisons with Simon and Garfunkel and The Everly Brothers, but it’s unavoidable. Their understated virtuosity and flat-picking harmonies are nothing short of delicious.
No stranger to blues lovers around the world, Matt Andersen returns to Canmore with a brand new album, Honest Man. Deemed Canada’s greatest guitarist and winner of last year’s Maple Blues Award for Male Vocalist of the Year, the New Brunswick-born Andersen is the kind powerhouse talent that comes along maybe once in a generation.
With the gamine-like physical presence of a Ricky Lee Jones and the powerful vibrato of a Buffy Saint Marie, Canada’s Basia Bulat dances the precipice between pop and folk, never falling completely on either side and never letting you forget that this is a woman who will be what she wants to be, and when the muse strikes. You’ll never look at an autoharp the same way again.
Falling somewhere between spoken word essays and gritty road warrior ramblings, Texas native Sam Baker has drawn comparisons with John Prine and Townes Van Zandt, two of his major influences. Completely valid. He sets profound words to beautiful, minimalist guitar chords in such a way that silence and focus descend upon audiences the world over.
With comparisons to Gordon Lightfoot and Bruce Cockburn, Britain’s Adrian Nation brings to the scene the passion and idealism of a teenager and the wisdom of a man who’s seen a lot of life go by and not let it soften his edges. Acoustic guitar, brilliant lyrics and a passionate voice make for unforgettable moments.
Funky and fun, bold and brassy and unforgettable, Montreal’s Ayrad (proncounced hi-e-rad) brings a big wall of horns, fiddles, guitars and sass to its unique blend of Moroccan, Andalusian and Berber rhythms. Throw in a little reggae and Moroccan Chaabi grooves and you’ve got an exciting, irresistible blend of world music.
Bentall, Byrnes, Ulrich
Barney Bentall, Jim Byrnes and Shari Ulrich: Whoa. Three legends in Canadian folk music on the same stage. 100 years of combined experience in singing, songwriting, fiddling and strumming. A beautiful blending of voices and talents among three amazing musicians, sharing the kind of incredible lyrics for which each has become renowned. What could be better?
She was celebrated as one of Texas Music Magazine’s top artists of the year five years ago on the strength of her solo album Call It My Garden, but north of the 49th Carrie Elkin is still somewhat of an unknown. More’s the pity. Time to pay attention. One of the most prominent features on the Austin, TX folk and roots scene (and anybody who’s been to Austin knows how big a deal THAT is), Elkin is a tour de force of vocal and lyrical power. We hosted her in 2012 as part of a brilliant collective that included her husband Danny Schmidt and New York’s Anthony da Costa, all part of the U.S. folkie version of Broken Social Scene, a shape-shifting collection of extreme talent that comes together, writes together, records together and tours together as the material and muse demands. This year she arrives to us teamed up with the amazing Sam Baker, and the blending of those two voices, plus the on-stage gentle chemistry, is pure magic. With a voice that’s somehow both gritty and pristine, the Austin Chronicle calls Elkin “an earthy combination of strength and compassion . . . reminiscent of the winsome beauty created by a young Nanci Griffith,” while Bob Harris of the BBC calls her voice “spellbinding from the opening track.” Her songwriting is both devastatingly intimate and embracingly universal. The power of her live performances have been creating an incredible buzz and her unique sound, which incorporates alt-country, Americana and traditional folk with heartfelt poetic lyrics, just has to be experienced. “We have never seen a performer so in love with the act of singing. Onstage Elkin was simply a force of nature.” – Maverick Magazine
Electrifying doesn’t quite do justice to this award-winning Montrealer’s spellbinding performances. A first-generation North American from Cameroon, she blends soul, blues and afro-folk with her deep suave voice and commanding stage presence. We hosted her last year and could not, could not wait to bring her back.
When two voices blend this seamlessly, it’s more than magic — it’s divine intervention. When two people can co-write these kinds of lyrics, you know the angels are involved. Newfoundlanders Catherine Allen and Andrew James O’Brien bring a kind of intelligence and soul to the table that puts them in the top echelon of today’s emerging folk music talent.
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. In the 60s and the 70s, as a member of the Detroit soul pop group The Chairmen of the Board, Kennedy played all the top venues and shows, including the Apollo Theatre, The Tonight Show, Soul Train, American Bandstand and England’s Top of the Pops, performing the group’s million-selling hit,Gimme Me Just A Little More Time. The Chairmen had performances with B.B. King, James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and The Parliament Funkadelics, to name but a few. After a string of million selling singles in the early 70’s with The Chairmen, Kennedy returned to his roots as a blues troubadour. He continues this tradition today, concentrating his efforts on combining his vocal, harmonica, mandolin and guitar talents into a unique acoustic, folk-blues approach that highlights his unique songwriting skills. His latest recording, “This is From Here” (released on Electro-fi Records), is a collection of songs done in his home town of Hamilton, Ontario. The album debuted at number three on the esteemed “Living Blues” radio chart in the USA.
John Wort Hannam
British by birth, Albertan by choice, roots/country troubadour John Wort Hannam is known for his unique take on the simple day-to-day dramas of common folk through songs that map the landscapes of both the human heart and this vast country of ours.
Kacy & Clayton
Cousins from the hinterland of Saskatchewan and steeped in a rich catalogue of folk music through uncles and grandparents, they dig deep into the genre’s roots to offer up exquisite, haunting harmonies and sweet, spare guitar accompaniment to both old and contemporary classics.
Scottish-born, Canadian-raised singer-songwriter Maria Dunn combines her arrestingly powerful voice with haunting historical and social commentary lyrics in a mesmerizing performance guaranteed to have you hanging on her every word.
Bluesman Martin Harley has been rightfully earning huge accolades throughout Europe and the U.S. for the better part of a decade, teasing exquisite notes out of his lap slide guitar and transforming his British accent into a Mississippi Delta drawl. At times soft and melancholy, at times fierce and passionate, his songs of loving, losing, drinking and carousing stand with the absolute best of the blues.
Canada’s Pavlo Simtikidis has been called both “the Greek God of the Guitar” and “Lord of the Strings”, and he deserves both appellations. His lightning-fast fingers on both guitar and bouzouki will have you channeling your inner belly dancer to his stunning fusion of Flamenco, classical, Greek and Latin music.
Reuben And The Dark
From Calgary comes five multi-instrumentalists and vocalists led by Reuben Bullock, with lush, emotive folk and soul driven by dark, introspective lyrics that explore the duality of misery and joy. A rare combination of passion, talent, and profound insights.
Roots, rock and classic country, Canada’s award-winning Ridley Bent garners comparisons with Corb Lund and accolades wherever he plays. A Steinbeck-esque storyteller extraordinaire, his is a world of hard-drinking, fast-driving, larger-than-life characters.
Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar
A little bit Janis, a little bit Bonnie and a big helping of Loretta and Patsy — Samantha Martin is a powerhouse of a voice. Backed by “co-vocalists” Sherie Marshall and Stacie Tabb, the vocal blend Delta Sugar produces is an amazing hybrid of gospel, soul and blues, where the sum is even richer than the already soul-melting parts. Add to that guitarist Mikey McCallum’s Delta-inspired guitar lines and Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar emerge as one of the most powerful new artists to emerge on the roots music scene in many a year.
The Dead South
Banjos, beards, percussive beer cans and finger-snapping harmonies – from Saskatchewan The Dead South foursome brings an infectious gunslinging kind of energy to the stage that’s impossible to resist and harder to sit still to.
Pitch-perfect three-part harmonies and a wickedly funny rapid repartee, these three lads have captured the hearts of the British folk scene with their traditional and contemporary songs of conscience. They’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you cry, they’ll make you think.
School of Song
Paul Woida is a “one man band” who replicates the full sound of an entire band all by himself by using loops played and recorded live on the spot. His music can be described as pop/singer-songwriter and he is often compared to Ed Sheeran, Jason Mraz and Jeff Buckley. He is turning heads and winning the hearts of new fans everywhere he goes with his catchy hooks, emotive vocals and incredible musicianship. The fact that you will not leave a Paul Woida show unaffected, uninspired or feeling like you didn’t get your money’s worth, makes him an artist who has a true edge in the music industry and who’s career you’ll want to follow closely.
Oh I’ll forgive her on the day the Devil gets on his knees to pray.
With one dark, chilling line you are introduced to the simple, elegant music of PEI born singer/songwriter, Scott MacKay. MacKay’s country-ish songs are standouts, riddled with one-liners that catch the sun like a freshly polished cleaver. Now living in Calgary, he has become an artist to watch, playing the Calgary Folk Festival’s inaugural Block Heater Festival, SoundOff Showcase and Juno Fest this year. MacKay’s album “Twin” features fiddle, banjo and the haunting harmonies of his twin brother, Ben.
From the bustling streets of Dubai to the wintry turf of Edmonton, Mohsin Zaman is an old hand at being a newcomer. With a voice haunted by heartbreak, curiosity and ever-bearing hope, he sings, writes, and performs with a wealth of skill and spirit far beyond his years. Infused with sounds reminiscent of Bon Iver, Cat Stevens and Jose Gonzales, Mohsin has something very unique and captivating to offer. After releasing his debut EP “Waking Up” in 2015, Zaman is about to release his first full length album, “Fly Home” on May 26th, 2016. “Fly Home” takes a snapshot of Zaman as he rapidly develops as an artist.
North of Here
North of Here came together through the high school music class friendship of Caleb Sinn, Luke Jansen, Ian St. Arnaud, and Will Holowaychuk. The band took off when Ian fell in love with the mandolin and immediately wrote the riff that became their first song, “Running On.” North of Here is defined by the bond between these four young guys, nurtured through their shared experience growing up Sherwood Park, Alberta. Hidden behind the sunny disposition of acoustic guitar and mandolin are lyrics with weight and self-reflective depth. Their songs are a reflection of lost relationships, prairie vistas found at Will’s family farm, and the overwhelming confusion of growing up. There is history in North of Here’s folk sound. Shaped by their grandparents’ worn-out Gordon Lightfoot records, they also cite contemporaries such as Gregory Alan Isakov and The Milk Carton Kids as influences on their songwriting. But this isn’t folk music that will lull you to sleep; instead, North of Here wields lush four-part harmonies at a breakneck pace that makes the hip kids tap their toes.
In 2015, North of Here hit their stride, releasing their second EP, embarking on their first tour and opening for prominent artists such as Aidan Knight and Michael Bernard Fitzgerald. They were a regional finalist for CBC Searchlight 2016 and can be regularly heard on CBC Edmonton and CJSR. In only three years, North of Here has developed into a local Edmonton favourite and display their unbridled energy night after night.
Ariana Brophy is the songwriting equivalent of mulled wine; sweet, nostalgic, perfectly paired with a rainy evening and a fireplace. With vocal clarity that would suggest she has been singing a lifetime, she writes songs that weave heartbreak, love, hope and loss onto a canvas of stylized fingerpicking and expert harmony. Having studied theatre in Edmonton before pursuing music, she crafts her songs with a tuned eye for storyline and a remarkable ear for the moments a heart witnesses before the mind – playing to the imagery around her and honestly exploring what it means to really feel. Her first EP ‘Ink And Water’ has been nominated for an Edmonton Music Award, and her second album ‘Naked’ is to be released in the fall. You can catch her at Canmore Folk Festival in August or on almost any night in Edmonton singing harmonies for over a dozen other artists.
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