Call it prairie noir or Canadiana desert rock: Abigail Lapell sings haunting, gorgeous modern folk songs. The Toronto songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has won two Canadian Folk Music Awards and reached over 20 million Spotify streams. Her evocative new album, Stolen Time, was released April 2022 on Outside Music.
Abigail Lapell returns with Stolen Time, her elemental and powerfully evocative third album. Produced by Howard Bilerman at Montreal’s Hotel2Tango, Stolen Time feels unhurried, psychedelic and otherworldly in the vein of Gillian Welch or Karen Dalton. A theme of recovery runs through the album, with songs about becoming sober, or a partner’s sudden illness, exploring the cycle of rehabilitation and relapse. The title comes from tempo rubato, a music term referring to the loose push and pull of expressive phrasing—a fitting metaphor for the shifting rhythm of uncertain times. An eclectic cast of musicians underscores the power of Lapell’s vocals on live-off-the-floor, 70s folk rock arrangements featuring bass, drums, horns, strings and steel. But many of Stolen Time’s standout tracks are solo guitar or piano songs, backed by little more than ghostly accordion or harmonica. The result is Lapell’s most ambitious and confident album to date.
Calling Andrina Turenne’s new album Bold As Logs her debut feels like a bit of a misnomer. The Winnipeg singer-songwriter has, after all, graced stages across five continents and has lent her voice—as a member or a guest—to more than 50 albums during her 20-plus years in the music industry. In addition, she has a Juno for best roots & traditional album, awarded to her former band Chic Gamine.
Yes, Andrina has kept great company, but now this prolific Franco-Manitoban Métis artist is poised to share her own music, which weaves between languages as seamlessly as the themes in her songwriting, with a sound that is universal.
Aleksi Campagne is uniquely qualified to offer a contemporary, indie-folk take on the time-honoured fiddle-singing tradition. Aleksi grew up on stage. At five years old, he began performing alongside his mother, Canadian folk icon, Connie Kaldor. At 19, Aleksi moved to Paris to study under jazz violin legend Didier Lockwood. At 21, Aleksi became the only student to have ever been accepted into the classical violin, the jazz violin and the jazz voice performance programs at McGill University. And, by 25, with only a six-song EP, Aleksi graced the lineups of some of Canada’ most beloved folk festivals over three consecutive summers (until COVID)—including the Regina Folk Festival, the Canmore Folk Festival, the Northern Lights Festival and the Live from the Rock Festival, among others.
Allison Russell, musician, poet, singer, songwriter, and activist (and co-founder of Our Native Daughters and Birds of Chicago) is an extraordinary artist of power, empathy, and grace. Outside Child, the Montreal native’s acclaimed debut solo LP, hailed around the world as one of 2021’s best and most essential new albums, is a heartbreaking reflection and powerful reclamation of her childhood. Honors and awards for Russell and Outside Child include the 2022 Americana Music Association Award for Album of the Year, (and two other nominations), two International Folk Music Awards, a Juno Award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, three Canadian Folk Music Awards, two UK Americana Music Awards, and three GRAMMY Award nominations. She has also been profiled in the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and on NPR and has performed on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Ellen, CBS Saturday, NPR’s Tiny Desk and PBS’ Austin City Limits.
The Arrogant Worms
The Arrogant Worms have spent over three decades making fun of a big dumb world. Their songs have been played on the radio, the internet, and in outer space (on the space shuttle Endeavour). The Worms began at Queen’s University in 1991 when some members of the student cabaret group, The Queen’s Players, started writing songs and sketches for the campus radio station CFRC. Soon the group became The Arrogant Worms (Chris Patterson, Mike McCormick, and Trevor Strong) who have since toured ceaselessly across Canada (and select other parts of the world), released 13 albums, and recorded with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Their song, The Last Saskatchewan Pirate, has been covered by bands such as Captain Tractor and The Longest Johns, and their Happy Happy birthday song is a viral sensation with over one hundred million views of the various fan videos on YouTube. More than thirty years after they began, The Arrogant Worms continue to provide tuneful and silly escapism for everyone who needs it.
“David Keenan has been among the most fascinating new Irish artists of the past ten years.
In the making of his new album Crude, he was aiming to return to his roots and embrace a rawer – unflinchingly honest – form of songwriting. The result is a challenging and poetic album which he has released independently through his own label Barrack Street Records”.
A songwriter and lyricist who has continued to defy categorization by avoiding the obvious, he has released two previously critically acclaimed albums -“A Beginner’s Guide to Bravery” released in 2020, which reached number 1 in the Independent Charts & the 2021 follow up “WHAT THEN?” widely received as a critical triumph.
Keenan has a way of connecting people in story & song with an inimitable emotional depth that is rarely found. You get the feeling these songs will be sung and referenced long into the future, this is a live gathering not to be missed.
The Fretless with Madeleine Roger
Four ferocious players, masterful composition, and a genre-bending sound — Juno award-winning The Fretless is a Canadian quartet that has firmly taken its place on the map to a progressive form of “trad”.
A supergroup of celebrated solo artists, The Fretless has been creating a singular and signature sound that dares to expand the idea of what a string music quartet can be — transforming fiddle tunes and folk melodies into intricate, beautiful, high-energy arrangements that have quickly gained a dedicated following and accolades from around the world. Within what appears to be a simple and classical construct — two fiddles, a viola, and a cello — The Fretless has created a sound that is distinctly rich, multi-layered, and uniquely percussive. This tonal quality is pushing traditional music to new heights, producing a completely fresh approach to Folk music.
Madeleine Roger is a folksinger and storyteller from Winnipeg, Canada. While accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, it is her artistry as a songwriter that can silence a room, uniting her captivating voice with vivid lyricism and maturity beyond her years. She conjures songs with imaginative melodies and honesty that bares truths about being alive.
Harley Kimbro Lewis
From Knoxville to Nashville via Hertfordshire, Martin Harley, Daniel Kimbro & Sam Lewis collaborate for the first time on a slow cooked, laid back album reminiscent of an early American songbook. Produced at Wow & Flutter studios the old fashioned way; writing songs in the morning and rolling the tape in the afternoon, the album highlights Daniel’s Appalachia roots, Sam’s Nashville tones and Martin’s travelling riverside blues. Individually they have worked with some of the biggest names in the business. This is acoustic Americana at is finest.
Inn Echo weave hundreds of years of traditional tunes with contemporary originals and arrangements that both soar and make you catch your breath simultaneously. With technical precision, their mastery of instruments is the talk in the national and international folk music scene. From Music PEI awards to tours of Austria and Ireland, Inn Echo is bar none the traditional band to watch as they emerge as Prince Edwards Islands greatest Celtic fusion exports in years to come.
Innovative, creatively-crafted, and what Roots Music Canada coins as “a powerful sound,” the soundscape laid down by this three-piece instrumental group is both wildly dynamic and delightfully distinctive – rightfully earning them Emerging Artist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year nominations for the 2020 Music PEI Awards.
Irish Mythen was born in Ireland and now resides in Charlottetown Prince Edward Island Canada.
“This Island creates music and musicians, art and artists. I found a shift to take things more seriously when I moved here.” And she did just that.
Her latest release, Little Bones, gained her recognition around the globe, including a 2020 JUNO nomination for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, seven Music PEI 2020 nominations and two wins — Touring Artist of the Year and Roots Contemporary Recording of the Year, and a Canadian Folk Music Nomination for Solo Artist of the Year. Her previous self-titled album, Irish Mythen, garnered awards and nominations from Music PEI, East Coast Music Association, Folk Alliance International and SOCAN. Write-ups in Australian Guitar Magazine, Rollingstone and a plethora of other print and online media world wide have helped plant Irish firmly on the map of Must-See Artists.
Irish’s live performances are a thing of raw power, emotion and a connection with her audience that just has to be seen to be believed.
Jake Vaadeland and the Sturgeon River Boys
Jake Vaadeland is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from Saskatchewan, Canada. His traditional sound and unique style could be defined as a blend of Bluegrass and 50’s Rockabilly, with Jake also specializing on guitar and banjo in addition to his impressive vocals. Jake strives to write and play with a focus on storytelling and messages that he hopes his audience can relate to, all packaged in foot stomping, high energy performances with The Sturgeon River Boys. 2022 proved to be a remarkable year for Jake Vaadeland, as he received 2x Saskatchewan Music Awards including Album of the Year for ‘Everybody But Me’, along with the Folk/Roots Artist of the Year. In addition, he earned 4x Saskatchewan Country Music Awards, including Fans Choice Entertainer of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Alternative Country Album of the Year and Emerging Artist of the Year. His album, Retro Man also finished at #2 in fan voting for the Best Saskatchewan Albums of 2021.
The Mbira Renaissance Band
“..Hypnotic African rhythms, syncopated vocal harmonies, significant reggae infusion.. This band is fun.” – Rootsfan
Playing music out of Zimbabwe, by way of Edmonton, Alberta, The Mbira Renaissance Band delivers an afro-fusion sound like no other. The group combines the mbira and other traditional instruments with contemporary sounds to produce a rich blend of vibrant polyrhythmic sounds. The result is an upbeat blend of the contemporary mbira sound with hints of reggae, afro jazz, and afro pop – inspired by the sounds of artists such as Oliver Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo and Chiwoniso Maraire.
Punching through the walls of tradition, The McDades’ Celtic rooted music fuses the spontaneity of jazz improvisation and infectious global rhythms. Their cutting edge sound is the perfect complement to their fiery performances.
At the heart of the group are siblings Shannon, Solon & Jeremiah who grew up playing Canadian Folk Music alongside their parents and among artists from around the world; a unique upbringing that led to a love and respect for al music. Their ground-breaking compositions and innovative arrangements are characterized by stunning virtuosity and a near-telepathic interaction on stage.
With vocal harmonies that can only come from a family, and an obvious love for each other and their music, the McDades’ sound is immersed in the spirit of improvisation. Combining original tunes and unique interpretations of traditional songs, their performances feature both energetic instrumentals and moving vocals performed in English and French.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Elizabeth Rodriguez is a classically trained violinist who served as concertmaster for Havana’s Youth Orchestra. Magdelys Savigne hails from Santiago de Cuba and graduated with honours in orchestral percussion from Havana’s University of the Arts. Both are also Grammy-nominees for their contributions to Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, of which they are former members.
Having recently worked with Bomba Estereo, Lido Pimienta and Bianca Gismonti, OKAN follows up on their Juno-nominated and Independent Music Award-winning debut album Sombras, with their JUNO Award-winning album Espiral, out on the Lulaworld Records label.
Over the Moon
Canadian roots/swing duo Over The Moon’s Suzanne Levesque and Craig Bignell are awarding multi-instrumentalists/vocalists that met, fell in love, got married and discovered their voices blend so well together that people often tear up upon hearing them sing.
Living on a ranch in the foothills of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, it’s inevitable there will be a strong sense of place- and the rhythms of the land when you start to make music. When the couple released their debut album, the resonances were there for all to hear. reflecting the pulse of life, lived in a territory that is both dirt-hard rugged and beautiful.
Their music is a wild ride from 40’s sounding western swing and Appalachian old-time, to cowboy blues. Simple and sweet, all of their material has a common thread that speaks of the Canadian west.
“The finest rock songwriter after Dylan, and the best electric guitarist since Hendrix” – LA Times.
Powered by evocative songcraft, jaw-dropping guitar playing, and indefinable spirit, this venerable icon holds a coveted spot on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and counts a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association in Nashville, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the BBC Awards among his many accolades. 2011 saw Thompson garner an OBE (Order of the British Empire) personally bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Moreover, Time touted his anthem, “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” on its “100 Greatest Songs Since 1923” list.
Thompson’s influence can’t be overstated. Everybody from Robert Plant, Don Henley, and Elvis Costello to REM, Sleater-Kinney and David Byrne has covered his music.
In 2017, Thompson began composing ideas for what would become 13 Rivers at his California home. Off the road, he focused on writing. As a result of the defined time period, the music possessed a distinct cohesion. “I wrote the songs as a group to hang together,” he elaborates. “They belong together in some way and seem to possess a commonality since they were written in the same time and space.”
Serena Ryder tours her compelling latest album, The Art of Falling Apart, which invites listeners to join her mental wellness journey through a driving pop sound and the full range of her powerful voice.
On The Art of Falling Apart, her eighth studio album and seventh JUNO Award, she helps us understand the importance of sitting with the uncomfortable moments and the wisdom in their messages. Over a driving pop sound bursting with irresistible rhythms, pulsing bass lines, and the full range of her powerful and expressive voice, she pulls listeners through her own winding, transformational journey, detailing despair, toxic relationships, and breakdowns alongside hope, joy, and big, big love.
Suzie Vinnick with special guest Tony D
A Saskatoon native transplanted to the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada, Suzie Vinnick is the proud owner of a gorgeous voice, impressive guitar and bass chops and an engagingly candid performance style. Suzie has won 10 Maple Blues Awards, 1 Canadian Folk Music Award and is a 3X Juno Nominee. She has also twice won the International Songwriting Competition – Blues Category. She has just released her seventh solo album entitled “Fall Back Home”.
Tony D (Diteodoro), guitarist for Juno award winning band MonkeyJunk, has been laying it down for over thirty years. MonkeyJunk has amassed twenty Maple Blues awards and a Blues Music Award, (formerly known as The Handy Awards).
At the age of thirteen, Tony began his musical journey on the guitar. Learning mostly in the blues, rock jazz stylings. Tony was given the opportunity to play rhythm guitar, for three days, for the legendary Buddy Guy. Years later he had the prestigious opening slot for the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan at Ottawa’s NAC. He joins Suzie for the Canmore Folk Festival weekend.
School of Song
Jed and the Valentine
There will be love and laughter in the air if ‘Jed and the Valentine’ are selected to play CFF. I recently saw these two in concert and the lid was blown off my expectations. I had been following their social media and really enjoying their music but to see them live is a whole other animal. They are playful, humble, funny, super talented, and they add foot-drum percussion along with a loop pedal into their songs. I promise you, these two will not disappoint – quite the contrary. They will be one of the hidden gem discoveries at the festival. They are climbing on social media with 73K followers on TikTok and building a solid base on Instagram. These two are hands down one of my favourite new music discoveries!
Armed with a soulful, velvety voice, Edmonton-based Indigenous singer/songwriter Kaeley Jade blends lush poetry and hooky melodies to craft music that is both playful, relevant and poignant. Jade’s music has been featured on editorial playlists across DSPs including Spotify’s New Music Friday and Fresh Finds, and in numerous publications such as Tinnitist (500k+ Twitter followers), SAY Magazine and The GATE. Her debut single “Years Ago” was added to regular rotation on 102.3 NOW! Radio and her song “Highway 16” charted in the top 10 of the Indigenous Music Countdown. Reminiscent of artists like Maggie Rogers, Vance Joy and Taylor Swift, Kaeley explores the beauty and complexity of human relationships in her vibrant and polished indie pop. Produced by the Juno-nominated team at Velveteen Music, her music is available on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music and all streaming platforms.
Brianna Lizotte is a Metis fiddler who grew up in Sylvan Lake steeped in the traditional music of her ancestors. As the musicians in her family began to pass away, Brianna took it upon herself to keep them alive through the music they loved. A talented traditional fiddle player, Brianna’s musicianship and demeanor has led to some amazing opportunities including an emotional performance for the Pope in Rome and feature spots at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival in 2022. Brianna performs traditional jigs and reels accompanied by long time friend and solid rhythm guitarist, Justin Smith. Her most recent release ‘Scratch em’ is a lively homage to the traditional songs played by her uncles; grandfather and great-grandfathers.
Mari Rosehill reflects on life’s subtleties and expresses it best through song. Ranging from soft, operatic highs, to full low tones, her introspective styled lyrics invite you to take a look into how she thinks. Insecurities that have held her back and beautiful moments that propel her forward. The now sober songstress continues on this search for ones self and her artistry helps along the way. A regular at the Canmore Market and venues about town. Mari was a participant in the 2021 Canmore Folk Festival’s Mentorship Project, mentoring with festival alumna Ndidi O, opened for Catherine MacLellan, and the Small Glories, and was selected to perform with Danny Michel for our Festival Friday Song contest in 2022. Mari was awarded the Lamphouse Endowment for the Arts: Emerging Artist Bursary. She joins the School of Song crew this year.
Sammy’s newest release ‘Be Alright!’ debuted at #1 on the CKUA Top 30 Chart, #38 on CKUA’s Top 200 Albums of 2022 and #19 on Eartshot National Top 50 Chart. He’s a poet, a lyricist, musically obsessed and an artist through and through. One needs only peruse the quotes on his website to know that Sammy Volkov is one to watch. From his bio: Canadian-American artist Sammy Volkov is pretty weird. Rather than socializing, he spent most of his formative years collecting records and inventing secret songs in his mind. If he likes what he hears in a performance, he has the audacity to picture himself as a contemporary to that artist. It doesn’t matter how old the recording is, Sammy might borrow a couple of quirks from Sinatra, a little flourish from M. Ward or Neil Young, a riff from the Shirelles, and before you know it, you’re presented with an esoteric palette of sonic colours.
The Cave Arcade
The Isaac Brothers
The Nico Tobias Band
Phillip Alexander Nugent