Every year Artistic Director James Keelaghan writes a series of 12 articles for the Owen Sound Sun Times previewing the Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival

By James Keelaghan

I played my first paying gig at seventeen in a folk club in Claresholm, about an hour south of Calgary. After that, I played as regularly as I could. Luckily, Calgary was rich in places to play in those days.

 

I had a regular gig at a place called the Kensington Delicafe playing three hours a night on  Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It largely paid my way through University. There was a guy who used to come in for his deli-burger — a bass player named Bill Eaglesham who was tall and wiry, with piercing blue eyes. I knew him from the local scene. During my sets he would watch me but not once did he ever applaud. My mission became getting some kind of reaction out of him.

 

I never did. Instead, I ended up hiring him as the bass player on my first national tour. For the next three years, Bill and my other player, Gary Bird, whipped me into shape. Today, we would call it mentoring. Back then, we just lived by the adage that the best way to get good was to play with people who were better than you.

 

I did not emerge fully formed as a musician, no musician ever does. Learning to be a performer is a long process — the only way to learn is by playing.

 

The five finalists from this year’s Youth Discoveries program are already on that road. Youth Discoveries is an initiative of the Georgian Bay Folk Society and is sponsored by Big Bay Sound, Long and McQuade, Heartwood Concert Hall and the Dock 92.3 FM. The four acts were chosen from those who showcased for the opportunity to appear at the  44th annual Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival.

 

Miranda Journey is an indie, freak, folk singer/songwriter currently living in Nottawa.

Growing up in a musical family, Miranda had been inspired to pursue the arts her entire life. She began singing, songwriting and performing at the age of eight, and was self-taught with her ukulele playing. This past fall, she released her first Acoustic EP, and is currently working on a full-length album. Miranda’s signature vocals and heartfelt, lyrically-driven songs leave the audience captivated and wanting more. She continues to explore new ways to incorporate and infuse throwback sounds and traditional folk with new experimental sounds. Miranda considers herself to be “new retro”. She strives to stay authentic to her sound, but never puts limitations on what she can create or evolve to.

 

At seventeen, Jojo Smith is an emerging artist with a voice like a mermaid. She has been playing the guitar for three years and performing publicly since last summer. Her intricate stylings, influenced by such legends as Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake, set her apart like no other. She recently picked up songwriting, inspired by the storytelling and poetry aspects of folk music.

 

Like the great rock & blues bands that paved the runway for music, Vintage Flight’s fans not only wear their cool band shirt but actually listen to the music. They set out to make new music with edgy songs written with passionate riffs and relatable lyrics.

 

Molly Roach has been writing since she could pick up a pen. Eventually, with the aid of a guitar, songs became her diary of thoughts; a window into her poetic mind. Molly likes to set her imagination free, creating her ideas’ reality. Combining both Punk Rock and Jazz influences, Molly is a distinct voice with an “Art Rock” sound.

 

Everywhere from private parties under popup tents to local bars, international showcases and festival stages for thousands – Vintage Flight’s tight, high energy live performances are often compared to the many epic bands they admire. Vocalist Avalon Bridger, just fifteen and an old soul, puts her heart into every note. Nineteen-year-old guitarist Jake Shepherd makes a lasting impression with his soulful bends and epic solos. Bassist Braydon Kain’s fat bass lines and vocals are the backbones of the band and, drummer, Quinlan Missikowski adds just the right beat to round out their sound.

 

Sterling and the Birdwatchers are a surf punk/garage rock trio based out of Collingwood with Duncan Crone on drums, Jack Doris on bass and Kailum MacKenzie on guitar. They released their debut self-titled EP in August of 2018 and plan on recording their first album by the end of 2019. Sterling and the Birdwatchers create exciting songs of layered effects with a simple goal of making you dance. We’ll give you that opportunity to get in the groove and move your body with them in the Down by the Bay tent in front of the stage.

 

Save the date and buy your tickets for Summerfolk44 happening at Kelso Beach Park on August 16,17 and 18. Weekend passes are $20 off the full gate price until July 31. Everything you need to know, you can find at summerfolk.org.