Aug 16,17,18 2019 tickets

Category Archives: Performers 2014


Alysha Brilla


She was one of the most popular acts at the 2014 Summerfolk and now Alysha Brilla is returning for a show at the Roxy Theatre April 10th. Melodically complex and lyrically cheeky, Alysha and her band lay down some of the best pop sounds to come out of Southern Ontario in a generation. She’s having a good year: her new CD Womyn is a hit, she went to India to become a certified Yoga instructor, and she just won a songwriting contest in Europe. With Juno Nominations and a great touring schedule the only thing that could make Alysha’s year better is coming back to Owen Sound to play for us. There’s no better way to start the spring thaw than with a show with Alysha and her band.

Tickets available at the Roxy by following this link. A co-production with the Georgian Bay Folk Society

Sun Times Article 07/25/2014 Molsky/Naiman

 Every year, as part of our continuing sponsorship with the Owen Sound Sun Times, the Artistic Director writes a series of 12 articles about the festival and the performers.The Sun Times online edition here


Hannah Shira Naiman’s CD rose to the top of the pile that came from the Folk Music Ontario conference last October. There were some really great original tunes, interspersed with traditional material. I wondered where she’d found so many traditional tunes that were new to me. When I got round to reading the liner notes I was pleased to discover that she wrote them.

The songs are solidly in the Appalachian/Old Time tradition. The melodies come from someone who has an intimate knowledge of the classic ballads and tunes. It helps that she was raised in a musical family in Toronto-both her parents are themselves respected players.

Hannah Shira Naiman

She has a willowy voice and gentle hand on the claw hammer banjo. She’s a joy to listen to.

I hired Hannah because I loved the cd and the songs. I also wanted to have her pitch in with our dance program. She’s an accomplished dancer herself, you can hear some foot percussion on the cd. She’s also a dance caller.

There’s been a revival of contra and square dance brewing in Toronto. Hannah is one of the go to callers at the popular Hog Town Hoedown. Contra dances, like square dances, are done with the help of a caller. That’s where Hannah comes in.  She teaches each dance before it begins in a ‘walk through’.  Once the dancers have done the walk through, the caller will strike up the band, and she/he will continue to prompt the dance until it looks like everyone is flowing along on their own.

As we talked about dance programming, she suggested that she could call and teach the dances, sing her original tunes and put together a band that could handle both. She’s bringing some great players from Toronto. Her dad, Arnie Naiman on banjo, Rachel Melas ( from Betty and the Bobs) on Bass, and Rosalyn Dennett ( Oh my Darlin) on violin.


I mentioned some of the other people coming to the festival and she suggested that maybe there was an opportunity to put together an All star band for our Saturday night contra dance band. Why not said I. So, over the course of the Saturday night dance, the band will be joined by a parade of some of the best trad players in North America-Brittany Haas (Crooked Still), Eli West, Ann Downey and Ian Rob from Finest Kind and the incomparable  Bruce Molsky.

Bruce Molsky should be made a UNESCO World Heritage site. He has a deep, wide catalogue of American songs and tunes. He is the undoubted master Appalachian fiddler of his generation. When you listen to Molsky you listen to history.

Guitar, banjo, fiddle and a classic reedy voice are Molsky’s hallmarks. They are deployed on the staggering library of tunes and songs stored in his head. He’s a natural folklorist, sifting though songs learned from field recordings, festivals, and old-timers.

He was raised in the Bronx and had a brief flirtation with bluegrass when he was younger. He became devoted to Appalachian and Old Time music when he was studying to be an engineer at Cornell. He was attracted by the music’s drive and power, but also by its social and communal side.


Bruce Molsky

“Community is integral to the music,” Molsky explains. “Most of us started playing in a social context. The music is all about pulse and heartbeat-everybody has that, it’s just expressed a little differently in different places. There’s always common ground that we can find.”

His first solo album, Lost Boy,  was released in 1996. It wasn’t until 3 years later, though that he finally gave up his day job and turned to music full time.

His latest disc, 2013’s If It Ain’t Here When I Get Back, finds Molsky not only self producing, but also playing all the instruments.

His other musical influences are on display as well. There’s Bimini Gal, which he learned from  an LP that featured Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence. Or the playful instrumental Growling Old Man and Grumbling Old Woman a traditional Métis fiddle tune learned from field recordings of the Ojibwe people in Western Manitoba.

He’s got a quiet version of charisma. You can find him at fiddle camps, music schools and festivals where younger players flock to him to soak up technique or repertoire, or both.

If you are a fan of traditional music, you’ll be telling people about him for years. If you know nothing about traditional music, he will steal you heart.

 Hannah Shira Naiman and Bruce Molsky both possess an “I’ll sleep when I”m dead” attitude at music festivals. They are two of the fine musicians you’ll find in our roster of over 40 acts at this year’s Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival. The gates of the festival open at 4 Pm on the 15th of August. The contra dance  with our Summerfolk All star Contra Band happens at 7:30 Saturday August 16th. Tickets, info and schedules can be found at or by phoning the office at 519-371-2995. Come and catch the sound of summer!

Sun Times Articles 07/11/2014 Oh Susanna

 Every year, as part of our continuing sponsorship with the Owen Sound Sun Times, the Artistic Director writes a series of 12 articles about the festival and the performers.The Sun Times online edition here

In the summer of 2012 Suzie Ungerleider and I were at the Mariposa Folk Festival. Suzie is better known to music fans as Oh Susanna. We were both performing, but we also had our families there. On the Sunday afternoon we hung out at the splash pad with our kids. “Splash pad” and “Oh Susanna” were not words that I thought would ever be used in the same paragraph.

PollockHeather-OhSusanna-3890-1 (8x12)

I met her first in 1997. She was on the Scrappy Bitches Tour with Veda Hille and Kinnie Starr, playing at MacEwan Hall in Calgary. It was a magic night. I had never heard her before, though I had started hearing of her through the grapevine.

Suzie’s voice is like a distant bell heard through a bank of fog. The songs are coal mine dark. They are narratives full of mayhem and broken dreams. Folk songs in short.

She’s always been attracted to storytelling and having characters drive the songs. The songs have a classic sound, like Appalachian ballads.

The moodiness of the songs are at odds with the woman. Ungerleider is engaging, charming and quick to laugh.

Suzie and I run into one another at semi-regular intervals, as musicians do. She’s one of those people who you can pick up with, no matter how long ago you left off.

So, I was looking forward to seeing Suzie at last year’s Summerfolk. However, a couple of months before the festival her agent called to say Suzie had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was going to be undergoing treatment and was not going to be able to play the festival.

Suzie described for me the period between when they suspected it was cancer and when they confirmed it. She stepped on stage every night and sang all the haunting songs she does so beautifully. Suddenly they had a very personal edge. Now she was the character at the centre of a very dark ballad.

She told me that once she was diagnosed, things became less ominous. The people overseeing her treatment were encouraging, reminding her that breast cancer is a treatable disease. She message she gave to herself was positive; deal with this and you will live a long life. She put the dark feelings aside. Her friends and family rallied to her.

She’s doing great now. The occasional bout of tiredness, but she’s enjoying life and busy finishing the projects that were delayed by the cancer.

One of those projects is her upcoming CD, Namedropper.

Suzie is recognized as a great song writer. With Namedropper, she wanted to acknowledge the inspiration she gets from her peers. The people who, she says, inspire us, break our hearts and kick us in the ass.

Her and confidante, Jim Bryson ( Sarah Harmer, Kathleen Edwards, The Weakerthans) began asking other writers for songs, preferably new or unrecorded, that would suit Oh Susanna.

In a way, Namedropper is a tribute album. Suzie wanted to honour the Canadian songwriting community and it seems they wanted to honour her as well. The list of writers who eagerly contributed songs is stunning.

Songs came from Ron Sexsmith who wrote Wait Until The Sun Comes Up for her. Old Man Leudecke, Amelia Curran, Royal Wood and The Good Lovelies all contributed as well.

She says recording their tunes lead her to understand more deeply the difference between being a singer-songwriter and being a singer. Even if you have characters in your songs, essentially the song you’ve written is a piece of you. Singing a song written by someone else let’s you experience the other’s persona. Singing becomes a physical act, unencumbered by ownership of the words.

Namedropper was nearly finished when Suzie was diagnosed with cancer. She felt guilt that her ensuing treatment would put the brakes on a project that fans and contributors were looking forward to. She needn’t have worried. Namedropper has become one of the most anticipated releases of 2014.

Early in the project Jim Cuddy wrote Dying Light for her-the chorus was almost prophetic,

Come back to me darlin’

Let me know you’re all right

Cause I can’t let go of this dying light

I’m happy to say that Oh Susanna is more than all right. I’m excited that she will be joining us at Summerfolk this year and not just because I get to hear her sing. I’ve also got plans for a visit to the splash pad.

Oh Susanna will be appearing with Jim Bryson at Summerfolk August 15, 16, 17 at Kelso Beach Park. Ticket information, schedules, performer bios and links are all available at You can also phone us at 519-371-2995.


Sun Times Article 06/27/2014 Buffy Sainte-Marie

 Every year, as part of our continuing sponsorship with the Owen Sound Sun Times, the Artistic Director writes a series of 12 articles about the festival and the performers. 

When my older brother and sisters started spending their pocket money on albums, music began to change in Mum and Dad’s house. My parents lost control of the playlist. Strange, unheard of music began to seep out from under my siblings’ bedroom doors. West End musicals and the Clancy Brothers gave way to Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Led Zeppelin ( not all the Keelaghan’s were folkies).

I would have been 10 or 11 years old when I first heard Buffy Sainte-Marie. I’m pretty sure the song was Universal Soldier and I am certain it was my sister Cathy who did the introductions. Buffy has been with me, one way or another ,ever since.


Her songs were the part of the soundtrack of my geography. Her prairie songs were my favourites-Indian Cowboy, Piney Wood Hills,and her most haunting song Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan.They were an essential part of the mix tapes I’d make to survive long drives across the plains.


Buffy was born in the Qu’Appelle, a breathtakingly beautiful river valley north of Regina. The valley is deep and wide, with cool water and poplar trees. Seven First nation reserves sit bedside the river from its headwaters to the Manitoba border.  She was orphaned as an infant and went to live with relatives in Massachusetts but the valley never left her. In her haunting song about the place, she pleads-“Take me back to where I belong”-where she belongs is among the coulees and cut-banks of the Qu’Appelle Valley.

She attended U of M Amherst, studying Oriental Philosophy and graduating in the top ten of her class. When she wasn’t studying she was writing songs and performing at the University coffee-house.

Buffy started out like most singer songwriters-travelling alone, a voice and a guitar. She was part of the Yorkville music scene in the early 60’s, playing the Purple Onion, rubbing shoulders with Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell.

Joni and Buffy, born two years and 250 km’s apart on the vast prairies would be come the two iconic Canadian female singer songwriters of their generation.

She moved from coffeehouses to festivals to concert halls.While she was having success as a performer, her songs were doing even better. That was the way she wanted it. She’s frank about the fact that writing is her reason for being.

Until It’s Time for You to Go has been covered by Elvis, Jim Croce,Roberta Flack and at least 50  others. Cod’ine was recorded by Courtney Love and Janis Joplin.

A whole new generation came to know her in the 5 years she was a regular on Sesame Street. She wasn’t just singing and playing guitar either. She taught Big Bird about breastfeeding on international TV, a big deal at the time.

She’s never been shy about breaking the mold. Those who wanted her to be Pocahontas with a guitar didn’t know what to do with songs about activism and native rights. Folkies didn’t know what to do with her 1969 album Illuminations, with its synthesized vocals and electric arrangements.

While she swims outside the mainstream, she still has Juno awards, Grammys, a Golden Globe. She even has an Oscar for the song Up Where We Belong, which she wrote as the theme song for An Officer and a Gentleman.  She feels… “As you grow you hang onto what was always great in your art and it just enhances whatever is coming up next”

Her shows are as energetic and dynamic. She’ll be coming to Summerfolk with the band that has been with her since 2008. It’s an all-star 3-piece ensemble from Manitoba. Leroy Constant-Cree from York Factory on bass and vocals, Lakota/Ojibwe guitar legend Jesse Green and Ojibwe Mike B

ruyere on drums and vocals (and if we’re lucky, footwork).

“They’ve got the energy I need, ”says Buffy, “ for driving songs like Starwalker and No No Keshagesh … what I sing about and where a lot of my songs originate is a world they know too: the realities of Native American passion, love, tragedy and music,”

Now into her 6th decade on the music scene she’s not showing any signs of slowing down. She’s in the studio recording a new cd for release in 2015.

Buffy Sainte-Marie is joining us at Summerfolk for the first time this year. She’ll play Saturday, Aug 16 on the Amphitheatre stage 10PM. She will also be doing a workshop named “I Fight for Life” on Sunday Aug 17.

Advance tickets are on sale until June 30th. Visit  for information, schedules, office hours and tickets. To order tickets by phone call 1-888-655-9090.











Sun Times Article 06/06/2014 Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards/Alysha Brilla

 Every year, as part of our continuing sponsorship with the Owen Sound Sun Times, the Artistic Director writes a series of 12 articles about the festival and the performers. You can find the online version of the article here

I met Laura Cortese on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. No, really.

I had been spoiled by a couple of years where my touring schedule sent me south in the dead of winter. The year I met Laura, I was invited to perform on an Irish Music Cruise in the Caribbean.I could hardly say no.

Laura and Hanneke Cassel were the fiddle contingent on the cruise.They are both leading lights in the trad/alt scene that blossoms around the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Over dinner one night I asked if they would join me on my set. There were a couple of songs I played that had fiddle tunes attached. I sang the tunes for them once, over the dinner table.

On the day in question I did my sound check…no sign of Laura and Hanneke. About 20 minutes before I went on they arrived. I was a little peeved. I got on my old guy high horse about not going onstage unrehearsed.

Laura looked at me and said, “Your choice, man”.

Which was to say, “ We can play it, dude”.

And they could.

And she does.

Laura is originally from San Francisco. Like so many other players she was drawn to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Berklee and storied music clubs like Passim ensure that there is a vibrant indie scene in and around Boston. Laura quickly became one of the “go to” violinists.

She’s schooled enough to play with the most traditional bands, adventurous  enough to play with the Alt crowd. She  has played with Pete Seeger, Michael Franti and Band of Horses. She’s played Madison Square Gardens and Carnegie Hall, house concerts and bars.

When she’s out on her own she plays originals. She belts out her vocals against the string arrangements created with friends Valerie Thompson (cello) and Mariel Vandersteel ( fiddle and Hardingfele).


LauraCorteseandtheDanceCardsThey exist in a guitar free zone. It’s a sound that harks back to the Appalachian and Louisiana traditions. Her songwriting brings it into the present day. 

I’m really excited that Laura and the Dance Cards will be joining us at Summerfolk this year.

The cruise where I met Laura was the last time I made a dead of winter getaway.

I was thinking about that cruise this January as I drove through yet another snow storm on my way home from Owen Sound. Out in the back yard office the heater was trying valiantly to warm 96 square feet. I was wearing a heavy sweater and a toque as I listened to frosty CDs. I’d intersperse the festival submissions with Belafonte, or Desmond Dekker. Anything that would make me think of warm, far away places.

When I put on a disc by Alysha Brilla things started to look brighter. Brilla is an underrated rhythm guitar player with a slightly quirky voice. She who has a great ear for tasty arrangements.The songwriting is by turns cheeky, heartfelt and sexy. Sometimes it is all three at once.

Alysha’s music is the sound of summer. It’s pop, a bit jazzy and bit bluesy. That’s what makes it fun. She’s pours all her influences into it. There’s 70’s singer songwriters from her mom, the jazz and Tanzanian stuff from her dad. “I’ve got the whole world in my hands” is sung in Swahili against a  a band track featuring soprano sax

Her music is melting pot and it’s a deep one. I don’t think i could have made it through the rest of the winter without it.

Alysha is an irrepressibly optimistic person. She’s also not afraid to take chances.

A couple of years ago Brilla had grabbed the brass ring. She had a deal with a smart label and a couple of name producers. She was recording, writing and living in LA.

AlyshaBrillaThen, she gave it all up. In LA, they wanted her in a neatly labelled box. She wanted to be everything she could be.

She came home to Kitchener Waterloo. She assembled the players she wanted, rehearsed the material and recorded the CD she wanted to make. Eighteen months later, her self produced independently release “In My Head” was nominated for a Juno as Best Adult Contemporary Recording of the year.

She has just finished her first extended tour of western Canada. If you read her facebook entries  you meet a wide eyed, breathlessly excited woman in her mid twenties discovering her country and its scene.

Alysha is coming to Summerfolk with her “Brillion Dollar Band”, a six piece ensemble with drums, keys, horn section,bass. The sound is tight and is sure to knock your socks off.

Information about Laura, Alysha and all the other performers, artisans and vendors at this year’s festival can be found at


The Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival happens August 15, 16, 17 at Kelso Beach. Tickets available online or at 1-888-655-9090

Sun Times Article 05/30/2014 Yves Lambert

Every year, as part of our continuing sponsorship with the Owen Sound Sun Times, The Artistic Director writes a series of 12 articles about the festival and the performers. You can find their online version of the article here
I’d like to think that my wife came to Canada because of me, but really, she immigrated because of Yves Lambert.

Yves Lambert photo by Guillaume Morin

I met my wife at the National Folk Festival in Canberra, Australia. While it was love at first sight for me, she needed some persuading. We courted by letter for about 6 months. I went to visit while I was on tour down under. Then, the summer after we met, she came to Canada for her vacation.

My game plan was to woo her with the Rockies and the West coast. I also took her to her first Canadian folk festival in Mission, BC. One of the acts that weekend was La Bottine Souriante. She had never heard traditional Quebec music before. She dug it. Really dug it. A large part of La Bottines appeal came directly from the energy that spilled like a waterfall from their frontman Yves Lambert.

He’s a fantastic raconteur, a barrelhouse singer and one of the best accordion players on the planet. Yves is the consummate showman, the living embodiment of charisma. He presides over gigs like a jovial Buddha with a squeeze box.

I’ve seen Yves perform to audiences on three continents. In many of those places people were hearing Quebecois music for the first time. No matter where it was-Denmark, the US, England – the reaction was always the same. Even the most staid would be on their feet screaming for more.

It doesn’t matter that he is singing in different language, or that the intros are a franglais mash-up. His joy and love of his art shines through. It’s  infectious.

In 2003, after 27 years  and 14 recordings with La Bottine Souriante, Lambert decided it was time to move on. He didn’t rest on his laurels. He drew some of Quebec’s best young players to him and created the Bébert Orchestra, he released another 4 CD’s, contributed to compilations, toured constantly, wrote new tunes.   He created a stripped down, trio version of Bébert for a 40 date tour. The power of that stripped down ensemble was undeniable.

In the Yves Lambert Trio, he is joined by multi-instrumentalists Olivier Rondeau and Tommy Gauthier.   Gauthier plays violin, mandolin and bouzouki. His early training as a drummer informs his foot percussion. He’s played with Matapat and Antoine Dufour. Rondeau plays the acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, and vocals.

Gauthier and Rondeau are young, but they are not inexperienced.Their sound is simple and layered. While true to their roots they are definitely taking the music different places. The rhythms are more intricate. The mouth music is there, but it’s sung with non-traditional harmonies.

Music has generational changes. Every 20 years, give or take, a new crop of musicians bring their instrumental experience to bear on the tradition. They write snaky new tunes. They borrow fiddle styles from Scotland or Norway. They move the tradition forward tune by tune. The Yves Lambert Trio is bridging the gap between past and future in the Quebec tradition.

For the second time in his life Lambert is in the vanguard of a Quebec musical evolution.   He is a genuine and humble man. He doesn’t have to be. He has a fist full of gold selling albums, Juno Awards, Felix awards, Canadian Folk Music Awards. He is one of the most influential of the musicians that lead the Quebec roots revival in the late 70’s. In song he is lyrical, poetic, not shy of the political or the romantic. Yves is a national treasure.

On the Monday morning after that festival in Mission, the phone in our hotel room rang at about 8:30. It was the front desk informing me that the van had been broken into. I dressed and went downstairs to inspect the damage. I never leave guitars or bags in the truck so I was more worried about the inconvenience of a broken window, or however they got in. I looked in the van. The thieves had rifled through everything. All our things had been scattered around. I was relieved and a little wounded that the box with 150 copies of my latest cd was still there… but La Bottine’s CD was gone.


Summerfolk Tune Up

The Annual Summerfolk Tune-up

The Youth for this year’s festival gets a chance to polish their chops for Summerfolk39.

Andrew Nunno, Bekah and Missy, Benjamin Rogers, Smith Magenis, MacKenzie Mcruer. and Leah Mathies will be appearing from 1-4 at The marine and Rail Museum. Bring a chair and some sunscreen and we’ll see you there!Summerfolk Tune Up

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