Aug 16,17,18 2019 tickets

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Sun Times Article 12: Two’s company

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

One of the advantages of being the Artistic Director of Summerfolk and a touring musician is that I get to see music on the road that I might never see otherwise.

 

I’m with Quincy Jones—I like all kinds of music, except bad music. I’ll listen to anything and it doesn’t matter to me if it’s jazz, blues or country. All that matters is that it’s good. I have to admit though, if it’s quirky, it goes to the head of the line.

 

Last year, I was playing the Chester Folk Festival in the UK. On the Sunday night, there was a band on immediately before us in the Marquee tent with the enigmatic name, The Hut People. The festival program was devoid of photographs and, in my mind, I imagined a band of twenty-somethings in 1970s retro gear.

 

While wondering when they were going to appear, I was backstage with Hugh McMillan and two guys roughly my age. One of them was laying out a low table full of all kinds of, “I didn’t know what”. The other guy had a piano accordion. That’s how I met Sam Pirt and Gary Hammond, The Hut People.

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A table full of “stuff” and a piano accordion are pretty good indications that the quirk factor is going to be high. The table belonged to Gary and the “stuff” turned out to be percussion instruments:  a bell tree, bottle caps, kudus, ghatams, all manner of cymbals and found instruments. I couldn’t name half the things on that table, but they sounded great.

 

Sam plays the accordion in a number of different styles from traditional English to Finnish folk as well as step dancing and Quebec-style foot percussion.

 

Watching them set up I had to wonder, what the heck is this going to be about? After the first tune, I was hooked. I have never heard or seen anything like them. They are unique.

 

Sam and Gary had been on the scene in England for a long time. They travelled in the same circles but didn’t come together as The Hut People until three years ago.

 

At first blush, accordion and percussion seem an odd combination to hang a set of music on, but every single tune was fascinating. Musically, they wandered the world—folk tunes from Quebec and Spain, from Scandinavia to Sussex. It would be a mistake to think they are a novelty act. Master musicians both, and though the music may be light-hearted, it’s played with skill. I bought a CD and offered them a gig at Summerfolk as soon as they came off stage.

 

A duo is one of the most challenging ways to present music relying almost exclusively on chemistry. Unless there is a spark, it’s just two people on stage. Sam and Gary know each other’s moves, laugh a lot on and off stage and they clearly enjoy each other’s company.

 

Mama’s Broke may not be as light-hearted as The Hut People, but they do have the duo thing going on. Amy Lou and Lisa Marie, like Sam and Gary, came together a little over three years ago. Since then, the road has been their home.

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It’s rare for a young band to have a wide touring range in the early years, but Amy and Lisa have managed to tour Ireland, Continental Europe, Canada, the USA, Indonesia and Australia in that time. The venues have been as varied as their repertoire: from circus shows in New Orleans to pirate ships in Amsterdam, to concert halls in Ireland, to theatres in Brooklyn. They say they are based everywhere and nowhere and the tour history bears that out.

 

They are folk hunter-gatherers. Every trip taken is an opportunity to learn a new song and delve into a new tradition. Off-road months are spent weaving those influences into new songs and then they set off on the next expedition. Drawing from old-time, Quebecois, blues, punk, Celtic, Balkan and doom metal, they create a soundscape that is both familiar and new.

 

It’s cliche to say that a group pushes the boundaries, but with regard to Mama’s Broke, it’s actually an understatement. What they play sounds traditional, but there are surprising twists and turns—harmonies that wander into Eastern Europe while the instruments stay in Appalachia. Their commitment is to challenge borders between people, places and traditions while encouraging freedom of expression and community through music.

 

While a lot of the material is original, they play it old school—no DI boxes—just two musicians, two microphones, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar and two perfectly blended voices.

 

Mama’s Broke and The Hut People are two of the finest duos you are ever going to see. They have workshops and concerts throughout the weekend and we’re happy to welcome them to their first Summerfolk.

 

Summerfolk43 begins one week from today, August 17. For ticket information, to view/download the schedule or to preview the performers, visit us at www.summerfolk.org

 

Kubasonics

Sun Times Article 8: A world of talent

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

There is an extensive intelligence network at Summerfolk. When people ask how I find the acts that make up the roster, that’s what I tell them. Tips come from people about bands they’ve seen. Summerfolk volunteers come back from other festivals with favourites they’d like to see here. At music conferences like Folk Alliance or Folk Music Ontario, directors of other festivals mention must see acts as they pass in the hallway. People email me lists of performers –– it’s never ending and I love it. A vast musical buffet is out there and folks are more than willing to point you to the tastiest dishes.

That intelligence network is also working right now. It’s high festival season and I receive texts like this:  

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I’m watching the kubasonics play a killer set right now at mariposa…I’m definitely dancing right now I think they’d do great High energy and driving rhythm…And a standing ovation

It makes me happy that I booked them.

 

Michele Law, from the Kingsville Folk Music Festival, mentioned The Kubasonics to me after attending a showcase event in St. John’s—raved about them, in fact. After a conversation about them with Mariposa’s artistic director, Liz Scott, I decided to take a chance based on what I was hearing from people I trusted—I’m also a sucker for Ukrainian music.

 

The Kubasonics’ promo proudly states, “ They are arguably Newfoundland’s finest Ukrainian band”. I won’t dispute it. They were voted the “Best Band to See Live” in Newfoundland. Think about that for a second. Best live band—in Newfoundland!

 

Known for their high energy shows and playing on a dizzying array of exotic traditional instruments—the tsymbaly, a kind of hammered dulcimer, the drymba and the hurdy-gurdy, they round it out with more familiar ones—accordion, violin, bass and guitar.

 

The music is from the Ukraine and the Ukraine is a big place. Band founder, Brian Cherwick, describes their style this way, “Ukrainian music comes in many genres. Some of it is the fast dance music, like the type we often play, but much of it is complex lyrical music. We play that from time to time as well. There are some distinctive scales and modes that are used—often the minor sounding ones—that are a bit different from what we usually hear in other music. There are also some unusual rhythmic patterns. And, to state the obvious, I guess the fact that the words are in Ukrainian would make it different too.”

 

Though they appear to be new on the scene, this is just the latest version of the band. Originally formed in Alberta in 1996, The Kubasonics enjoyed some success and had a devoted following touring across Canada and Europe. When Brian Cherwick moved to Newfoundland in 2011, the Kubasonics went on hiatus.

 

In 2015, Brian reconstituted the band. Three-fifths of the band are Cherwicks—Brian is joined by Maria on violin and Jacob on Drums. The roster is rounded out with a couple of great Newfoundland musicians, Darren Browne on guitar and Matt Hender on bass.

 

The intelligence network is one way of finding bands. Sometimes though, the bands come to you all by themselves. Back in January, we held an open audition for Summerfolk and Polky Village Band travelled from Toronto to participate. It’s not a stretch to say that they were the hit of the afternoon. What made it great was that they were so unexpected.

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Their music is Polishenergetic and played in a traditional fashion. The capacity crowd in the Heartwood Music Hall took to them like a house on fire. Polky Village Band received the only standing ovation of the afternoon. Pleasantly surprised, but I shouldn’t have been— Summerfolk audiences love music that is authentic.

 

Polky Village Band was formed by two Polish womensinger, Ewelina Ferenc and dancer, Ala Stasiuk. When they met in Toronto, they realized that there was a shared passion for the unique and enigmatic style of Central and Eastern European folk music. Eager to share the music and dance learned when growing up, they found some equally incredible Canadian musicians—Georgia Hathaway on fiddle, Matti Palonen on cello and hammer dulcimer, and Tristan Murphy on accordion and pocket trumpet—and Polky Village Band was born!

 

Both The Kubasonics and Polky Village Band will take the stage at Summerfolk this year. In addition to concert slots and workshops, both bands will present dance workshops at our Down By the River stage.

 

The Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival happens August 17,18,19 at Kelso Beach Park. Information is available, with no need of a spy network, at summerfolk.org.

 

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Sun Times Article 9: Family Fun

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

A couple of years back, my family and I were at the Mariposa Folk Festival. They had lots of great stuff for kids—giant bubble makers, magic and plenty of music. What our boys couldn’t get enough of, though, were the reptiles. The turtles, snakes, skinks and frogs were endlessly fascinating.

 

Roxane Davidson, our General Manager/Festival Coordinator, must have thought me a little loony. She asked, “What did you like at Mariposa?” and maybe a little too enthusiastically I blurted, “Reptiles! We gotta book some reptiles!” It’s taken a long time, but they will be slithering, hopping and skidding their way to Summerfolk this year, thanks to Scales Reptile Park. Scales does interactive displays so the kids and you can get up close and personal with your favourites. They will be doing demonstrations at 1PM on both Saturday and Sunday.

 

Family is very important to us at Summerfolk. That’s why we ask you to check in just inside the main gate at the First Aid/Child Registration trailer.  In the rare circumstance that you end up in opposite directions, we like to facilitate your getting back together. After that is taken care of, there is plenty of stuff to do for the kids and grandkids too. Some of my most treasured memories of Summerfolk are bound up with the things my kids have made in the crafts area. Coordinator, Cassandra Bauer, leads a whole volunteer crew that runs our children’s village. They spend the year gathering supplies and drawing up projects for the kids.

 

The children are set loose on tables full of paper and glue, paint and fabric. Under supervision, they bang away with hammers building ships, cars and even, on one occasion, a full on miniature beach chair that was then put to good use. The kids make masks, banners and decorate T-shirts. They also spend some time decorating a forty-foot long dragon that is the centre-piece of the children’s parade.

 

The parade was added to the festival a few years ago at Roxane’s suggestion. The dragon, articulated by the children, weaves its way through the procession. The kids fall in line with stilt-walkers and musicians and wend their way through the park arriving at the amphitheatre to open the Sunday evening show. Leading the parade this year will be Tallbeat.

 

Bringing together the circus element of stilt walking with its gigantic, taller-than-life performers, Tallbeat plays Maracatu style—an Afro-Brazilian drumming style with deep bassy grooves that move the soul. They can be seen and heard over 200m away with their colourful costumes and oversized instruments. Tallbeat raises Afro-Brazilian rhythms to new heights!

 

Summerfolk is a generational event. Grandparents, parents and children are all in it together in a safe welcoming space. Anyone who knows Kelso Beach Park knows that the splash pad and wading in the bay are a great way to entertain the young ‘uns, too.

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On Saturday afternoon this year, we are trying something a little different—a dedicated kids’ concert in the Amphitheatre with the one and only Fred Penner. One of the most popular acts at Summerfolk a couple of years ago, and not just with the kids, people of all ages flocked to his shows for chance to relive memories. From the quintessential version of The Cat Came Back to everybody’s favourite, Sandwiches, Fred delivers the goods and is as entertaining now as he was back in his television heyday.

 

Then, there’s the music. Although we have featured kids’ performers like Fred, we’ve found that kids, in fact, like all kinds of music. I love being at a stage and watching them feel the music—dancing, swaying and wide-eyed with appreciation. But it cuts both ways—a lot of performers are parents as well. Often they are away from their children while with us at Summerfolk and you can watch them light up when there are kids in audience.

 

Summerfolk has been putting smiles on faces for 43 years. We will be in Kelso Beach Park August 17, 18 and 19 this year. For information on what’s going on, check us out at www.summerfolk.org.

 

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Sun Times Article 10: Mix-match and magic…

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 have a workplace out back of the house. It’s a great little unit that is 8’x12’ on skids with a shed roof. It was dragged into the backyard five summers ago and, after I insulated, drywalled, and put in a floor, it made the perfect backyard office.

 

I painted the inside south wall of the shed with blackboard paint. That’s where I used to do the majority of the planning for the festival. I was on the road so much this year, that I had to enter the twenty-first century and do it on the lap top.

 

Depending on how you allocate time, here is what has to be programmed for Summerfolk: eighteen concert slots on the Amphitheatre stage and twelve slots to fill on the Down by the Bay stage in the evenings. There are more than eighty slots to fill over the course of the three days on the six daytime stages. Over forty acts, singly and in groups will occupy those spaces.

 

A hefty chunk of those daytime slots are workshops that put two or three acts together on a stage, gives them a theme, and let’s them work it out. The model comes from the legendary Estelle Klein and the first Mariposa Folk Festivals. It’s structured to encourage an exchange among the musicians. You let them mix on stage and see what comes of it. Most often it’s magic.

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To create interesting workshops, you need the raw materials—great performers and an audience willing to go anywhere with them. We have an abundance of both at Summerfolk.

 

The best workshop takes into account the personalities of the performers. Knowing how artists are connected to each other is also important. Have they sometimes shared a bass player or a percussionist in the past? Sometimes members of various bands have worked together on recording projects making the magic a little easier to conjure up.

 

Sometimes the connections aren’t obvious until you dig. Looking through the band lists in the database, I noticed that one is bringing Andrina Turenne as their backup singer. She was a member of Chic Gamine when they played Summerfolk six years ago. One of my all-time favourite vocalists, Andrina knows a boatload of songs so she’s perfect for the ever popular Songs from a Hat on the Saturday afternoon of the festival.

 

That’s one down, only seventy-nine slots to go…

 

For many in the audience, the workshop delivers the most memorable performances of the whole weekend.  Anybody who was in the Wine Bar last year for the meeting of Al Simmons and The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer will swear to that. The workshop took a turn for the surreal as Al scaled the wall of the Amphitheatre to make his exit.

 

So what have I got in store for you?

 

I’m looking forward to a workshop called Traditionally Amazing.  I’m putting Vishtèn, the incredible trio from PEI, together with Calan and see what happens when Acadian Traditional meets Welsh Traditional. I’m anticipating some impressive step dancing Friday at 10:30 PM at the Down by the Bay stage.

 

The Axe Masters workshop with Stephen Fearing, Beppe Gambetta and Joel Morelli is going to be a must-see for people who like hot licks and clever guitar tricks on Saturday at 3:10 in the Gazebo area.

 

Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie will be leading a workshop on aboriginal dance, if you’ve ever wanted to know the difference between a jingle dance and a fancy dance. We’ll hope for a round dance as well, since Digging Roots taught us the basics a few years ago. That’s at noon on Sunday at our Down By the River Stage, where the emphasis is on dance all weekend.

 

Songs from a Hat will be fun as always. Fred Penner, Paige Ballagh, Doug Cox and Andrina Turenne square off against the audience who will challenge the performers to sing at least the first verse and chorus of a song pulled from Treasa Levasseur’s hat. If the pros can’t do it, it’s up to the audience. Past experience has shown that the audience can be very good at this game.

 

Sarah Harmer, Stephen Fearing, Rose Cousins and Nick Sherman lead a songwriter’s circle on Saturday afternoon. You’ll probably want to get to the Down By the Bay tent early for that one.

 

There are also instructional workshops. Doug Cox has a slide workshop in the Sharing Circle. Lap steel, slide mandolin and guitar are on the menu. The dance stage will be offering instructional workshops on step dancing, contra, balfolk, salsa, Eastern European dance styles and much more.

 

I could write all day, but you know, I have to go finish that workshop schedule for you.

 

Can’t wait to see you at Summerfolk!

 

Did I make the deadline? Visit www.summerfolk.org to find out. You’ll also find info about ticket prices, bios, videos and links to the performers. Advance ticket prices are in effect until July 31.

 

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Sun Times Article 6: Soul Run

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

If you visit Tanika Charles’ page on summerfolk.org, you’ll hear a track called Soul Run. It’s lively, with a beat and an exuberance that makes you want to leap on stage and sing the backing vocals. The track also sounds like hope, which is interesting because the real life story behind the song belies the groove.

 

Charles was living outside Edmonton in an unhealthy relationship and it was time to get out. Grabbing the only vehicle available to make a break, she didn’t get far. It was a manual transmission and she had only ever driven an automatic. But it sometimes happens that once the first step is taken, there’s no stopping.

 

That was the beginning of what Tanika Charles calls her soul run. It took her from a northern Alberta farm to the centre of the Toronto music scene that has embraced her with all its heart.

 

When Tanika left Edmonton, she had no musical background, except for a well-developed love for her dad’s jazz record collection, Stevie Wonder and Bjork. She thought maybe comedy would be her meal ticket but auditioned for work as a background singer. As a backing vocalist with Bedouin Soundclash for two years and touring with Emmanuel Jal and Macy Gray, her exuberance, the crystal quality of her singing and her presence, made her a valued member of those groups.

 

It’s a time-honoured tradition in the world of soul and blues that you learn your chops in other people’s bands. It takes courage, though, to step out of that role and strike out on your own. Applying all that was learned on the road and in the studio to build her own career and her own band, in the best sense of the word, Tanika invented herself.

 

Starting the second lap of the soul run in 2010, Tanika released her first EP What! What? What!? She was among the headline performers at the prestigious Women in Blues concert at Toronto’s Massey Hall in 2012. In 2015, two singles were released as a teaser for a full-length project. Both charted well on CBC and, by May 2016, Tanika had dropped her debut CD. It was a hit. Soul Run was nominated for a Juno award in the R&B/Soul category where Tanika was the only woman nominated.

 

Now, on the third lap, she had a cross-Canada tour—not an easy thing to arrange on the release of the disc, dipped her toe in the world of theatre with the show Freedom Singer and is currently on a month long tour in Europe—not bad for someone who couldn’t drive a stick!

 

Samantha Martin also has running on her mind. Her 2018 release, Run to Me, is a blues tour de force—music with a backbone. But make no mistake, from the writing to the arrangements, everything on this CD supports the unshakeable pillar that is Samantha Martin’s voice. If harnessed, it could power a small city. It’s not just smoky—it’s a three-alarm fire.

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Since Samantha and Delta Sugar were last at Summerfolk, their debut album Send the Nightingale earned 4 Maple Blues nominations and they were chosen to represent Toronto at the International Blues challenge in Memphis. But we all know that she was really in Memphis representing the Grey Bruce.

 

Samantha was born in Edmonton, but her family has deep roots on the peninsula. At various stages in her life, she has found herself living on the shores of Georgian Bay where she has had a lot of formative musical relationships, notably with Trevor and Tara MacKenzie.

 

Her first EP was recorded at Trev’s studio with a full-length solo CD following in 2008. Four years later, Sam like Tanika, decided to form a band. Samantha Martin and the Haggard was a romp through blues, gospel, country and early rock and roll.

 

By 2015, Martin had sharpened her focus—Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar was born. The blues juggernaut owes its strength to the tripod of Martin, guitarist Mikey McCallum and drummer Dani Nash. It owes its sweetness to the unadulterated gospel-tinged, neuron-tingling magic of Samantha’s “co-vocalists,” Sherie Marshall and newest full time member Mwansa Mwansa. And just when you thought that was enough, along come the keyboards and the horn section. It’s a mighty sound.

 

Samantha actually has a couple of voices. The second one finds its way from pen to paper. Singing comes naturally to some folks, but there are no natural writers. It’s a craft that has to be worked on. Sam’s voice wouldn’t make sense without strong songs to sing so she’s has been sharpening her focus there as well. That voice, the one that actually writes the songs, has become as strong as the other one we hear on the recordings. The latest crop of tunes are spartan and heartfelt. Pulling no punches, they are as honest as her voice.

 

Whether you’re on a soul run, or you are running to Samantha Martin, you’ll find the finish line at the Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival. It’s our 43rd year at Kelso Beach Park and the dates are August 17, 18, 19. Information about tickets, performers and much more can be found at summerfolk.org.

Halifax singer-songwriter Rose Cousins’ new album is called Natural Conclusion. Credit: Vanessa Heins.

Sun Times Article 5: Unbound Creativity

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 was skinnier then. I know that much.

 

Stephen Fearing and I met at the Jasper Folk Festival in 1986. We were both young, western singer-songwriters, both claiming an Irish lineage and sharing a lot of musical heroes, so it’s no surprise we became friends. Through those early days, we slept on each other’s couches when we were in each other’s towns and traded gig info, contacts, and a lot of pleasant time together when our paths crossed.

 

He doesn’t sleep on couches much anymore. Stephen, one of the beacons of the acoustic music scene, is loved and lauded for his soulful voice, blistering guitar work and evocative lyrics. Over the past thirty years, he’s released eleven solo albums, six albums with super group Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and another two with Belfast’s Andy White.

 

That discography speaks volumes about Stephen. Always a jammer, he loves digging in on a session—live or in the studio—generously sharing the stage and his recordings with new talent and with veterans such as Richard Thompson and Bruce Cockburn.

 

Though life began in Vancouver, his formative years were spent in Dublin, Ireland attending the same school as future members of U2! That trip, from Canada to Ireland became immortalized in Fearing’s epic, Longest Road—one of his most finely crafted songs.

 

In his heart, Stephen is a creature of the road. Returning to North America in his late teens, he spent time in Minneapolis before finding his way to Vancouver once more. He has since lived in Guelph and Halifax before finally returning to the West coast last year. Touring compulsively, it seems that there is hardly a night without a Fearing gig somewhere.

 

Now entering his third decade as performer, Stephen seems as effortless and light on his feet as way back when in Jasper. Certainly, he still has the same fire. A Fearing performance is like an approaching freight train with the rumbling of the tracks as the flawless rhythm rolls from the guitar, his voice like a distant, mournful klaxon. The intensity builds until it fills the space, theatre or field, with an unstoppable sound.

 

We run into each other every now and again, often in passing—a few stolen moments for lunch or an afternoon beer when our schedules magically coincide. He’s the same Stephen I met all those years ago, though he remains lanky and I do not.

 

Rose Cousins, I met in a different way. While Stephen and I were up-and-comers together, I heard of Rose Cousins long before I ever met her. Some artists are like that, with a reputation and music that arrives well ahead of their physical presence—the breeze that precedes the storm. Rose is a writer of exceptional ability and sensitivity who possesses a wit so dry that it’s practically arid—the voice of an angel with a mesmerizing presence.

 

When I finally met Rose, it was under the best of circumstances. We were both part of the songwriter’s house at the Celtic Colours Festival in 2008. The festival had decided to push the envelope from largely traditional music by including songwriters in a meaningful way—having us come to the festival to write. Every song that she penned, in collaboration over those six days, was a gem. I got to watch her write up close, note the attention to detail and the exhaustive search for just the right word or turn of phrase.

 

Rose was born and raised in PEI, lives in Halifax and has forged deep roots in the fabled music community that orbits a club called Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But, wherever she is, the reaction to her voice and songwriting is universal praise throwing light on some of the dark places in our hearts—a soft, diffuse and sympathetic light. She has that rare gift of being able to take the intensely personal and make it universal.

 

Brave—did I mention that she is brave? Rose was enjoying the kind of success a lot of singer-songwriter’s crave. In 2013, with lauds from the press and lots of bookings, Rose realized that she had reached a limit. Living in fear of burn out, feeling the pressure that performance can place on the craft of writing, she decided to stop touring, with the exception of a few select dates. In order to refill the creative tank, she concentrated on other artistic endeavours, including her other artistic passion— photography. She spent time shooting, developing film, and printing photos using the dark room at the Nova Scotia School of Art and Design.

 

Rose also held a deep desire to develop skills in co-writing which she began to work on in Nashville during the fall of 2014. From then, and throughout the following year, she traveled to Los Angeles, Nashville, Toronto, Ireland, and Boston where her focused creative time yielding dozens of songs, photographs, relationships, and a much needed change of pace. Her goal was to connect with artists, writers, and producers to make songs in new ways, new sounds with new people, not knowing where they would go and not needing to know. The result of all that creative work was her latest album, Natural Conclusion.

 

You’ll be able to enjoy the music of Rose Cousins and Stephen Fearing at the Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival, August 17, 18 and 19. You can listen to music by Rose and Stephen, find out about tickets and much more at summerfolk.org.

 

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Sun Times Article 4: Music of Childhood

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

We didn’t have kid’s music when I was kid. Well, we did sorta, but nothing pleasant happened in it. Cradles fell, babies cried, that sort of thing. You didn’t really want to linger. If my parents wanted to entertain us as kid’s they’d play Harry Belafonte, or lighter adult music. Kid’s music was there to teach us a lesson-don’t put your cradle in a tree and that sort of thing.

 

I was a late comer to children. My first, Tomas was born in 2006, Pato,in 2010. Because of that I wasn’t well acquainted with Fred Penner’s music. Not having children kind of insulates you from the kid’s music scene. It’s like physics lectures, or advanced mathematics. You know it’s there and people are doing it, but it really doesn’t seem to have any effect on your life.

 

Yet, I know Fred fairly well.  I’d see him at music functions in Manitoba and across the country. We’ve spent pleasant hours together in the backstage areas of various festivals. He’s an engaging  story teller. He has that rare ability to make you feel like you are the most important thing in his life while he is talking to you.

 

You know him in a way I never did.

 

I respect him as a musician and entertainer. I managed to do that, and not see a single episode of his TV show. Why would I? I didn’t have kids. In those days I slept late. The show ran in Canada and the US for an amazing 13 years. I missed every one.

 

Most of you are more clued in than me. If you were a kid, a parent or a grandparent from 1985-1997, you knew Fred. I wasn’t surprised that he’s one of the best loved performers that has ever played the festival. We harbour huge reserves of goodwill for the performers of our youth. When we are adults they can evoke some of our strongest memories.

 

He was and is very involved in the community at large and his spirit of involvement and inclusiveness was recognized when he was made a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Manitoba. His musicianship has been recognized with eight Juno nominations and two Juno Awards, Parents Choice Awards and Prairie Music awards

 

He makes no secret of the fact that he was a bit lost after the TV series ended.  He had a very full schedule, though, as the demand for live shows never really slacked off.

 

Fred had a notion that kids who had seen his TV show wanted to reconnect with him.

Then a strange little thing happened. A promoter at a university wanted to hire him to do a show at the school’s pub. Strange as the thought was, the show sold out in quicker than you can say “the cat came back.” In fact it was oversold. The students kept him there for two and a half hours. College kids, with pints of beer, calling out for Baby Beluga, Take Good Care, Sandwiches and of course, The Cat Came Back.

 

Word got out on the college circuit. When he travels now to do a kids show, he often adds a college show. He’s done universities from PEI to BC. He may, in fact, be busier now than when he had the TV show.

 

Last year Fred to it one step further. He recorded a CD named Hear the Music.The album was produced by long time collaborator Ken Whiteley and recorded in Toronto, where Fred lives with his spouse, voice/acting coach and director Rae Ellen Bodie (whom he married in 2016 and who co-wrote two of the songs on the album). Fred created for the cd to satisfy three generations of his fans and includes guests such as Ron Sexsmith, Terra Lightfoot, Alex Cuba, Basia Bulat, Jackie Richardson, The Good Lovelies, Fred’s four children and a wealth of Canada’s best musicians.

 

I’ll never know what its like to be a kid listening to Fred Penner. I never had the chance. I’ll never have that kid-like experience of hearing The Cat Came Back Fred style, for the first time. I’m really happy that my boys will be had that experience at last time Fred came to Summerfolk.

As for me, it’s never too late to have a happy childhood. I’ll be having mine at Fred’s pub

 

Fred will be playing workshops and a special spotlight children’s concert  at 2PM Saturday August 17 at the Amphitheatre stage during Summerfolk this year.

For more information on all things summerfolk please visit us at www.summerfolk.org

The Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival happens at Kelso Beach Park in Owen Sound August 17, 18 and 19.

 

Adonis Cuba Car Promo Shot

Sun Times Article 3: From Cuba to Canada

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

To make my living I have to travel—a lot. While the travelling has some nice moments, it’s not relaxing and it is most assuredly not a vacation. About 10 years ago myself, my wife and my son actually took a vacation. We went to Cuba for a week. I enjoyed the sun, the sand and the general laid back nature of the island, but it was the music that really hooked me. The resort where we stayed, on the Ancon peninsula near Trinidad de Cuba, was far away from the hustle and bustle of Havana or the  non-stop tourism of Varadero. Still, every night there was music at the resort, there was music in town, there was literally music everywhere at all hours.

 

Latin music has a reputation for being sultry and sensual, but Cuban music takes it to the nth degree. I loved it before I went to Cuba, but I was a fanatic by the time I came back.

When the chance came to book Adonis Puentes for this year’s Summerfolk I jumped at it.

 

I mentioned in last week’s article that traditional music is important to me. It’s not just the traditional music of my ancestors, though. Traditional music, in all its forms, is the backbone of what I try to book for Summerfolk. I like music that is aware of its history, even if it plays with it some.

 

We had Adonis’ brother, Alex Cuba, here a few years back. Alex has taken the music of his youth and added contemporary flourishes creating his own Latin pop sound. Adonis Puentes is a traditionalist. They grew up south of Havana in a house that was musically dominated by their father, Valentin, and spiritually by their mother, Maria. By the age of six they were playing guitar, eventually joining their father’s 24 piece travelling guitar ensemble. On days off they found time to jam with some of the greats, among them Ibrahim Ferrar of Buena Vista Social Club fame.

 

Love brought both Alex and Adonis to Canada, and though they recorded their first cd as the Puentes Brothers, they soon branched out on their own. The quality of their early musical education has seen both of them garnering Juno and Grammy nominations for their work, even while they have charted different musical paths.

 

Adonis is firmly in the tradition of the soñero—the lyrical, sometimes improvising, singer in a Salsa band. The songs are pure poetry, but the distinctive Cuban rhythms propel the lyric. It’s almost impossible not to dance once the band starts playing. It’s as if the beat channels the song into your entire body. Even if you can’t speak a word of Spanish, you can hear the joy, the love of life and the passion in his voice.

 

Puentes returns to Cuba often, to touch base and to replenish the creative spark. He feels like he is an ambassador for Cuban music, but can’t really be a proper representative if he is not in touch with the current scene on the Island. There is no doubt that he is a bearer of the tradition—even giants of the genre acknowledge this. He has sung with the likes of Celia Cruz and Ruben Blades. He became lead singer to Los Angeles-based Jose Rizo’s band Mongorama and was thrilled when they earned a Grammy nomination as best tropical Latin album.

 

Another Salsa great, the legendary Oscar Hernandez, director of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra,  arranged three songs and played piano on his Adonis’ cd Sabor a Café. Oscar Hernandez’s piano solos are such a foundational element in Cuban music that they are taught in Cubas music schools.

 

Dicen, Adonis Puentes third solo recording project ,was released in March this year in Victoria, where he makes his home. This time produced by Oscar Hernandez, the recording is destined to become a classic of the genre. It’s  a sophisticated mix of elegant balladry and rumbas as sweet as they are sensual. Hernandez’s keyboard and horn charts are the perfect foundation Puentes’ velvety crooning, punctuating his romantic pleas without challenging them. As performed by his acoustic Voice of Cuba Orchestra (guitar, tres, bass, percussion, piano and trumpet), the music makes for lively performances.

 

Puentes routinely advises audiences to bring their dancing shoes to his shows, and his appearances at Summerfolk will be no exception. We are even arranging for an instructor to teach an afternoon Salas class so you’ll be completely ready to dance the night away.

 

The Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival happens August 17, 18 and 19 at Kelso Beach Park. Information can be found at www.summerfolk.org. We hope to see you there. Don’t forget your dancing shoes!

 

Photo © Colin Gillen/framelight.ie

Sun Times Article 2: Irish roots

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

Surprise! I’m not in Owen Sound, or even in Canada. As you read this I am just leaving Achill Island on the west coast of Ireland. The last time I was on AchiIl was when I was here as a backpacker in 1979. That excursion ended well, though I ended up sleeping on a beach in an October gale, but that’s a story for another time.

 

My Da was from County Monaghan which entitles me to Irish  citizenship. I go to Ireland regularly, to play, to visit relatives and friends, and to do what I am doing now—leading music- based group tours. But that first trip, as a 19 year old, was an eye opener.

 

The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners dominated the musical landscape when I was growing up. My exposure to Irish music was mostly ballads and songs and I learned hundreds of them. I could sing Roddy McCorley with the best of them in my corner of traditional music.

 

One night, on that first backpacking trip, I found myself in the little town of Spiddal in County Galway. There was a celebration in town until the wee hours of the morning. A whole group of local musicians had gone north to a music competition, a feis, and had come back with all the prizes. Music reigned supreme in the four pubs that adorned the four corners of the crossroads

 

The music tended to the instrumental rather than the vocal—jigs, reels and marches. I hadn’t heard this much instrumental Irish music at one time ever. Occasionally, the players would yield the floor to the singers, but instrumental ruled the day.

 

I think I got to bed at three or four in the morning, shortly after the Garda had shut down the last pub. But that night stayed with me until this day and I came back with so much Irish instrumental music that I had to abandon some clothes to make room for vinyl and cassettes. I’ve been hooked on the instrumental side of Irish tradition music since.

 

The great thing about Irish trad is that it’s alive—living and breathing and every year more young people come to the music. There are well-established schools and organizations that promote learning the music and, of course, hundreds of pub sessions as practice grounds.

 

We have one of the finest young Irish bands appearing at Summerfolk this year. They met at Limerick’s Irish World Academy and, with critical acclaim piling up, Goitse have become one of the leaders of the new generation of traditional Irish ensembles.

 

Goitse—pronounced gwi-cha—has released four critically acclaimed recordings and maintains a year round touring schedule that includes performances throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the United States.

 

The strength of Irish traditional music is that it evolves. The canon isn’t static with new tunes added all the time. Goitse moves the tradition forward with their own original compositions. Their distinctive sound comes from the meeting of those compositions and traditional tunes from the countryside of Ireland and abroad.

 

Laying the foundations for the music are World and All-Ireland bodhrán champion, Colm Phelan. The bodhrán, a large open frame drum, is the beating heart of Irish trad. A band without a solid player is simply not going to go anywhere.

 

Colm is not the only All Ireland champion in the band— Tadhg Ó Meachair plays a wicked accordion and is the All Ireland traditional piano champion.  Conal O’Kane rounds out the rhythm section of the band on the guitar. He’s a wizard who is making his mark as one of the finest guitarists of his generation.

 

Alan Reid plays the tenor banjo, bouzouki and mandolin. He is also an accomplished oud—a stringed instrument from the Mediterranean. Its inclusion in the band is a fresh texture that no other Irish Trad band is using.  

 

Out of this strong instrumental sound emerges the sweet, charismatic voice of Áine McGeeney. Her voice rings like a bell—clear and strong as it draws audiences into a song. Áine does double duty in the band playing the fiddle as well. as she sings. With a style that is feisty and energetic she completes the band sound in fine style.

 

Their band name is an informal Gaelic greeting that means “come here”. We couldn’t think of a better way to invite you to Summerfolk than to promise you Goitse.

 

The Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival takes place at Kelso Beach Park on August 17, 18 and 19. For information on tickets, performers, or if you’d like to listen to some music by Goitse, visit summerfolk.org.

 

Georgian Bay Roots Ep 42

Georgian Bay Roots

With your host Jon Farmer


1609969_10154532318180220_5111923560966166563_nEvery Sunday on CFOS 560 from 4-5pm, Georgian Bay Roots shares some of the best music that’s made in and played in Grey and Bruce Counties with roots music from across Canada and around the world thrown into the mix. Host, Jon Farmer, brings a musician’s ear and the heart of a fan to the airwaves with stories about performers and news about upcoming shows and releases. Tune in to hear some of your favourite acts and new bands that you didn’t know you loved.

This show starts with a trad set, features musicians playing as part of next week’s Month of Sundays show, and showcases performers who will be at Summerfolk42.

If you missed the live show, we will post the episode by 6pm ET.

You can download an iTunes podcast here

Are you making music that you want us to share?
Do you have gig coming up that you want to promote?
Are you interested in being a sponsor or advertising on the show?
Contact us at georgianbayroots@summerfolk.org

Georgian Bay Roots is presented by the Georgian Bay Folk Society with the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation

Georgian Bay Roots is sponsored this week by:

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 owen-sound

Play List Coming Soon

Archives

Visit our  iTunes podcast page for archived programs

Pages with set lists and further info can be found below.

GBR show 1

GBR show 2

GBR show 3

GBR show 4

GBR show 5

GBR show 6

GBR show 7

GBR show 8

GBR show 9

GBR show 10

GBR show 11

GBR show 12

GBR show 13

GBR show 14

GBR show 15

GBR show 16

GBR show 17

GBR show 18

GBR show 19

GBR show 20 – Valentine’s Day

GBR show 21

GBR show 22

GBR show 23

GBR show 24

GBR show 25

GBR show 26

GBR show 27

GBR show 28

GBR show 29 – Easter

GBR show 30

GBR show 31

GBR show 32

GBR show 33 – Mother’s Day

GBR show 34

GBR show 35

GBR show 36

GBR show 37

GBR show 38

GBR show 39

GBR show 40 – Canada Day

GBR show 41

Georgian Bay Roots Episode 19 – The Mid-Winter Blues Show

Georgian Bay Roots

With your host Jon Farmer


jonfarmerEvery Sunday on CFOS 560 from 4-5pm, Georgian Bay Roots shares some of the best music that’s made in and played in Grey and Bruce Counties with roots music from across Canada and around the world thrown into the mix. Host, Jon Farmer, brings a musician’s ear and the heart of a fan to the airwaves with stories about performers and news about upcoming shows and releases. Tune in to hear some of your favourite acts and new bands that you didn’t know you loved.

This is the mid-winter blues episode with some classic blues, and a mix of Canadian and local blues to help you get through what can be a cold and dreary time of year. We’ve also got part of a conversation  with Ken Whiteley from Summerfolk last August

If you missed the live show, we will post the episode by 6pm ET.

You can download an iTunes podcast here

Are you making music that you want us to share?
Do you have gig coming up that you want to promote?
Are you interested in being a sponsor or advertising on the show?
Contact us at georgianbayroots@summerfolk.org

Georgian Bay Roots is presented by the Georgian Bay Folk Society with the support the Ontario Trillium Foundation


Ep 19 The Blues
Artist: The Duhks
Track: Lazy John
Album: Beyond the Blue
Length: 4:32
Release date: 2014
Canadian
Artist: Robert Johnson
Track: Cross Road Blues
Length: 2:40
Artist: Pharis and Jason Romero
Track: Truck Driver’s Blues
Length: 2:05
Canadian
Artist: Barrel Boys
Track: Housebound Blues
Length: 3:48
Canadian
Artist: Michael Jerome Browne
Track: Broke Down Engine
Length: 4:17
Canadian
Artist: The MacKenzie Blues Band
Track: Move On
Length: 3:58
Canadian
Artist: Ken Whiteley
Track: Freedom Blues
Length: 5:00
Canadian

Artist: Scarlett, Washington, and Whiteley
Track: A Little Street Where Old Friends Meet
Length: 3:47
Canadian
Artist: Jackie Washington
Track: I Ain’t Got You
Length: 2:15
Canadian
Artist: David Francey
Track: American Blues
Length: 3:50
Canadian
Artist: Rick Fines and Suzie Vinnick
Track: How’d You Know I Missed You
Length: 3:17
Canadian
Artist: 24th Street Wailers
Track: Unshakeable
Length: 4:02
Canadian
Artist: Molly Johnson
Track: Night Comes In
Length: 4:45
Canadian
Artist: 12 Below Zero
Track: Highway 21
Length: 4:00
Canadian

Archives

Visit our  iTunes podcast page for archived programs

Or stream them on Soundcloud here

Pages with set lists and further info can be found below.

GBR show 1

GBR show 2

GBR show 3

GBR show 4

GBR show 5

GBR show 6

GBR show 7

GBR show 8

GBR show 9

GBR show 10

GBR show 11

GBR show 12

GBR show 13

GBR show 14

GBR show 15

GBR show 16

GBR show 17

GBR show 18

Georgian Bay Roots Episode 18

Georgian Bay Roots

With your host Jon Farmer


jonfarmerEvery Sunday on CFOS 560 from 4-5pm, Georgian Bay Roots shares some of the best music that’s made in and played in Grey and Bruce Counties with roots music from across Canada and around the world thrown into the mix. Host, Jon Farmer, brings a musician’s ear and the heart of a fan to the airwaves with stories about performers and news about upcoming shows and releases. Tune in to hear some of your favourite acts and new bands that you didn’t know you loved.

This episode features old songs by the likes of the Irish Rovers and brand new tracks from young artists and your neighbours right here in Grey Bruce.

If you missed the live show, we will post the episode by 6pm ET.

You can download an iTunes podcast here

Are you making music that you want us to share?
Do you have gig coming up that you want to promote?
Are you interested in being a sponsor or advertising on the show?
Contact us at georgianbayroots@summerfolk.org

Georgian Bay Roots is presented by the Georgian Bay Folk Society with the support the Ontario Trillium Foundation

 

 

GBR 18
Artist: Irish Rovers
Track: Black Velvet Band
Length: 3:40
Canadian
Artist: K.D Lang
Track: After the Gold Rush
Album: Hymns of the 49th Parallel
Length: 4:00
Canadian
Artist: Laura Smith
Track: Gypsy Dream
Length: 4:54
Canadian
Artist: Rick Fielding
Track: Gin Mill Syncopators
Length: 4:38
Canadian
Artist: Swim Good
Track: Capital (ft Daniela Andrade)
Length: 2:30
Album: Out One Night
Canadian
Artist: Rayannah
Track: Tivoli
Length: 5:46
Album: Boxcar Lullabies
Canadian
Artist: Loyal Compass
Track: Berry Picking
Length: 3:15
Canadian
Artist: LUM
Track: Peter’s Bed
Length: 3:41
Album: Glass Hammer
Canadian
Artist: Aerialists
Track: Vals Efter Kristian Oskarsson
Length: 2:22
Canadian
Artist: Natalie MacMaster
Track: Catharsis
Length: 2:32
Canadian
Artist: Great Canadian Swamp Stompers
Track: Willie Day
Length: 2:54
Canadian
Artist: J.P Cormier
Track: Another Morning
Length: 3:50
Canadian

Artist: Chegano
Track: Up and Down
Length: 5:31
Canadian
Artist: Aerialists
Track: Deep Toque
Length: 4:31
Canadian

Archives

Visit our  iTunes podcast page for archived programs

Or stream them on Soundcloud here

Pages with set lists and further info can be found below.

GBR show 1

GBR show 2

GBR show 3

GBR show 4

GBR show 5

GBR show 6

GBR show 7

GBR show 8

GBR show 9

GBR show 10

GBR show 11

GBR show 12

GBR show 13

GBR show 14

GBR show 15

GBR show 16

GBR show 17

Georgian Bay Roots 11

Georgian Bay Roots

With your host Jon Farmer


jonfarmerEvery Sunday on CFOS 560 from 4-5pm, Georgian Bay Roots shares some of the best music that’s made in and played in Grey and Bruce Counties with roots music from across Canada and around the world thrown into the mix. Host, Jon Farmer, brings a musician’s ear and the heart of a fan to the airwaves with stories about performers and news about upcoming shows and releases. Tune in to hear some of your favourite acts and new bands that you didn’t know you loved.

If you missed the live show, we will post the episode by 6pm ET.

You can download an iTunes podcast here

Interested in being a sponsor or advertising on the show?  contact us at georgianbayroots@summerfolk.org

Georgian Bay Roots is presented by the Georgian Bay Folk Society with the support the Ontario Trillium Foundation

EP 11 11/20/2016
Artist: The Duhks
Track: Lazy John
Album: Beyond the Blue
Length: 30
Release date: 2014
Canadian
Artist: Matt AndeMatt Andersonrson
Track: Fired Up
Album: Coal Mining Blues
Length: 3:45
Release date: 2013
Canadian
Artist: Scott Nolan
Track: Fire Up
Album: SilverHill
Length: 4:41
Release date: 2016
Canadian
Artist: Jenn Grant
Track: Fireflies
Album: Echoes
Length: 4:01
Release date: 2009
Canadian
Artist: The Barrel Boys
Track: Something To Do With Fireflies
Album: Early On
Length: 3:05
Release date: 2014
Canadian
Artist: Sons of Perry
Track: Fireflies
Album: ?
Length: 2:55
Release date: ?
Canadian
Artist: Lemon Bucket Orkestra
Track: Tomu Kosa
Album: Cheeky
Length: 3:52
Release date: 2011
Canadian
Artist: Benjamin Dakota Rogers
Track: Whisky and Pine
Album: Whisky and Pine
Length: 4:49
Release date: 2016
Canadian
Artist: Tragedy Ann
Track: Velcro
Album: Stumbling
Length: 2:32
Release date: 2016
Canadian
Artist: Missy Bauman
Track: Her
Album: Her
Length: 3:39
Release date: 2016
Canadian
Artist: Irish Mythen
Track: How Do You Love
Album: Irish Mythen
Length: 3:59
Release date: 2014
Canadian
Artist: Leonard Cohen
Track: Tower of Song
Album: The Essential Leonard Cohen
Length: 5:37
Release date: 2002
Canadian
Artist: Jeff Buckley
Track: Hellelujah
Album: GRace
Length: 6:53
Release date: 2004
Artist: the Once
Track: Anthem
Album: The Once
Length: 5:18
Release date: ?
Canadian

Archives

Visit our  iTunes podcast page for archived programs

Or stream them on Soundcloud here

Pages with set lists and further info can be found below.

GBR show 1

GBR show 2

GBR show 3

GBR show 4

GBR show 5

GBR show 6

GBR show 7

GBR show 8

GBR show 9

GBR show 10

Georgian Bay Roots 10

Georgian Bay Roots

With your host Jon Farmer


jonfarmerEvery Sunday on CFOS 560 from 4-5pm, Georgian Bay Roots shares some of the best music that’s made in and played in Grey and Bruce Counties with roots music from across Canada and around the world thrown into the mix. Host, Jon Farmer, brings a musician’s ear and the heart of a fan to the airwaves with stories about performers and news about upcoming shows and releases. Tune in to hear some of your favourite acts and new bands that you didn’t know you loved.

If you missed the live show, we will post the episode by 6pm ET.

You can download an iTunes podcast here

Interested in being a sponsor or advertising on the show?  contact us at georgianbayroots@summerfolk.org

Georgian Bay Roots is presented by the Georgian Bay Folk Society with the support the Ontario Trillium Foundation


Ep 10 Nov 13 
Artist: The Duhks
Track: Lazy John
Album: Beyond the Blue
Length: 4:32
Release date: 2014
Canadian
Artist: The Carrot Sticks
Track: Many More Miles to Go
Album: ?
Length: 3:13
Release date: 2016
Canadian
Artist: Sweet Alibi
Track: Moving to the Country
Album: Walking in the Dark
Length: 3:24
Release date: 2016
Canadian
Artist: Qristina & Quinn Bachand
Track: What You Do With What You’ve Got
Album: Little Hinges
Length: 4:02
Release date: 2015
Canadian
Artist: John Muirhead
Track: Starz
Album: Yesterday’s Smile
Length: 3:19
Release date: 2016
Canadian
Artist: William Prince
Track: Bloom
Album: Earthly Days
Length: 3:55
Release date: 2015
Canadian
Artist: Aerialists
Track: Vals Efter Kristian Oskarsson
Album: Aerialists
Length: 2:22
Release date: 2016
Canadian
Artist: Jonathan Byrd
Track: I Was an Oak Tree
Album: Cackalack
Length: 2:47
Release date: 2010
Canadian
Artist: C.R Avery
Track: Rain Falls
Album: The Great Canadian Novel
Length: 3:07
Release date: ?
Canadian
Artist: Irish Mythen
Track: Four Walls
Album: Aerialists
Length: 3:46
Release date: 2015
Canadian
Artist: Tyler Wagler
Track: Rooster
Album: 4 Songs
Length: 2:22
Release date: 2014
Canadian
Artist: Abigail Lapell
Track: Sally
Album: Great Survivor
Length: 2:22
Release date: 2011
Canadian
Artist: Slocan Ramblers
Track: Pastures of Plenty / Honey Babe
Album: Coffee Creek
Length: 6:53
Release date: 2015
Canadian
Artist: Amanda Rheume
Track: Better Days Ahead
Album: Light of Another Day
Length: 4:49
Release date: 2011
Canadian
Artist: Drew McIvor
Track: 45’s and 33’s
Album: Porchlight
Length: 3:38
Release date: 2014
Canadian

Archives

Visit our  iTunes podcast page for archived programs

Or stream them on Soundcloud here

Pages with set lists and further info can be found below.

GBR show 1

GBR show 2

GBR show 3

GBR show 4

GBR show 5

GBR show 6

GBR show 7

GBR show 8

GBR show 9

Natalie MacMaster and Bruce Cockburn

Natalie MacMaster and Bruce Cockburn at Summerfolk

By James Keelaghan

You have to understand that there was a full-tilt party going on. The performers’ bar was like a who’s who of Folk Music — Paul Brady, Mary Black, Maura O’Connell, Aly Bain and Garrison Keillor. The volume was indescribable. People were packed in shoulder to shoulder amidst the fug of cigarette smoke and the cracking of plastic pint glasses. Tables were placed in rough concentric circles around the bar.

She was sitting at a table in the outer-most ring, her eyes hidden beneath the peak of a ball cap. In front of her were some textbooks and notebooks. The seats across from her were empty. A guitar player in Lennie Gallant’s band, Chris Corrigan and I sat down opposite her.
“ What are you doing, Natalie ?” I asked.
“ Studying for my exams,” she replied.
“ What? Here?” I asked incredulously.
“ They’re not going to take themselves.”

I ran into Natalie MacMaster a lot that summer. She was riding high. She was getting main stage slots all across the country and in Europe as well. She was clearly on the edge of breaking big, of becoming the new Canadian fiddling icon, yet she was focused enough to keep up with her studies.

The summer after that, in 1996, she made her only appearance at Summerfolk. She’s been away too long and, after 20 years she’ll be returning to Summerfolk41. A lot has changed since that smoky bar in Denmark 21 years ago, but she has never lost her focus. She knows what she wants and is willing to do the hard work necessary to get it.

Natalie MacMaster Photo 1

Natalie MacMaster will play Sunday, August 21.

All that makes her sound rather serious, but she’s not. She has a great sense of humour and is as much fun as you would imagine someone who was raised in the kitchen party atmosphere of Cape Breton should be–as long as you catch her when she isn’t studying.

Consider this: Her uncle was the legendary Buddy MacMaster, her mother and father are both musicians, her cousin is Ashley MacIsaac and another cousin is renowned fiddler, Andrea Beaton. She comes by the music honestly — it’s an integral part of her. When you watch Natalie, you are not watching one person — you are watching generations of players who have all contributed to what she is now. She’s aware of that history, but she wears it easily.

The best thing about of Natalie MacMaster is that she measures success not by ticket sales or CD downloads. Success is time spent with her family, in hard work completed, and the power of music. Natalie is busy, amongst everything else, raising a family of five.

I grew up in a family a little larger than that. Not being blessed with infinite amounts of space, the way the kids were distributed about the house was a complex algorithm of age and gender. As boys, my brother and I were assigned bedrooms in the basement early on. Strange music would waft down from the bedrooms above and some of the tunes would stick. Going to the Country became the soundtrack of my twelfth summer — a tune I sang quietly while watching the prairies roll away through the back window of the Custom Suburban station wagon. So began my relationship with Bruce Cockburn. It’s been ongoing for over 40 years.

Bruce is the embodiment of the Canadian acoustic music scene for the past four decades. He’s never been content to plough one crop and, by turns in his life, he has been a solo acoustic player, an electric player, a bandleader and a social justice advocate. That is the secret to his longevity as a figure on the Canadian cultural scene — the ability to explore new sounds and new approaches to writing.

Bruce Cockburn will play on Saturday, August 20.

Bruce Cockburn will play on Saturday, August 20.

As a songwriter, there is no mistaking his style, sometimes as regular as any Tin Pan Alley pro, sometimes spilling out lyrics in an unrestrained flow where the words tug and push at the margins. As a guitar player, he has inspired a couple of generations of players. Learning to play Foxglove is a rite of passage for most young Canadian guitarists.

He’s not afraid of politics. We’re living in an era where there is pressure on live artists to leave politics out of the performance. Bruce retains a devotion to a folk singer’s responsibility to sing about issues. He has always done so. From songs like Gavin’s Woodpile or Going Down Slow– another station wagon favourite — to the debate-inducing If I Had a Rocket Launcher, he’s never been afraid to put his ethical heart on his sleeve.

Nor, has he left out the spirit. There is often a note of searching in his songs, a longing for the calm at the centre of the human experience.

Despite the fact that he has been part of my life for so long, to me he is still enigmatic. My memories of him backstage at festivals are from a distance, a solitary figure walking and deep in thought. He is soft-spoken and considered. In another age, he might have been a cloistered poet like Gerard Manley Hopkins.

We are especially happy to welcome Bruce Cockburn and Natalie MacMaster back to Summerfolk after too long an absence. Come on out and enjoy them, but don’t bug them if they are studying.

Bruce plays on Saturday, August 20 and Natalie on Sunday, August 21. You can get information and see schedules at summerfolk.org

Irish-Mythen-High-Res--web-crop

Honestly Unforgettable Performers

By James Keelaghan
Sometimes an artist owns a song. Chances are they didn’t write it, but it’s their voice that you hear when you imagine the song being sung. Judy Garland—no one since has owned Over the Rainbow. Arlo Guthrie still has the definitive version of City of New Orleans.

Sometimes, you witness a hand off — that moment when one artist takes possession from the previous owner.

Since Irish Mythen and I share a bit of heritage, I have a confession to make. The first time I actually heard her, rather than just hearing about her, was at last year’s Folk Music Ontario conference. I walked in on the last song of one of her showcases. She ended the set with The Auld Triangle. The song was written by legendary Irish poet/playwright Brendan Behan, though the rumour persists that it was actually written by his brother, Dominic. The song has been owned since the 60s by Luke Kelly, the gravel-voiced singer for the band, The Dubliners. Shane MacGowan, of the Pogues, covered it in the 80s, but never really owned it.

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Irish Mythen

When Irish Mythen started singing it, I did a subconscious eye roll. So many have attempted the song. So many have failed to do it justice. By the second line of the song, however, my hair was on end. By the time she finished, it was clear the song had a new owner. It was like the spirit of Behan and Kelly had descended from the sky and placed their fingers on her.

Irish is a powerhouse. If you combined the output of every generating station in North America, it would still not come close to matching the energy in her voice. It’s a voice built to silence a Dublin pub.

I’ve gone out of my way to see Irish several times since that conference. I have rarely seen a performer more in command of herself or her audience. The darkness of some of the material is tempered by a between-song personality marked by deep humour and a sharp, quick wit.

She is not just a voice. She was named SOCAN’s songwriter of the year in 2015. She has the Irish gift for a turn of phrase. She speaks her mind and the songs can be pointed or poignant as the occasion dictates.

What Irish Mythen has in spades is honesty. It’s the hallmark of all great performers and contrary to the old adage, it can’t be faked. Old Man Luedecke has the same quality, though he and Irish have distinctly different personas.

Music conferences can open a window on a performer’s stagecraft, but they can also let you have a more intimate glimpse of a performer’s personality. I was at the Folk Alliance conference last February in Kansas City. Nice though the hotel was, after a couple of days I had to get out of the conference atmosphere and get some real food. When you are in Kansas City, the real food is barbecue.

Fortunately, not far from the hotel, was the famous Jack Stack restaurant. I was standing in the lobby looking at a map when I saw Chris Luedecke. I asked if he would like to join me, as he had a hungry look about him.

We had a pleasant walk, but when we got to the place, it was jam-packed. The hostess mentioned that there was takeout at the back. That’s how Chris and I ended up eating a mass of burnt ends (you’ll have to trust me) under a bridge beside the railway tracks.

I have rarely had a better meal—it wasn’t just the food, it was the company. Chris is down to earth and although soft spoken, he has an easy humour and is a great conversationalist. You would be hard pressed to pick him out of a crowd, but there is no mistaking him on stage.

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Old Man Luedecke

Chris writes about ordinary lives, but does it with extraordinary insight. He captures the everyday with such truth that you can’t help but see yourself in his lyrics. When I listen to an Old Man Luedeke song, my first thought is always, “I wish I’d written that.” I think that not because I am jealous of his writing, but because he is saying the things that I think, but never put into words.

His power is simplicity—a voice, a banjo—mostly—and some lyrics. With that, he creates an entire world. He seems like a modern day Pete Seeger, but where Seeger was earnest, Luedecke is laid back. There are no big issues, just small moments illuminating truth.

His is the kind of music that sneaks up on you. The first time you watch one of his shows, there is a pleasure that washes over you, some laughs, a knowing nod of the head, a hint of a tear. It’s not until a day or two after that you realize you have witnessed something extraordinary. It happens as you find yourself singing lyrics that you have only heard once. It’s the second time you see him that it really hits home. You hang on every note and every perfectly placed word resonates.

Folk music is about truth and honesty. We are pleased to present two of the most honest performers you will ever meet- Irish Mythen and Old Man Luedeke at this year’s Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival, August 19, 20 and 21st at Kelso Beach Park in Owen Sound. Find out everything you need to know at summerfolk.org.

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Where the music happens

By James Keelaghan

When you talk about folk festivals, music is essential, but really it’s all about the space.

In 1992, I played the Tønder Festival in Denmark for the first time. That festival was a week after the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival in Nova Scotia, so rather than go home to Calgary in between, I went directly to Denmark. I hung out in Copenhagen for a few days and then went down to Tønder.Main-Telt-Tonder

It’s a small town — 6,000 people at most, but tens of thousands descend on it for a weekend of music.The town doesn’t have a concert facility for that large a crowd and so, in a square on a field at the edge of town, they set up two circus tents. One holds about 3,500 people and the other 1,500.

After I’d spent half a day seeing everything I could see in the town, I went to the festival office and asked if there was anything I could do to pitch in. They looked at me sideways and then gave me to a guy named Neils. He took me to the bigger of the two tents and I spent a pleasant day tying off the acoustic baffling that would be hoisted into the roof of the tent.

The tent was amazing! It was completely empty with no seating. The stage and sound gear hadn’t been installed. It was just a big canvas shell.Over the next two days, crews transformed it into concert hall. It was beautifully lit, had great sight Main Stage Telt 1lines and a powerful, well run sound system.

Ever since then, I have had my eye on the spaces that music happens in. A well thought-out site with great well-run venues are essential for a successful event.

One of the undoubted stars of Summerfolk last year was the new Down by the Bay tent. Since starting as Artistic Director of Summerfolk, I’ve wanted to bring in some clear span tents. I’ve seen them, and performed in them, at festivals in Europe and Australia but have never encountered them at a Canadian folk festival.

It’s taller and more open than the tent we used for years in that space. That’s because it has no interior poles. The structure of the tent makes it easier to hang lights meaning that we can light the roof of the tent and the stage without bringing in additional scaffolding. The result is a space that inspires and welcomes. It transforms the space into a proper concert hall.

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Looking into the Down By the Bay tent.

I really wanted to have the tent in our licensed area. Veterans of the festival call it the “Beer” tent. We call it the “Down By the Bay” tent because “Beer” tent just doesn’t reflect all that goes on in that space. It’s a place for high-energy music — just ask anyone who danced to Delhi 2 Dublin or The Mackenzie Blues Band last year.

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Delhi2Dublin inspired a high energy dance party Down By the Bay at Summerfolk40

It allows for incredibly intimate moments as well. Last year’s “Tall Tales” workshop with David Francey, Steve Poltz and Donovan Woods brought the house down. During the songs, you could have heard a pint glass drop, it was so quiet.

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Steve Poltz performs Down By the Bay

On the Saturday of the festival, activity in the tent starts at about 9 AM as the stage crews arrive to ring out the sound system and prep the stage. Music starts at 11AM and runs straight through until until 1AM -– with the exception of a quiet hour between 6 and 7 so the crew can get dinner. Last year, on Saturday, twenty-seven acts played on the stage in fourteen hours.

We’ll do pretty much the same this year. One highlight will be Bruce Cockburn playing an afternoon workshop with Leonard Sumner and Lindi Ortega. On Sunday the tent will host an east coast kitchen party with Natalie McMaster, The East Pointers and Cassie and Maggie Macdonald. On both Friday and Saturday nights, the evenings traditionally end with sets that blow the roof off. This year, Blackburn, Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra and My Son The Hurricane will do the honours.

Down By the Bay has evolved into a second main stage at the festival. This year, by adding another section to the tent, we can have close to a thousand people under cover.

We now have the audience under cover at five of the six daytime stages. That’s not just because we want folks dry in case of rain.

The fact is, recently we have had more sunshine than rain at Summerfolk. In the past four festivals, we have only had one day of rain. The sun is becoming a concern for a lot of people and a shady place to listen to music is a great thing on hot summer afternoon.

We don’t worry about the sun as much at the other mainstage — the Amphitheatre.

Digging Roots led a round dance in the Amphitheatre on Sunday night

Digging Roots led a round dance in the Amphitheatre on Sunday night

That’s because we only run that stage at night. For the first few years of Summerfolk, the area where the amphitheatre is now was just a broad field. The amphitheatre was built in 1982. For 35 years, it’s hosted thousands of performers.

The stage, of course, is named after the late, lamented and much loved Stan Rogers Summerfolk loved Stan and he loved it back, setting the pattern for a relationship many performers have with Summerfolk.

An amphitheatre is not unique. What makes ours special is the backdrop. It’s a combination of sky, water, trees and a hint of the industrial.  It’s easily one of the most beautiful backdrops of any festival in Canada.

You can enjoy our Summerfolk space at Kelso Beach Park on August 19, 20 and 21 this year.Advance tickets are on sale until July 31st and information can be found at summerfolk.org.

Thanks to Karen Kuczeryk-Uyede for the photo

In the Spirit of Camping

If we were going to explain the spirit of Summerfolk in one sentence it would look something like this: “People gathering outside to share music and art”.  Visitors find folks doing just that at every one of the seven stages on the festival site, along the paths in the artisan village, and in the campgrounds beside the festival. You find it again just to the north when volunteers transform a soccer field into a friendly village of tents and trailers where flashlights and torches cast shadows on old and new friends telling stories and sharing songs.  Across the road at the municipal Kelso Beach Campground, festival goers arrange tarps, tents, and trailers into homes away from home complete with sing-a-longs and decades’ worth of Summerfolk stories.

The spirit of Summerfolk follows the people, moving east to the festival grounds in the day and back to the Kelso Beach Campground when the stages shut down. Musicians and music lovers flock like moths, drawn by the light of bonfires and familiar choruses. Generations of festival goers teach each other songs, pass drinks in thanks, and share stories about their favourite performances from the day.  Strangers have been known to pass instruments freely, trade solo’s spontaneously, and send multi-part harmonies drifting up with the smoke towards the stars. There are few places in the world where people who don’t yet know one another’s names can jam and laugh so freely. Sometimes festival performers even drift over with guitars, double basses, and noisemakers from around the world. After all, they’re musicians because they love the music. It’s all part of the spirit that has brought people back to Summerfolk for four decades.

We’re expecting a big crowd for Summerfolk 40 and the City of Owen Sound made 40 additional campsites available at Kelso Beach so that even more campers can share the spirit. If you don’t manage to secure a spot at Kelso Beach, don’t worry. There are other campgrounds in the area. The Harrison Park Campground is only four kilometres to the south (that’s a 7 minute drive or  – if you’re not in a rush and prefer to cycle – a 14 minute ride on your bike. Private camping is also available in the surrounding area at Whispering Pines and the local KOA campground (both good options for motor-homes and trailers).

Thanks to Karen Kuczeryk-Uyede for the photo

Photo Credit: Karen Kuczeryk-Uyede

 

 

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