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’s a comment I hear from the Summerfolk audience that makes me proud. It’s when they say it’s hard to choose what to see because there is so much going on.


Right now, dedicated Summerfolkers have downloaded their schedules and, with highlighters in hand, they are planning their weekend.


Maybe I can help a little by handicapping for you:


The Youth Discoveries Concerts at the Down by the Bay tent. These young acts, winners of the Youth Discoveries Showcases, will open the tent on Friday and Saturday evening. Basset, Fork n’ Harp and Emily Gilbart kick off tonight. Esther’s Family and Willem James Cowan do the honours on Saturday. Both shows are hosted by Rob Elder.




The Amphitheatre

Six fantastic acts—eastern trad with The Polky Village Band, the ineffable Hut People, Indigenous beats and dancing with Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie, the powerful blues of Suzie Vinnick, the new voice of Welsh trad from Calan and the gentle power of Sarah Harmer. The Amphitheatre starts at 6PM Friday and Saturday, 4PM on Sunday.

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Down by the Bay


Rose Cousins emailed the night before last. The neck of her guitar was broken and she wanted to know if she could get a loner. I just happen to have my trusty Laskin with me and, so, I am looking forward to seeing Rose playing my axe in the Loose Ends and Lost Causes mash up with Fred Penner and The Primary Colours at 8PM tonight.

Adonis Puentes meets our very own Drew McIvor at 9ish and the whole thing wraps up with a high energy set from My Son The Hurricane ‘round midnight. I’d like to remind you that our evening tickets are a great way to catch a night’s worth of awesome entertainment for an incredibly low price.



You will want to spend some time in the Artisan’s Village. There are over 40 artisans, chosen from hundreds of applicants. You will want to check out StrayStones. Jenny Pulling of Guelph works in sterling silver, copper and brass at the intersection of nature and geometry.

Just for the fun of it, wear some art. Peaux Arts take henna and body and face paint to another level.


Workshops Saturday

Songs from a Hat The idea is simple. We have a hat full of songs. Treasa Levasseur pulls a song from the hat. One of the five performers on stage has to sing at least one verse and chorus of the song. If they can’t, the audience takes over. Last year, the audience was the clear winner. This year, my money is on Fred Penner and company.


Salsa Lessons!

Adonis Puentes is the band. Cornell Mannings and Melissa Novena of City Dance Corps are the instructors. It’s a great way to get prepared for Adonis’ concert on Saturday evening.


The Summerfolk Saturday Afternoon Contra Dance

Emilyn Stam has assembled a stellar group of players from everywhere to form The Circles Corner Dance Band just for us at Summerfolk. The caller this year is the legendary Lorraine Sutton.



The Amphitheatre

It’s an embarrassment of riches, opening with the soulful Tanika Charles and ending with Susan Aglukark. If you start here, I don’t think you are going to want to leave.


Down By the Bay

It’s going to be a rambunctious good time. The one-two punch will be the Adonis Puentes set at 11PM followed by the Kubasonics at midnight.



Gospel will shake the park led by Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar with Suzie Vinnick, Treasa Levasseur, Tanika Charles. If that ain’t your thing, there’s Yoga at Down by the River and a concert with The Primary Colours at Down by the Bay.


Make ‘em Holler is the workshop I am really looking forward to. Mama’s Broke, Nick Sherman and Fork n’ Harp are all high energy young performers and I’m sure they will have you hollering.


Don’t forget the Kid’s Parade at 3:45PM. Tallbeats will lead the kids, their costumes, the 32 foot articulated dragon they’ve been building all weekend in a circuit of the park ending at the Amphitheatre.



Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar are the penultimate act as the pride of Lions Head shows us what we’re made of. It’s a mighty sound. The Amphitheatre closes with the endearing Bahamas. You can follow the piper after that to a farewell party at the Down by the Bay tent with Suzie Vinnick, The Polky Village Band and the Kubasonics.


And lastly, some Inside picks from our summer students, Skylar Shelley and Annie Lapsley. Annie picks Basset. She saw them at the World’s Hottest Street Sale here in Owen Sound and loved them! Skylar picks Esther’s Family and Willem James Cowan. Aside from being great bands, they went to school together and Skylar told them about the youth discoveries auditions in London back in the spring and is just a little bit proud of them.


Steve Kenney, President of the Board of the Georgian Bay Folk Society is looking forward to Rose Cousins and Suzie Vinnick. He knows quality!


That’s 800 words. I could write another 8000, but I have a festival to go to. See you at Summerfolk!


For more info, ticket sales and schedules, please visit www.summerfolk.org.



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