this article orginally ran in the owen sound sun times on july 20, 2021
Written by James Keelaghan
In 46 years of Summerfolk, there have been a few constants at Summerfolk — Kelso Beach Park is one. In the years that I was booked as a performer, I would see Summerfolk on my itinerary and the dusty heart of a prairie boy would beat a little faster. From the first time I came to play in 1984, I’ve thought it’s one of the prettiest sites on the festival circuit.
So I am happy to say that parts of this year’s Summerfolk will still happen at Kelso Beach Park. We’ll have three stages in the park, one in the north end, one in the south end, and of course, one at the Amphitheatre.
The Amphitheatre took a beating from the bay last year, but the city has been doing remedial work and the refurbished space is just as charming and twice as dry!
On Sunday August 22nd at the amphitheatre, you’ll be able to see someone new to Summerfolk and someone who’s a lifer.
There are seven years between Chantal Kreviazuk’s 2020 release, Hard Sail and her previous release, Plain Jane. During those twelve years she was not resting on her laurels — she had not “ dropped out” of the music industry. Like many people, Chantal took on a second career as the mother to her children.
She was still doing the work of the songwriter, but the rhythm wasn’t that of the music industry any longer — producing music on a regular schedule — writing, CD, video, release, tour, repeat. When children enter the life of the musician, especially the woman musician, it quickly becomes apparent that growing humans do not adhere to corporate schedules.
So now her art existed alongside all the thousand things needed to help her three boys grow. Chantal’s two new projects, a solo CD, Get to You and the Duo project with her husband, Raine Maida, have marked her return to a more public persona.
For her first time at Summerfolk, we are looking forward to hosting Chantal at the Amphitheatre.
If Summerfolk was a church, the stage in the amphitheatre would be its pulpit. every year on the Sunday of the festival, Summerfolk goes to church with a gospel workshop that has become one of the jewels and untouchable traditions of the weekend.
We’re happy to say that tradition is going to continue this year.
Ken Whiteley is a prolific songwriter, a gifted and versatile guitarist and mandolinist, and a powerful singer. His musical peers affectionately refer to him as a “playing encyclopedia” for his depth and range of styles, covering everything from folk to blues, gospel and swing. If you go to the awards and accolades page, you’re in for some interesting reading. As a producer, he has worked on twenty Juno Award winning CDs and two Grammy award titles that have sold over eight million copies.
A staple at the Summerfolk festival, Ken has led the Gospel workshop more than a handful of times. It was his accumulated experience running Gospel workshops at festivals that led him to create the Sunday Gospel Matinee at the storied Toronto music venue, Hugh’s Room. That series ultimately ran for eighteen years with over 80 Sunday Gospel Matinees. The list of alumni from those shows is a who’s who of Canadian talent — Jane Siberry, Shakura S’Aida and Jackie Washington to name a few.
Ken is assembling a great group of musicians who will be playing with him at the Summerfolk’s very own Sunday Gospel Matinee. They are going to bring you to your feet. It’s a Summerfolk tradition.
When I made the offer to Ken to play this year’s version of Summerfolk, he did something that happens — almost without exception — when I make an offer to a musician. They immediately start thinking of what other musicians they are going to share that money with. Rarely does it all go into their own pockets. They’ll want to hire X to play keyboard, Y to sing background vocals. Music is a communal activity.
Summerfolk is a community as well of course. A community of volunteers, audience and professionals all working toward a common goal. If you’d like to join us as a volunteer, we’d love to have you. We’re charting a new course this year and could use some helping hands. It’s a great way to see the festival from the inside.
The Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival happens all around Owen Sound August 21st and 22nd. For information about tickets, performers and much more, visit us at summerfolk.org.