This article originally ran in the owen sound sun times on August 18, 2021
Written by James Keelaghan, Jaret Koop, Skylar Shelley, and Ayrton Wakfer
Summerfolk is a-coming in to paraphrase the old poet. It’s different from anything we’ve ever presented before, but necessity is the mother of invention. There was a desire for live music this year and we have figured out a way of presenting it in the safest way possible. The basic idea is that you choose your venue. That’s where you will stay for the afternoon and we will bring the music to you. We’ve lined up a lot of music for every taste, from world music to singer-songwriters. Going on the website to see who is playing where it may be a bit overwhelming, but we’ve got all the information there to help you make your choices — artist bios, videos and playlists.
In all our venues, the audience will be spaced appropriately and tickets are limited to capacities determined by public health guidelines. Tickets are going quickly. Book now to ensure your space.
I thought I would ask our staff to list their favourites for you.
Ayrton Wakfer – Assistant to The Artistic Director
Sunday’s show at Tom Thomson Art Gallery strikes my fancy in quite a few ways. We’re here to talk about a Folk Festival, but I’d be remiss to look past my affection for the visual arts. It’s this co-passion that makes this venue appeal to me. Something about two birds and a stone would fit well here.
It isn’t lost on me that Kurt Swinghammer is an accomplished visual artist, as well as a renowned musician. Quite a collision of worlds performing across the street from The Tom. Trolling through Kurt’s YouTube channel, I was treated to his self-illustrated video Jack Layton and Grace Appleton — a fun tune and a fabulous video, I’d recommend giving it a watch to get your visual and audio art fix for the day, have an idea of Kurt’s talents, and what you can look forward to.
Boreal is upping their temperature for Summerfolk. Tannis Slimmon, Katherine Wheatley, and Angie Nussey usually come out to play in the colder months. An August set may not be their standard, but I’m glad I get to hear their beautiful harmonies and tight musicianship sans a parka. .
Along with the talent, a downtown venue means you can spend time before or after the show (or both!) cruising through the heart of Owen Sound. Grab a bite, window shop, and enjoy some live music!
Skylar Shelley- our social media oracle
It’s hard to pick just one or two shows out of the eclectic mix this year — especially after a year and a half of live music withdrawal!
I’m most looking forward to Saturday’s Kelso North show (Julian Taylor Solo and Birds of Bellwoods), and Sunday at Harrison Park Cairn (Quique Escamilla and Alysha Brilla).
Listening to this year’s lineup of performers, both while working from home and in the office, these artists stood out to me.
Birds of Bellwoods’ music found its way onto my road-trip-worthy playlists as well as an admittedly short list of bands that I would definitely dance to. On another note, Julian Taylor’s music puts me into a state of introspection. Alysha inspires me to no end, as a musician using their art to make a statement and drive social change. Quique, is my ‘new discovery’ for this year’s festival experience; every year we all find a handful of new-to-us artists who quickly become our favourites when we witness them perform live in a workshop setting or mainstage performance — and while I can’t explain why, I just have a sense that this artist will be one of those for me, at Summerfolk46.
Jaret Koop- operations manager
My musical challenge — do I choose performers that I already know and love — basically a sure bet — or should I risk the unknown.
In classic Libra style, I chose both.
My pick for Saturday is The Roxy Theatre, Raven Meets Lion (a collaboration of Tara & Trevor MacKenzie, Summer Martin, and musician extraordinaire, Tyler Wagler) with Tony MacManus.
Raven Meets Lion explores ancestral and cultural music referencing Gaelic in their melodies using a new world format of song structure and harmonies. Hearing Summer and Tara singing together is magical, stunning and powerful. Flanked by the musical abilities of Tyler and Trevor, the experience is one that every music lover should see.
Tony McManus, a veteran of the Folk and Classical music scenes, is an accomplished and celebrated fingerstyle guitar player and I’ve never seen him play! What a great opportunity to hear him!
7th Street Retreat on Sunday has OKAN and Ray Bonneville, two artists that I had never heard before they were booked for Summerfolk.
OKAN is an Afro-Cuban fusion band with worldly elements of Jazz, Folk and Traditional music. Because the pandemic has restricted travel, this may be my only opportunity to catch this style of music this year.
Ray Bonneville makes music that is right in my wheelhouse. A guitar that makes you feel like you’re driving down a dirt road, vocals like you’re staring off into the distance from a front porch, and lyrics borne of a wisdom that only a true troubadour sees, he’s a traveller, storyteller and songsmith.
The 46th Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival is happening all around Owen Sound on August 20th, 21st, and 22nd with a Friday evening show at the Roxy, live afternoon concerts on Saturday and Sunday. Your afternoon ticket also gets you into the live streams on both Saturday and Sunday nights. See the schedule, and order tickets at summerfolk.org.