Nominees

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Traditional Album of the Year

  • Sarah Jane Scouten - The Cape

    www.sarahjanescouten.com

    At age 5, Sarah Jane Scouten was sitting on the dining room table, singing “Lace and Pretty Flowers,” by the late Canadian folk and country musician, Willie P. Bennett. On Bowen Island BC, she picked up her father’s guitar at age 12 and soon was happy to forgo a Friday night house party for an all-night kitchen jam. Hank Williams and Stan Rogers were her greatest inspirations, both a staple at Sunday morning pancake breakfast and afterward, singing bluegrass and gospel music with her family. Her talent for performing came naturally, and as chance would have it, so emerged a knack for song writing.
    Sarah Jane pairs sturdy, infectious melodies with lyrics that are candid, poignant and flirtatious, and has “a flair for tying emotions to arresting images.” (Penguin Eggs Magazine) She travels all over North America, gaining inspiration from contemporary and traditional folk musicians, as well as an ever-expanding collection of vintage stringed instruments.
    Based in Montreal QC, Sarah Jane recorded and co-produced her first album, Magpie Waltz (Independent) in 2011, at Concordia University’s Loyola Chapel. She sought out the fresh talents of Sarah Frank, Luke Fraser and Mathieu Lacombe to join her brilliant string band. Trilling mandolin, lavish bass and down-right bad-ass fiddle playing bring out the best in Scouten’s authentic sound. The all-string, all-acoustic record has flavours of Old Crow Medicine Show, John Prine, and a wealth of bluegrass and old-time music, whose “narratives and arrangements make for an impressive genre LP.” (Montreal Mirror) The songs are faithful to a long-standing folk music tradition, but often spill over into modern themes that are outspoken and edgy, from homelessness to midwifery to tongue-in-cheek heartache songs and unabashed Canadiana.
    Sarah Jane and her band released their second album in April 2014 with Juno-nominated producer Andrew Collins. Titled The Cape (Independent) after Sarah Jane’s ocean and woodland childhood playground Cape Roger Curtis, the record is a collection of original folk ballads, Cajun waltzes and honky-tonk two-steps, paying respect to heralds of the golden era of country music like Buck Owens, Hank Williams, Wanda Jackson and even a touch of Dolly Parton. It is a thematic study in opposites with long, dramatic songs that are both frank and harrowing next to short, hooky tunes that could have come from 60 years ago, with all the lonesomeness of Iris Dement and sensuality found in Lucinda Williams. Some songs are funny and some are extremely sad, but the new record is hard evidence of the talent packed in this band, and the maturing voice and narrative ability of an eclectic and gifted songwriter.

    Look for Sarah Jane Scouten and her brilliant string band on the road across Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom this summer as they celebrate the release of their new record.

     
  • The High Bar Gang - Lost and Undone: A Gospel Bluegrass Companion

    http://www.highbargang.com/

    THE HIGH BAR GANG
    LOST AND UNDONE:
    A GOSPEL BLUEGRASS COMPANION

    Barney Bentall: vocals – guitar / Rob Becker: vocals – stand-up bass / Wendy Bird: vocals / Angela Harris: vocals / Colin Nairne: vocals – guitar – mandolin / Eric Reed: banjo – mandolin – Dobro / Shari Ulrich: vocals – fiddle – mandolin

    In 2006, I went to my first Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco. I’ve been back almost every year. Sometimes playing, sometimes just hanging out. It was there in Speedway Meadows that I reconnected with the music of Dr. Ralph Stanley, Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs and also where I saw some of the finest new bluegrass groups like the Punch Brothers and Crooked Still. It brought to mind that when I was much younger, my first rock band would listen to The Dillard’s or Jimmy Martin while driving the freakishly long highways across Northern Alberta in our converted school bus, trying to see the road through the blowing snow. Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley gave us comfort as Red Allen pushed us onwards.

    Hardly Strictly inspired thoughts of putting a bluegrass band together, so I schemed. That took a couple of years. Then I made the phone calls. My wife Wendy Bird sings, so she was in. Rob Becker is a great bassist and I’ve always wanted to play in a band with him so he got a call. Eric Reed plays great mandolin and Dobro plus he could cover the banjo parts, so he was in. Angela Harris sings so beautifully and harmonizes so well with Wendy. Now I’m thinking we need one more female voice who can cover the weird parts, ride shotgun over the vocal arrangements and play fiddle and that was Shari Ulrich (who joined kicking and screaming that she had no time to join another band). My long time musical compadre Barney Bentall jumped in to play guitar and sing some of the songs and add the low parts to the ladies numbers. We had a rehearsal. Rob said if we are going to rehearse we need a gig, so we bought some cowboy suits and booked two nights at the Eagles Club. Barney offered up the name “The High Bar Gang” after a lonely spot on the banks of the mighty Fraser River called ‘High Bar Canyon’. The Eagles Club had a small banquet hall with an even smaller stage and catered mostly to meetings of the Ladies Auxiliary and community award ceremonies. A perfect size for us! We called our friends to buy tickets, with the main selling point that it had a bar with cheap drinks. Our good friend Tom Taylor agreed to open the show, giving us the piece of mind that if we failed miserably he could come back onstage and play for the folks while we snuck out the back. On September 24th 2010 a very nervous High Bar Gang took the stage. I emailed our pal Ry Cooder the next day with the good news we made it through unscathed. He wanted to make sure the songs were right so he sent the repertoire. This became the Lost and Undone: A Gospel Bluegrass Companion record. The performances are of us live. No overdubs. In Barn’s living room. Four microphones. Mono. Colin Nairne – The High Bar Gang

     
  • Poor Angus - Gathering

    poorangus.com

    Poor Angus dynamically interprets the music of past and present, performing original and traditional Scottish, Irish and East Coast themed pieces, transforming them into thoroughly original arrangements. Formed in 2005, and hailing from Hamilton Ontario, this collection of musicians expresses their admiration for Celtic music in a manner which appeals to both traditional purists and modern audiences equally.

    Featuring the masterful highland and uilleann piping and tin whistles of Ross Griffiths and profound fiddling of virtuoso Andrew Bryan, bodhran, guitar and mandolin of Brian LeBlanc and bass of DJay Moons, this talented group has recently been joined by the talented singer songwriter Joel Guenther. Poor Angus is noted specifically for impressive vocal harmony and this Celtic quintet always gets feet stomping and leaves audiences of all ages roaring for more.

    The combination of Scots, Irish and East Coast music styles in the Poor Angus performance bends every ear to delightful interpretations of Celtic music and ensures that one and all leave the show with a smile on their face and a song in their heart.

     
  • Còig - Five

    www.coig.ca

    CÒIG (“Ko-ig”. Gaelic for ’5′) is an exciting ensemble consisting of five solo acts, and is one of Cape Breton’s most captivating young bands. Originally coming together for a promotional tour for the Celtic Colours International Festival, the formation proved to be something special, and the group decided to continue to tour together as a band. Proving to be a serious force to be reckoned with in the traditional music scene with their driving tunes, haunting songs and infectious energy, Còig is a treat for the ears of every audience they meet.

    Fiddler Chrissy Crowley, from Margaree, Cape Breton has an impressive list of awards, nominations, and international appearances. Chrissy embraces her Celtic roots and makes them her own, through original compositions coupled with contemporary arrangements of traditional tunes.

    Darren McMullen, from Hardwood Lands, NS, is a highly sought after multi-instrumentalist. Easily switching between guitar, mandolin, whistle and banjo with Còig, this “Swiss-army knife” keeps the rhythm sound diverse, and is sure to impress with his lead playing of his various “on-stage weapons”.

    Rachel Davis from Baddeck, Cape Breton spends her time switching from international festival stages to small local dances at home. In a genre that sees many performers pushing the envelope and testing new waters, her style of playing traditional tunes in a traditional way is a refreshing reminder of why the Cape Breton fiddle style drives so hard, and is so sought after.

    Colin Grant from Sydney, Cape Breton has been touring steadily as a solo and side performer. His respect for traditional style, combined with his drive to take the Celtic fiddle to new places results in an exciting sound that is as much Buddy MacMaster as it is Ashley MacIsaac

    Jason Roach, from Chéticamp, Cape Breton is one of the most impressive piano players you will ever hear. With a style all his own, and an unparalleled intensity on the keys, you’ll have to remind yourself that there’s other players on the stage.

    With a combined total of over 30 nominations and awards, each of Còig’s talented musicians have released their own successful solo albums, and have toured both at home and abroad before coming together as this exciting super group. Còig’s much anticipated debut album was released on June 10th, 2014.

    “Five acclaimed, award winning solo musicians in their own right, in one explosive ‘coming together’…Collectively they are a Cape Breton trad triumph…”
    - Davie Gardner, the Shetland Times, UK

     
  • Moustafa Kouyaté & Romain Malagnoux - Les frontières imaginaires

    www.moustafaetromain.com

    Romain Malagnoux, born and raised in France, has now been residing in Quebec for nine years. A singer and guitarist, he has built for himself, over the years, a repertoire of cover songs and originals. In 2009, a ten-year long dream finally came true for him when he travelled to Mali, Africa, where he stayed for four months. During his stay, he absorbed the musical traditions and vibrations of the local people. Inspired by the work and talent of Bassékou Kouyaté, one of the country’s greater artists, he began learning to play the djeli n’goni, a small african guitar and the ancestre of the banjo.

    Also during his stay, when he was working voluntarily at the Festival au Désert de Tombouctou, he by chance met with Bassékou Kouyaté himself (two Grammy Award nominations, as well as Prix Miroir of the Festival d’Été de Québec in 2010). Following a few cordial exchanges, the former invited the latter over… for tea!

    Having returned to Bamako, Bassékou introduces Romain to his son Moustafa. The chemistry be-tween the two musicians operates immediately. The result of their exchanges reveals itself as a cle-ver and harmonious hybrid of melodies of traditional inspiration and folk rhythm.

    In 2011, during a second stay in Mali, Romain and Moustafa wrote and recorded the twelve pieces which make the album, titled “Les Frontières Imaginaires” and distributed by the label Les Nuits d’Afrique in association with Select, and is set to be launched in Quebec by fall 2013. On this album, one will note the influences of Bassékou Kouyaté, Habib Koité, and of Rodrigo & Gabriela.

    On stage, five musicians (three of which are of traditional ancestry in Western Africa) unite to make the audience travel and vibrate with them. Mali blues, ballads, as well as energetic, lively songs make their music quite accessible to a greater audience.

     

Contemporary Album of the Year

  • The Bros. Landreth - Let it Lie

    www.thebroslandreth.com

    After quickly developing a reputation across Canada and various parts of the globe for their exceptional musicianship, Joey and David Landreth have at taken the plunge into a project that is uniquely their own, The Bros. Landreth.

    Born to a musical family, both sons took to the craft early and quickly. Joey played the guitar before he could speak and Dave experimented with every instrument in the house before eventually settling comfortably on his Dad’s old Fender P-Bass. Their father, much respected songwriter and side-man, Wally Landreth, was an institution in his own right in the Winnipeg music scene where the boys were raised and began to pay their own dues. Wally toured the continent as a musician and developed a wealth of experience that he would pass on to his two young sons. Almost prophetically, in his early teenage years, Joey followed in his father’s footsteps as a working freelance musician. He was touring across the country and playing nightclubs while he was still finishing high school. In no time Joey quickly amassed a star-studded resumé. He has since toured and recorded with Emerson Drive, Dallas Smith, Deric Ruttan, Steve Bell, The Wyrd Sisters, and most recently with Juno and CCMA winners, Doc Walker. Meanwhile, his older brother Dave took a similar approach and set to work developing a reputation for his simple and solid bass playing. He’s extensively toured North America, Europe, and Australia with such Canadian talent as Romi Mayes, Chris Carmichael, and indie-pop group, Imaginary Cities. To complete the band The Bros. have called on long-time musical cohorts: Ryan “Rhino” Voth (Del Barber, Fred Penner, The New Lightweights), and Alex Campbell (The Sweet Alibi, JD Edwards Band). Long time friends, they’ve grown up playing and working with both Landreths, together and separate, in an innumerable combination of musical outings.

    All four twentysomethings hail from the sprawling southern Manitoban prairies and they are fiercely proud to call Winnipeg home. “We’re at the epicenter of this great artistic hub, smack dab in the middle of the coldest place in the known universe.” Dave playfully exaggerates. “We have to write and play just to stay warm half the year… It becomes a creative incubator – a survival technique.” The end product of these exercises in self-preservation are The Bros. Landreth’s songs.

    They are alt-country road maps that are mostly auto-biographical – hinting at the fallout of a life as a touring musician, and exploring melancholy themes of love gone bad and love gone worse. They leave the esoteric behind in favour of delivering their stories simply and never letting their road-proven musicality stand in the way of the songs speaking for themselves. The result: an undeniable vulnerability in the plain spoken narratives, songs that weave a heart on your sleeve tale of finding your way through life and heart-ache.

    Their debut album, Let it Lie, was recorded through the dead of winter in Southern Manitoba with the guidance of friend and producer Murray Pulver (Doc Walker, Tara Oram, Crash Test Dummies). Their studio time happened to land them directly in the middle of the coldest week in January with the temperature hovering below -30 C. The heat in the loaned van died on the trip out to the country and they had to borrow a heat gun to defrost a pie shaped circle in the windshield. The warmth of the tracks, however, belie the bitter cold they survived in order to capture the sounds that would eventually turn into their first album.

    You can find the Bros. Landreth out on the road, investing their own blood and sweat in support of their first release.

    For inquiries please contact management: info@thebroslandreth.com

     
  • The Strumbellas - We Still Move On Dance Floors

    www.thestrumbellas.ca

    “The Toronto-based roots rockers prove you don’t need auto tune and synthetic beats to get people’s feet moving on their sophomore album. The Strumbellas hopeful brand of finely crafted indie music — full of handclaps and harmonies — offers an enchanting mix of folk, bluegrass and country. This one should earn them another JUNO Award nomination. No gimmicks or shameless promos required.” – Chris Lackner “PopForecast” Postmedia

    It’s been a busy year so far for Lindsay, Ontario’s The Strumbellas. The band hit the ground running with a win for Roots & Traditional Album Of The Year at the 2014 JUNO Awards in March for their sophomore album, We Still Move On Dance Floors. In May they took home the SiriusXM Indies award for Folk Group Of The Year. This summer they pull up stakes and head out for a slew of summer festivals across Canada as well as their first tour on the Pacific Northwest of America.

    FolkPop, RockGrass, AltCountry… whatever you want to call it, there’s plenty to go around on The Strumbellas’ most recent release, We Still Move On Dance Floors (October 2013). For the album, the band headed to the woods of the pacific north west, settling in at Bear Creek Studio just outside of Seattle to record with Grammy nominated producer, Ryan Hadlock (Metric, Gossip, Moondoggies, The Lumineers). It seemed a natural progression for the band, whose dark lyrics about death and solitude crop up amongst beautiful lyrical mindscapes of trees and lakes and home.

    “As one of Canada’s finest country-roots bands, Ontario’s Strumbellas do not disappoint with their sophomore record, We Still Move On Dance Floors. From the rollicking Did I Die and Home Sweet Home through more sullen moments like album closer The Fire, the future looks incredibly bright for The Strumbellas.” Musicnerd.ca

    Since the release of The Strumbellas’ eponymous 2009 EP, which was peppered with accolades from Toronto weeklies and prompted a proclamation from the CBC that they are a “band to watch,” the six-piece group has been slogging it out, earning their stripes through SOLD OUT residencies at The Cameron House and The Dakota Tavern as well as several cross-country tours, a plethora of festivals including CMW, NXNE, Pop Montreal, Eaglewood and Hillside in Guelph, which by all accounts was the equivalent of their cotillion ball. The band have also dipped their toes in the waters south of the border, with fans flocking to see them as their US presence builds.

     
  • Matt Andersen - Weightless

    http://www.stubbyfingers.ca/

    Matt Andersen Bio
    With over 2 million views on YouTube, independent sales over 30,000 albums, a 2013 European Blues Award, and winning Best Solo Performer at the Memphis Blues Challenge, it appears that the entire world is now discovering Matt Andersen. A powerhouse performer with a giant soul-filled voice and commanding stage presence, Matt has built a formidable following the old fashioned way – touring worldwide and letting the converted audiences and Andersen devotees spread his reputation through word of mouth. Now with Weightless, his debut album for True North Records, Matt’s music has been captured on record as never before.
    With Weightless, the New Brunswick native shifts his formidable talents as a blues performer to his song-craft. His reputation as a bluesman won him the 2013 Euro Blues Award for Best Solo /Acoustic Act, three Maple Blues Awards in 2012, and nabbed him 2010 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. “The blues is a big part of what I do, and in my solo show some tunes are straight-up blues, for sure,” he says. “But I would never stand beside B.B. King and say, ‘I play blues, too.’ None of my albums are blues albums—I’ve won blues awards with them, but I wouldn’t say they’re blues albums.”
    That’s more than evident on Weightless, where Andersen comes out of the gate swinging with I Lost My Way, one of two co-writes with Joel Plaskett, where he is singing a soul/gospel melody over a reggae groove. Then he channels Van Morrison on My Last Day, before delivering a gorgeous country ballad co-written with David Myles, So Easy. With Dave Gunning, Andersen tells the all-too-common tale of Maritimers heading west to work on the oil sands, in Alberta Gold. Hamilton’s Tom Wilson helps craft a rockabilly ode to a battered rust-belt town, City of Dreams, while Andersen’s Wolfville, N.S. neighbour Ryan Hupman lends a hand on three songs, including the title track, Between the Lines and the spiritual What Will You Leave.
    “Writing with Joel Plaskett, he’s always thinking about the hook and has a real melodic quality. I like having different angles on there. Dave Gunning is a really great storyteller, so the songs I wrote with him have more of a storytelling kind of vibe. A lot of the tunes I wrote with Keith Mullins were more a different groove than I’m used to; he’s a drummer who played with me a lot, so he brought a different sense of rhythm and phrasing. Writing with Tom Wilson was trying to play catch-up, because he just keeps writing and writing.”
    “They’re all people I’d hang around with outside of music, so it’s more friends just doing what friends do,” says Andersen, who adds that he didn’t feel any pressure on his first album with fully label supported international release. “It was nice and relaxed, a great way to write. If I write a whole album by myself it sounds like me too much, where every song sounds the same, and I’m always leery of that.
    “It keeps it fresh for me; every tune has its own personality, which I really like. I realize I write better when I write with someone, it keeps you from settling for a lyric. I go that extra mile. Going back and forth with these people, we get the best out of the idea we could.”
    Something you won’t hear on Weightless, extended guitar solos: Andersen will let you wait for his live show for that. “It’s fun to do, but on albums I want to focus on the songs more. I don’t want it to turn into something where every tune is a big wank. There’s just enough on the album that you can hear there’s some great playing, but it’s not a big instrumental feature. I don’t put myself out there as a guitarist; I think I’m more known for singing, and then guitar playing after that.”
    Andersen’s extensive discography boasts seven albums, including one Christmas album, one live album, and two albums with harmonica player Mike Stevens. His most recent album, 2011’s Coal Mining Blues, was produced by Colin Linden and was recorded at Levon Helm’s studio in Woodstock, N.Y. This time out he turned to Steve Berlin of Los Lobos for production duties; not only was Andersen a fan of that band, but he was surprised to find out that Berlin produced his favourite Tragically Hip album, Phantom Power. Berlin brought Calgary guitarist Paul Rigby on board, who is best known as Neko Case’s right-hand man. Anyone who’s ever been wowed by Andersen’s guitar chops might wonder why he’d need another guitarist, but he says, “Paul is the kind of guitar player I’m not. He had great melody ideas for arrangements and guitar parts; I had to learn my songs again after Paul was done with them.”
    One thing Andersen won’t be doing in the near future is learning other people’s songs to flesh out his set. (Andersen plays at least 200 shows a year). That’s despite the fact that a performance of him transforming Bill Withers’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” has over 855,000 views on YouTube. “When I first started playing, I did a lot of bar gigs, just like anyone,” he says. “Then when I transitioned into my own stuff, I didn’t have a whole lot of original material. And in terms of confidence, when you know what you can get out of a crowd by playing ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ it’s pretty easy to go with that to get their attention. I did that for a while; in retrospect, probably a bit too long. Now that ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ clip is most people’s introduction to me, what they’re drawn to—which is natural. It’s been a struggle, but I’ve shaken off the easy route and focused more on my own stuff at shows.”
    After hearing the instant classic material on Weightless

     
  • Colleen Rennison - See The Sky About To Rain

    www.blackhenmusic.com

    At any given moment, there are so many sounds competing for our attention that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and hear nothing. But, every now and then, a voice comes along that cuts through all the random noise and clatter, a voice that makes you stop and really listen because whatever you were doing up until that point isn’t as important as listening to it and letting it take you where it wants to go.

    Colleen Rennison has a voice like that. A voice that channels power, tenderness and a range of emotions that seem like they couldn’t possibly come from a singer who’s only 25 years old. Colleen has a voice that can floor you, and envelop you, and bring all of the pain and struggles of your life crashing down on you like a tidal wave. It’s a voice and phrasing that took Etta James decades to properly control, that Aretha Franklin had to go to Hell and back to even go near. Yes, it can hurt to listen to Colleen sing, but it’s a hurting you’ll want to go through over and over again because of how much you feel better, lighter, cleansed, every time you hear it.

    For the past few years, when she’s not acting in movies and television, Colleen’s been the lead singer of No Sinner, a raucous Vancouver band whose legendary gigs have given her the chance to holler, belt and shimmy like a church on fire. For her debut solo album, ‘See The Sky About To Rain’, Colleen had something a little different in mind. She wanted to back away a bit from the wild and shambolic intensity of ‘No Sinner’ and take it down a notch or two and take the opportunity to sing some of her favourite songs from childhood that have stayed with her. In her words, ‘the album gave me the chance to really go back to the time when a singer was a singer and a songwriter was a songwriter and a musician was a musician. I am in awe of each of these songs and have done my best to honour them and find the truest way to sing them.’

    And she has succeeded in doing that beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. By going back through the great Canadian songbook and selecting iconic songs from Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and the Band, aside from totally nailing each performance, she shows us that no matter how many times we’ve heard a particular song, in the hands of a master interpreter, there’s always something new to experience. When Colleen sings lyrics that you’ve heard a thousand times before as she does in ‘Stage Fright’ or ‘Coyote’, she reveals new shades and colours in her phrasing and inflection that make these standards sound as if they were written yesterday.

    Colleen couldn’t have found a better collaborator for this project than Steve Dawson, the award winning Canadian string player/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist and producer. The songs that made it onto ‘See The Sky About To Rain’ were recorded mostly live off the floor during a massive week long session that will yield five albums for five different artists in the next year or so. With such an inspiring setting and some of Canada’s best musicians including Darryl Havers (keys), Geoff Hicks (drums) and Jeremy Holmes (bass) tapped to play, there was bound to be some magical chemistry in the studio. The session was in Colleen’s words ‘like a dream. Steve records in such a way with this funky old monitors and vintage microphones that there’s this amazing ambience in the room. You can even hear the dust falling from the ceiling and it becomes part of the song.” This kind of environment was perfect for Colleen as it encouraged her to respond in the moment and pour her whole heart and soul into each of these unvarnished performances.

    Colleen’s performances on ‘See The Sky About To Rain’ are so powerful and unforced with every arrangement so perfectly in tune with the singer’s moods that it would be very difficult to pick a single highlight from the album. The yearning and hurting of ‘My Crew’ and ‘Oleander’ with gorgeous backup vocals from the fabulous McCrary sisters and a scorching version of ‘White Freight Liner’ with some truly inspired fiddling and mandolin playing from bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien will appeal to classic country and gospel fans, while others will love the extra richness and depth the horns give Colleen’s performances of ‘Whiskey, Whiskey’, ‘All La Glory’ and ‘Stage Fright.’ But, perhaps no song plays to all of her strengths as much as the knock out rendition of Tom Russell’s classic ballad ‘Blue Wing’ It is a song that gives Rennison the chance to explore her tender and more nuanced side with a performance that says as much in the well-chosen silences as it does with the vocals. Tragedy has rarely sounded so beautiful.

    Singers like Colleen Rennison don’t come around every day. Neither do records like ‘See The Sky About To Rain.’ As the years pass and you’ve forgotten almost everything else that happened in 2014, the songs on this record will linger on like the memory of a first kiss on a rainy October day.

     
  • Jill Zmud - Small Matters of Life and Death

    jillzmud.com

    Weaving together loss, hope, memory and 40-year-old reel-to-reel tapes, Ottawa’s Jill Zmud has returned with her sophomore album, Small Matters of Life and Death.

    Forged from the story of her late musician uncle, Ed Clynton (Jill discovered his dusty reel-to-reel tapes in her parents’ basement), and her experience of losing her dad suddenly, Jill sings about the ties and tethers we have to those that go before us.

    To bring her songs to life, Jill chose as a producer Juno-winner Steve Dawson, who had exactly the right mix of folk, old-school Nashville soul and Southern swamp, and an ability to find both the darker grit and hopeful light in Jill’s voice.

    A very pregnant Jill recorded the album at The Tragically Hip’s Bathouse studio with a cast of characters that includes Brian Kobayakawa, Gary Craig, the McCrary Sisters, and Jim Cuddy.

    And, true to the theme of the album, Jill released Small Matters of Life and Death just six weeks after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. Small matters, indeed.

     

Children’s Album of the Year

  • Helen Austin - Colour It

    http://www.helenaustin.com

    As an award winning alt folk singer songwriter, Helen was asked to write a children’s album as she was told many times that her more upbeat songs really resonated with children and that is how her first kids CD was born. ‘Always Be A Unicorn’ went on to be nominated for a JUNO, win a John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize, won 1st place in the International Songwriting Competition and won a Canadian Folk Award. The song ‘5 Little Things’ went on the be placed in a national Dawn dish soap commercial.

    “It’s truly a masterpiece because songs like, “Tree house,” “Brand New Start” and most of the other songs on her albums are ingeniously creative.” – MV Remix

    She went on to write a follow up album for kids called ‘Colour It’, which also went onto win most of the previous awards but this time it was also awarded a 2014 JUNO Award.

    “Helen’s words and notes are real in the way the best moments in life are real, and she is sincere in every phrase without losing one precious moment of quirkiness.” – Indie Music Reviewer Magazine

    Helen continues to write and record music for adults, including with her new band, Big Little Lions, while still performing and making music for younger audiences. She has shared the stage with Al Simmons and Fred Penner, who presented her with her JUNO Award.

     
  • Kathy Reid-Naiman - When It's Autumn

    http://www.merriweather.ca/kathy-reid-naiman.html

    Kathy Reid-Naiman is a music specialist who teaches music and movement classes for children [aged 6 months to 5 years] in libraries and schools throughout Ontario.
    She is a multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, fiddle, Appalachian dulcimer, banjo ukulele and autoharp.

    Her many award winning children’s recordings are very popular with families with toddler’s & young children. They are used extensively by teachers looking for resources to use in their own programs. “A Smooth Road to London Town” Kathy’s fourth recording was chosen to be part of the Ontario Early Years Newborn Literacy Kit. She has just released her thirteenth CD and first DVD!

     
  • Fred Penner - Where In The World

    http://www.fredpenner.com

    At a recent keynote address to an early childhood education conference, acclaimed family entertainer, singer/songwriter, composer, actor, writer, author, TV host and keynote speaker Fred Penner delivered a simple, yet powerful message. “Never underestimate your ability to make a difference in the life of a child.”

    A gentle giant with kind eyes and an undeniable ability to make you feel good about yourself, this musical master brings 25 years of commitment, consistency and depth to a career that so skillfully blends the many genres of performing and communication, Billboard Magazine dubbed him “Mr. Multi-Media.” From delivering a prolific 12 Children’s Albums and performing countless energetically packed live shows for throngs of eager audiences across North America; to composing the music for APTN/YTV’s Tipi Tales to writing the score and hosting the TV documentary The Simple Way (focused on the relevant, world-wide topic of voluntary simplicity) he has, without a doubt, established himself as a fundamental part of the North American family entertainment scene. And whether it’s through CD’s, videos, books or television, his cornerstone philosophy remains the same: absolute trust that what he does can make a difference.

    The first children’s entertainer to headline at the Los Angeles Amphitheater, this four time recipient of the Parents’ Choice Award and the man Los Angeles Parent called the “Canadian Minister of Positivity” has successfully transformed children’s entertainment into a family affair, offering his broad talents to speak to the family unit and express his feelings about where the world is going and what children are learning.

    His pre-music experience working with troubled youth set the stage for what was to come; providing an understanding of the trauma of child abuse and the ability of music to heal. Those learnings, along with the untimely passing of his 12- year-old sister with Down’s Syndrome and subsequent passing of his father a year later, sparked a period of deep soul-searching and life-changing decisions. Inspired by his sister’s pure love of music, the man who had planned to become an economist, made a choice to become a performer. Lucky for us, he did.

    More than the music, the two-time Juno winner (equivalent of a Grammy) for Best Children’s Album Sing with Fred and eight-time nominee’s body of work is about energy and emotional connection. The guy who crawled magically out of that hollow log for 12 seasons 1985 -1997 and more than 900 episodes in the hit CBC TV show Fred Penner’s Place receives fan mail to this day from some of the 55 million American viewers where the show ran for four years on the U.S.’s Nickelodeon. Always building on a common theme rooted in integrity and a “belief in what I can do” he has created a lasting impact that crosses the generations and continues to grow.

     
  • Rattle and Strum - Rattle and Strum

    http://rattleandstrum.com

    The recipe for fun? We take a scoop of toe-tapping tunes, add a dash of silliness, then rattle and strum until we’re ready to fall over. “Rattle and Strum” gets kids of all ages dancing, clapping, singing, and playing. With Heather on guitar, Steve on drums, you on percussion, and everybody singing, this highly interactive band leaves nobody out, and is known for original music that parents enjoy too.

    Their self-titled debut album was released in August 2013, supported by a grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. It received a prestigious Parents’ Choice Gold Award, their highest stamp of approval. It was recently nominated for an IMA and a WCMA, for best children’s album. Performances have included Live From the Rock! Folk Fest in Red Rock, Ontario, and the Northern Alberta International Children’s Festival. Summer 2014 dates include the Calgary Folk Fest and Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Fest.

     
  • Alex Mahé - Réveillons les bonnes chansons

    www.alexmahe.com

    For nearly 3 decades, bilingual performer, Alex Mahé has traveled across Canada bringing songs, music and laughter to schools and family audiences. Born and raised on an Alberta farm, Alex created songs, stories and games with his nine siblings who helped ‘set the stage’ for his future music career choice. His love for children dominated his life and pursuing a career in education incorporating the arts was a natural extension.
    In 1981, Alex became Alberta’s first Early Childhood Development male college graduate. His teaching experience led him to host and co-produce the ‘Alex Mahé’s Goodtime Train’ children’s TV series as well as create songs and perform at festivals, theatres and at hundreds of schools to augment curriculum.

    Alex is a singer-songwriter, performer, grandfather, entrepreneur and teacher of young children who accompanies himself on the guitar and is equipped with a skill of presenting his art so that his audience can appreciate what they see and hear. His highly interactive folk-style performances feature original and well-known songs drawn from his six family recordings that include his own children and grandchildren’s musical talents both vocally and instrumentally.

    His kudos include iParenting Media, Parents’ Choice, Children’s Music Web & ARIA Awards. In addition to nominations by the Prairie Music, Alberta Music and Canadian Folk Music Awards he was presented a MacEwan Univerity Distinguised Alumni award. Both ‘Goodtime Train’ & ‘Maïs Soufflé’ CDs charted in Galaxie’s Top10 for ‘Best Children’s Album’ in Canada.

     

Traditional Singer of the Year

  • Ventanas - Ventanas

    www.ventanasmusic.com

    Led by powerful vocalist VENTANAS weaves in and out of upbeat Bulgarian dance tunes, Greek, Turkish and Sephardic love songs, and heart-wrenching Flamenco dances, leading captive audiences through windows into other lands and cultures.

    Ventanas was formed in 2011 when Tamar came home to Toronto from studying flamenco in Seville Spain and met up with Lemon Bucket ringleader Mark Marczyk. They began exchanging flamenco, sephardic and balkan tunes and in no time had put together a repertoire and formed a band that included long-time friends and colleauges flamenco guitarist Dennis Duffin, middle-eastern percussionist Jaash Singh and greek outi player Demetrios Petsalakis. In 2013, while Dennis and Tamar were studying flamenco in Spain, they met flamenco dancer Alexandra Talbot from Montreal and she was the perfect fit for the band.

    Ventanas released their debut album in September 2013 at Hugh’s Room in Toronto, Canada. Ventanas is embarking on their second cross-Canada tour this summer 2014.

     
  • Sarah Jane Scouten - The Cape

    www.sarahjanescouten.com

    At age 5, Sarah Jane Scouten was sitting on the dining room table, singing “Lace and Pretty Flowers,” by the late Canadian folk and country musician, Willie P. Bennett. On Bowen Island BC, she picked up her father’s guitar at age 12 and soon was happy to forgo a Friday night house party for an all-night kitchen jam. Hank Williams and Stan Rogers were her greatest inspirations, both a staple at Sunday morning pancake breakfast and afterward, singing bluegrass and gospel music with her family. Her talent for performing came naturally, and as chance would have it, so emerged a knack for song writing.
    Sarah Jane pairs sturdy, infectious melodies with lyrics that are candid, poignant and flirtatious, and has “a flair for tying emotions to arresting images.” (Penguin Eggs Magazine) She travels all over North America, gaining inspiration from contemporary and traditional folk musicians, as well as an ever-expanding collection of vintage stringed instruments.
    Based in Montreal QC, Sarah Jane recorded and co-produced her first album, Magpie Waltz (Independent) in 2011, at Concordia University’s Loyola Chapel. She sought out the fresh talents of Sarah Frank, Luke Fraser and Mathieu Lacombe to join her brilliant string band. Trilling mandolin, lavish bass and down-right bad-ass fiddle playing bring out the best in Scouten’s authentic sound. The all-string, all-acoustic record has flavours of Old Crow Medicine Show, John Prine, and a wealth of bluegrass and old-time music, whose “narratives and arrangements make for an impressive genre LP.” (Montreal Mirror) The songs are faithful to a long-standing folk music tradition, but often spill over into modern themes that are outspoken and edgy, from homelessness to midwifery to tongue-in-cheek heartache songs and unabashed Canadiana.
    Sarah Jane and her band released their second album in April 2014 with Juno-nominated producer Andrew Collins. Titled The Cape (Independent) after Sarah Jane’s ocean and woodland childhood playground Cape Roger Curtis, the record is a collection of original folk ballads, Cajun waltzes and honky-tonk two-steps, paying respect to heralds of the golden era of country music like Buck Owens, Hank Williams, Wanda Jackson and even a touch of Dolly Parton. It is a thematic study in opposites with long, dramatic songs that are both frank and harrowing next to short, hooky tunes that could have come from 60 years ago, with all the lonesomeness of Iris Dement and sensuality found in Lucinda Williams. Some songs are funny and some are extremely sad, but the new record is hard evidence of the talent packed in this band, and the maturing voice and narrative ability of an eclectic and gifted songwriter.

    Look for Sarah Jane Scouten and her brilliant string band on the road across Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom this summer as they celebrate the release of their new record.

     
  • Kim Beggs - Beauty and Breaking

    www.kimbeggs.com

    Kim Beggs is a six-time Western Canadian Music Award Nominee including this album for 2014, and two-time CFMA Nominee (2007, 2012)
    FROM http://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/tag/kim-beggs/ – “Ranked #1 on my [2014] Polaris Music Prize ballot is Kim Beggs’ independently released Beauty and Breaking.”
    “There is no mistaking that Kim Beggs’ songs are filtered through the past, with the results being as contemporary as they are timeless. Ancient tones, indeed… Acadian tradition is set alongside Dylan. Emmylou sidles with the McGarrigles, each providing an original path for Beggs’ influences. Justin Rutledge’s banjo touches remind us this month of Pete Seeger’s influence, while co-producer David Baxter’s guitar elevates the project above others recently heard. Others contributing to this incredibly satisfying album are folks like John Showman, Paul Reddick, Suzie Ungerleider, Bob Wiseman, Kim Barlow, and a dozen or so others. Still, the vision is Beggs’, and her stability, her musical and lyrical integrity and intensity allows the album to remain tight and uncompromised. Focused. Universal. Canadian. This is folk music. This is beautiful.”

     
  • Fafard & Schwartz - Borrowed Horses

    joelfafard.com/schwartz

    Fafard & Schwartz Bio
    Harlan Howard used to say that all you needed for a great country song was three chords and the truth.
    Maybe so, but when you take simple, southern-style country, folk and blues music and put it in the hands of two killer Canadian guitarists, a whole world of people start sitting up and paying attention who never even knew they liked country, folk and blues music in the first place. 
    That’s where Fafard and Schwartz come in.
    Joel Fafard is a Juno-nominated, Western Canadian Music Award-winning picker who lays down weathered, sandpaper vocals over a veritable orchestra of finger-picked harmonies and bass lines.
    You might say he’s the heart of the operation, and you might say Joel Schwartz is its soul.
    Schwartz is an accomplished session player with a history of backing folks like Royal Wood and the Great Lake Swimmers.  When he plucks out a few thoughtful riffs on his hollow-body Gretsch, layers of emotion pour forth.
    Ever since their guitars first met on a festival stage in Bella Coola B.C., Fafard and Schwartz have been devoting themselves to reviving the dusty old southern standards, and adding to the cannon with compositions of their own that embody the same simplicity and soul.
    Their style combines Fafard’s rural prairie authenticity with Schwartz’s big city grit, and their performances are pure entertainment, thanks to Fafard’s well-known penchant for spinning a hilarious yarn.  Have you heard the one about his biker friends who thought a hotel clerk was discriminating against them when the clerk told them he didn’t have any rooms?  Next morning they realized they’d bullied their way into the old folks’ home next to the hotel they’d been meaning to stay at.
    As it happens, it was the biker bar in his home town of Regina where Fafard first immersed himself in the blues. Georgia Fats was the place to go if you wanted to hear folks like Charlie Musselwhite, Amos Garret or Sue Foley.  By the time he was old enough to get in there, he was already a budding guitar wizard, inspired by the fingerpicking style of Bruce Cockburn.  His teacher was noted prairie bluesman Jack Semple. 
    Fafard first made a name for himself as an acoustic guitar instrumentalist, earning a Western Canadian Music Award for Outstanding Instrumental Album for his 2006 collection …and another thing…  and being nominated for both a Juno and a Canadian Folk Music Award. The album’s follow-up, Three Hens Escape Oblivion, received CFMA and WCMA nods and was a runner-up for an International Acoustic Music Award.  

    For years, Fafard shared his love of Southern roots through his live sets, interspersing his award-winning instrumentals with vocal covers of numbers like “John Hardy,” “Trouble in Mind,” and “Can’t Be Satisfied.”  Then, about five years ago, the revivalist in him just plumb took over.
    For Schwartz, the journey to southern roots was more about coming full circle to the music he loved as a kid.
    He grew up in the B.C. interior and studied jazz at Humber College, but his guitar guru was renowned Toronto maestro Kevin Breit.  Schwartz spent years’ worth of Mondays at Toronto’s Orbit Room, observing and learning from the cult-figure-of-a-guitarist, who has backed up everyone from Norah Jones to Celine Dion.   Eventually, Schwartz’s band, the Outlanders, began opening those sets.  And when Breit decided to close his residency, the Outlanders took over the spot.  Meanwhile, Schwartz was building a reputation of his own and was getting calls from everyone from classically-based singer Patricia O’Callaghan to new Jewish music artist Aviva Chernick (Jaffa Road.)
    But when Schwartz started trading licks with Fafard during the 2011 Discovery Coast Festival, it was clear this was one project where he’d be more than a sideman.
    Together as a team, Fafard and Schwartz use simple southern song-craft as the “bones” for breathtaking guitar arrangements and as a vessel for emotion-filled playing and singing that takes the music to whole new audiences. 

     
  • Mélisande [électrotrad] - Les métamorphoses

    www.melisandemusic.com

    Singer-songwriter Mélisande put down her pen for a while to invest herself in a new électrotrad project. Drawing from the rich heritage of traditional French-Canadian songs, she discovered jewels that she presents with a feminist twist and the resolutely modern sound of her band. Comprised of Mélisande (Mémoire Vive, Colette), Robin Boulianne (Yves Lambert, MAZ), Mark Busic (renowned producer and sound engineer) and Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand (Genticorum, Perdu l’Nord) the group offers a fresh artistic proposition to the folk-world-trad music scene. Its first album Les métamorphoses was released on May 6th 2014 on La Prûche Libre, an independent label co-owned by one of Québec’s folk music legends Yves Lambert.

    In this project, the traditional songs are arranged in a pop format with an instrumentation that combines strong vocal harmonies, acoustic and electric instruments as well as keyboards and programming. The arrangements integrate elements of trad, funk, progressive rock and electropop to create an original sound. Mélisande’s rich folk-pop-rock musical background and her mesmerizing voice give a fresh take on these traditional songs that she delivers with strong personality. Often groovy, sometimes atmospheric, the songs convey the audience to a journey through time and space to discover timeless realities of women’s life.

    The combined experience of all the band members includes numerous awards and nominations (Canadian Folk Music Awards, JUNO, ADISQ) and several thousand shows around the globe. With the support of Musicaction, the Canada Arts Council and SODEC, they are now ready to fully invest themselves in this new adventure and build a strong career in Quebec, Canada and the rest of the world.

     

Contemporary Singer of the Year

  • Jadea Kelly - Clover

    www.darthjadea.com

    JADEA KELLY

    “The Clover still grows, round the meadow though it snows” – Clover
    The triumphs upon choosing a life in music are few and far between. And as many know, finding your own unique and compelling voice is almost as rare as finding a four leaf clover.
    Thankfully, though through heartache and iron fists, Jadea Kelly has discovered her voice – an intriguing marriage of old and new. Built with heavy orchestration, darker organ pads, layered harmonies and sonic space – Clover presents a startlingly drastic, yet unified, musical shift for Jadea Kelly in 2013 – a unique union of Iris De Ment’s vocal ache with heavy Portishead ambience and percussion.
    In 2010, Jadea released Eastbound Platform, an independent release produced by David Baxter. Jadea was later nominated for new emerging artist by the Canadian Folk Music Awards which led to appearances on Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Café, Canadian festival performances, European house concert tours and even a CBC recorded performance at the Stewart Park Folk Festival in 2010. Jadea is known most prominently for her vocal work and recordings with Canadian folk artist Catherine MacLellan [Silhouette 2010] and even Canadian metal band Protest the Hero [Kezia 2005 / Scurillous 2011].
    Clover was recorded at the Woodshed Studio in Toronto and produced by Stew Crookes, known for his work with Hawksley Workman, Doug Paisley and One Hundred Dollars – and tracked in analog to 2 inch tape.
    “For a majority of the band – including myself – this was the first time in our recording history that we had tracked without the trance of a glowing computer screen” says Jadea. “Instead of judging a song based on how it appears and physically looks on screen, we closed our eyes and chose a take on how it felt”.
    It has been three years since Jadea has released a recording. This is partially due to exhaustion, but also because of heavy touring. In 2012 Jadea finally left the road, moved into the rented room of a Toronto home [with members of Run with the Kittens / Elvis Bossa Nova] and grew her first ever garden. Solace, peace and reflection came while Jadea rested and towed the soil – as did 30-40 acoustic demo recordings. These demos were completely stripped down and quickly circulated throughout the musical community.
    Crookes’ took note of the emotive, angelic vulnerability of these demos and was able to produce and lure the core strength and determination we now hear in Jadea’s voice. With the help of such Toronto players as Jason Sniderman [Blue Peter], Tom Juhas [Ride the Tiger / Friendly Rich], Nigel Hebblewhite [Run with the Kittens] and Gary Craig [Blackie and the Rodeo Kings], Crookes was able to weave a unique assortment of ambient guitars, haunting organ pads, synth bass and delayed string arrangements – all to support the rich texture of Jadea’s voice.
    Inspired and named after her grandfather’s farm in rural Ontario, Clover touches on the interconnected relationship between farming and working as a musician – and her hope to have a life in music. Although raised in suburban Whitby Ontario, the Kelly family have worked and sacrificed on this land for three generations – and it is on this farm that Jadea composed the majority of Clover.
    “Much like farming, working as a touring musician offers little financial reward – nor does it provide a guaranteed retirement. Despite this, I am fully dedicated. It is my passion and it is stitched into the very fabric of my being. Whether performing in a large hall or sewing a field with seeds, both professions are a calling and a require love of land and love of art”.
    The album artwork provides an additional visual understanding of Jadea and of Clover. The front and back album panels depict a painted wolf and crow, both decorated with green clover. Both animals, long villainized throughout history, are present within the lyrics on such tracks as “Lone Wolf” and “I’ll Be”.
    ‘Lone wolf don’t hunt like he used to. Sinks his teeth with a jaw loose’
    ‘Don’t preach what you don’t know, I’ll take flight with a black crow’
    These creatures are showcased to highlight their positive attributes, and in turn the positive attributes of Jadea. Rather than a symbol of fear or evil, the wolf has long been regarded within aboriginal folklore as a teacher and / or pathfinder. And the crow, characterized as a symbol of death or omen, was once known for its intelligence, luck and knowledge. All of the images are representations and symbols of the sorrows, obstacles, hope and growth in Jadea’s personal life in this past year.
    Clover will be released through Divergent Recordings – a new alternative imprint within the True North Records family – and Darth Jadea Music – available worldwide on May 21st 2013.
    “I am extremely proud of this record and pleased to be surrounded by so much positivity and creativity. I can’t wait to share it with everyone”.
    Jadea Kelly will kick off the release with a small promotional tour in Canada, followed by tours in North America and Europe in the fall / winter of 2013 and 2014.

     
  • Matt Andersen - Weightless

    http://www.stubbyfingers.ca/

    Matt Andersen Bio
    With over 2 million views on YouTube, independent sales over 30,000 albums, a 2013 European Blues Award, and winning Best Solo Performer at the Memphis Blues Challenge, it appears that the entire world is now discovering Matt Andersen. A powerhouse performer with a giant soul-filled voice and commanding stage presence, Matt has built a formidable following the old fashioned way – touring worldwide and letting the converted audiences and Andersen devotees spread his reputation through word of mouth. Now with Weightless, his debut album for True North Records, Matt’s music has been captured on record as never before.
    With Weightless, the New Brunswick native shifts his formidable talents as a blues performer to his song-craft. His reputation as a bluesman won him the 2013 Euro Blues Award for Best Solo /Acoustic Act, three Maple Blues Awards in 2012, and nabbed him 2010 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. “The blues is a big part of what I do, and in my solo show some tunes are straight-up blues, for sure,” he says. “But I would never stand beside B.B. King and say, ‘I play blues, too.’ None of my albums are blues albums—I’ve won blues awards with them, but I wouldn’t say they’re blues albums.”
    That’s more than evident on Weightless, where Andersen comes out of the gate swinging with I Lost My Way, one of two co-writes with Joel Plaskett, where he is singing a soul/gospel melody over a reggae groove. Then he channels Van Morrison on My Last Day, before delivering a gorgeous country ballad co-written with David Myles, So Easy. With Dave Gunning, Andersen tells the all-too-common tale of Maritimers heading west to work on the oil sands, in Alberta Gold. Hamilton’s Tom Wilson helps craft a rockabilly ode to a battered rust-belt town, City of Dreams, while Andersen’s Wolfville, N.S. neighbour Ryan Hupman lends a hand on three songs, including the title track, Between the Lines and the spiritual What Will You Leave.
    “Writing with Joel Plaskett, he’s always thinking about the hook and has a real melodic quality. I like having different angles on there. Dave Gunning is a really great storyteller, so the songs I wrote with him have more of a storytelling kind of vibe. A lot of the tunes I wrote with Keith Mullins were more a different groove than I’m used to; he’s a drummer who played with me a lot, so he brought a different sense of rhythm and phrasing. Writing with Tom Wilson was trying to play catch-up, because he just keeps writing and writing.”
    “They’re all people I’d hang around with outside of music, so it’s more friends just doing what friends do,” says Andersen, who adds that he didn’t feel any pressure on his first album with fully label supported international release. “It was nice and relaxed, a great way to write. If I write a whole album by myself it sounds like me too much, where every song sounds the same, and I’m always leery of that.
    “It keeps it fresh for me; every tune has its own personality, which I really like. I realize I write better when I write with someone, it keeps you from settling for a lyric. I go that extra mile. Going back and forth with these people, we get the best out of the idea we could.”
    Something you won’t hear on Weightless, extended guitar solos: Andersen will let you wait for his live show for that. “It’s fun to do, but on albums I want to focus on the songs more. I don’t want it to turn into something where every tune is a big wank. There’s just enough on the album that you can hear there’s some great playing, but it’s not a big instrumental feature. I don’t put myself out there as a guitarist; I think I’m more known for singing, and then guitar playing after that.”
    Andersen’s extensive discography boasts seven albums, including one Christmas album, one live album, and two albums with harmonica player Mike Stevens. His most recent album, 2011’s Coal Mining Blues, was produced by Colin Linden and was recorded at Levon Helm’s studio in Woodstock, N.Y. This time out he turned to Steve Berlin of Los Lobos for production duties; not only was Andersen a fan of that band, but he was surprised to find out that Berlin produced his favourite Tragically Hip album, Phantom Power. Berlin brought Calgary guitarist Paul Rigby on board, who is best known as Neko Case’s right-hand man. Anyone who’s ever been wowed by Andersen’s guitar chops might wonder why he’d need another guitarist, but he says, “Paul is the kind of guitar player I’m not. He had great melody ideas for arrangements and guitar parts; I had to learn my songs again after Paul was done with them.”
    One thing Andersen won’t be doing in the near future is learning other people’s songs to flesh out his set. (Andersen plays at least 200 shows a year). That’s despite the fact that a performance of him transforming Bill Withers’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” has over 855,000 views on YouTube. “When I first started playing, I did a lot of bar gigs, just like anyone,” he says. “Then when I transitioned into my own stuff, I didn’t have a whole lot of original material. And in terms of confidence, when you know what you can get out of a crowd by playing ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ it’s pretty easy to go with that to get their attention. I did that for a while; in retrospect, probably a bit too long. Now that ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ clip is most people’s introduction to me, what they’re drawn to—which is natural. It’s been a struggle, but I’ve shaken off the easy route and focused more on my own stuff at shows.”
    After hearing the instant classic material on Weightless

     
  • Del Barber - Prairieography

    http://www.delbarber.com

    DEL BARBER Prairieography
    Del Barber grew up in the Canadian Prairies, and the landscape is as much a part of him as the people he has met along the way. From the fertile Red River Valley to the pastures of the west, straight into the factory floors and slaughter houses of the city, Barber’s fourth album, Prairieography, is born out of a love for his home, its people and their stories.
    Recorded at Empire Recording in Winnipeg, the album is blanketed in warmth, subtle textures and true-to-life imperfections; the rhythm section was captured live to analogue tape and uses audio sounds from combines and augers.
    In an effort to take his creative process to new heights, Barber undertook a painstaking approach to achieve an organic sound. The reverb was recorded inside a 150-foot grain silo. “We had to disassemble the studio, scale the walls of the silo, hang microphones and a speaker,” Barber describes. “We amplified the instrument, like the pedal steel, into the silo and recorded again, then the track would have to be synched up with the song.”
    Prairieography was produced by Barber and his trusted steel player Bill Western. Using the digital and analogue recording techniques, Barber manages to channel the classic records of past heroes while still standing firmly on his own.
    Barber sings from the heart about his roots, telling tales from the road, and offering incredibly personal and sincere observations of the world around him. There is an unexpected blend of old-time country and Cajun boogie on “Living With A Long Way to Go”, however Barber still maintains his characteristic storytelling style with “Farewell, God Bless You, Goodbye,” a story about a young man trying to escape the hum of the city. “Walking In A Straight Line,” written in the present tense, chronicles a trip Del took to the Yukon from Winnipeg via Jasper Alberta. On “All That it Takes,” Del enthuses, “Sometimes three chords and a light heart are enough to make a good song. All That It Takes is just that, it’s a simple song with a hopeful feeling and a direct narrative. My co-producer Bill Western and I really wanted to incorporate a few songs on this album that would lean on heavy grooves and simple soul driven rhythm sections, All That It Takes is a song that fits directly into that mould.”
    Barber has emerged as one of the next wave in this country’s proud tradition of songwriting talent. The follow-up to his award-winning albums Love Songs for the Last Twenty and Headwaters, Prairieography is the earnest travelogue of a wandering troubadour, and the realization that creativity is rarely a bolt of lightning.
    Good songs are the result of hard work, calloused fingers and learned lessons from a life well lived.

     
  • James Keelaghan - HIstory

    http://keelaghan.com

    James Keelaghan Bio 


    James 11th CD, House of Cards was released on October 12 2009 by Borealis records. 10 new originals, some of them co-writes with such folk luminaries as David Francey, Karine Polwart and Rose Cousins make it one of his best yet. 


Called Canada’s finest singer-songwriter by one of the most respected music journalists of the last 50 years, James Keelaghan is an artist who has proven to be a man for all seasons. 
 
As the calendar pages have turned, for almost a quarter of a century now, this poet laureate of the folk and roots music world has gone about his work with a combination of passion, curiosity intent and intensity. 
 
His masterful story telling has, over the course of nine recordings, been part of the bedrock of his success, earning Keelaghan nominations and awards – including a Juno (Canada’s Grammy) – and acclaim from Australia to Scandinavia. 
 

Possessed of an insatiable appetite for finding the next unique story line, Keelaghan forges his pieces with brilliant craftsmanship and monogrammed artistic vision, making him one of the most distinctive and readily identifiable voices on both the Canadian and international singer-songwriter scenes. 
 
His journey has attracted fans of literate and layered songwriting to join him on his artistic expeditions, some of which weave their way through marvelously etched historical stories with underlying universal themes, others of which mine the depths of the soul and the emotional trails of human relations. 
 
His songbook has enlightened, enthralled, and been embraced, by audiences around the world. 
 

”I’ve always had the urge to write,” says the Calgary native who has been calling Winnipeg home for the past few years. “Some things weren’t being said in the way I wanted to say them, some thing were not being written about at all. That’s why i started to write the historical material. That led me to writing my own personal narratives as well.” . 
 
Keelaghan is a disciplined visionary with several aces up his sleeve. He loves language and history, a subject in which he earned a degree; he is a skilled thespian, which explains his ability to make an immediate connection with a live audience; and he has an ear for memorable melodies and harmonies that make those melodies glisten. 
 
Says Keelaghan, “I’m good for 80 or so books a year, mostly history and non-fiction, but inspiration can come in many forms. I’m always on the lookout for a good story or idea. My sister told me the story that became Kiri’s Piano, a song that visits a dark chapter in Canadian history: Japanese interment camps in the Second World War. The image of someone sacrificing their prized possession in order to maintain their dignity was too powerful to ignore.” 
 
Not only does Keelaghan lay claim to a deep catalogue of timeless originals like Kiri’s Piano, Fires of Calais, Cold Missouri Waters, Jenny Bryce, and Hillcrest Mine, he is also a possessive interpreter of outside material, a fine example being his gripping take on Gordon Lightfoot’s epic Canadian Railroad Trilogy from the Lighfoot tribute disc Beautiful. There are also a number of illustrations of his interpretive skills on his 2006 recording A Few Simple Verses, an homage to his roots in traditional music. The closing tune on that spellbinding set, My Blood, written with Jez Lowe, is one of many examples from Keelaghan’s career of his inviting collaboration into his creative process. 
 
“I was at the Celtic Colors Festival in 2008,” says Keelaghan, “and the producers locked six of us in a house for a week, and the company included Dave Gunning, David Francey, and Rose Cousins, it was an amazing experience. At the end of it, we had enough material for a complete show.“ 

Keelaghan has never shied away from collaboration in his live and recorded performances, touring and tracking with master musicians like Oliver Schroer, Oscar Lopez and Hugh McMillan. “If you work with people who are better than you, you become better,” he observes. 
 
 
The sparks of collaboration and the batting of melodies back and forth have produced some wonderful results, says Keelaghan, who is always finding a balance between examining the lighter and heavier sides of life. He ties it all together with a powerful vocal delivery and a commanding stage presence. 

Admiration and respect for his work amongst his peers is reflected in the words of David Francey who recently stated that “James Keelaghan is a voice in contemporary Canadian songwriting that has helped us define who we are as a people. He writes with great humanity and honesty, with an eye to the past and a vision of the future. He has chronicled his times with powerful and abiding songs, with heart and eyes wide open.” 
 
Terry Wickham, the producer of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, is one of many longtime admirers of Keelaghan’s music, and he sums up the artists appeal by saying, “James has become the complete artist. A brilliant tunesmith who has become one of the most engaging performers of our time. You always know the journey with James is going to be great, you just never know what all the destinations are. That is why the curve on his career continues to rise.” 
 
It was Dave Marsh, the award-winning American music critic and historian who not so long ago stated that James Keelaghan is “Canada’s finest songwriter.” Those few but powerful words of praise say it all about an artist who continues to set the bar at a lofty height.

     
  • Matthew Barber - Big Romance

    matthewbarber.com

    Matthew Barber returns with Big Romance his 8th studio album, with Jayhawks frontman, and leader of the Americana movement, Gary Louris on board as producer. “I’ve been a lifelong fan of Gary’s music with The Jayhawks and Golden Smog,” says Barber, adding that “it was a thrill to get to make a record with one of my contemporary musical heroes.”

    Big Romance was recorded in Toronto at Revolution Sound as well as a farmhouse studio in eastern Ontario. Drummer Dean Stone reunited with long-time Barber bassist Julian Brown to make up the rhythm section, marking the first time the two have backed Barber on record since breakout 2003 debut “Means and Ends”. Big Romance features gorgeous piano and organ work from Jesse O’Brien and Steve O’Connor, vocals from Louris and a guest appearance by Barber’s sister Jill who appears on the lead track “Hold Me”. Big Romance has soul-searching ballads, foot-stomping rockers, some groovy mid-tempo tunes and hooks-a-plenty.

     

Instrumental Solo Artist of the Year

  • Maxim Cormier - 2

    http://www.maximcormier.com

    Maxim Cormier is an award winning guitar player that demands the listener’s attention as he effortlessly provides a musical experience that is truly peaceful and yet extremely complex. It is this presentation of dynamic emotion and style that fuels every note he hits. His original works feature a modern approach to jazz, folk, blues, celtic and classical music.

    Awards:
    -WINNER: Instrumental of the Year – International Acoustic Music Awards 2014
    -WINNER: Francophone Recording of the Year – Nova Scotia Music Awards 2013

    Nominations:
    -NOMINEE: Traditional Instrumental Recording of the Year (ECMA 2014)
    -NOMINEE: Solo Instrumental Artist of the Year (Canadian Folk Music Awards 2013)
    -NOMINEE: Roots/Traditional Recording of the Year (Nova Scotia Music Awards 2013)

     
  • Gillian Boucher - Attuned

    http://www.gillian-boucher.com

    “In the hands of Gillian Boucher, the violin becomes a vehicle of transportation for the mind… Her lyrical approach and sensitivity transcends genres and cultures, transporting listeners to far off exotic places accessible only in imagination.” – Glenn Meisner, CBC Radio

    Recipient of the Nova Scotia Music Week Award in 2009 for Roots Traditional Recording of the Year and a 2010 East Coast Music Award Nomination in the same category, Gillian’s debut album, Elemental, recorded by CBC Radio-Canada received high acclaim and put her individual stamp on the world of Celtic music, seamlessly blending the music of her ancestors with sounds reflective of years of global adventure. Originally from Cape Breton Island, Gillian has delighted audiences in the Philippines, Turkey, New Zealand, Australia and the UK with her unique approach to the music of her heritage, performing either with her five-piece band, as a member of the Mary Jane Lamond Band, as a trio with Andrew White & Brendan Power, or as an acoustic duo with guitarist Seph Peters.

    While living in the UK and Ireland, Gillian founded the all-girl band Maysha and was a featured performer on Scotland’s Television Programme ‘Tacsi’. Gillan’s music can also be found on Scotland’s Foot Stompin’ Records album ‘Heat the Hoose Volume 2′ and on Irish Fiddle virtuoso Manus McGuire’s albums ‘Saphire and Blue’ and ‘Fiddlewings.’ In 2002, Gillian joined the Grey Coast Theatre Productions in northern Scotland as musical director for the production ‘Farm Land’ and a 30-date tour of the Highlands and Islands. Becoming a mum in 2003, Gillian took some time away from the spot light and founded Flying Club Music where she worked as manager and agent, dividing her time, chasing the summer sun, between New Zealand and Canada. In 2007 it was time to get back on stage and Gillian joined the team of New Scotland Productions in Nova Scotia as a member of Celtic Angels at Christmas, annually aired by BRAVO! and Vision TV.

    Highlights since then have included collaboration with harmonica genius Brendan Power (Sting, Van Morrison) and guitar virtuoso Andrew White for performances in Canada and New Zealand; a featured performance for the Canadian Ambassador of Turkey’s Canada Day Celebrations in Ankara, Turkey, where her collaboration with the Black Sea Dance group received critical acclaim and media attention from Turkish Newspaper, Radio and Television national media. In 2011, the Gillian Boucher Band featured at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow to rave reviews immediately followed by the Canadian Blast Tour of England and Wales.

    This past October saw the official release of Attuned, Boucher’s highly anticipated second album featuring a duo collaboration with long-time friend and guitarist Seph Peters (Mary Jane Lamond) featuring slicing playing and intricate musical conversation. A step away from the more contemporary attributes of Elemental, Attuned reflects the deep connection Gillian has with her Gaelic heritage and also her individualistic style, skill and command over her music, demonstrating her diversity as a traditional artist.

     
  • Steve Dawson - Rattlesnake Cage

    www.blackhenmusic.com, www.stevedawson.ca

    Sometimes it’s best to just put up a microphone in a room, sit down and play your guitar…

    This is the record that Steve Dawson’s growing number of fans have been waiting for.

    ‘Rattlesnake Cage’ finally gives them the opportunity to hear Steve interact with his guitar in a way that has never been captured on record before. Until now, hearing the sweet melodies and deep soul of Steve playing solo guitar has been a treat reserved for live audiences in intimate settings. These new simple and unadorned recordings hearken back to the ‘American Primitive’ sound that John Fahey and other artists such as Peter Lang and Leo Kottke recorded on Fahey’s iconic Takoma record label in the sixties – instrumental music informed by the deep traditions of blues, ragtime, jazz and even Hawaiian music, but taking those influences in unexpected directions. The opening track, ‘Blind Thomas at the Crime Scene’ which takes its title from Fahey’s earliest nom de plume is the recording that most clearly communicates Dawson’s respect for the American Primitive aesthetic, and gives the listener the clearest indication of what’s to come.

    Recorded with a single vintage tube microphone that had recently been rescued from decades of hanging from the ceiling rafters of an old theatre in Detroit, you can hear every detail and nuance of each note. The effect of hearing a recording this open and pure is quite astounding.

    After countless successes in the industry both as a performer and producer in his native Canada (including 7 Juno Awards as an artist and producer), Steve has relocated to Nashville, Tennessee to begin a new chapter in his career. ‘Rattlesnake Cage’ reflects all of the places Dawson has been and everything he’s heard, resulting in some of the loveliest melodies of his career as a recording artist. As much as these songs can be unobtrusive and listened to in the background at low volume, if a solo instrument is going to hold its own like this in the spotlight, the music being played on it has to have very good bones, and be able to stand up to some pretty intense scrutiny. For all their simplicity and deceptive moments of tranquility, the closer you listen to songs like ‘Lighthouse Avenue’ or ‘The Flagpole Skater Laughs From Above’, the sooner you’ll realize that this is music with fire in its belly. Fans of Reverend Gary Davis will recognize the musical references in ‘Altar at the Center Raven’ that evokes an imaginary scene at the pulpit where he preached. In the same way, ‘The Medicine Show comes to Avalon’ bounces along a razor’s edge between antique and future sounds with its heartfelt homage to the music of Mississippi John Hurt. Yet, for all of the influences Dawson tips his hat to, the sound that emerges on these recordings reflects a confluence of a lifetime’s listening to and collecting vintage songs that fuses with Dawson’s contemporary sensibilities and mastery of modern recording techniques.

    In the same way you can recognize that it’s Bert Jansch, Ry Cooder, or Mississippi John Hurt playing guitar after hearing just a few notes, Steve Dawson has established a voice for his instrument that is as distinct as any of theirs to become one of the most identifiable sounds in modern roots music. The 11 songs on ‘Rattlesnake Cage’ represent our first chance on record to hear Dawson explore the infinite possibilities offered by his pallet of acoustic guitars – both 6 and 12-string acoustics, a National tricone guitar, and a Weissenborn Hawaiian guitar – without any effects, or even a human voice to separate him from his audience. It’s rare to experience such direct communication in any kind of music these days, but the songs on the record remind us that the sound of a single instrument creating patterns out of the silence is as old as music itself.

    The fluidity of Steve’s playing makes what he does sound so effortless that it’s easy to forget that it takes years of disciplined practice to achieve such an apparent simplicity. There are lots of guitar virtuosos out there who can reel off a dizzying array of notes at lightning speed, and Dawson can certainly do that, but at a certain point, great players like him realize that sometimes less is more. Nothing on this record is superfluous. This is music that doesn’t show off or needlessly strut its stuff. Like a perfectly aged single malt, these compositions come to us fully seasoned and mature.

     
  • Jayme Stone - The Other Side of the Air

    http://jaymestone.com

    Two-time Juno-winning banjoist, composer and instigator Jayme Stone makes music inspired by sounds from around the world, bridging folk, jazz and chamber music. His award-winning albums both defy and honor the banjo’s long role in the world’s music, turning historical connections into compelling music. His most recent album, The Other Side of the Air (2013) is a travelogue of imaginary landscapes and faraway lands. The album traverses the Cinnamon Route through Persia and India, revisits and reinvents melodies Stone collected in West Africa and includes a Concerto for Banjo and Chamber Symphony.

    Room of Wonders (2010) explores music from Norway, Sweden, Bulgaria, Brazil, Italy and North America. The repertoire includes a movement from Bach’s French Suite, a Moorish sword-fighting dance and Stone’s lush, edgy originals. Africa to Appalachia (2008) is a boundary-crossing musical collaboration with griot singer Mansa Sissoko that explores the banjo’s African roots and Stone’s adventures in Mali. The Utmost (2007) draws inspiration from Japanese poetry and Brazilian literature and includes a tiny symphony that takes place inside an imaginary lightbulb. Stone is the consummate collaborator, unearthing musical artifacts and magnetizing extraordinary artists to help rekindle these understudied sounds.

    Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project is his latest adventure. Focusing on songs collected by folklorist and field recording pioneer Alan Lomax, this collaboratory brings together some of North America’s most distinctive and creative roots musicians to revive, recycle and re-imagine traditional music. The repertoire includes Bahamian sea chanties, African-American acappella singing from the Georgia Sea Islands, ancient Appalachian ballads, fiddle tunes and work songs collected from both well-known musicians and everyday folk: muleskinners, roustabouts, sawyers, prisoners, homemakers and schoolchildren. Collaborators include Grammy-winning songwriter Tim O’Brien, Bruce Molsky, Brittany Haas, Moira Smiley, Margaret Glaspy, Eli West, Julian Lage, Greg Garrison, Joe Phillips, Mollie O’Brien, Ron Miles, Drew Gonsalves and more.

    “The Yo-Yo Ma of the banjo.”
    GLOBE AND MAIL

    “This is what the future of the banjo sounds like.”
    SONGLINES

    “I take back what I said about Jayme Stone.”
    STEVE MARTIN

     
  • Robert Michaels - Via Italia

    http://robertmichaels.com/

    Multi-gold and platinum recording artist, Robert Michaels, has won the esteem of critics worldwide with award-winning performances that bring audiences to their feet every time.
    The Toronto Sun hails him, “Every inch a dazzling guitarist”, the Toronto Sun exclaims, “He is incomparable. And you simply must see him.”, while the Ottawa Sun states simply, Michaels is an “Axe God”.
    His impressive sales figures and winner of a Juno Award (Canadian Grammy) for “Best Instrumental Album” Robert received Best Vocalist, Instrumentalist and Album nominations for his self-titled fifth album, a 2-CD set. Besides his own vocal performances, the album featured contributions from acclaimed vocalist Grammy winner Jennifer Warnes; three-time Juno Award winner as Female Vocalist of the Year, Luba; Tony Award-nominated Broadway star, Louis Pitre; and multi-talented jazz singer/songwriter, Coral Egan.
    Sterling accolades and impressive figures aside, Robert is well-known as an intuitive musician with an electric energy and a captivating blend of styles. He has engaged concert goers across the globe with his heartfelt enthusiasm, leaving all with memories they won’t soon forget.

     

Instrumental Group of the Year

  • Quinn Bachand - Quinn Bachand - Brishen

    http://www.brishenmusic.com

    Despite having recorded three albums in five years, toured internationally with the likes of Ashley MacIsaac and Natalie MacMaster and taught university level master classes, the rascally way Quinn Bachand comments on his music may suggest he’s somehow less invested in his craft than others with a similar CV. Or it may simply point to the key difference between Bachand and the world-class musicians with whom he’s accustomed to sharing the stage: he’s just turned 18. Recognized as the “Young Lion” of the Celtic guitar (Daniel Lapp) and “Canada’s best Celtic guitarist” (Ashley MacIsaac), Quinn adds a contemporary edge to traditional music with unique harmonies, hard-driving strumming, inventive chord voicing and powerful rhythmic effects. He’s already won two Irish Music Awards, been nominated for three Canadian Folk Music Awards, a Western Canadian Music Award and four Vancouver Island Music Awards, winning 2013 Youth Artist of the Year. Bachand is the centerpiece of his latest music project, Brishen, or ‘bringer of the storm’, sweeping from standards by pioneer Django Reinhardt to contemporary works, including the theme to ‘Taxi Driver’ and a re-imagined Radiohead composition.

     
  • The Fretless - The Fretless

    www.thefretless.com

    The Fretless is a new approach to folk music that is quickly gaining high acclaim around the world. This unique band is taking string music to fascinating places as it transforms fiddle tunes and folk melodies into intricate, beautiful, high-energy arrangements.

    The spring of 2014 saw the release of their self titled second album to critical acclaim worldwide. The release of their debut album Waterbound in 2012 grabbed the attention of critics & fans across many genres, and also won Instrumental Album of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards, and two Canadian Folk Music Awards for Ensemble and Instrumental Group of the Year.

    Musically, the goals of the group are to expand the rhythmic, harmonic and structured style of the many folk genres they play using only string instruments. As a band, Karrnnel Sawitsky, Ivonne Hernandez, Eric Wright and Trent Freeman have come from very different traditional and contemporary backgrounds, and are influenced by a vast array of art. However, they are unified in their goal to continually develop their amalgamated sound in order to push traditional music as far as possible.

    The Fretless is an innovation in music that must be heard.

     
  • MAZ - Chasse-Galerie

    www.espacemaz.ca

    With their first album, Télescope, getting rave reviews, MAZ is known for melding traditional Québecois music, jazz and electro along with incredible on-stage energy.
    Following close on the heels of Télescope’s 2012 Juno nomination (Instrumental Album of the Year), three 2011 Canadian Folk Music Award nominations (Ensemble of the Year, Instrumental Album of the Year and World Album of the Year) and being shortlisted for Indie Acoustic Project’s Best Instrumental Album of 2011, MAZ is now scaling new heights with their second album, Chasse-Galerie.

    Since its debut, MAZ has performed official showcases at the OCFF conference (Niagara Falls, ON), the FAI (Memphis, TN), the Mundial Montréal (Montréal, QC) and the APAP (New York, NY) garnering rave reviews and further invitations to perform.
    With this visibility, MAZ has had the privilege to share its music with au¬diences from British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec in a 21 show tour passing through 11 cities and villages all across the country. To name a few, Vancou¬ver, London, Toronto and Montreal gave a warm welcome to the new sounds being proposed by the band.

     
  • The Andrew Collins Trio - A Play On Words

    www.andrewcollinsacousticmusic.com

    As a founding member of some of Canada’s most celebrated string bands, Andrew Collins is at the centre of a burgeoning Canadian acoustic music scene. He is a prolific composer, performer, educator and accomplished mandolin player. Andrew’s two longest-standing collaborative projects, the Creaking Tree String Quartet and the Foggy Hogtown Boys, have received national and international recognition for their musicianship and creativity in composition and arrangement, including several Juno nominations, Canadian Folk Music Awards.

    Andrew’s knowledge of bluegrass, jazz, old-time, folk, celtic and classical music are the foundation for his original music. He has self produced and recorded several solo albums. Most recently, his album Cats & Dogs was nominated for a 2012 Juno award for Best Solo Instrumental Album.

    In keeping with his ongoing exploration of the “Chamber Grass” genre, Andrew has assembled a Toronto-based trio of accomplished musicians equally committed to the innovation of new acoustic music. James McEleney, Mike Mezzatesta, and Andrew Collins–all well-versed in the vocabulary of roots and traditional music–join creative forces to push the boundaries of the music they love and create a compelling body of work that blurs the lines between genres. Invoking the traditional sounds of the past but evoking a distinctly contemporary aesthetic, the Andrew Collins Trio plays original compositions as well as new arrangements of pieces by some of their favorite composers, demonstrating their musical versatility. With almost two years playing together under their belts, they now are happy to present their debut release: “A Play On Words”.

     
  • Còig - Five

    www.coig.ca

    CÒIG (“Ko-ig”. Gaelic for ’5′) is an exciting ensemble consisting of five solo acts, and is one of Cape Breton’s most captivating young bands. Originally coming together for a promotional tour for the Celtic Colours International Festival, the formation proved to be something special, and the group decided to continue to tour together as a band. Proving to be a serious force to be reckoned with in the traditional music scene with their driving tunes, haunting songs and infectious energy, Còig is a treat for the ears of every audience they meet.

    Fiddler Chrissy Crowley, from Margaree, Cape Breton has an impressive list of awards, nominations, and international appearances. Chrissy embraces her Celtic roots and makes them her own, through original compositions coupled with contemporary arrangements of traditional tunes.

    Darren McMullen, from Hardwood Lands, NS, is a highly sought after multi-instrumentalist. Easily switching between guitar, mandolin, whistle and banjo with Còig, this “Swiss-army knife” keeps the rhythm sound diverse, and is sure to impress with his lead playing of his various “on-stage weapons”.

    Rachel Davis from Baddeck, Cape Breton spends her time switching from international festival stages to small local dances at home. In a genre that sees many performers pushing the envelope and testing new waters, her style of playing traditional tunes in a traditional way is a refreshing reminder of why the Cape Breton fiddle style drives so hard, and is so sought after.

    Colin Grant from Sydney, Cape Breton has been touring steadily as a solo and side performer. His respect for traditional style, combined with his drive to take the Celtic fiddle to new places results in an exciting sound that is as much Buddy MacMaster as it is Ashley MacIsaac

    Jason Roach, from Chéticamp, Cape Breton is one of the most impressive piano players you will ever hear. With a style all his own, and an unparalleled intensity on the keys, you’ll have to remind yourself that there’s other players on the stage.

    With a combined total of over 30 nominations and awards, each of Còig’s talented musicians have released their own successful solo albums, and have toured both at home and abroad before coming together as this exciting super group. Còig’s much anticipated debut album was released on June 10th, 2014.

    “Five acclaimed, award winning solo musicians in their own right, in one explosive ‘coming together’…Collectively they are a Cape Breton trad triumph…”
    - Davie Gardner, the Shetland Times, UK

     

English Songwriter of the Year

  • Del Barber - Prairieography

    http://www.delbarber.com

    DEL BARBER Prairieography
    Del Barber grew up in the Canadian Prairies, and the landscape is as much a part of him as the people he has met along the way. From the fertile Red River Valley to the pastures of the west, straight into the factory floors and slaughter houses of the city, Barber’s fourth album, Prairieography, is born out of a love for his home, its people and their stories.
    Recorded at Empire Recording in Winnipeg, the album is blanketed in warmth, subtle textures and true-to-life imperfections; the rhythm section was captured live to analogue tape and uses audio sounds from combines and augers.
    In an effort to take his creative process to new heights, Barber undertook a painstaking approach to achieve an organic sound. The reverb was recorded inside a 150-foot grain silo. “We had to disassemble the studio, scale the walls of the silo, hang microphones and a speaker,” Barber describes. “We amplified the instrument, like the pedal steel, into the silo and recorded again, then the track would have to be synched up with the song.”
    Prairieography was produced by Barber and his trusted steel player Bill Western. Using the digital and analogue recording techniques, Barber manages to channel the classic records of past heroes while still standing firmly on his own.
    Barber sings from the heart about his roots, telling tales from the road, and offering incredibly personal and sincere observations of the world around him. There is an unexpected blend of old-time country and Cajun boogie on “Living With A Long Way to Go”, however Barber still maintains his characteristic storytelling style with “Farewell, God Bless You, Goodbye,” a story about a young man trying to escape the hum of the city. “Walking In A Straight Line,” written in the present tense, chronicles a trip Del took to the Yukon from Winnipeg via Jasper Alberta. On “All That it Takes,” Del enthuses, “Sometimes three chords and a light heart are enough to make a good song. All That It Takes is just that, it’s a simple song with a hopeful feeling and a direct narrative. My co-producer Bill Western and I really wanted to incorporate a few songs on this album that would lean on heavy grooves and simple soul driven rhythm sections, All That It Takes is a song that fits directly into that mould.”
    Barber has emerged as one of the next wave in this country’s proud tradition of songwriting talent. The follow-up to his award-winning albums Love Songs for the Last Twenty and Headwaters, Prairieography is the earnest travelogue of a wandering troubadour, and the realization that creativity is rarely a bolt of lightning.
    Good songs are the result of hard work, calloused fingers and learned lessons from a life well lived.

     
  • Shari Ulrich - Everywhere I Go

    http://www.shariulrich.com

    Shari Ulrich
    One of Canada’s pre-eminent songwriters, Shari Ulrich’s artistry through Pied Pumpkin, The Hometown Band, and as a solo artist continues to inspire audiences wherever she plays. Her skills as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter have set the bar high and have been an inspiration to both her peers and to those that have followed. Apart from her solo career her collaborations with other artists – UHF with Bill Henderson and Roy Forbes in 1989, BTU with Barney Bentall & Tom Taylor in 2009, and The High Bar Gang, a 7 piece bluegrass band with Barney Bentall & Colin Nairne in 2011, have provided a plethora of musical experiences for Shari and her audience.

    Through it all Shari raised daughter Julia Graff, now 23 and herself an increasingly accomplished musician, recording engineer and producer. In fact Julia co-produced Shari’s latest release Everywhere I Go and joins her mother on stage along with McGill classmate Ted Littlemore for several gigs throughout the year.

    Borealis is more than pleased to have Shari join the label.

    “Listeners who take the time will find more substance and purpose in Ulrich’s
    music than that of any other female singer in the country today.”
    – Calgary Herald

    “Media Renaissance Woman and JUNO recipient Shari Ulrich is a treasured West
    Coast legend who has been writing and recording her own rich repertoire for
    decades now. A new album release is always cause for serious interest.”
    – John P. McLaughlin, The Province

    “I have been a fan of Shari’s from the moment I heard the sweet soul singing on
    the Hometown Band’s single “Fear Of Flying.” I admire her skills as a songwriter,
    her amazingly sensitive approach to accompanying others and her commitment
    to continuing to get out there and play. Always with a smile!”
    – Barney Bentall

     
  • James Keelaghan - HIstory

    http://keelaghan.com

    James Keelaghan Bio 


    James 11th CD, House of Cards was released on October 12 2009 by Borealis records. 10 new originals, some of them co-writes with such folk luminaries as David Francey, Karine Polwart and Rose Cousins make it one of his best yet. 


Called Canada’s finest singer-songwriter by one of the most respected music journalists of the last 50 years, James Keelaghan is an artist who has proven to be a man for all seasons. 
 
As the calendar pages have turned, for almost a quarter of a century now, this poet laureate of the folk and roots music world has gone about his work with a combination of passion, curiosity intent and intensity. 
 
His masterful story telling has, over the course of nine recordings, been part of the bedrock of his success, earning Keelaghan nominations and awards – including a Juno (Canada’s Grammy) – and acclaim from Australia to Scandinavia. 
 

Possessed of an insatiable appetite for finding the next unique story line, Keelaghan forges his pieces with brilliant craftsmanship and monogrammed artistic vision, making him one of the most distinctive and readily identifiable voices on both the Canadian and international singer-songwriter scenes. 
 
His journey has attracted fans of literate and layered songwriting to join him on his artistic expeditions, some of which weave their way through marvelously etched historical stories with underlying universal themes, others of which mine the depths of the soul and the emotional trails of human relations. 
 
His songbook has enlightened, enthralled, and been embraced, by audiences around the world. 
 

”I’ve always had the urge to write,” says the Calgary native who has been calling Winnipeg home for the past few years. “Some things weren’t being said in the way I wanted to say them, some thing were not being written about at all. That’s why i started to write the historical material. That led me to writing my own personal narratives as well.” . 
 
Keelaghan is a disciplined visionary with several aces up his sleeve. He loves language and history, a subject in which he earned a degree; he is a skilled thespian, which explains his ability to make an immediate connection with a live audience; and he has an ear for memorable melodies and harmonies that make those melodies glisten. 
 
Says Keelaghan, “I’m good for 80 or so books a year, mostly history and non-fiction, but inspiration can come in many forms. I’m always on the lookout for a good story or idea. My sister told me the story that became Kiri’s Piano, a song that visits a dark chapter in Canadian history: Japanese interment camps in the Second World War. The image of someone sacrificing their prized possession in order to maintain their dignity was too powerful to ignore.” 
 
Not only does Keelaghan lay claim to a deep catalogue of timeless originals like Kiri’s Piano, Fires of Calais, Cold Missouri Waters, Jenny Bryce, and Hillcrest Mine, he is also a possessive interpreter of outside material, a fine example being his gripping take on Gordon Lightfoot’s epic Canadian Railroad Trilogy from the Lighfoot tribute disc Beautiful. There are also a number of illustrations of his interpretive skills on his 2006 recording A Few Simple Verses, an homage to his roots in traditional music. The closing tune on that spellbinding set, My Blood, written with Jez Lowe, is one of many examples from Keelaghan’s career of his inviting collaboration into his creative process. 
 
“I was at the Celtic Colors Festival in 2008,” says Keelaghan, “and the producers locked six of us in a house for a week, and the company included Dave Gunning, David Francey, and Rose Cousins, it was an amazing experience. At the end of it, we had enough material for a complete show.“ 

Keelaghan has never shied away from collaboration in his live and recorded performances, touring and tracking with master musicians like Oliver Schroer, Oscar Lopez and Hugh McMillan. “If you work with people who are better than you, you become better,” he observes. 
 
 
The sparks of collaboration and the batting of melodies back and forth have produced some wonderful results, says Keelaghan, who is always finding a balance between examining the lighter and heavier sides of life. He ties it all together with a powerful vocal delivery and a commanding stage presence. 

Admiration and respect for his work amongst his peers is reflected in the words of David Francey who recently stated that “James Keelaghan is a voice in contemporary Canadian songwriting that has helped us define who we are as a people. He writes with great humanity and honesty, with an eye to the past and a vision of the future. He has chronicled his times with powerful and abiding songs, with heart and eyes wide open.” 
 
Terry Wickham, the producer of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, is one of many longtime admirers of Keelaghan’s music, and he sums up the artists appeal by saying, “James has become the complete artist. A brilliant tunesmith who has become one of the most engaging performers of our time. You always know the journey with James is going to be great, you just never know what all the destinations are. That is why the curve on his career continues to rise.” 
 
It was Dave Marsh, the award-winning American music critic and historian who not so long ago stated that James Keelaghan is “Canada’s finest songwriter.” Those few but powerful words of praise say it all about an artist who continues to set the bar at a lofty height.

     
  • Lennie Gallant - Live Acoustic at The Carleton

    www.lenniegallant.com

    Lennie Gallant is a native of Rustico, Prince Edward Island. This prolific songwriter has recorded ten albums (eight in English and two in French), which have won him a host of awards and nominations from the JUNOs, the East Coast Music Awards, and Les Prix Eloizes. He has toured extensively, performing his music in many parts of the world, and even saw one of his albums go up to the international space station aboard the shuttle Endeavour with Canadian Astronaut Julie Payette. He has been named to The Order Of Canada, where it was said,“Gallant has garnered much respect for his songs which chronicle the lives of people dealing with tremendous adversity, and also celebrate the beauty of the East Coast lifestyle and landscape with their strong poetry and stirring narratives.” Lennie has had his songs recorded by many artists and they have been featured in films, stage productions, and on television.

     
  • Chris Ronald - Timeline

    www.chrisronald.com

    Chris Ronald’s musical and song-writing talents have resulted in countless performances and a passionately loyal following. Though the rootsy folksinger’s natural ability to combine melody with meaning emerged at age 15, Chris’ recent efforts to reach a wider audience have been rewarded with increased acclaim and popularity. His repertoire of expertly crafted and heartfelt contemporary folk songs allows him to showcase an unmistakably accurate and versatile voice.
    Chris emigrated from his native England to Canada in 2002, and his music has been described as a meeting of British roots and North American folk with influences ranging from Neil Young to Ralph McTell or Don McLean to Nick Drake. In live performance, Chris also draws on his abilities as a storyteller and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, harmonica, ukulele) to deliver a show that can be enjoyed by all ages. Chris can often be found performing charitable and community events in and around his hometown of Vancouver as well as showcases, folk clubs, and festivals in British Columbia and beyond.
    Chris teamed up with award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist John MacArthur Ellis (Jeremy Fisher, The Be Good Tanyas, Barney Bentall) to create his third album, Timeline, which was released March 2014. Songs from this latest work have already been turning heads with successes in the coveted Kerrville New Folk and International Songwriting competitions. Chris’ attention is now focused on touring the new CD with shows already lined up in Canada, the US, and Europe.

     

French Songwriter of the Year

  • ANTOINE CORRIVEAU - LES OMBRES LONGUES

    http://www.antoinecorriveau.com/
     
  • Alexandre Poulin - Le mouvement des marées

    www.alexandrepoulin.com
     
  • Klô Pelgag - L'Alchimie des monstres

    www.klopelgag.com

    On Klô Pelgag’s first CD, L’Alchimie des monstres, voice, strings and piano soar gracefully, entrance us, leave us helpless to resist Klô’s unique pop magic.

    Chloé Pelletier-Gagnon burst into the world in 1990. “Pelgag” was created to honour both parents: an acronym at once inconvenient and memorable, cumbersome and exotic. As the years went by, the ever-more-soulful Chloé discovered she was obsessed with accents and would make the circumflex her signature. Klô began to course, sap-like, through the tree that was her life. She discovered the cleansing power of tears but also learned to resist their siren-call. As a teenager, she bade farewell to the realism of school and sought refuge in the theatre and the cinema, though neither would claim her. And early dreams of becoming a dental hygienist were soon forgotten when music came knocking at her door – a door now too small to permit escape. Numerous competitions and rewards would follow.

    The “Pelgagian” essence finds its source by the shores of the St. Lawrence: Klô’s creative laboratory is in Rivière-Ouelle and it is there that she creates her stories, working at the piano, by a window that offers a steep view into a small bay below. Drawing inspiration from the visual arts (Botero, Dali, Magritte), literature and theatre (Vian, Ionesco), cinema (André Forcier, Jean-Claude Lauzon) and music (Vigneault, Debussy, Brel, King Crimson, Zappa), Klô Pelgag writes songs for the mind’s eye. Her own eyes are open wide and her ears sharply attuned as she weaves words and music until they are one. On stage, Klô no longer works alone, but with a group of talented musicians, the Câline de Bine Band. Her arranger brother Mathieu accompanies her too, enhancing songs that are wild, poetic and orchestral in scope.

     
  • Laurence Hélie - À Présent le Passé

    http://simonerecords.net/laurence-helie/
     
  • Les Hay Babies - Mon Homesick Heart

    simonerecords.net

    The indie-folk trio hail from three small Acadian villages in New Brunswick. Julie Aubé, Katrine Noël and Vivianne Roy met during a provincial battle of the bands (Accros de la chanson) where they were each performing as solo artists. Then they ran into each other at another music contest, le Gala de la chanson de Caraquet. This time, they realized how well their unique voices and different musical influences meshed together.
    In November 2011, the group Les Hay Babies was officially born. Since then, they’ve been busy crafting a colourful folky music with only a guitar, a banjo, a ukulele, powerful lyrics, and of course, warm harmonies that could melt anyone’s heart.

     

Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year

  • Tanya Tagaq - Animism

    www.tanyatagaq.com

    Tanya Tagaq’s music isn’t like anything you’ve heard before. Unnerving and exquisite, Tagaq’s unique vocal expression may be rooted in Inuit throat singing but her music has as much to do with electronica, industrial and metal influences as it does with traditional culture.

    This Inuk punk is known for delivering fearsome, elemental performances that are visceral and physical, heaving and breathing and alive. Her shows draw incredulous response from worldwide audiences, and Tagaq’s tours tend to jump back and forth over the map of the world. From a Mexican EDM festival to Carnegie Hall, her music and performances transcend language.

    Tagaq makes musical friends and collaborators with an array of like-minded talents: opera singers, avant-garde violin composers, experimental DJs, all cutting edge and challenging. Tanya’s albums make for complex listening, but her string of Juno nominations attests to her ability to make difficult music speak a universal tongue.

    Animism was produced by west coast shape-shifter Jesse Zubot (Dan Mangan, Fond of Tigers) with additional production by Juan Hernandez. The record features Michael Red (Low Indigo), a live programmer whose wild northern field recordings often serve as Tagaq’s de facto backing band, percussionist Jean Martin and Belgian opera singer Anna Pardo Canedo.

     
  • Jasmine Netsena - Take You With Me

    www.jasminenetsena.com

    Take You With Me may be the debut album from singer/songwriter Jasmine Netsena, but the resident of Fort Nelson, BC, is far from a musical novice. Rather than rushing into a first record, she chose to steadily sharpen her vocal, compositional and performance skills. In recent years, she has charmed audiences in Nashville, Texas, New York City, and across Canada, before finally deciding to commit her songs to disc. That did take a little push, Jasmine laughingly concedes. “All my musical mentors here in the North finally told me, ‘yes, you’re ready. Take the plunge and go for it.’”

    We can be glad she did. All Netsena’s patience and hard work have paid off with a truly compelling album, one that signals the arrival of a major young talent. This is a record written and recorded in the Great White North, but it’s stylistic heart resides in the American South. Netsena grew up surrounded by the sounds of country, folk and blues, and she seamlessly incorporates these styles into her own music. The stories in these evocative songs, though, are deeply personal and strongly rooted in her homeland.

    The ever-patient Netsena wasn’t about make the record in haste. She travelled to Whitehorse for two extended sessions in late 2013 with noted producer Bob Hamilton. His work with acclaimed singer/songwriters Kim Beggs and Indio Saravanja had caught Jasmine’s ear, so the pair settled into Hamilton’s Old Crow Recording studio, along with an A-list cast of players that included Marie Gogo, Annie Avery, Leela Gilday, Robert Bergman, Ed White and Katie Avery.

    The nine original songs on the record are those Jasmine considered the strongest compositions from her last eight years of writing. Lyrically, they cover a wide swathe of territory. The poignant and personal title track employs organ and backing vocals to add emotional resonance to the story of a mother forced to leave her children. “A writer friend of mine suggested naming the album after the song most personal to me, and that was ‘Take You With Me,’” Netsena explains. Equally autobiographical is “Dreamed Of You,” a song in which such lines as “I turned 23 in Harlem, now I’m 24 in the NWT” are punctuated by swirling organ and jangling guitar.

    Pedal steel and harmony vocals from Gogo give depth to “Rearview,” dobro is prominent on the sparse ballad “Lie To Myself,” while “Sweet Companion” shows Jasmine can be equally convincing on a slow blues number. Adding levity to the textures of the album is the up-tempo “Bad Cook,” a tragic tale of culinary ineptitude.

    Netsena’s natural eclecticism is reflected in her choice of the two cover songs on the record. Written by Carlene Carter and Susanna Clark, the classic country-folk tune “Easy From Now On” is best known via Emmylou Harris’ version. “Emmylou is definitely one of my favourite artists,” Jasmine says, and she does the song (and Emmy) real justice. “Nothing In Rambling” is an old Mississippi blues tune co-written and made famous by the legendary Memphis Minnie, and the passion and purity in Jasmine’s version brings Maria Muldaur to mind.

    Music was a big part of Netsena’s life growing up in B.C..”My First Nation heritage is Dene and Tahltan, and my grandmas would sing to me a lot, in their first language,” she recalls. “Those were mostly drum-based songs. My mum is a huge music fan, and I grew up to a lot of country and folk music, from George Jones to Neil Young and Bob Dylan.”

    Jasmine’s singing talent was evident from an early age. As a teenager in Vancouver, she had vocal training in the classical and opera fields, and she continued studies at The Royal Conservatory in Toronto and Ottawa while attending (respectively) Seneca College and Algonquin College. This training shows in the controlled power of her voice, yet it is an instrument that retains a very unforced and organic sensibility.

    After teaching herself guitar, Netsena’s focus then turned to writing and performing original roots-oriented songs. A year spent living in Manhattan proved a creative turning point, she explains. “One of my best friends there was a stand-up comic who ran an open mic night. I’d been too shy to get up and sing, but she forced me into it and that got me over my stage fright. I started playing every open mic night I could find, four or five times a week, and then I’d write songs on the weekend.”

    With her self-confidence boosted, Jasmine then began making a mark in both the media and music fields back in the Canadian North. She worked as a radio announcer at stations in Yellowknife and Whitehorse, and then for APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network), on the series “Our Dene Elders.” The Truth and Reconciliation Commission recruited her as a story collector, interviewing first nations survivors of residential schools, and she participated in other research and video projects. Since 2011, Jasmine has been working with the Lands Department in the North as a field technician, tracking numbers of animals potentially impacted by oil and gas development. These rich life and work experiences have inevitably had a real impact on her as a songwriter, one whose heartfelt narratives deal with such emotional themes as family, separation, love and loss, joy and sadness.

    Netsena continued to perform at various clubs and festivals in the North, and in 2009 she showcased at Aboriginal Music Week in Winnipeg. The following year, she was featured on the APTN show Rising Stars, a tag she is certainly now living up to. In 2011, she headlined a concert at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) in Yellowknife, part of the centre’s annual Northern Performer Series. In 2012, she performed at the Grand Ole Northern Opry, with Grammy Award winner Laurie Lewis as headliner, at the Yukon Arts Centre in Whitehorse.

    Along the way, Jasmine has become a valued member of the tight-knit roots music community in the North. She acknowledges such peers as Kim Barlow (a song they co-wrote, “Winter Fuel,” is on the album), Indio Saravanja, and Kim Beggs as real mentors, noting “there is no way I could have made this first record alone. I was very honest about what I needed, and they all been so very open and helpful.”

    With Take You With Me set for release on April 22, her performance schedule is heating up. On May 14, she and fellow songstress Ann Vriend will share a joint album launch at Vancouver’s roots music mecca, The Railway Club. Jasmine will then play shows in Alberta, while Ontario dates are expected in the fall.

    2014 is shaping up as a banner year for Jasmine Netsena, thanks to this vibrant and richly rewarding album. It is indeed one you will want to take with you.

     
  • Buffy & larry - Surrounded

    http://www.buffylarry.com

    Buffy & Larry are a strong musical duo who write and perform in a way that immediately transports you to a peaceful place. Award winning guitar player and songwriter Larry Boutilier met his music alterego in Buffy MacNeil. Their musical styling is influenced by their Bluegrass and Celtic roots and together they have created Country embraced by all.

    The support of family during their musical development has greatly influenced Buffy & Larry to put their love of music, family and each other in song. Larry Boutilier was born into an award winning musical family led by his grandfather ‘Fiddlin’ Bill’. ‘The Boutilier Brothers’, his father’s band was awarded the Stompin’ Tom Award. Larry’s own band ‘The Birch Mountain Bluegrass Band’ took home three East Coast Music Awards in 2005.

    The year 2005 also found Buffy MacNeil leaving Cape Breton with her fiddle and compelling voice to follow her own musical vision. Buffy began singing at local concerts and gatherings at a very early age. Her grandfather’s love of traditional Celtic music brought the fiddle to her hands with pride. The great fortune of being raised on the musically rich soil of Cape Breton gave way to instruction from fiddle legends John Donald Cameron and Gordon Cote.

    Buffy & Larry have spent several years in Northern Canada growing their family and nurturing their musical direction. ‘The Petals From The Roses’ was their first collaboration together in ‘The Birch Mountain Bluegrass Band” released in 2006 which received an ECMA nomination. The time has arrived for everyone to experience their magic as Buffy & Larry.

     
  • Indian City - Colors

    www.indiancity.ca

    Indian City
    Based out of Winnipeg Manitoba in the heart of Turtle Island Indian City brings to life music that stretches across the colorful landscape of pop, alternative rock, creatively fused with indigenous imagery. Drawing their inspiration from urban indigenous themes, Indian City captures it all with themes and lyrics that touch all aspects of the heart throbbing emotion of city life. The band consists of founder Vince Fontaine, singer Pamela Davis, vocalist Neewa Mason, Atik Mason on bass, Gerry Atwell on keyboard and Steve Broadhurst on drums. Rounding out the band is vocal stars Don Amero and William Prince.

     
  • Amanda Rheaume & John MacDonald of Amanda Rheaume - Keep a Fire

    www.amandarheaume.com

    Métis singer-songwriter Amanda Rheaume is a powerful vocalist with just a touch of grit and an instantly-accessible roots-pop-Americana sound. Her latest album “Keep a Fire” was nominated for a 2014 Juno and is a varied and evocative collection of mostly story-songs about her ancestors that more than lives up to the tradition of epic family-of-origin albums.

    Amanda’s songwriting style provides the perfect vehicle to get her narratives across, whether she’s playing solo with just her guitar, or there’s a full band behind her, the song is invariably the attraction.

    Her life as a travelling musician has taken her down many roads. Performing over 160 shows a year, Amanda has delivered her unique blend of folk-country-pop twinged tracks to audiences around the world, including the USA, Europe, Faroe Islands, Central America and more. She has been touring Canada relentlessly since 2010.

    Possessed of a powerful, slightly gritty and slightly Alanis-like singing voice and an ear for catchy melodies and instantly-accessible roots-pop arrangements, Rheaume won $40,000 in Live 88.5’s 2008 Big Money Shot competition. She began releasing EPs in 2007, culminating in a fundraising Christmas collection for Boys and Girls Clubs of Ottawa that sold 6500 copies locally. For the past several years, she has organized Ottawa’s Bluebird North songwriter showcases and co-organized the Babes for Breasts concerts and recording projects to raise money for breast cancer. In addition, she’s performed for the troops in Afghanistan three times and raised money on tour for the families of military personnel.

     

Vocal Group of the Year

  • Gathering Sparks - Gathering Sparks

    www.gatheringsparks.com

    GATHERING SPARKS is the graceful collision of Eve Goldberg, Jane Lewis, and Sam Turton—musical friends who bonded over finely tuned harmonies and the craft of songwriting. The trio’s inclusive approach embraces blues, gospel, folk, and pop influences tastefully played on acoustic and slide guitar, piano, accordion, ukulele, and banjo.

    With their love of participatory group singing and their infectious mix of styles, Gathering Sparks is already making waves. Whether they are singing an a capella sea shanty, busting out kazoos for a jazzy swing tune, getting down and low with the blues, or leading a well-known classic, Gathering Sparks performances make fans out of listeners with their stellar harmonies and fine musicianship.

    “The combination of three performers plumbing the depths of gospel, folk, and singer-songwriter traditions with talent and grace makes Gathering Sparks one of the most entertaining trios our audience has seen. They couldn’t stop raving about them.”
    - Bob LeDrew, BobCat House Concerts, Ottawa

    EVE GOLDBERG has lifted audiences across North America with her heartfelt and insightful songs and solid instrumental work. Her fluid vocals embrace all the styles she loves—folk, blues, country, bluegrass, old time, and jazz—with equal affection and mastery.

    JANE LEWIS has followed her love of words from the printing press to the spotlight with soul-bending lyrics, transcendent compositions, and crystal clear vocals. Her thoughtful piano and accordion playing, mastery of harmony, and upbeat presence add a sparkle to any stage.

    SAM TURTON brings a powerful delivery, ringing slide guitar, and soulful groove to his songs of personal and social awareness. Inspired by delta blues and southern gospel, Sam’s passion is bringing people together in song.

    As solo performers, Eve, Jane, and Sam had each carved out their own niche in the folk/roots scene. But when they came together for a one-time triple bill in 2012, there was a certain “spark” that couldn’t be denied. The three loved the magic that came from the gathering of their songs, voices, instruments and styles, and a bona fide trio was born.

    In April 2014, Gathering Sparks released their first recording. With minimal overdubs, the 6-song CD captures the rich harmonies and instrumentation of the trio’s live sound. Band members each take a turn at songwriting and singing lead on original songs in a variety of styles.

    “What a delight! Great songs, great singing and lovely harmonies. I’m singing along as if I‘ve known these songs forever.”
    - Sharon Hampson of Sharon, Lois & Bram

    Looking ahead, Gathering Sparks has a busy schedule through 2014 and into 2015, with appearances and workshops at summer festivals, music camps, concert series and house concerts.

     
  • The Marrieds - Saving Hope

    www.themarrieds.ca

    London, ON duo Jane Carmichael and Kevin Kennedy officially formed as The Marrieds in 2010 when they posted 3 snow day songs on YouTube during London’s “Snowmageddon.” The songs received thousands of views and captured the attention of CBC Radio, making them “The Sound of the Day” across Canada. Now with two full-length albums and having shared the stage with such artists as Kathleen Edwards, Bahamas, Danny Michel, Treble Charger, The Trews, Colleen Brown, and Ian Thomas, among others, The Marrieds are winning audiences over with their melodic songs, clever lyrics, and sweet harmonies, along with their charming husband & wife stage banter. Their nominations include a 2013 Jack Richardson Music Award in the Folk/Roots Category, a 2012 Jack Richardson Music Award in the Fan Favourite category, and a 2012 Toronto Independent Music Award in the Folk/Roots Category. The Marrieds were on The London Free Press’s Top 10 Albums of 2013, were voted Regional Top 20 in CBC’s Searchlight Competition 2013 and Regional Top 10 in 2014. They were the Jury’s Pick for CHRW 94.9′s 2014 Local Album of the Year, and were the 2014 Jack Richardson Music Award winners in the Folk/Roots Category.

     
  • Sweet Alibi - We've Got To

    sweetalibi.com

    Sweet Alibi could’ve gotten away with another soulful, folk-pop blended self-titled album like their first which earned the talented trio a nomination for best vocalist at the 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards, plus seemingly endless accolades from fans and talent buyers across the country. Instead, despite a tumultuous past few years for Jess Rae Ayre, Michelle Anderson and Amber Quesnel, they created a more introspective and inspirational sophomore album by answering their own nagging question about whether there would be a follow up album at all.
    The answer was unanimous: We’ve Got To…

    The Three ladies have been captivating audiences across Canada for the past few years . The Winnipeg based Folk/Pop trio infuse their Hallmark harmonies with influences of everything from folk, to country , to soul , without a hint of shame . Sweet Alibi share personal experiences genuinely in song , and will have you dancing and singing along . Tom Power CBC Radio 2 Describes the band as simply as this ….” If Mumford and Sons and the Supreme’s had a love child you would name it Sweet Alibi ” . The Band is now Currently touring new material from their sophomore release We’ve Got To (produced by Rusty Matyas of Imaginary Cities) , this Winnipeg-based band grabs your heart and won’t let go !

     
  • The High Bar Gang - Lost and Undone: A Gospel Bluegrass Companion

    http://www.highbargang.com/

    THE HIGH BAR GANG
    LOST AND UNDONE:
    A GOSPEL BLUEGRASS COMPANION

    Barney Bentall: vocals – guitar / Rob Becker: vocals – stand-up bass / Wendy Bird: vocals / Angela Harris: vocals / Colin Nairne: vocals – guitar – mandolin / Eric Reed: banjo – mandolin – Dobro / Shari Ulrich: vocals – fiddle – mandolin

    In 2006, I went to my first Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco. I’ve been back almost every year. Sometimes playing, sometimes just hanging out. It was there in Speedway Meadows that I reconnected with the music of Dr. Ralph Stanley, Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs and also where I saw some of the finest new bluegrass groups like the Punch Brothers and Crooked Still. It brought to mind that when I was much younger, my first rock band would listen to The Dillard’s or Jimmy Martin while driving the freakishly long highways across Northern Alberta in our converted school bus, trying to see the road through the blowing snow. Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley gave us comfort as Red Allen pushed us onwards.

    Hardly Strictly inspired thoughts of putting a bluegrass band together, so I schemed. That took a couple of years. Then I made the phone calls. My wife Wendy Bird sings, so she was in. Rob Becker is a great bassist and I’ve always wanted to play in a band with him so he got a call. Eric Reed plays great mandolin and Dobro plus he could cover the banjo parts, so he was in. Angela Harris sings so beautifully and harmonizes so well with Wendy. Now I’m thinking we need one more female voice who can cover the weird parts, ride shotgun over the vocal arrangements and play fiddle and that was Shari Ulrich (who joined kicking and screaming that she had no time to join another band). My long time musical compadre Barney Bentall jumped in to play guitar and sing some of the songs and add the low parts to the ladies numbers. We had a rehearsal. Rob said if we are going to rehearse we need a gig, so we bought some cowboy suits and booked two nights at the Eagles Club. Barney offered up the name “The High Bar Gang” after a lonely spot on the banks of the mighty Fraser River called ‘High Bar Canyon’. The Eagles Club had a small banquet hall with an even smaller stage and catered mostly to meetings of the Ladies Auxiliary and community award ceremonies. A perfect size for us! We called our friends to buy tickets, with the main selling point that it had a bar with cheap drinks. Our good friend Tom Taylor agreed to open the show, giving us the piece of mind that if we failed miserably he could come back onstage and play for the folks while we snuck out the back. On September 24th 2010 a very nervous High Bar Gang took the stage. I emailed our pal Ry Cooder the next day with the good news we made it through unscathed. He wanted to make sure the songs were right so he sent the repertoire. This became the Lost and Undone: A Gospel Bluegrass Companion record. The performances are of us live. No overdubs. In Barn’s living room. Four microphones. Mono. Colin Nairne – The High Bar Gang

     
  • The Fugitives - Everything Will Happen

    http://www.fugitives.ca/

    To record their first release in three years, Vancouver-based indie folk collective The Fugitives was just hoping to stay home. After eight years of touring Canada and Europe, they’d drained most of the romance out of cramped cars, long roads, and eating sandwiches out of gas station refrigerators. So they surprised themselves by trucking three thousand kilometres to record Everything Will Happen, their new full-length album from Light Organ Records, in Toronto. A big reason was the chance to work with producer John Critchley (Dan Mangan, Elliot BROOD, Amelia Curran). The other might be that they feel most at home in new territory.

    When not touring as musicians, current frontmen and songwriters Brendan McLeod and Adrian Glynn are active in other artistic pursuits. McLeod is an award winning novelist and former Canadian SLAM poetry champion, while Glynn is a working actor who received rave reviews for his role in Chelsea Hotel, a play based on the songs and poems of Leonard Cohen. Their band is similarly eclectic, boasting prominent former members like Mark Berube and CR Avery, and a current rotating cast of supporters that includes violin-looping prodigy Hannah Epperson, multi-instrumentalist Steve Charles, and renowned actor Benjamin Elliot, alongside a host of multi-instrumentalists whose styles range from bluegrass to jazz.

    This diversity has carried over to their records and live performances. Their first full-length received a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination for “Pushing the Boundaries” of contemporary roots music, and their follow-up was praised for being “eclectic and exciting” (See), “poignant” (Uptown), and “infectious” (CBC). They’ve gone on to sell out shows at venues as diverse as the Vienna Literary Festival, the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, and the Vancouver Jazz Festival, while maintaining a frequent spot on the Canadian folk festival circuit. As McLeod puts it, “We’re like Broken Social Scene. But acoustic, and way less famous.”

    Everything Will Happen is the follow-up to last summer’s four song EP, Bigger than Luck, which charted internationally on CMJ and rode the !earshot national folk charts for eight straight weeks. It finds The Fugitives maintaining their expansive folk instrumentation while narrowing the songwriting focus. McLeod and Glynn co-wrote the songs, halving their usual number of writers, and brought long-term members in afterwards to flesh out the tunes musically. The result is their fullest sound to date, an effort that combines the lyrical intimacy of singer-songwriters with the festive atmosphere of old collaborators reuniting. “While it’s fun sitting around our living rooms writing horn lines with our mouths, it wouldn’t sound too great on a recording,” shrugs Glynn. “Thank God for talented friends.”

    And now, on to more gas station sandwiches.

     

Ensemble of the Year

  • Quinn Bachand - Quinn Bachand - Brishen

    http://www.brishenmusic.com

    Despite having recorded three albums in five years, toured internationally with the likes of Ashley MacIsaac and Natalie MacMaster and taught university level master classes, the rascally way Quinn Bachand comments on his music may suggest he’s somehow less invested in his craft than others with a similar CV. Or it may simply point to the key difference between Bachand and the world-class musicians with whom he’s accustomed to sharing the stage: he’s just turned 18. Recognized as the “Young Lion” of the Celtic guitar (Daniel Lapp) and “Canada’s best Celtic guitarist” (Ashley MacIsaac), Quinn adds a contemporary edge to traditional music with unique harmonies, hard-driving strumming, inventive chord voicing and powerful rhythmic effects. He’s already won two Irish Music Awards, been nominated for three Canadian Folk Music Awards, a Western Canadian Music Award and four Vancouver Island Music Awards, winning 2013 Youth Artist of the Year. Bachand is the centerpiece of his latest music project, Brishen, or ‘bringer of the storm’, sweeping from standards by pioneer Django Reinhardt to contemporary works, including the theme to ‘Taxi Driver’ and a re-imagined Radiohead composition.

     
  • Ventanas - Ventanas

    www.ventanasmusic.com

    Led by powerful vocalist VENTANAS weaves in and out of upbeat Bulgarian dance tunes, Greek, Turkish and Sephardic love songs, and heart-wrenching Flamenco dances, leading captive audiences through windows into other lands and cultures.

    Ventanas was formed in 2011 when Tamar came home to Toronto from studying flamenco in Seville Spain and met up with Lemon Bucket ringleader Mark Marczyk. They began exchanging flamenco, sephardic and balkan tunes and in no time had put together a repertoire and formed a band that included long-time friends and colleauges flamenco guitarist Dennis Duffin, middle-eastern percussionist Jaash Singh and greek outi player Demetrios Petsalakis. In 2013, while Dennis and Tamar were studying flamenco in Spain, they met flamenco dancer Alexandra Talbot from Montreal and she was the perfect fit for the band.

    Ventanas released their debut album in September 2013 at Hugh’s Room in Toronto, Canada. Ventanas is embarking on their second cross-Canada tour this summer 2014.

     
  • The Fretless - The Fretless

    www.thefretless.com

    The Fretless is a new approach to folk music that is quickly gaining high acclaim around the world. This unique band is taking string music to fascinating places as it transforms fiddle tunes and folk melodies into intricate, beautiful, high-energy arrangements.

    The spring of 2014 saw the release of their self titled second album to critical acclaim worldwide. The release of their debut album Waterbound in 2012 grabbed the attention of critics & fans across many genres, and also won Instrumental Album of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards, and two Canadian Folk Music Awards for Ensemble and Instrumental Group of the Year.

    Musically, the goals of the group are to expand the rhythmic, harmonic and structured style of the many folk genres they play using only string instruments. As a band, Karrnnel Sawitsky, Ivonne Hernandez, Eric Wright and Trent Freeman have come from very different traditional and contemporary backgrounds, and are influenced by a vast array of art. However, they are unified in their goal to continually develop their amalgamated sound in order to push traditional music as far as possible.

    The Fretless is an innovation in music that must be heard.

     
  • The High Bar Gang - Lost and Undone: A Gospel Bluegrass Companion

    http://www.highbargang.com/

    THE HIGH BAR GANG
    LOST AND UNDONE:
    A GOSPEL BLUEGRASS COMPANION

    Barney Bentall: vocals – guitar / Rob Becker: vocals – stand-up bass / Wendy Bird: vocals / Angela Harris: vocals / Colin Nairne: vocals – guitar – mandolin / Eric Reed: banjo – mandolin – Dobro / Shari Ulrich: vocals – fiddle – mandolin

    In 2006, I went to my first Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco. I’ve been back almost every year. Sometimes playing, sometimes just hanging out. It was there in Speedway Meadows that I reconnected with the music of Dr. Ralph Stanley, Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs and also where I saw some of the finest new bluegrass groups like the Punch Brothers and Crooked Still. It brought to mind that when I was much younger, my first rock band would listen to The Dillard’s or Jimmy Martin while driving the freakishly long highways across Northern Alberta in our converted school bus, trying to see the road through the blowing snow. Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley gave us comfort as Red Allen pushed us onwards.

    Hardly Strictly inspired thoughts of putting a bluegrass band together, so I schemed. That took a couple of years. Then I made the phone calls. My wife Wendy Bird sings, so she was in. Rob Becker is a great bassist and I’ve always wanted to play in a band with him so he got a call. Eric Reed plays great mandolin and Dobro plus he could cover the banjo parts, so he was in. Angela Harris sings so beautifully and harmonizes so well with Wendy. Now I’m thinking we need one more female voice who can cover the weird parts, ride shotgun over the vocal arrangements and play fiddle and that was Shari Ulrich (who joined kicking and screaming that she had no time to join another band). My long time musical compadre Barney Bentall jumped in to play guitar and sing some of the songs and add the low parts to the ladies numbers. We had a rehearsal. Rob said if we are going to rehearse we need a gig, so we bought some cowboy suits and booked two nights at the Eagles Club. Barney offered up the name “The High Bar Gang” after a lonely spot on the banks of the mighty Fraser River called ‘High Bar Canyon’. The Eagles Club had a small banquet hall with an even smaller stage and catered mostly to meetings of the Ladies Auxiliary and community award ceremonies. A perfect size for us! We called our friends to buy tickets, with the main selling point that it had a bar with cheap drinks. Our good friend Tom Taylor agreed to open the show, giving us the piece of mind that if we failed miserably he could come back onstage and play for the folks while we snuck out the back. On September 24th 2010 a very nervous High Bar Gang took the stage. I emailed our pal Ry Cooder the next day with the good news we made it through unscathed. He wanted to make sure the songs were right so he sent the repertoire. This became the Lost and Undone: A Gospel Bluegrass Companion record. The performances are of us live. No overdubs. In Barn’s living room. Four microphones. Mono. Colin Nairne – The High Bar Gang

     
  • Notre Dame de Grass - That's How the Music Begins

    notredamedegrass.com

    Notre Dame de Grass is a five-piece Canadian bluegrass band specializing in original songs and instrumental material. While staying true to the conservative sensibilities of bluegrass music, Notre Dame de Grass draws from the deep well of North American folk tradition to inform their work.

     

Solo Artist of the Year

  • Del Barber - Prairieography

    http://www.delbarber.com

    DEL BARBER Prairieography
    Del Barber grew up in the Canadian Prairies, and the landscape is as much a part of him as the people he has met along the way. From the fertile Red River Valley to the pastures of the west, straight into the factory floors and slaughter houses of the city, Barber’s fourth album, Prairieography, is born out of a love for his home, its people and their stories.
    Recorded at Empire Recording in Winnipeg, the album is blanketed in warmth, subtle textures and true-to-life imperfections; the rhythm section was captured live to analogue tape and uses audio sounds from combines and augers.
    In an effort to take his creative process to new heights, Barber undertook a painstaking approach to achieve an organic sound. The reverb was recorded inside a 150-foot grain silo. “We had to disassemble the studio, scale the walls of the silo, hang microphones and a speaker,” Barber describes. “We amplified the instrument, like the pedal steel, into the silo and recorded again, then the track would have to be synched up with the song.”
    Prairieography was produced by Barber and his trusted steel player Bill Western. Using the digital and analogue recording techniques, Barber manages to channel the classic records of past heroes while still standing firmly on his own.
    Barber sings from the heart about his roots, telling tales from the road, and offering incredibly personal and sincere observations of the world around him. There is an unexpected blend of old-time country and Cajun boogie on “Living With A Long Way to Go”, however Barber still maintains his characteristic storytelling style with “Farewell, God Bless You, Goodbye,” a story about a young man trying to escape the hum of the city. “Walking In A Straight Line,” written in the present tense, chronicles a trip Del took to the Yukon from Winnipeg via Jasper Alberta. On “All That it Takes,” Del enthuses, “Sometimes three chords and a light heart are enough to make a good song. All That It Takes is just that, it’s a simple song with a hopeful feeling and a direct narrative. My co-producer Bill Western and I really wanted to incorporate a few songs on this album that would lean on heavy grooves and simple soul driven rhythm sections, All That It Takes is a song that fits directly into that mould.”
    Barber has emerged as one of the next wave in this country’s proud tradition of songwriting talent. The follow-up to his award-winning albums Love Songs for the Last Twenty and Headwaters, Prairieography is the earnest travelogue of a wandering troubadour, and the realization that creativity is rarely a bolt of lightning.
    Good songs are the result of hard work, calloused fingers and learned lessons from a life well lived.

     
  • Shari Ulrich - Everywhere I Go

    http://www.shariulrich.com

    Shari Ulrich
    One of Canada’s pre-eminent songwriters, Shari Ulrich’s artistry through Pied Pumpkin, The Hometown Band, and as a solo artist continues to inspire audiences wherever she plays. Her skills as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter have set the bar high and have been an inspiration to both her peers and to those that have followed. Apart from her solo career her collaborations with other artists – UHF with Bill Henderson and Roy Forbes in 1989, BTU with Barney Bentall & Tom Taylor in 2009, and The High Bar Gang, a 7 piece bluegrass band with Barney Bentall & Colin Nairne in 2011, have provided a plethora of musical experiences for Shari and her audience.

    Through it all Shari raised daughter Julia Graff, now 23 and herself an increasingly accomplished musician, recording engineer and producer. In fact Julia co-produced Shari’s latest release Everywhere I Go and joins her mother on stage along with McGill classmate Ted Littlemore for several gigs throughout the year.

    Borealis is more than pleased to have Shari join the label.

    “Listeners who take the time will find more substance and purpose in Ulrich’s
    music than that of any other female singer in the country today.”
    – Calgary Herald

    “Media Renaissance Woman and JUNO recipient Shari Ulrich is a treasured West
    Coast legend who has been writing and recording her own rich repertoire for
    decades now. A new album release is always cause for serious interest.”
    – John P. McLaughlin, The Province

    “I have been a fan of Shari’s from the moment I heard the sweet soul singing on
    the Hometown Band’s single “Fear Of Flying.” I admire her skills as a songwriter,
    her amazingly sensitive approach to accompanying others and her commitment
    to continuing to get out there and play. Always with a smile!”
    – Barney Bentall

     
  • James Keelaghan - HIstory

    http://keelaghan.com

    James Keelaghan Bio 


    James 11th CD, House of Cards was released on October 12 2009 by Borealis records. 10 new originals, some of them co-writes with such folk luminaries as David Francey, Karine Polwart and Rose Cousins make it one of his best yet. 


Called Canada’s finest singer-songwriter by one of the most respected music journalists of the last 50 years, James Keelaghan is an artist who has proven to be a man for all seasons. 
 
As the calendar pages have turned, for almost a quarter of a century now, this poet laureate of the folk and roots music world has gone about his work with a combination of passion, curiosity intent and intensity. 
 
His masterful story telling has, over the course of nine recordings, been part of the bedrock of his success, earning Keelaghan nominations and awards – including a Juno (Canada’s Grammy) – and acclaim from Australia to Scandinavia. 
 

Possessed of an insatiable appetite for finding the next unique story line, Keelaghan forges his pieces with brilliant craftsmanship and monogrammed artistic vision, making him one of the most distinctive and readily identifiable voices on both the Canadian and international singer-songwriter scenes. 
 
His journey has attracted fans of literate and layered songwriting to join him on his artistic expeditions, some of which weave their way through marvelously etched historical stories with underlying universal themes, others of which mine the depths of the soul and the emotional trails of human relations. 
 
His songbook has enlightened, enthralled, and been embraced, by audiences around the world. 
 

”I’ve always had the urge to write,” says the Calgary native who has been calling Winnipeg home for the past few years. “Some things weren’t being said in the way I wanted to say them, some thing were not being written about at all. That’s why i started to write the historical material. That led me to writing my own personal narratives as well.” . 
 
Keelaghan is a disciplined visionary with several aces up his sleeve. He loves language and history, a subject in which he earned a degree; he is a skilled thespian, which explains his ability to make an immediate connection with a live audience; and he has an ear for memorable melodies and harmonies that make those melodies glisten. 
 
Says Keelaghan, “I’m good for 80 or so books a year, mostly history and non-fiction, but inspiration can come in many forms. I’m always on the lookout for a good story or idea. My sister told me the story that became Kiri’s Piano, a song that visits a dark chapter in Canadian history: Japanese interment camps in the Second World War. The image of someone sacrificing their prized possession in order to maintain their dignity was too powerful to ignore.” 
 
Not only does Keelaghan lay claim to a deep catalogue of timeless originals like Kiri’s Piano, Fires of Calais, Cold Missouri Waters, Jenny Bryce, and Hillcrest Mine, he is also a possessive interpreter of outside material, a fine example being his gripping take on Gordon Lightfoot’s epic Canadian Railroad Trilogy from the Lighfoot tribute disc Beautiful. There are also a number of illustrations of his interpretive skills on his 2006 recording A Few Simple Verses, an homage to his roots in traditional music. The closing tune on that spellbinding set, My Blood, written with Jez Lowe, is one of many examples from Keelaghan’s career of his inviting collaboration into his creative process. 
 
“I was at the Celtic Colors Festival in 2008,” says Keelaghan, “and the producers locked six of us in a house for a week, and the company included Dave Gunning, David Francey, and Rose Cousins, it was an amazing experience. At the end of it, we had enough material for a complete show.“ 

Keelaghan has never shied away from collaboration in his live and recorded performances, touring and tracking with master musicians like Oliver Schroer, Oscar Lopez and Hugh McMillan. “If you work with people who are better than you, you become better,” he observes. 
 
 
The sparks of collaboration and the batting of melodies back and forth have produced some wonderful results, says Keelaghan, who is always finding a balance between examining the lighter and heavier sides of life. He ties it all together with a powerful vocal delivery and a commanding stage presence. 

Admiration and respect for his work amongst his peers is reflected in the words of David Francey who recently stated that “James Keelaghan is a voice in contemporary Canadian songwriting that has helped us define who we are as a people. He writes with great humanity and honesty, with an eye to the past and a vision of the future. He has chronicled his times with powerful and abiding songs, with heart and eyes wide open.” 
 
Terry Wickham, the producer of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, is one of many longtime admirers of Keelaghan’s music, and he sums up the artists appeal by saying, “James has become the complete artist. A brilliant tunesmith who has become one of the most engaging performers of our time. You always know the journey with James is going to be great, you just never know what all the destinations are. That is why the curve on his career continues to rise.” 
 
It was Dave Marsh, the award-winning American music critic and historian who not so long ago stated that James Keelaghan is “Canada’s finest songwriter.” Those few but powerful words of praise say it all about an artist who continues to set the bar at a lofty height.

     
  • Matthew Barber - Big Romance

    matthewbarber.com

    Matthew Barber returns with Big Romance his 8th studio album, with Jayhawks frontman, and leader of the Americana movement, Gary Louris on board as producer. “I’ve been a lifelong fan of Gary’s music with The Jayhawks and Golden Smog,” says Barber, adding that “it was a thrill to get to make a record with one of my contemporary musical heroes.”

    Big Romance was recorded in Toronto at Revolution Sound as well as a farmhouse studio in eastern Ontario. Drummer Dean Stone reunited with long-time Barber bassist Julian Brown to make up the rhythm section, marking the first time the two have backed Barber on record since breakout 2003 debut “Means and Ends”. Big Romance features gorgeous piano and organ work from Jesse O’Brien and Steve O’Connor, vocals from Louris and a guest appearance by Barber’s sister Jill who appears on the lead track “Hold Me”. Big Romance has soul-searching ballads, foot-stomping rockers, some groovy mid-tempo tunes and hooks-a-plenty.

     
  • Lennie Gallant - Live Acoustic at The Carleton

    www.lenniegallant.com

    Lennie Gallant is a native of Rustico, Prince Edward Island. This prolific songwriter has recorded ten albums (eight in English and two in French), which have won him a host of awards and nominations from the JUNOs, the East Coast Music Awards, and Les Prix Eloizes. He has toured extensively, performing his music in many parts of the world, and even saw one of his albums go up to the international space station aboard the shuttle Endeavour with Canadian Astronaut Julie Payette. He has been named to The Order Of Canada, where it was said,“Gallant has garnered much respect for his songs which chronicle the lives of people dealing with tremendous adversity, and also celebrate the beauty of the East Coast lifestyle and landscape with their strong poetry and stirring narratives.” Lennie has had his songs recorded by many artists and they have been featured in films, stage productions, and on television.

     

World Solo Artist of the Year

  • Susan Aglukark - Dreaming Of Home

    www.susanaglukark.com

    Dr. Susan Aglukark, O.C.

    “Susan Aglukark is truly of Canada’s most significant cultural treasures. Apart from being a beautiful singer and powerful songwriter, she provides a significant view to the culture of our northern communities. She is am inspiration to humanity.”

    Deane Cameron

    Susan Aglukark is one of Canada’s most unique and most honored artists. An Inuk from Arviat, Nunavut, Susan has been walking in a tension between two worlds, a defining note in her remarkable career.

    She was a rare and exotic presence in the mainstream music world—an Inuk woman, a modern woman, a strong woman with something important to say is sometimes very rare in the entertainment industry — Susan embodied pure, graceful honesty and strength. As her songs climbed the charts, her stories and her candor about the struggles of the Inuit and Aboriginal communities, and her bravery as she opened up about her own anger and struggle won her an audience beyond that of most pop artists.

    Aglukark’s musical success is even more interesting when you realize she didn’t start her career until she was 24, with no modern musical orthodoxy to draw on Aglukark was free to respond to the sounds and styles that touched or motivated or inspired her. “When I move around creatively in my music it’s because one particular album has recently affected me.” In essence it has allowed her to build a musical sound that often starts with the strength of the drum, and yet sounds completely contemporary. But perhaps the real appeal of her music is that in an era where the most popular music is often less relevant than style or mood, her lyrics are where she lives. “The songs are driven by the stories. It’s all about the stories.”

    As much as she writes and sings about her people, the songs Susan Aglukark creates have something in them that speaks to all of us, whether it’s the longing of a woman growing old for the traditional life that she was taken away from, (“Bridge of Dreams”) to an gentle anthem for peace and tolerance, (“O Siem”—joy in community), Aglukark’s artistic vision is ultimately a universal one.

     
  • JORGE MARTINEZ - CARNAVAL

    www.jorgemartinez.ca

    He is likely the best guitarist you have never heard. That is about to change, for Jorge Martinez is poised to take Canada by storm.

    Born and raised in Argentina, this 38 year old virtuoso moved to Montreal in 1998 and is now a much-loved figure on the Quebec scene.

    The seeds of his fascinating musical journey were sown at a young age in his hometown of Rosario, Argentina. “You grow up differently there,” recalls Jorge. “Children go to sleep at the same time as their fathers, so if there was a party we’d be up til 3 a.m.. At age six, I remember seeing a guitar in front of me and a friend of my father’s started to teach me, late in the night.”

    Jorge’s life-long love affair with the guitar then blossomed at age 14. “I started with a classical guitar. An uncle taught me some flamenco rhythms then I immediately switched to playing other kinds of music, like rock and jazz and funk and Latin. I had a neighbour listening to people like Frank Zappa. As I was starting the guitar, he’d bring me to his place everyday to listen to all kinds of music.” Martinez remembers his pledge of devotion to music came at 15 and a half. “I said to my parents and myself that is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Because I was in high school, I couldn’t play as much guitar as I wanted. On Fridays I’d go home, go to sleep at 11 and wake up at 2 am. During the night is when your muscles relax and things come out easily. So from Friday to Sunday I’d play guitar from 2 to 8. a.m., sleep til 12 noon, then play til I went to sleep again.”

    On finishing high school, Martinez increased his guitar regimen to 14 hours a day. Another early milestone came at age 18, with his first public performance. “My rock group was part of a Battle of the Bands competition, in front of 10,000 people. The stage instantly felt like a natural environment for me. I feel alive onstage, and I’m always happy to be there.” Jorge’s genuine love of live performance and his natural charisma are just two more key weapons in this artist’s powerful arsenal.

    The bulk of the material he now performs and is recording is original. “I prefer that because I feel I have something to communicate to people. Music is a tool to express my emotions.” Martinez writes the music and arrangements for the small ensemble of players he performs with, while still allowing them creative freedom. “That just helps our show reach a higher level,” he notes.

    After graduation, Martinez followed his heart to Montreal, home to the love of his life. “I was playing as a flamenco guitarist on one circuit, but people in the rock industry would call me for gigs and studio work too. I had two different audiences,” he says. His skills as a producer and arranger were put to use on projects for a range of Latin, world music and urban artists, but Jorge is now totally committed to pursuing his own musical path.

    Along his journey, he has won the respect of his musical peers. Top Canadian guitarists Pavlo, Rik Emmett & Oscar Lopez were thrilled to invite Jorge onstage at one of their gigs in Quebec, while world music stars Strunz & Farah were curious about his unique guitar technique when they shared a stage. Jorge’s ability to captivate a large crowd was vividly demonstrated when he opened for world music star Cesaria Evora at Place Des Arts in Montreal and for flamenco superstar Paco de Lucia at Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg.

     
  • Amanda Martinez - Mañana

    http://www.amandamartinez.ca

    Amanda Martinez is a Toronto-based singer/songwriter whose music exultingly blends her unique Mexican and South African roots with latin soul. Her solo CDs have garnered multiple nominations for Latin Jazz Performer of the Year, and her songs have appeared on three Putumayo world music collections: Bossanova Around the World, Latin Dreamland and recently, Cafe Latino.

    Martinez has headlined at the legendary Blue Note in New York, at the 2010 FIFA World Cup Festivities in South Africa, and at the 2011 PanAmerican Games in Guadalajara in addition to shows at concert halls and festivals in Canada including sell-out performances at Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre and Koerner Hall.

    Her latest CD “Mañana” was helmed by GRAMMY-winning producer Javier Limón. Limón, whose production credits include acclaimed singers such as Buika, Mariza and Diego el Cigala, hails Martinez as “one of the greatest voices in the world.” Mañana was recently launched in the United States with shows in New York, Chicago and Cleveland

    In addition to her music career Amanda is now honorary co-chair of PanAm Games 2015’s Ignite program and has worked as a radio host, TV personality and actress.

     
  • Quique Escamilla - 500 Years of Night

    www.quiqueescamilla.com

    “Modern day troubadour Quique Escamilla makes music that comes straight from the soul. The stories he tells are the stories we need to hear; socially and politically conscious lyrics paired with exceptional musicianship. He’s a unique talent who holds to the traditions of heavyweights like Bob Marley and Manu Chao. Quique is really one to watch!”
    - Garvia Bailey, CBC Radio Canada.

    Quique Escamilla was born and raised to a family of six in the warm, tropical southern lands of the state of Chiapas, Mexico. He started singing at the age of four at his family reunions. At the age of six in a crowded restaurant and accompanied by the in-house six-piece Mariachi band, he performed a full version of “El Rey” in front of an audience where he discovered for the first time the thrill of performing and the powerful magic of live music.

    Today, Quique Escamilla is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and producer living in Toronto. Since his arrival in 2007, he has rapidly become a rising star on the Canadian music scene. In 2011, he was discovered by a CBC radio producer and has since become a favourite on popular CBC Toronto shows such as Here and Now, Metro Morning, Fresh Air and Big City Small World. He has been a featured guest at special CBC presentations like the annual fundraiser Sounds of the Season —aired live from the Glenn Gould studio—alongside artists like Justin Rutledge, Sophie Milman, Jenn Grant and Michelle Wright. 2012 was a important and productive year for Quique in which he launched his self-titled debut EP, with a concert recorded for CBC’s Canada Live at Toronto’s Lula Lounge Arts Centre. In the summer, he was invited to open for Michael Franti & Spearhead at the prestigious stage of Luminato Festival 2012; as well as to perform at other great shows and summer festivals such as Mariposa Folk Festival, and wrapping up the summer season with the closing concert of La Falla Festival (La Tohu, Montreal) and Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square’s Tasty Thursdays summer series. In the fall and winter of 2012 he toured Canada opening solo for Danny Michel’s cd release shows for his latest album “Black Birds Dancing Over Me”, and ended that leg of the Michel’s tour with an opening slot at the majestic Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto and two sold out shows at Canada’s National Art Centre in Ottawa.

    “After each song the sold-out crowd at the National Arts Centre walked willingly into the palm of Quique’s hand and became his diehard fans. He is charming without being silly, political without being pretentious, and gifted as a performer in every way.”
    - Amanda Putz, CBC Radio-Canada, Ottawa.

    Quique and his band toured extensively in the summer of 2013. He performed at some popular Canadian festivals, including a spectacular show at the INTERSTELLAR RODEO ALL-STARS: FEATURING JIM CUDDY, DANNY MICHEL, AND QUIQUE ESCAMILLA. Other 2013 festival performances included: Shelter Valley Folk Festival, Blue Skies, Toronto Harbourfront, South Country Fair, SunFest, Small World Music Festival, Yonge & Dundas Square, Toronto Bicycle Music Fest, etc. In most recent performances he got to share reputable stages along with high caliber artists such as Ron Sexsmith, Feist, The Sky Diggers, Serena Ryder, Alabama Shakes, Sarah Harmer.

    “Sunday’s early-afternoon highlights included the Interstellar Rodeo All-Stars, featuring Quique Escamilla and his many hats, singer-songwriter Danny Michel, and Blue Rodeo’s charming frontman, Jim Cuddy. The three, backed by members of the Garifuna Collective, traded tunes — with Escamilla’s Mexican-flavoured version of Johnny Cash’s ‘Walk The Line’ taking the title of crowd favourite”
    - Sandra Sperounes, Edmonton Journal.

    Quique releases his new record 500 Years of Night on April 22nd 2014 and will go on a Canadian national tour in 2014, starting in the late spring. Toronto’s CBC Radio 1 show Here & Now premiered and featured Quique’s first single of the album “Presa Fácil” as the SONG OF THE WEEK.

    25 years of performing live have seasoned Quique to effortlessly connect with his audiences, be it in an intimate house concert setting or on Toronto’s venerable Harbourfront stage. He breaks down language barriers through his powerful voice and passionate delivery while fusing traditional Mexican styles of music such as ranchera and huapango with modern sounds of rock, reggae, ska, pop, jazz, cumbia, bolero, and a variety of other Latin American rhythms. His lyrics carry powerful messages that are inspired by and support various social and political issues such as human and civil rights, immigration reform, global conservation, anti-racism, discrimination, anti-oppression and Indigenous rights. Despite the distance from his homeland, Quique remains strongly attached to his Mexican roots. He is honoured to be in Canada to share with his audiences a flavour of Mexican culture, heritage and traditions through his music and live contemporary performances.

    “An unassuming singer-songwriter, Quique blends traditional Mexican musical forms such as huapango and rancheras with contemporary rock and reggae influences. – Quique has become a sort of a darling for the CBC. His sound has captivated their attention which has opened the door to several performances on CBC radio, including the presentation of his debut EP in January 2012. – Quique Escamilla and the Band, in a short amount of time, have created a strong following behind their electrifying live shows and with a few more years we can be sure Quique will be taking a leadership role in Canada’s growing Alt-Latino movement”
    - Sergio Elmir, Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre

    “In a city like New York, São Paulo, Paris, Toronto, or any multicultural city, we may all have our frame of musical reference, but we can appreciate and take the best of all the musical forms that cross our paths…Every once in a while a musician comes around that “crosses all those bridges” and brings the sounds together for a fine mix and audible feast that can be appreciated by all. We have seen this with many great troubadours, from Bob Marley and Calle 13 to Manu Chao. In Toronto, we have Señor Escamilla and we are now in the “summer of Quique.” He recently opened up for Michael Franti & Spearhead at the Luminato Festival and has developed quite a name for himself with his musical talent and the ease in which he speaks with the crowd, switching it up from Spanish to English without any problems”
    - Alex Bordokas, UMA NOTA, Toronto.

    “Quique Escamilla is constantly evolving, always digging deep for truth, passionate about life and honouring the past. His music is stirring, rhythmic and he has a clear voice with a profound message. But what makes this folk and roots troubadour one of the most unique I’ve ever encountered is his eloquence and enchanting manner, on and off stage, with audiences, fellow musicians, friends and strangers. Quique Escamilla quickly teaches everyone he connects with, that music isn’t just a show, it’s life and it’s all around. It’s in us and always has been. He’s ready. Are you?”
    - Amy Mangan, Artistic Liaison – Mariposa Folk Festival.

     
  • Robert Michaels - Via Italia

    http://robertmichaels.com/

    Multi-gold and platinum recording artist, Robert Michaels, has won the esteem of critics worldwide with award-winning performances that bring audiences to their feet every time.
    The Toronto Sun hails him, “Every inch a dazzling guitarist”, the Toronto Sun exclaims, “He is incomparable. And you simply must see him.”, while the Ottawa Sun states simply, Michaels is an “Axe God”.
    His impressive sales figures and winner of a Juno Award (Canadian Grammy) for “Best Instrumental Album” Robert received Best Vocalist, Instrumentalist and Album nominations for his self-titled fifth album, a 2-CD set. Besides his own vocal performances, the album featured contributions from acclaimed vocalist Grammy winner Jennifer Warnes; three-time Juno Award winner as Female Vocalist of the Year, Luba; Tony Award-nominated Broadway star, Louis Pitre; and multi-talented jazz singer/songwriter, Coral Egan.
    Sterling accolades and impressive figures aside, Robert is well-known as an intuitive musician with an electric energy and a captivating blend of styles. He has engaged concert goers across the globe with his heartfelt enthusiasm, leaving all with memories they won’t soon forget.

     

World Group of the Year

  • Quinn Bachand - Quinn Bachand - Brishen

    http://www.brishenmusic.com

    Despite having recorded three albums in five years, toured internationally with the likes of Ashley MacIsaac and Natalie MacMaster and taught university level master classes, the rascally way Quinn Bachand comments on his music may suggest he’s somehow less invested in his craft than others with a similar CV. Or it may simply point to the key difference between Bachand and the world-class musicians with whom he’s accustomed to sharing the stage: he’s just turned 18. Recognized as the “Young Lion” of the Celtic guitar (Daniel Lapp) and “Canada’s best Celtic guitarist” (Ashley MacIsaac), Quinn adds a contemporary edge to traditional music with unique harmonies, hard-driving strumming, inventive chord voicing and powerful rhythmic effects. He’s already won two Irish Music Awards, been nominated for three Canadian Folk Music Awards, a Western Canadian Music Award and four Vancouver Island Music Awards, winning 2013 Youth Artist of the Year. Bachand is the centerpiece of his latest music project, Brishen, or ‘bringer of the storm’, sweeping from standards by pioneer Django Reinhardt to contemporary works, including the theme to ‘Taxi Driver’ and a re-imagined Radiohead composition.

     
  • TANGA - HavanaElectro

    www.tangalive.com

    TANGA is a west coast collective of musicians, DJs and sound creators dedicated to cross-cultural collaboration and discovering new manifestations of groove. Led by trumpeter/producer Malcolm Aiken, it is an ongoing ethnomusical project,cross-seeding modern beats with traditional and folkloric sounds from around the globe.

    HAVANAELECTRO is the collective’s second full-length album, released on TrebleFive Records. Recorded in both Havana and Vancouver, the album is best described as a travelling audio documentary between two cities, blending latin funk, electronic, hip hop and jazz, underpinned by a distinctly afrocuban pulse.

    Featuring collaborations with a cast of international musicians, including Grammy Award-winning Jimmy Bosch on trombone (NY), vocalists Jesus El Niño (Montreal), Silvana Kane (Pacifika) and David Lopez (Mazacote), rapper Kyprios (Vancity), poet C.R. Avery (Vancity) and members of Cuban sextet Tanta de los Guaracheros (Havana).

    “The most relevant, most refreshingly contemporary expression of Latin groove music so far, not just in the Pacific Northwest but in the scope of the global genre.” ~ WorldBeat International

     
  • MAZ - Chasse-Galerie

    www.espacemaz.ca

    With their first album, Télescope, getting rave reviews, MAZ is known for melding traditional Québecois music, jazz and electro along with incredible on-stage energy.
    Following close on the heels of Télescope’s 2012 Juno nomination (Instrumental Album of the Year), three 2011 Canadian Folk Music Award nominations (Ensemble of the Year, Instrumental Album of the Year and World Album of the Year) and being shortlisted for Indie Acoustic Project’s Best Instrumental Album of 2011, MAZ is now scaling new heights with their second album, Chasse-Galerie.

    Since its debut, MAZ has performed official showcases at the OCFF conference (Niagara Falls, ON), the FAI (Memphis, TN), the Mundial Montréal (Montréal, QC) and the APAP (New York, NY) garnering rave reviews and further invitations to perform.
    With this visibility, MAZ has had the privilege to share its music with au¬diences from British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec in a 21 show tour passing through 11 cities and villages all across the country. To name a few, Vancou¬ver, London, Toronto and Montreal gave a warm welcome to the new sounds being proposed by the band.

     
  • Shtreiml - Eastern Hora

    www.shtreiml.com

    Enchanting and ornate – Oud player and vocalist Ismail Fencioglu is a true master of Turkish music. He’s a rare talent whose soaring vocals and fleet fingered oud playing conjure images of the Bosphorus at sunset and truly transport the listener to a different time and place. Together with composer, pianist and harmonicist Jason Rosenblatt one of the world’s premier harmonica players, disciple of Howard Levy, and an innovative composer of new Jewish music, Shtreiml & Ismail present EASTERN HORA a program of compelling original music rooted in the Jewish and Ottoman traditions, but brimming with hard rock sensibilities and dextrous improvisational know-how. Joined by the rest of Shtreiml the group features Rachel Lemisch (trombone), Thierry Arsenault (drums) and Joel Kerr (bass) – The program which has been presented at concerts, festivals and venues in Canada, The U.S. and Europe has been labeled “explosive” (Halifax Chronicle Herald) and “exhilarating”(Rootsworld).

     
  • Moustafa Kouyaté & Romain Malagnoux - Les frontières imaginaires

    www.moustafaetromain.com

    Romain Malagnoux, born and raised in France, has now been residing in Quebec for nine years. A singer and guitarist, he has built for himself, over the years, a repertoire of cover songs and originals. In 2009, a ten-year long dream finally came true for him when he travelled to Mali, Africa, where he stayed for four months. During his stay, he absorbed the musical traditions and vibrations of the local people. Inspired by the work and talent of Bassékou Kouyaté, one of the country’s greater artists, he began learning to play the djeli n’goni, a small african guitar and the ancestre of the banjo.

    Also during his stay, when he was working voluntarily at the Festival au Désert de Tombouctou, he by chance met with Bassékou Kouyaté himself (two Grammy Award nominations, as well as Prix Miroir of the Festival d’Été de Québec in 2010). Following a few cordial exchanges, the former invited the latter over… for tea!

    Having returned to Bamako, Bassékou introduces Romain to his son Moustafa. The chemistry be-tween the two musicians operates immediately. The result of their exchanges reveals itself as a cle-ver and harmonious hybrid of melodies of traditional inspiration and folk rhythm.

    In 2011, during a second stay in Mali, Romain and Moustafa wrote and recorded the twelve pieces which make the album, titled “Les Frontières Imaginaires” and distributed by the label Les Nuits d’Afrique in association with Select, and is set to be launched in Quebec by fall 2013. On this album, one will note the influences of Bassékou Kouyaté, Habib Koité, and of Rodrigo & Gabriela.

    On stage, five musicians (three of which are of traditional ancestry in Western Africa) unite to make the audience travel and vibrate with them. Mali blues, ballads, as well as energetic, lively songs make their music quite accessible to a greater audience.

     

New/Emerging Artist of the Year

  • Quinn Bachand - Quinn Bachand - Brishen

    http://www.brishenmusic.com

    Despite having recorded three albums in five years, toured internationally with the likes of Ashley MacIsaac and Natalie MacMaster and taught university level master classes, the rascally way Quinn Bachand comments on his music may suggest he’s somehow less invested in his craft than others with a similar CV. Or it may simply point to the key difference between Bachand and the world-class musicians with whom he’s accustomed to sharing the stage: he’s just turned 18. Recognized as the “Young Lion” of the Celtic guitar (Daniel Lapp) and “Canada’s best Celtic guitarist” (Ashley MacIsaac), Quinn adds a contemporary edge to traditional music with unique harmonies, hard-driving strumming, inventive chord voicing and powerful rhythmic effects. He’s already won two Irish Music Awards, been nominated for three Canadian Folk Music Awards, a Western Canadian Music Award and four Vancouver Island Music Awards, winning 2013 Youth Artist of the Year. Bachand is the centerpiece of his latest music project, Brishen, or ‘bringer of the storm’, sweeping from standards by pioneer Django Reinhardt to contemporary works, including the theme to ‘Taxi Driver’ and a re-imagined Radiohead composition.

     
  • The Bros. Landreth - Let it Lie

    www.thebroslandreth.com

    After quickly developing a reputation across Canada and various parts of the globe for their exceptional musicianship, Joey and David Landreth have at taken the plunge into a project that is uniquely their own, The Bros. Landreth.

    Born to a musical family, both sons took to the craft early and quickly. Joey played the guitar before he could speak and Dave experimented with every instrument in the house before eventually settling comfortably on his Dad’s old Fender P-Bass. Their father, much respected songwriter and side-man, Wally Landreth, was an institution in his own right in the Winnipeg music scene where the boys were raised and began to pay their own dues. Wally toured the continent as a musician and developed a wealth of experience that he would pass on to his two young sons. Almost prophetically, in his early teenage years, Joey followed in his father’s footsteps as a working freelance musician. He was touring across the country and playing nightclubs while he was still finishing high school. In no time Joey quickly amassed a star-studded resumé. He has since toured and recorded with Emerson Drive, Dallas Smith, Deric Ruttan, Steve Bell, The Wyrd Sisters, and most recently with Juno and CCMA winners, Doc Walker. Meanwhile, his older brother Dave took a similar approach and set to work developing a reputation for his simple and solid bass playing. He’s extensively toured North America, Europe, and Australia with such Canadian talent as Romi Mayes, Chris Carmichael, and indie-pop group, Imaginary Cities. To complete the band The Bros. have called on long-time musical cohorts: Ryan “Rhino” Voth (Del Barber, Fred Penner, The New Lightweights), and Alex Campbell (The Sweet Alibi, JD Edwards Band). Long time friends, they’ve grown up playing and working with both Landreths, together and separate, in an innumerable combination of musical outings.

    All four twentysomethings hail from the sprawling southern Manitoban prairies and they are fiercely proud to call Winnipeg home. “We’re at the epicenter of this great artistic hub, smack dab in the middle of the coldest place in the known universe.” Dave playfully exaggerates. “We have to write and play just to stay warm half the year… It becomes a creative incubator – a survival technique.” The end product of these exercises in self-preservation are The Bros. Landreth’s songs.

    They are alt-country road maps that are mostly auto-biographical – hinting at the fallout of a life as a touring musician, and exploring melancholy themes of love gone bad and love gone worse. They leave the esoteric behind in favour of delivering their stories simply and never letting their road-proven musicality stand in the way of the songs speaking for themselves. The result: an undeniable vulnerability in the plain spoken narratives, songs that weave a heart on your sleeve tale of finding your way through life and heart-ache.

    Their debut album, Let it Lie, was recorded through the dead of winter in Southern Manitoba with the guidance of friend and producer Murray Pulver (Doc Walker, Tara Oram, Crash Test Dummies). Their studio time happened to land them directly in the middle of the coldest week in January with the temperature hovering below -30 C. The heat in the loaned van died on the trip out to the country and they had to borrow a heat gun to defrost a pie shaped circle in the windshield. The warmth of the tracks, however, belie the bitter cold they survived in order to capture the sounds that would eventually turn into their first album.

    You can find the Bros. Landreth out on the road, investing their own blood and sweat in support of their first release.

    For inquiries please contact management: info@thebroslandreth.com

     
  • Robyn Dell'Unto - Little Lines

    www.robyndellunto.com

    …smart, well written pop music delivered with rich production values and seasoned technique that belies her youthful age.” – Roots Music Canada

    “…sweet, winsome songs that seem ideally suited to scoring scenes in TV and movies.” – The Coast

    “… a happy medium between Sarah McLachlan’s sad ballads and Ingrid Michaelson’s sugary seduction.” – Amiestreet

    “…folk pop sound with a healthy dose of wit.” – Snobsmusic

    LITTLE LINES is the captivating sophomore album from Toronto indie-pop darling Robyn Dell’Unto. Mixed at Canterbury in Toronto and recorded in various studios across Ontario, Dell’Unto collaborated with a notable list of producers and writers on Little Lines, including Tino Zolfo (Carly Rae Jepsen), Todd Clark (Phillip Phillips), John Critchley (Dan Mangan), Adam King (Good Lovelies), Jon Chandler (Amos The Transparent) and Matthew Montour (Gavin Slate). The result is an innovative selection of well-crafted songs that offer pure and insightful lyrics and provide a glance into her musical journey and experiences in life both on and off the stage – playful and honest.

    Dell’Unto’s 2010 debut I’m Here Every Night introduced her to audiences both at home and abroad. She toured across Canada and enjoyed international success, gaining a global fan base after her single “Ghost” appeared in the season finale of the acclaimed and widely syndicated Canadian television series Being Erica. Her song “Astronaut” also received prominent placement in an episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation – another popular Canadian series. In addition, Dell’Unto was featured as a vocalist in both Disney’s Harriet The Spy: Blog Wars and a 2012 Smart Set national campaign.

     
  • Kacy & Clayton - The Day Is Past & Gone

    www.kacyandclayton.com

    In recent decades, too many folk songs have been burdened by oversung vocals and cluttered arrangements. Kacy and Clayton restore space to the art form by dealing in subtlety instead of tinsel. Their arrangements employ minimal ornamentation. Kacy’s completely unforced refreshing vocals are always in her own distinct and natural timbre. Clayton’s instrumental talents serve every song with modesty; he reserves his virtuosity for only those few transitions that require elaborate expression. The production values of their recordings are consistent and simple. Kacy and Clayton shun studio trickery and gimmicks, pursuing mixes that recall the natural warmth of 1970s british folk LPs. In fact, much of their repertoire could easily be mistaken for hidden gems of decades past. Their return to form is no mere retro affectation; it is a respectful bearing of the torch passed on from their deep and studied musical heritage.
    Kacy and Clayton’s entire lives have been steeped in the rich catalogs of folk music masters. They are second cousins who grew up a short distance from each other in a ranching community in southern Saskatchewan. As children they were surrounded by rural musicality, absorbing the knowledge and skills of Kacy’s Grandfather (Clayton’s Great-Uncle) Carl Anderson. Landmark figures of their musical roots include Leadbelly, Shirley Collins, Alan Lomax, The Stanley Brothers, Charley Patton, Mississippi John Hurt, and Davey Graham. Kacy and Clayton’s ears are expertly discerning, and their musicianship is practiced to a sophisticated level of proficiency. They are very young, but have already matured beyond the precociously talented stage by rapidly earning a reputation among their fellow musicians as fully expressed mature artists in the prime of their lives. In fact, the Deep Dark Woods – one of Canada’s most successful and accomplished roots bands – has eagerly recruited Clayton as a guitarist, and Ryan Boldt (DDW’s lead singer) has proudly taken on the task of producing Kacy and Clayton albums. Clayton’s musical partnership with Kacy remains a primary focus for his creative output
    In 2010, Kacy and Clayton began performing at festivals. In 2011 they released their first, self-titled album through Dahl Street Records. They supported the album by touring with The Hard Ramblers throughout western Canada. In 2012 they were featured at festivals such as the Regina Folk Festival, Ness Creek, the Saskatoon Jazz Festival, and the Forget Deep Winter Blues Revival. Kacy and Clayton are planning to release their second full length album in the winter of 2013. The newest album, release date TBA, was produced by Ryan Boldt and recorded at Dahl Street Records. It features original works and obscure arrangements of traditional ballads and blues classics. Kacy and Clayton recordings belong in your collection beside those other treasures of songcraft that defy the ruin of time.

     
  • Scott Cook - One More Time Around

    www.scottcook.net

    Edmonton, Alberta’s prairie balladeer Scott Cook is a tirelessly traveling DIY songwriter with heart forever on sleeve. Road-worn, painfully honest, and deeply human, his straight-talking tunes weave together folk, roots, blues, soul and country with spacious fingerstyle guitar and clawhammer banjo arrangements. Cook has been making a full-time living at music since 2007, touring extensively across Canada, the US, Europe, Asia and Australia, and is currently on tour in support of his fourth release, One More Time Around, which Canada’s premier roots music magazine Penguin Eggs calls “as much a manifesto as a musical work,” teeming with “wry observations and hopeful life lessons.” Its opening track “Pass It Along” won the Folk and Acoustic category in the 2013 UK Songwriting Contest, with UK magazine Maverick Country naming him “one of Canada’s most inspiring and imaginative storytellers”. Fellow Canadian songwriter and three-time Juno winner David Francey sums it up: “Scott Cook has distilled his travels down into songs powered by a sharp eye for imagery, a healthy dose of humanity, and that unforgettable voice, that at the same time intones the rigors of the road and the most comfortable couch you have ever slept on.”

     

Producer of the Year

  • The Fretless with joby Baker - The Fretless (The Fretless)

    www.thefretless.com

    The Fretless is a new approach to folk music that is quickly gaining high acclaim around the world. This unique band is taking string music to fascinating places as it transforms fiddle tunes and folk melodies into intricate, beautiful, high-energy arrangements.

    The spring of 2014 saw the release of their self titled second album to critical acclaim worldwide. The release of their debut album Waterbound in 2012 grabbed the attention of critics & fans across many genres, and also won Instrumental Album of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards, and two Canadian Folk Music Awards for Ensemble and Instrumental Group of the Year.

    Musically, the goals of the group are to expand the rhythmic, harmonic and structured style of the many folk genres they play using only string instruments. As a band, Karrnnel Sawitsky, Ivonne Hernandez, Eric Wright and Trent Freeman have come from very different traditional and contemporary backgrounds, and are influenced by a vast array of art. However, they are unified in their goal to continually develop their amalgamated sound in order to push traditional music as far as possible.

    The Fretless is an innovation in music that must be heard.

     
  • Luke Doucet - Éphémère sans repère (Whitehorse)

    www.whitehorsemusic.ca

    Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet tied the musical knot with Whitehorse, marrying their chemistry as a smoldering duo. Whitehorse’s live show is built on their signature blistering guitars and harmonies, but also brings much more to the stage with complex looped layers of percussion, keyboard and telephone receiver amplification. In 2013, Whitehorse made their sold out debut at Massey Hall and their first full-length album, The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss, was short listed for the Polaris Music Prize. The band also recently released a French EP, Éphémère sans repère.

     
  • Marc Maziade - Chasse-Galerie (MAZ)

    www.espacemaz.ca

    With their first album, Télescope, getting rave reviews, MAZ is known for melding traditional Québecois music, jazz and electro along with incredible on-stage energy.
    Following close on the heels of Télescope’s 2012 Juno nomination (Instrumental Album of the Year), three 2011 Canadian Folk Music Award nominations (Ensemble of the Year, Instrumental Album of the Year and World Album of the Year) and being shortlisted for Indie Acoustic Project’s Best Instrumental Album of 2011, MAZ is now scaling new heights with their second album, Chasse-Galerie.

    Since its debut, MAZ has performed official showcases at the OCFF conference (Niagara Falls, ON), the FAI (Memphis, TN), the Mundial Montréal (Montréal, QC) and the APAP (New York, NY) garnering rave reviews and further invitations to perform.
    With this visibility, MAZ has had the privilege to share its music with au¬diences from British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec in a 21 show tour passing through 11 cities and villages all across the country. To name a few, Vancou¬ver, London, Toronto and Montreal gave a warm welcome to the new sounds being proposed by the band.

     
  • Steve Dawson - St. Louis Times (Jim Byrnes)

    www.blackhenmusic.com

    Jim Byrnes lives and breathes music. For nearly fifty years he’s crooned, drawled, belted, hollered and sweet- talked more songs into a microphone than most people ever get to hear in a single lifetime.

    Even so, he’s never recorded an album like this one. St. Louis Times is Byrnes’ most personal record to date. Reminiscences of his childhood home of St. Louis are expressed through his original compositions as well as versions of songs he grew up with that were recorded by St. Louis musicians. By revisiting songs associated with Chuck Berry, Stump Johnson, Little Milton, Peetie Wheatstraw and more, Jim Byrnes takes us on an intimate musical journey through a world that has passed by – just in time for the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city of St. Louis and the 100th anniversary of the song ‘St. Louis Blues.’

    St. Louis Times is the sixth album that Jim Byrnes and Steve Dawson have recorded together, and its release coincides with the tenth anniversary of their partnership. With that in mind, Dawson gathered some of the best roots musicians in Canada together for a super session to record the basic tracks for St. Louis Times on vintage equipment in a big old studio blessed with brilliant ambience and acoustics. As usual Dawson’s signature string work rides shotgun through St. Louis Times and has never sounded more right for Jim’s songs, while Darryl Havers’ innovative keyboard work and the rock solid rhythm section of Jeremy Holmes on bass and the tireless Geoff Hicks on drums gracefully support every track. Horns from a host of legendary Nashville players provide depth and texture on many of St. Louis Times’ best songs.

    Jim’s old friend John Hammond passed through Vancouver while St. Louis Times was being recorded, which provided the perfect opportunity for the two veterans to duck into the studio and cement a forty-year friendship in song. Hammond trades verses with Byrnes on ‘Duck’s Yas Yas Yas’, offers some tasty National Steel on ‘Cake Alley’ – an ode to one of St. Louis’ seedier neighbourhoods of yesteryear – and blows some serious harp on ‘Evil’ and ‘I Believe That Was A Lie.’ Not to be outdone, the Canadian blues icon, Colin James stepped up to play an acoustic solo on ‘That Will Never Do’ that may very well be the best thing he’s ever recorded. No Sinner’s Colleen Rennison also dropped by the session to belt and snarl her way through ‘Miss Me,’ the old Fontella Bass and Bobby McLure hit that will surely be remembered as one of the finest performances on St. Louis Blues.

    As spot-on as Byrnes’ choice of classic songs from St. Louis’ heyday is, the things that many of his fans look forward to hearing the most on a new album are Jim’s original tunes. He’s outdone himself this time with his first foray into spoken word with the emotive ‘The Journey Home’ that takes his listeners through the sights and sounds of the bustling St. Louis of Jim Byrnes’ childhood. The slow blues of ‘Old Dog, New Tricks’ with beautiful clarinet accents from Tom Colclough and the spiritually uplifting ‘I Need A Change’ prove once again that Byrnes is an artist with a lot of depth and a huge vocal palette, while ‘Somebody Lied’ is as fine an homage to Jimmy Reed as anyone could ever hope to hear.

    The 250th anniversary of the founding of St. Louis and ten years of partnership with Steve Dawson may have been the original motivation for recording St. Louis Times, but the sheer joy you can hear in the music Jim Byrnes and company create is the real reason to celebrate. Jim Byrnes is a living musical treasure and St. Louis Times is his best record yet. And, that’s saying something.

     
  • tom terrell and karl falkenham - city ghosts (the modern grass)

    www.themoderngrass.com

    The Modern Grass was born in early 2011 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and have since released 5 albums and toured North America extensively and relentlessly. The MG Be – bops, doo- wops, and yeehaws it’s way through roots music freely, setting the mood for real life rambling, gambling and heartbreaking storytales.
    In February 2014 the Modern Grass released City Ghosts, the highly anticipated follow up to their award winning album High on the Mountain. City Ghosts is a reminder of the group’s dynamic nature and their uncanny ability to navigate space, time and a plethora of musical genres, uninterrupted.
    The Modern Grass continue to emphasize the importance of contrast both musically and lyrically. Hard driving bluegrass flows into tender ballads, groovy blues, and dramatic instrumentals. Accompanied by earnest social commentary, introspective songs of love and loss, and raw poetry; City Ghosts is modern and nostalgic, refined yet organic, chaotic but soothing.

     

Pushing the Boundaries

  • West My Friend - When The Ink Dries

    www.westmyfriend.com

    Since West My Friend was conceived in a Victoria café in 2009, they’ve emerged as a unique voice in the city’s music scene. Described as everything from indie-roots to chamber-folk, their acoustic blend of instruments and four-part harmonies challenges the conventions of popular music to create a performance that is both engaging and innovative. Songs are created through a collaborative process: well-crafted and clever lyrics, acrobatic mandolin riffs, flawless bass lines, and richly textured accordion combine as every member brings forward their own ideas and experiences.

    The wealth of musical experience and classical training in the group creates an interesting backdrop for their songwriting, allowing for levels of detail, intricacy, and counterpoint balanced with moments of simplicity. This sonically adventurous approach to music defines West My Friend as a key part of a growing movement of the new generation of grass-roots folk music taking place in Victoria, Vancouver and across British Columbia.

    The life of a musician is one of continual evolution, and West My Friend embodies this in their approach to music. Their diversity in taste and influences, and a keen interest in both traditional sounds and innovation, creates a need to constantly explore new sounds while placing them as a distinctive voice in the landscape between Canadian folk and indie-pop. West My Friend’s commitment to creating original indie-roots music, and their dedication to giving their audiences a meaningful and memorable experience, is sure to catch hold of listeners as far afield as they can reach. A love for the songs of Beirut, Joanna Newsom, Owen Pallett, Punch Brothers, The Milk Carton Kids, The Avvett Brothers, and The Decemberists adds to this diverse musical palette.

    West My Friend released their first full-length album Place in 2012, and it soon garnered multiple award nominations (including “Roots Album of the Year” and “Song of the Year” at the Vancouver Island Music Awards). Their second album, When The Ink Dries, was released in March 2014. It ranges in scope from intimate moments, featuring the four core musicians of the group, to rich orchestral arrangements that showcase the maturity, musicianship, and multi-instrumental abilities of each member. This is combined with guest musicians drawn from everywhere from the Victoria Symphony to Buena Vista Social Club. The record is a significant step forward for West My Friend; the group’s collaboration with Grammy award-winning producer Joby Baker (Alex Cuba, Cowboy Junkies) and Juno award-winner David Travers-Smith (The Wailin’ Jennys, Oh Susannah) provides a strong underpinning of experience in folk-roots music for this promising young band.

     
  • The Fretless - The Fretless

    www.thefretless.com

    The Fretless is a new approach to folk music that is quickly gaining high acclaim around the world. This unique band is taking string music to fascinating places as it transforms fiddle tunes and folk melodies into intricate, beautiful, high-energy arrangements.

    The spring of 2014 saw the release of their self titled second album to critical acclaim worldwide. The release of their debut album Waterbound in 2012 grabbed the attention of critics & fans across many genres, and also won Instrumental Album of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards, and two Canadian Folk Music Awards for Ensemble and Instrumental Group of the Year.

    Musically, the goals of the group are to expand the rhythmic, harmonic and structured style of the many folk genres they play using only string instruments. As a band, Karrnnel Sawitsky, Ivonne Hernandez, Eric Wright and Trent Freeman have come from very different traditional and contemporary backgrounds, and are influenced by a vast array of art. However, they are unified in their goal to continually develop their amalgamated sound in order to push traditional music as far as possible.

    The Fretless is an innovation in music that must be heard.

     
  • Mark Berube - Russian Dolls

    http://www.markberube.com

    With one foot rooted in the folk music tradition of story-telling, the poetry of spoken-word, and the other planted in a childhood love of South African music, psychedelic folk pop and a smattering of jazz, Mark Berube has a broad and eclectic base from which to build his albums, all bound together by his warmly potent voice. And this is exactly what we get with his latest album titled “Russian Dolls”.

    Kristina Koropecki, Berube’s shadowy co-conspirator, adds layers of cello, autoharp, saw and a classical music vocabulary to the mix, resulting in rich, lush and adventurous sonic landscapes.

    Mark Berube is one of Canada’s most captivating and unfaltering talents, having devoted himself with the spirit of a craftsman to the art of song over the course of the last decade. There’s no doubt that with “Russian Dolls”, Berube will once again leave his mark.

     
  • Tanya Tagaq - Animism

    www.tanyatagaq.com

    Tanya Tagaq’s music isn’t like anything you’ve heard before. Unnerving and exquisite, Tagaq’s unique vocal expression may be rooted in Inuit throat singing but her music has as much to do with electronica, industrial and metal influences as it does with traditional culture.

    This Inuk punk is known for delivering fearsome, elemental performances that are visceral and physical, heaving and breathing and alive. Her shows draw incredulous response from worldwide audiences, and Tagaq’s tours tend to jump back and forth over the map of the world. From a Mexican EDM festival to Carnegie Hall, her music and performances transcend language.

    Tagaq makes musical friends and collaborators with an array of like-minded talents: opera singers, avant-garde violin composers, experimental DJs, all cutting edge and challenging. Tanya’s albums make for complex listening, but her string of Juno nominations attests to her ability to make difficult music speak a universal tongue.

    Animism was produced by west coast shape-shifter Jesse Zubot (Dan Mangan, Fond of Tigers) with additional production by Juan Hernandez. The record features Michael Red (Low Indigo), a live programmer whose wild northern field recordings often serve as Tagaq’s de facto backing band, percussionist Jean Martin and Belgian opera singer Anna Pardo Canedo.

     
  • MAZ - Chasse-Galerie

    www.espacemaz.ca

    With their first album, Télescope, getting rave reviews, MAZ is known for melding traditional Québecois music, jazz and electro along with incredible on-stage energy.
    Following close on the heels of Télescope’s 2012 Juno nomination (Instrumental Album of the Year), three 2011 Canadian Folk Music Award nominations (Ensemble of the Year, Instrumental Album of the Year and World Album of the Year) and being shortlisted for Indie Acoustic Project’s Best Instrumental Album of 2011, MAZ is now scaling new heights with their second album, Chasse-Galerie.

    Since its debut, MAZ has performed official showcases at the OCFF conference (Niagara Falls, ON), the FAI (Memphis, TN), the Mundial Montréal (Montréal, QC) and the APAP (New York, NY) garnering rave reviews and further invitations to perform.
    With this visibility, MAZ has had the privilege to share its music with au¬diences from British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec in a 21 show tour passing through 11 cities and villages all across the country. To name a few, Vancou¬ver, London, Toronto and Montreal gave a warm welcome to the new sounds being proposed by the band.

     

Young Performer of the Year

  • Quinn Bachand - Quinn Bachand - Brishen

    http://www.brishenmusic.com

    Despite having recorded three albums in five years, toured internationally with the likes of Ashley MacIsaac and Natalie MacMaster and taught university level master classes, the rascally way Quinn Bachand comments on his music may suggest he’s somehow less invested in his craft than others with a similar CV. Or it may simply point to the key difference between Bachand and the world-class musicians with whom he’s accustomed to sharing the stage: he’s just turned 18. Recognized as the “Young Lion” of the Celtic guitar (Daniel Lapp) and “Canada’s best Celtic guitarist” (Ashley MacIsaac), Quinn adds a contemporary edge to traditional music with unique harmonies, hard-driving strumming, inventive chord voicing and powerful rhythmic effects. He’s already won two Irish Music Awards, been nominated for three Canadian Folk Music Awards, a Western Canadian Music Award and four Vancouver Island Music Awards, winning 2013 Youth Artist of the Year. Bachand is the centerpiece of his latest music project, Brishen, or ‘bringer of the storm’, sweeping from standards by pioneer Django Reinhardt to contemporary works, including the theme to ‘Taxi Driver’ and a re-imagined Radiohead composition.

     
  • Kacy & Clayton - The Day Is Past & Gone

    www.kacyandclayton.com

    In recent decades, too many folk songs have been burdened by oversung vocals and cluttered arrangements. Kacy and Clayton restore space to the art form by dealing in subtlety instead of tinsel. Their arrangements employ minimal ornamentation. Kacy’s completely unforced refreshing vocals are always in her own distinct and natural timbre. Clayton’s instrumental talents serve every song with modesty; he reserves his virtuosity for only those few transitions that require elaborate expression. The production values of their recordings are consistent and simple. Kacy and Clayton shun studio trickery and gimmicks, pursuing mixes that recall the natural warmth of 1970s british folk LPs. In fact, much of their repertoire could easily be mistaken for hidden gems of decades past. Their return to form is no mere retro affectation; it is a respectful bearing of the torch passed on from their deep and studied musical heritage.
    Kacy and Clayton’s entire lives have been steeped in the rich catalogs of folk music masters. They are second cousins who grew up a short distance from each other in a ranching community in southern Saskatchewan. As children they were surrounded by rural musicality, absorbing the knowledge and skills of Kacy’s Grandfather (Clayton’s Great-Uncle) Carl Anderson. Landmark figures of their musical roots include Leadbelly, Shirley Collins, Alan Lomax, The Stanley Brothers, Charley Patton, Mississippi John Hurt, and Davey Graham. Kacy and Clayton’s ears are expertly discerning, and their musicianship is practiced to a sophisticated level of proficiency. They are very young, but have already matured beyond the precociously talented stage by rapidly earning a reputation among their fellow musicians as fully expressed mature artists in the prime of their lives. In fact, the Deep Dark Woods – one of Canada’s most successful and accomplished roots bands – has eagerly recruited Clayton as a guitarist, and Ryan Boldt (DDW’s lead singer) has proudly taken on the task of producing Kacy and Clayton albums. Clayton’s musical partnership with Kacy remains a primary focus for his creative output
    In 2010, Kacy and Clayton began performing at festivals. In 2011 they released their first, self-titled album through Dahl Street Records. They supported the album by touring with The Hard Ramblers throughout western Canada. In 2012 they were featured at festivals such as the Regina Folk Festival, Ness Creek, the Saskatoon Jazz Festival, and the Forget Deep Winter Blues Revival. Kacy and Clayton are planning to release their second full length album in the winter of 2013. The newest album, release date TBA, was produced by Ryan Boldt and recorded at Dahl Street Records. It features original works and obscure arrangements of traditional ballads and blues classics. Kacy and Clayton recordings belong in your collection beside those other treasures of songcraft that defy the ruin of time.

     
  • Keiffer Mclean - Drama in the Attic

    www.keiffermclean.ca

    Despite his relatively young age, Keiffer Mclean has made a prodigious progression as a solo folk artist. Hailing from Regina, the capital city of Saskatchewan, Keiffer began writing songs in his mid-teens and has since developed into a songwriting virtuoso who has made appearances at several high-profile festivals in 2013, including the Cathedral Village Arts Festival, the Regina Folk Festival, Gateway Festival, Ness Creek Music Festival and JUNOfest. And his debut release, a seven-song self-titled EP, garnered him a nomination in the ‘Young Performer of the Year’ category at the 2013 Canadian Folk Music Awards.

    Keiffer has also shared the stage with numerous Canadian artists in the last year such as Jeremy Fisher, Boreal Sons, Close Talker, Belle Plaine, The Lazy MKs, Don Brownrigg, Trent Severn, Rah Rah, George Leach, Northcote, Grounders, Wooden Sky, and Peter Katz.

    Now, at the age of 20, Keiffer is poised to make 2014 his breakout year with the release of his first full-length album, Drama in the Attic. Expanding his folk influences to include an increasingly wider array of eclectic musicianship, Keiffer has peeled back his deceptively simple-yet-sophisticated acoustic melodies and lamenting vocal lines to reveal several layers of quietly breezy contemporary instrumental textures and flourishes – expect to hear a clarinet, trumpets and a tuba filling in the spaces along with Keiffer’s guitar lines.

    Coming from a musical family, Keiffer is adept at a variety of instruments, having played the accordion and slide whistle to several songs on Drama in the Attic. But in addition to his own contributions, Keiffer is joined by several accomplished musicians, including his uncle Al Muirhead, a Calgary-based jazz musician who has played with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Diana Krall, Paul Anka and Tommy Banks.

    “He is amazing,” says Keiffer about his uncle. “He’s in his late 70s and he played the trumpet on the album. And the brass section was made up from several jazz musicians that are his close friends as well.”

    Recorded at Touchwood Studios in Regina, several other backing musicians, including Chris Prpich of The Lonesome Weekends and The Lazy MKs, Robert Mclean, Danny Jones, and Jakob Geifenhagen, also make an appearance on Drama in the Attic.

    The album has already garnered strong responses thanks to the advance release of the single “Headful of Diamonds”. Describing the wordplay as “playing with perception and philosophy,” Keiffer’s lyrics often fall somewhere between whimsical and astute – the song paints a refined picture that leaves enough openings for listeners to add their own interpretation.

    “I was attempting to write songs in a different manner, trying to find new methods,” says Keiffer. “For example, the song ‘Jive Turkey’ was originally about a friend of mine. I was busking at the time. I had a bunch of songs but they were really too long for people who were passing by to catch anything memorable. I needed a song to catch their attention so I started singing the poem.”

    Having written many of the songs over the span of the past couple of years, Drama in the Attic is a strikingly lush and original listen that sees Keiffer confidently striding into a realm where his sound has matured gracefully into alternative contemporary along with his folk-leanings.

    “I started writing songs when I was 16 and now that I am 20 I am already looking at music with a whole other viewpoint,” he says.

    “It’s your old self but it’s your new self.”

     
  • Rebecca Lappa - Ode to Tennyson

    www.rebeccalappa.com

    Born in Edmonton, Rebecca Lappa is a storyteller songstress whose writing is inspired by history, myth, & poetry. She’s a classically trained singer who spins yarns & speaks her mind in an expressive mezzo­soprano accompanied by keyboard, guitar, banjo or drum. Her modern folk sound slides through blues, jazz, world, & pop making the folktale new again. Thrice CFMA award nominated Rebecca “hasn’t just written a lot of songs ­ she’s written a lot of good songs”­­Kevin Maimann, Edmonton Examiner. Rebecca’s 4th album, Ode to Tennyson, produced by Barry Allen & Gord Matthews, was funded by a Rawlco Radio grant. Rebecca has written and performed 2 folk operas: The Earl and The Great Edmonton Elephant Stampede of 1926 at Nextfest 2013 & 2014 showing “a remarkable display of confidence, song­writing dexterity, & enthusiasm for quirky detail. Very impressive, and fun.” ~ Liz Nicholls, Edmonton Journal. She has won numerous awards, both as a vocalist & songwriter such as the CN Youth Artist Award at the 2014 Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts and 1st in 2013 & 3rd in 2014 at the Calgary Folk Festival songwriting contest. Look for her at the Canmore & Edmonton Folk Festivals this August.

     
  • Benjamin Rogers - Wayfarer

    benjaminrogersmusic.com

    The next generation of folk music, Benjamin Rogers pushes the boundaries of traditional folk music. Combining fiddle, guitar and mandolin with his contemporary lyrics and unique voice he is creating music that draws you in and wraps around you like a warm blanket. Benjamin’s energetic stage presence stems from years as a street performer. Benjamin has had the privilege of sharing the stage with artists such as Ian bell, Bryan Pickell and Shane Cook. He has performed at music festivals such as the Millrace Folk Festival youth stage and Brantford’s International Scottish Village. In August Benjamin will be featured as one of the Youth Discoveries winners at the prestigious Summerfolk Festival in Owen Sound. He has developed his fiddle style drawing its roots from the East Coast and Old Time but is transformed into his own style. Benjamin’s EP titled Wayfarer is a blend of driving fiddle and warm lyrical songs.