Results 2012

= Recipient

While the recipient is listed first, there is no significance to the order of the remaining nominees.

Traditional Album of the Year

  • Metis Fiddler Quartet - Northwest Voyage Nord Ouest

    http://www.metisfiddlerquartet.com

    Join the Métis Fiddler Quartet on a musical voyage that will take you across the trade routes of the Northwestern frontier and back. Drawing on their diverse backgrounds in classical music, jazz, and beyond, siblings Alyssa, Conlin, Nicholas, and Danton perform Métis fiddle music passed down by Elders. The group strives to share their passion for Métis fiddle music with new audiences through their performances, educational presentations and interactive workshops across Canada and the world. Born with proud Métis roots in Winnipeg, the Métis Fiddler Quartet now explore the musical roots of their Métis culture through unique arrangements that honor their heritage. The Métis Fiddler Quartet has been fortunate to be able to work and collaborate with some of the leading scholars, teachers and performers of the genre including: Anne Lederman, Lawrence \”Teddy Boy\” Houle (Ojibwe, Manitoba), James Flett (Ojibwe, Manitoba), John Arcand (Métis, Saskatchewan) and Colin Adjun (Kugluktuk, Nunavut). The Métis Fiddler Quartet has brought fiddle music to audiences across Canada and internationally. Highlights include performing at the Vancouver Olympics, National Aboriginal Achievement Awards and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Alyssa, the eldest of the siblings, began her musical studies on violin at the age of 3 at the University of Manitoba Suzuki School, where she also found her love for the viola. Alyssa received her Bachelors and Masters in Viola Performance from the Conservatoire de Lausanne, Switzerland. Alyssa’s chamber and orchestral performances have included tours of Russia, Germany, China, the U.S. and South America. Alyssa’s classical training led her to explore her Métis heritage music, in addition to such genres as mariachi, classical, and contemporary. Alyssa’s collaboration with fiddler Lawrence “Teddy Boy” Houle (Ojibwe/Métis) on her highly regarded CD, “Oméigwessi Reel Métis: A Tribute to Walter Flett”, won the ‘Best Fiddle and Best Instrumental Album’ award at the 2008 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. Conlin cultivated his love of music from an early age. He began on violin and later switched to double bass and was a member of the Toronto Youth Symphony Orchestra. He has recently completed his Bachelor of Music at the University of Ottawa, majoring in classical singing Performance. Conlin is also currently working on solo project of original songs, and new arrangements of traditional folk songs in French. Nicholas is an avid performing artist and music educator. He began his musical studies before the age of three, and graduated from the Young Artists Performance Academy of the Royal Conservatory of Music. Nicholas has worked with elders on reserves communities learning traditional songs. He continues to pass on those lessons through his music and educational workshops. These traditions are an inspiration for the music on the debut Métis Fiddler Quartet album, North West Voyage. Danton, the youngest brother, began his cello studies at age three. He is also a gifted jazz pianist and devotes his free time to bikram yoga.

     
  • Nicolas Pellerin - Petit grain d'or

    www.nicolaspellerin.com

    NICOLAS PELLERIN
    ET
    LES GRANDS HURLEURS
    Simon Lepage et Simon Marion

    Les succès accumulés des dernières années amèneront Nicolas à rêver de nouveaux horizons. Plus grands, plus larges, toujours plus loin. C’est donc tout naturellement qu’à l’automne 2008, il décide de créer son propre groupe de musique traditionnelle avec deux autres acolytes. Très attendu par le public qui connaît déjà l’immensité de son talent, le calendrier de tournée du groupe se mettait déjà en branle aux fêtes pour exploser depuis le printemps 2009. Plus de 100 représentations dès la première année! En plus de leurs propres dates, le trio a l’opportunité d’offrir une performance en première partie des spectacles de Fred Pellerin. Non seulement la visibilité du groupe en est donc extrapolée, mais c’est aussi l’occasion de présenter leur travail devant des salles remplies de spectateurs enthousiastes et complètement sous le charme.

    C’est en novembre 2009 que leur 1er album verra le jour au grand bonheur des amateurs de musique traditionnelle: Nicolas Pellerin et Les Grands Hurleurs. En 2010, suite à la sortie de ce disque, le groupe se mérite le Félix de l’album traditionnel de l’année.

    Un vent de fraîcheur au sein de la musique francophone traditionnelle qui les transporte à travers de nombreuses programmations d’envergures telles que : Le festival de la Nouvelle-France (Québec), Les Francofolies de Montréal, La Grande Rencontre (Montréal) ainsi que le Festival Mémoire et Racines dont Nicolas était le porte-parole en 2010.

    Dès le début de 2011, la formation s’est ouverte sur le monde et a cumulé quelques voyages en Europe et aux États-Unis, dont une participation à deux showcases au prestigieux rassemblement APAP de New York. Depuis, ils ont visité l’Espagne à deux reprises, puis l’Allemagne, notamment au gigantesque festival de Rudolstadt, où ils ont connu un succès monstre.

    L’année s’est terminée avec la sortie du deuxième opus de la formation, Petit grain d’or, lancé à Montréal le 1er novembre. S’intéressant aux ambiances et au groove de leur musique, connaissant la ferveur du public et admettant désormais que le trio figure parmi les grands du milieu Trad, les médias démontrent un intérêt grandissant envers le groupe. Nicolas et ses acolytes ont participé à de nombreuses entrevues et performances radiophoniques et télévisuelles.

    Du nouvel album a découlé un nouveau spectacle, mis en scène par Carl Bastien, qui a pris la route dès janvier 2012. Cette année encore, Nicolas Pellerin et Les Grands Hurleurs seront en tournée dans de nombreuses salles d’ici et d’ailleurs à faire découvrir leur spectacle aux saveurs de musique du monde ! Voix, violon, pincements de cordes et tapements de pieds sont au rendez-vous de cette musique éclatée aux multiples influences.

    Projets confirmés :
    Printemps 2012 : Tournée en Espagne – Festival Tradicionarius
    Été-Automne 2012 : Tournée de festivals
    2012 : Nouveau spectacle en salle (tiré de leur 2e album)
    Site Internet : www.nicolaspellerin.com

     
  • Le Vent du Nord - Tromper le temps

    http://www.leventdunord.com

    Since its inception in August 2002, Le Vent du Nord have been enjoying rocketing success. They have received several prestigious awards, including a Juno. The band is now one of the most-loved Quebec folk outfits throughout the world. The group’s current line-up consists of singers / multi-instrumentalists Nicolas Boulerice, Simon Beaudry, Olivier Demers, and Réjean Brunet. Some of their songs come from traditional folk repertoire, while others are original compositions. On stage, these four friends achieve peaks of happiness they eagerly share with any and all audiences. Le Vend du Nord know how to deliver music that will move any crowd – to their feet and in their hearts! This is undoubtedly music of the here and now.

     
  • Sheesham and Lotus & 'Son - 1929

    www.sheeshamandlotus.com

    Sheesham and Lotus & ‘Son
    Performing repeat engagements as hosts and performers at festivals across the land, this critically acclaimed duo recently added third member ‘Son Sanderson (The Silverhearts, Ezmarine) to round out out their old-time sound with Sousaphone. With feet firmly planted in good-time, ragtime and jug tradition, they play and sing through antique horns that give them the pleasing sonority of an vintage-era phonograph. Recently declared the ‘new kings of old-time’ by Carrie Ough of the Good Lovelies, these boys create a ridiculously antique tableau that combines the perfect sight with the perfect sounds, playing harmonicas through home-made contraptions and singing like birds.

     
  • Lenka Lichtenberg - Songs for the Breathing Walls

    www.lenkalichtenberg.com

    Lenka Lichtenberg is a Toronto-based, Prague-born composer, vocalist (Yiddish, English, Czech, French, Russian, Hebrew), arranger, producer, and bandleader with 5 solo CD releases and several collaborations on her resume. In 2012, she has produced and released 2 recordings: “Songs for the Breathing Walls”, recorded live in Czech and Moravian synagogues, and “Lenka Lichtenberg & Roula Said: Bridges”.

    Lenka is in the midst of a diverse international concert career, traveling across continents as a solo artist, with a trio, or her six piece ensemble “Fray”. Her 2011 and 2012 performances include concerts at the Chutzpah! Festival in Vancouver with Fray and Yair Dalal, APAP showcase in New York, concert at the Montreal International Yiddish Theater Festival, a sold-out album release concert in Prague, Stratford Summer Music Festival concert, world music concert in Paris, tours in Poland, Argentina and the Czech Republic. Important collaborations include “Lenka Lichtenberg & Roula Said: Bridges” – Jewish and Arabic music in dialogue, and “Lullabies from Exile”, a recording work-in-progress with Yair Dalal, of intertwined Yiddish and Babylonian music. She was also the bandleader and principal arranger for the award-winning group Sisters of Sheynville.

    Lenka’s Yiddish world music album “Fray” was honoured with nominations in the 2012 Toronto Independent Music Awards, world music category, and the 2011 Canadian Folk Music Awards, world solo artist category, and she also won the 2011 Porcupine Award, in Musique de la monde category for this recording. Her song “Peace is the Only Way” won 2011 Songs from the Heart, multicultural category, and was a finalist in the 2011 John Lennon Song-writing contest, Session II. As well as a performing and recording artist, Lenka is a prolific composer. Two of her new liturgy compositions were chosen for publication by the 2013 International edition of Shalshelet.

     

Contemporary Album of the Year

  • The Deep Dark Woods - The Place I Left Behind

    www.thedeepdarkwoods.com

    Chills climb spines when sound is given room to unfurl. The Deep Dark Woods’ unflinching pursuit of steadiness between decadence and minimalism is guided at every turn by their intuitive ability to balance grit, clarity, drive and restraint with a sure focus on experimentation.

    Winter Hours (2009), caught critics’ ears across the country. The album, a solemn ode to darker themes of seclusion and d…etachment, could yet warm even the bottomless, frozen nights of hometown Saskatoon, SK. With Winter Hours, The Deep Dark Woods won Best Roots Group at the 2009 Western Canadian Music Awards, and Ensemble of the Year at the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards. The band also had the runaway winner in CBC’s Great Canadian Songquest with “Charlie’s (Is Coming Down)”, a song about Good Time Charlie’s in Regina.

    The Deep Dark Woods frame their music with subtle orchestration; songs are trimmed with minimal embellishments of banjo, piano, with subtle mellotron flutters. Drummer and multi-instrumentalist Lucas Goetz’s layers heartbreaking arches of pedal steel under the clarity and warmth of Ryan Boldt’s voice. Newest member, organ-player Geoff Hilhorst furnishes the songs’ edges with slurred polyphonies, while surefooted, danceable basslines and rich second vocals belong to Chris Mason. Burke Barlow’s clarion guitar tone and lead lines are focused and impeccable.

    Their new album, The Place I Left Behind, finds continuity in themes of temporal and geographic alienation, neglected inward trails, and the scars of abandoned intimacies. The album opens with a song about Saskatoon’s rougher edges. “West Side Street” is a study in contrasts – finespun vocals and a gently rolling melody cushion the gloomy story. “The Place I Left Behind” is loosely based on an old folk standard. Gorgeously morose, the title track confirms that The Deep Dark Woods capture lonesome yearning at its loveliest. “Sugar Mama” is a sweet and lively invitation to tap toes and shake off the blues; a seeming coming-of-age story is treated with playful banjo and an airy gait.

    A rainstorm over the desert of modern music, The Place I Left Behind offers murder ballads alongside scrappy rockers, lovesick hymnals and slow-dance waltzes. The album illuminates folk traditions without stripping the shadows of roots music history – The Deep Dark Woods wake the ghosts of Appalachia with their prairie gothic pyre-side tales. The Place I Left Behind echoes with traces of time and space that are never fully abandoned or forgotten.

     
  • Linda McRae - Rough Edges and Ragged Hearts

    www.lindamcrae.com

    “Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts” Linda McRae’s highly anticipated fourth solo release doesn’t describe the gold and platinum polish enhancing a musical career spanning 25 years. Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts produced by Marc L’Esperance & Linda features performances by Gurf Morlix, Ray Bonneville, Doug Cox, Stephen Nikleva, Samantha Parton (formerly of The Be Good Tanyas), The Sojourners and The McRaezie Choir (a 50 piece choir assembled specifically for this project) and will affirm Linda’s maturing distinction as a quality songwriter and unique performer.

    Not only does 2012 mark Linda’s 25th anniversary as a Canadian recording artist it also marks the release of Linda’s new CD Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts, the first release on Linda’s new Record Label 42RPM.

    Linda earned a Juno nomination and double Platinum triple Gold recording status as bassist and accordionist with Celtic/Roots group Spirit of the West. Departing the band after eight years she resumed her solo career consecutively producing three critically acclaimed recordings: Flying Jenny, producer Colin Linden (Bruce Cockburn, Emmy Lou Harris), Cryin’ Out Loud, producer Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier) and Carve It To The Heart producer Marc L’Esperance (Po’ Girl, Headwater).

    In 2007 Linda met and married her manager and co-writer James Whitmire. He urged Linda to go to Nashville to work on her music. Their time there lead her to the study of traditional roots music, studying clawhammer banjo with Brad Leftwich, and Appalachian vocal styles with Ginny Hawker & Tracy Schwarz (New Lost City Ramblers, Hazel Dickens) and finger style guitar with Juno winner Ken Hamm. She has also studied songwriting with Grammy winner Jon Vezner.

    Performing on clawhammer banjo, acoustic guitar, accordion and porchboard stompbox, Linda combines old-time sounds with universal themes of heartbreak & redemption offering an intriguing sepia postcard from the past that is vibrant and alive in the present. Recordings and performances with musical luminaries include Bruce Cockburn, Neko Case, Alejandro Escovedo, Gurf Morlix, and Ray Waylie Hubbard.

    Recent performance highlights include The Carter Family Fold, VA, The Hank Williams Museum, AL, Barbican Theatre, UK, Maverick Festival, UK and New Folsom Prison, California’s infamous maximum-security prison performing in concert and facilitating songwriter workshops for the inmates. Her workshops and concerts were so well received, she was asked to return this past March and Nov. 2012 for their Thanksgiving. The concert and workshops permitted inmates freedom of expression while giving Linda a rare opportunity to assist in that expression.

    Linda also writes a column for BC Musician’s Magazine entitled “This Winding Road”. She is endorsed by EnRoute Music makers of the PorchBoard and Schatten Design Acoustic Pickups.

     
  • Whitehorse - Whitehorse

    www.whitehorsemusic.ca

    Six Shooter Records’ Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet tie the musical knot with the debut of their new band, Whitehorse, marrying their talent and chemistry on stage as a smoldering duo. Gutsy and resolute in their pursuits of sound and substance, Luke and Melissa’s fusion of the personal and professional brings to mind the road-tested romance of Johnny and June.

    Whitehorse is the culmination of years of honing solo skills as singer-songwriters. The two musicians have worked side by side for nearly a decade, contributing to one another’s records, touring and performing together, unknowingly yet instinctively moving towards the day when each would entrust their life and work to the other.

    The debut record appeared in late summer 2011, when days are languid and nights are for the kind of porch dwelling dreamers described in Night Owls, the “McCartney-esque lullabye” that appears on the album. (Globe and Mail). The 8-song self-titled work opens and closes with intrigue, the Eulogies for Whiskers that offer hushed whispers over guitar that is both suggestive and menacing. Meaning is elusive, and it is this chase, this pursuit, that propels Whitehorse forward.

    Old songs are transformed, reinvented but not stripped of their histories. Whitehorse carries with it the stories and worlds of both artists. Passenger 24 and Broken are the memories of the early days of Luke and Melissa’s collaborations, and the magic the two bring to each other’s work. Sparks grow to flames on I’m On Fire, a country-singed rendition of a classic tale of burning desire. Emerald Isle and Killing Time is Murder are hints of what’s to come. One draws from personal experience, the other lets imagination run wild. These songs show the true breadth of Whitehorse’s mastery of storytelling and musicianship.

    In Whitehorse, songbird and falcon unite. Spurred by chemistry, intimacy, and of course romance, the band races on.

     
  • Old Man Luedecke & Lake of Stew - Sing All About It

    www.oldmanluedecke.ca

    “Old Man Luedecke and Lake of Stew; what names! We were born to be together. I got a CD of Lake of Stew and after singing along a few dozen times started listening in to the voices and imagining who they were. The Mini Pops, Glee, pish, this was the group I was born to join. Like me they are kitchen sing-a-longs, potlucks. old time juggy string bands of the mythological present. Loose and easy as true love well begun. They dropped by my house in Nova Scotia for a visit like the Carter Family visiting Jimmie Rodgers. We ate and hung out and sang together. We’ve never played a gig and had never played together. I didn’t even know all their names at first. On little more than a whim we went to the Old Confidence Lodge studio in downtown Riverport and put these songs together with a bit of joy and hard work. Magic! Sing all about it! Share it with your friends. That’s what this is for.” OML

    Old Man Luedecke, is one of Canada’s best loved and most intriguing roots singer-songwriters. “An original, he is a musical singularity to be savoured and shared”, says the Vancouver Folk Festival. His memorable melodies, poetic sense and easy charisma appeal to anyone searching for new growth from old roots.

    Lake Of Stew is a 6-piece acoustic string band from Montreal. Known for our full-group harmonies and fun, high-energy performances, each of us rotate singing lead vocals on a wide variety of original tunes, ranging from waltzes to singalongs, barnburners to boogies.

     
  • Rose Cousins - We Have Made A Spark

    www.rosecousins.com

    Rose Cousins finds insight in solitude and strength in
    numbers. Supported by a thriving Halifax music scene and
    welcomed by an equally vibrant Boston community, her new
    album We Have Made A Spark was made in the spirit of
    community and collaboration.

     

Children’s Album of the Year

  • Henri Godon - Chansons pour toutes sortes d'enfants

    www.henrigodon.com

    Entouré sur son disque d’une douzaine de musiciens issus de différents groupes de la scène musicale québécoise, les pièces d’Henri Godon voyagent à travers plusieurs styles : le jazz, le traditionnel, le swing. Des arrangements surprenants et une section de cuivres éclatés accompagnent les chansons bien ficelées de l’auteur. Tantôt drôles, tantôt poétiques, les textes s’inspirent du quotidien des 5 à 11 ans et sont chantés et racontés dans un langage qui est loin d’être enfantin. Henri Godon n’a aucune prétention éducative. Il convoque plutôt la famille à un véritable party autour de ses chansons.

     
  • Kathy Reid-Naiman and Hannah Naiman - Here We Go Zodeo

    www.merriweather.ca hannahshira.weebly.com

    Kathy Reid-Naiman has spent the last 25 years working and playing with preschool children in libraries and schools in Ontario. She has made 11 award winning CDs for early childhood with producer Ken Whiteley and one DVD of Fingerplays with Grammy award winning artists Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. She has presented concerts, workshops and training sessions at conferences and libraries across North America and is in demand as a keynote speaker.
    Hannah Naiman is has been actively involved in the folk music community since birth, and has been leading songs and workshops for teenagers and adults since her youth at summer camps such as Pinewoods (MA), Ogontz (NH) and Christmas Country Dance School (KY). She draws from an immense repertoire of rounds, African spirituals, gospel songs, and American traditional ballads. Her first recording for children, ‘Savez-vous planter des Choux?’ was included in the French version of the Ontario Early Years Newborn Literacy Kits.

     
  • Andrew Queen - GROW

    www.andrewqueen.ca

    Andrew Queen is an award-winning singer, songwriter and children’s recording artist. He’s on a mission to get kids singing about food: growing food, sharing food, local food, healthy food, eating food, and even being eaten! His latest release, GROW, offers up generous helpings of original tantalizing tunes, seasoned with silliness and sprinkled with sweet sing-a-longs. The Parent’s Choice Foundation says GROW is “guaranteed to tickle funny bones with the zany adaptations of familiar tales and traditional comic campfire songs”. The School Library Journal says that Andrew “sings with joy in his heart and a smile on his face.”

    Andrew has been making his mark on the Canadian folk scene as an animated storyteller through song. His signature fairy tale songs deliver messages of sharing, cooperation and community building, intermingled with irresistibly singable refrains. Hailed by the press as a “troubadour teacher” and “children’s music comic laureate,” Andrew was voted Canada’s favourite Children’s Artist of the Year at the 2011 Indies. He has won two Parents’ Choice Recommended Awards (Too Tall 2010, GROW 2012) plus a Canadian Folk Music Award for Children’s Album of the Year in 2010. High energy, big laughs, tall tales…Andrew dishes up a super-sized order of fun!

     
  • Will Stroet - Ensemble, en cadence

    www.willmusic.ca

    Will Stroet, an award-winning bilingual children’s musician and educator, connects with kids through high-energy, interactive and educational music in English and French. Often described as a bilingual rock concert for kids, audiences take part in fun actions and sing-along choruses. Will sings original songs about literacy, animals, sports, road safety and multiculturalism, transforming ordinary topics into an extraordinary musical experience.

    Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Will has performed his highly entertaining show to enthusiastic young audiences at hundreds of major festivals, schools and theatres across Canada.

    Since 2005, he has released six albums of original music, which have garnered national recognition. He’s received a 2011 Kids Music Award a 2011 West Coast Songwriters Award, approval from the Parents’ Choice Awards, and nominations from the Western Canadian Music Awards, the Canadian Independent Music Awards and Canadian Folk Music Awards. Will’s music is also featured on Putumayo’s compilation, “Kids World Party.”

    Will is also part of B.C.’s ArtStarts in Schools roster and regularly leads music workshops for teachers and students.

    Along with his latest French album, “Ensemble, en cadence,” Will has also released a brand new DVD this May entitled “Will’s Jams.” The DVD features music videos of songs from his most recent albums and was released during his sold-out performances at the Vancouver International Children’s Festival.

    Will, in addition to being a Children’s Musician and a former elementary school teacher, is also a father. When not on the road he enjoys nothing more than singing, dancing and trying out new songs with his two year old daughter Ella Mae.

     
  • Shelley Bean & The Duckety Muds - Shelley Bean & The Duckety Muds

    www.shelleybean.ca

    Shelley Chase has worked with children for over 20 years. As an early childhood educator, day camp leader, entertainer, musical theatre and cartoon instructor, she has created magical and interactive memories for her young charges through a love of the arts. Part of the Mr. Dress-Up generation, she believes children are still enchanted by puppets, new crayons and heartfelt melodies.

    In her Shelley Bean persona, she draws upon a colourful repertoire Atlantic Canadian folk music and songs from the late composer Darrin Eck. She weaves joy and community through every lively performance, giving each young person and chance to be heard, the courage to sing loud and dance however they like. With interactivity and humour integral to her performance, it is not just the children, but also the Moms, Dads and caregivers that sing along.

    From 2000 – 2010 Shelley Chase was the lead vocalist for double East Coast Music nominees Banshee; recording three albums and touring extensively throughout North America performing on Festival stages for young and adult audiences. She has produced entertainment shows for the Canadian Armed Forces in Dubai, the North Pole, France and Afghanistan.

    This Summer Shelley Bean will perform at The Stan Rogers Folk Festival, The Winnipeg Folk Festival, The Calgary Folk Festival and The Ness Creek Folk Festival. Late 2011 saw her perform at The Woodford Folk Festival in Australia.

    In addition to traveling with The Duckety Muds (a colourful cast of award winning folk and traditional musicians), she co-owns Newfoundland and Labrador’s only full service music management company Garrison Hill Entertainment Ltd.

    Shelley Bean is based in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. The Duckety Muds reside in zoos and ponds from Point de Chene, New Brunswick to Cape Broyle Newfoundland and Labrador – except when they are playing fiddles, accordions and whistles for your children.

     

Traditional Singer of the Year

  • Lenka Lichtenberg - Songs for the Breathing Walls

    www.lenkalichtenberg.com

    Lenka Lichtenberg is a Toronto-based, Prague-born composer, vocalist (Yiddish, English, Czech, French, Russian, Hebrew), arranger, producer, and bandleader with 5 solo CD releases and several collaborations on her resume. In 2012, she has produced and released 2 recordings: “Songs for the Breathing Walls”, recorded live in Czech and Moravian synagogues, and “Lenka Lichtenberg & Roula Said: Bridges”.

    Lenka is in the midst of a diverse international concert career, traveling across continents as a solo artist, with a trio, or her six piece ensemble “Fray”. Her 2011 and 2012 performances include concerts at the Chutzpah! Festival in Vancouver with Fray and Yair Dalal, APAP showcase in New York, concert at the Montreal International Yiddish Theater Festival, a sold-out album release concert in Prague, Stratford Summer Music Festival concert, world music concert in Paris, tours in Poland, Argentina and the Czech Republic. Important collaborations include “Lenka Lichtenberg & Roula Said: Bridges” – Jewish and Arabic music in dialogue, and “Lullabies from Exile”, a recording work-in-progress with Yair Dalal, of intertwined Yiddish and Babylonian music. She was also the bandleader and principal arranger for the award-winning group Sisters of Sheynville.

    Lenka’s Yiddish world music album “Fray” was honoured with nominations in the 2012 Toronto Independent Music Awards, world music category, and the 2011 Canadian Folk Music Awards, world solo artist category, and she also won the 2011 Porcupine Award, in Musique de la monde category for this recording. Her song “Peace is the Only Way” won 2011 Songs from the Heart, multicultural category, and was a finalist in the 2011 John Lennon Song-writing contest, Session II. As well as a performing and recording artist, Lenka is a prolific composer. Two of her new liturgy compositions were chosen for publication by the 2013 International edition of Shalshelet.

     
  • Peter Wynne of The Wynnes - The Wynnes

    www.thewynnes.ca

    Peter Wynne has been singing traditional music for twenty years. His work with Lazy Jacks landed him a nomination for Traditional Singer of the Year at the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards. He has been nominated at the ECMAs twice for Traditional Group of the Year and once as with La Funk 6 in the Jazz category. His newest recording, in partnership with his wife Barb and some of PEI finest musicians, sees him offering a new Americana/Bluegrass style to his resume. The Wynnes (pronounced “wins”) are a new group on the East Coast scene, but their long resume of solid songwriting and reputable musicianship is worth noting.

    The recording was produced by James Phillips (producer of Catherine MacLellan, Saddle River String Band) and includes Gordie MacKeeman (Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys, Grass Mountain Hobos) on fiddle and James Phillips (Saddle River String Band, Slim Jim and the Brothers Grimm) on mandolin. All vocals, guitar and bass were recorded live off the floor with one take to get the energy and feel of an authentic performance. The depth of talent and reputation makes this group worth a listen.

    Accomplishments of debut recording to date:

    The Wynnes debut CD was nominated for Group of the Year, New Artist of the Year and Traditional Recording of the Year at the 2012 PEI Music Awards.

    The Wynnes receive an honourable mention for the song “Wayne” at the 17th annual Billboard World Song Contest.

    Debut CD reached No.2 on CFBX (Kamloops, BC) and No.7 on CKXU (Lethbridge, AB) Folk/roots chart. “The Wynnes” have been featured on CKUA (Edmonton), CJSR (Edmonton), CKUW (Winnipeg) , CFUV (Victoria), CJMQ (Quebec), C103 (BC) Eagle 107 (Netherlands),KWBC (Missouri) and KUNR (Reno, Nevada), 2RRR (Sydney Australia) and 988-1 (Japan)

    Placed twice on the “Roots Music Report” for Canada since May15th.

    2nd place in the Emerging Country Artist Contest at C103 Kamloops.

    “As a debut album, it certainly serves to show The Wynnes are a musical force to be reckoned with” – Grey Owl Point, Cory McCrindle

    “The Wynnes” was sent out through DMDS system to all Canadian campuses and all Canadian country radio stations. A targeted mailout was sent to international roots radio shows, all CBC music libraries and specific DJs of Canadian campus roots shows.

     
  • Kim Beggs of The Blue Warblers - Pretty Good

    www.folkrootsmusic.com/thebluewarblers

    THE BLUE WARBLERS are KIM BEGGS and NATALIE EDELSON. Inspired by the love of the rough and ready sounds of Appalachia as well as their own deep-rooted existence in a land of extremes, these internationally acclaimed, solo recording and touring artists have joined forces to deliver traditional sweet and savoury old-timey tunes and colourful vignettes of Yukon life past and present.

    Their debut record release, PRETTY GOOD, is double nominated in the 2012 WESTERN CANADIAN MUSIC AWARDS for: GOSPEL RECORDING OF THE YEAR, and ALBUM DESIGN OF THE YEAR (Kim Beggs). PRETTY GOOD has also been in continuous rotation on CBC Galaxie Folks Roots Channel since its release in February 2012.

    At the beginning of 2012, Kim Beggs and Natalie Edelson went into the studio with the intent to capture the sounds they have harnessed together over the last few years, in a sparsely produced, gentle atmosphere. Initially envisioning recording a demo, it turned out that all 13 recorded tracks had legs and stood on their own; and the demo became an album – and The Blue Warblers were born. During the two days they spent making the record, there happened to be a couple of good friends coming through town, so they included some of the sweet sounds of Juno nominated artists: George McConkey, Jesse Zubot and Bob Hamilton.

     
  • Fred Jorgensen of The Navigators - Soldiers & Sailors

    www.thenavigators.com

    From the rocky Atlantic shores of Newfoundland The Navigators have worked their way to the top of the Eastern Canadian Folk/Roots Music Scene by performing music that is much like the province itself, rocky, energetic, un-predictable, and unforgettable. Formed in 2000, the groups’ sound is based on two baritone lead singers who complement and contrast each other in ways that create fluid dynamic performances of both original and traditional material. The two lead singers also share lead instrument duties with acoustic & electric guitars, fiddle, tin whistle, and bodhran backed by a stellar rhythm section. The Navigators are renowned for leaving the audience with an unforgettable experience & performance.

    The Navigators’ acoustic/electric contemporary sound draws on Newfoundland’s rich traditional heritage with links to the old world. The groups’ third recording “Solders & Sailors” is a mix of modern electric & acoustic folk and traditional Irish Newfoundland melodies steeped in local folklore. “Soldiers & Sailors” released fall 2011 is not unlike Sea Miner” featuring what Navigator fans have come to expect from their live shows as well as more of what was heard on their first release (“Dance and Sing”) – rollicking upbeat tunes perfect for kitchen parties. “Soldiers & Sailors” highlights a deeper, softer more serious side; Arthur’s songwriting as many others from his home province is significantly influenced by Newfoundland’s people, history, tragedy and rugged coastal beauty, many songs with a strong undertow and longing for Home. “Soldiers & Sailors” was produced by Glen Simmons (Fables, Wonderful Grand Band) with many co-writes with Arthur. Many of these new songs have a contagious grove and hook and has audiences already singing along at their live concerts.

    Soldiers and Sailors (Independent)
    As hard a working band as any beyond their Newfoundland borders, The Navigators channel their thrilling pub and club presence into Soldiers And Sailors – a warm and welcome disc built upon a bedrock of folk sensibilities and rock influences. In Fred Jorgensen they have such a compelling and emotional vocalist that comparisons to the late great Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners do not go amiss. While Jorgensen provides an electrifying wallop, Arthur O’Brien has proven himself a wonderful, engaging, songwriter highlighted by Pullin’ Oil From The Sand – a heartbreaking tale of the homesickness Maritimers feel migrating to Alberta’s oil fields. And his moving Safely O’er The Sea deserves its place alongside the best of Ron Hynes. O’Brien, though, balances these touching tracks with his light-hearted A Sunny Night In Paris, flushed full of fun with a delightful reggae lilt, and Just Me, is a rollicking drunken swagger amidst dubious company, methinks. Even the auld traditional biddy Step It Out Mary makes it home with a fresh pair of nickers. But if the arrangements to Andy M. Stewart’s Queen of Argyll are, somewhat, too ambitious, it’s a small slip in an otherwise assured and affecting recording.
    – By Roddy Campbell

     
  • Sneezy Waters - Sneezy Waters

    sneezywaters.com

    Sneezy Waters has been a professional musician for 50 years. He has sung folk music in all of Canada’s provinces and territories, including every major folk festival. He has appeared frequently on CBC Radio and Television.

    He has played musical residencies in South East Asia and Europe.

    Sneezy is well known for playing the lead role in the film and stage play “Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave” in over 800 performances in Canada, Berlin, and the U.S.

    His range of songs is broad, from Traditional Folk Music, through to songs of the early 1900′s, and he is a fine interpreter of songs by Willie. P. Bennett, Ian Tamblyn, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Mary McCaslin, amongst others.

    “Sneezy Waters” is Sneezy’s 4th CD.

     

Contemporary Singer of the Year

  • Rose Cousins - We Have Made A Spark

    www.rosecousins.com

    Rose Cousins finds insight in solitude and strength in
    numbers. Supported by a thriving Halifax music scene and
    welcomed by an equally vibrant Boston community, her new
    album We Have Made A Spark was made in the spirit of
    community and collaboration.

     
  • Keri Latimer - Crowsfeet and Greyskull

    www.kerilatimer.com

    For the last decade, Keri Latimer has been and continues to be one of the key members in the Winnipeg based band “Nathan”. With the help of the Canada Council and the Winnipeg Arts council who both honored her with writing grants for a solo album, as well as FACTOR assistance for recording, she diligently penned a collection of revealing and intimate songs, and recorded them in the kitchen of her home. Drums, trumpets, piano and strings were recorded in studios across Canada and the whole mess was mixed in Massachusetts. The result, “Crowsfeet and Greyskulls” was released on May 1, 2012.

    Keri’s songs emanate from a sensibility that crosses genres, blends disparate styles and confounds description. Acoustic Guitar Magazine tried to account for it as “infectious alt-country noir, fractured folk-swing and surreal songwriting.” The Globe and Mail said that the music has “something mysterious at the core … as if to remind you that home is just another word for the place where you keep your darkest secrets.” The reviews are often like this, bringing out the best in music journalists as they struggle to describe their reaction to her inventive songs.

    With the group Nathan, she has garnered much critical acclaim, receiving a Juno Award, multiple Prairie Music Awards, Western Canadian Music Awards, and Canadian Folk Music Awards. She recently collaborated with Peter Golub and Shahzad Ismaily on the musical score for the film “Frozen River” which was nominated for 2 Academy Awards for “Best Original Screenplay” and “Best Female Lead” and won the Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival.

     
  • Geraldine Hollett of The Once - Row Upon Row of The People They Know

    theonce.ca

    Named for a unique Newfoundland phrase
    that means ‘imminently’, now is indeed the
    time for The Once.
    From their beginnings as three actors who
    also loved to sing together, The Once has
    embraced a different vision of Newfoundland
    music. Their sounds do not come from
    the noisy pubs and dockside taverns that
    fuel so much of the Island’s energy. Instead,
    their music comes from a quieter and more
    thoughtful place. Hope and tragedy are intertwined
    in their music, whether they are
    singing an old lament from World War I,
    original songs that speak of love defeated,
    or tasteful songs from the artists whose
    music inspires them.
    The title of their new album comes from a
    poem by poet George Murray, a poem that
    so inspired them they built a song around it.
    Song For Memory speaks of the power of
    words and music to freeze time and
    emotions, to make small moments large,
    and large moments small. The song’s
    climax features the memorable line, “row
    upon row, of the people you know”, life’s
    expectations written in both a personal and
    an expansive way at the same time.
    As a trio, the band has kept it uncomplicated,
    depending on the power of their
    voices and acoustic instruments. Lead
    singer Geraldine Hollett, has an instrument
    of rare power; she is a singer who can still a
    noisy room, so compelling she can tell a
    novel-length story with a few words.
    Accompanied by Phil Churchill and
    Andrew Dale on guitar, mandolin, fiddle
    and bouzouki, they create a perfect blend of
    voice and melody. Sometimes melancholy,
    sometimes funny, but always poignant, The
    Once sound like nothing that has ever come
    from Newfoundland.
    Their debut album has built a fervent
    following, and their live show is unique in its
    combination of intimacy and power. They
    have won several East Coast Music and
    Canadian Folk Music awards, and the
    country is waking up to just what an
    amazing band they are. With Row Upon
    Row of the People They Know,
    The Once will take its place amongst
    Canada’s finest performers.

     
  • Catherine MacLellan - Silhouette

    www.catherinemaclellan.com/

    Silhouette is the highly anticipated new album from Catherine MacLellan. The record captures her best qualities effortlessly—stitching together elegantly woven songs with her memorable blend of heartfelt and powerfully introspective lyrics and catchy melodies.

    Recorded largely at a secluded cabin in rural Prince Edward Island, MacLellan brought together a band of longtime friends and musical collaborators with producer David Baxter to craft the 14-track album that Canada’s Exclaim! Magazine has touted as being “a near-hour-long album devoid of filler…a testimony to MacLellan’s ascent to greatness.” Indeed, the subtle yet steadfast strength of the album is undoubtedly the understated power of MacLellan’s songwriting and performance on the largely acoustic-driven songs.

    Her sweet tones weft gracefully throughout pensive and internalized lyrics that ponder, in the most elegant terms, the most relatable of internal dilemmas—balancing work and family, love blooming and fading away, and evaluating one’s own personal strength. Throughout the 14 tracks on Silhouette, it’s felt that you’re listening to the voice of an every-woman with a gift for expressing with poise the most personal of internal conflicts.

    A particularly sweet note on Silhoutette hits on the penultimate track “Snowbird”, a stripped down cover version the most lauded song ever written by her father Gene MacLellan, featuring Canadian icon Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo). It’s a meaningful acoustic tribute to the elder MacLellan’s songwriting legacy, and fan favourite re-imagined by Catherine in a whole new light.

    MacLellan’s star has long been rising in North America. Voted Critics Favourite New Discovery by Penguin Eggs Magazine in 2008, her last record Water In The Ground reached out to expand her already loyal fan base as she toured in support of legendary artists including Bruce Cockburn in the United States and Steve Forbert in the UK, while also holding her own by showcasing in Boston, Berlin, Cannes, Memphis, New York, London, and Paris.

    Her previous albums have collectively hit #1 on the iTunes Canada Roots charts, and been acclaimed by tastemakers at Maverick Magazine, fRoots, The Austin Chronicle, and Boston Globe.

    Like the person in the room who demonstrates his or her commanding presence without announcing their arrival, Catherine MacLellan’s fine songwriting talent and accomplished performance draws her listeners in with little effort, and without need of any persuasion. Silhouette is a reminder that Catherine’s musicianship is unparalleled among performers of her generation.

     
  • Craig Cardiff - Floods and Fires

    www.craigcardiff.com

    Craig Cardiff (born 9 July 1976) is a Canadian folk musician from Waterloo, Ontario, who is known for his soft voice and digital vocal and guitar loops.
    He is also known for his unusual policy towards the distribution of music, opting for more circulation and awareness, rather than simply monetary gain. He displays this in the formatting of his 2007 CD Goodnight (Go Home)[1] in which he included another CD with sample tracks to give to a friend so as to spread the music. He has been known to perform at many summer camps, including YMCA Camp Pine Crest, which has created an increasing fan base in the teen generation.
    The songwriter enjoys a reputation for finding innovative ways to record and distribute music; his 2008 release “Mistletoe” was recorded using the iPod / iPad application Octopod and in October 2010, Cardiff released the EP “Songs for Lucy” as a free download on his website, www.craigcardiff.com.
    The songwriter was nominated in 2012 for the Juno in the category of Roots & Traditional Album of the Year: Solo.
    Cardiff was born to a musically talented family, including two sisters who sometimes accompany him on his recorded albums.
    He has toured with Glen Phillips, lead singer of Toad the Wet Sprocket, and others.
    He currently resides in Arnprior, Ontario.

     

Instrumental Solo Artist of the Year

  • Trent Freeman - Rock Paper Scissors

    www.trentfreeman.com

    TRENT FREEMAN
    Trent Freeman is an emerging Toronto based violin player, whose unique blend of deep groove, in depth harmony, captivating melodies and personal writing style set him apart from many others. His versatility makes him a sought after session musician and side man, and he has played for projects ranging in style from rock, classical, country, bluegrass and folk, to funk, hip-hop, R&B, jazz, soul and gospel.
    Trent grew up on Vancouver Island, where he took classical violin lessons from the age of 5. At 10, he began fiddling, and was soon playing dances, shows and winning contests around his home province. He excelled at fiddling, and was soon in high demand as a back up musician, session player, solo performer and teacher.
    While in high school, Trent taught at over 15 summer music camps, teaching musicians of all levels and ages. His teaching skills developed through his volunteer work teaching and directing the group Fiddlejam, a dance band and performance group consisting of around 40 musicians that meet weekly. In 2007, Trent was awarded the Comox Valley Mentor of the Year Award for his work with this group.
    Trent then went on to study Orchestral Instrument Performance at the University of British Columbia for a year before transferring to Berklee College of Music in Boston. While attending these schools, he toured with the Clumsy Lovers Band, Helen Austin, Jessie Farrell, Chasing Blue, Amy Black, Timberland Drive, and did many shows with his own groove based band Trent Freeman & the Free Men. He also recorded for countless Berklee musicians, and some more notable artists such as Wyclef Jean and the Griffins.
    Trent represented Berklee on many occasions. He toured to New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C. with the Berklee World Strings, played with the Berklee Bluegrass All-stars at the Joe Val Bluegrass festival, and toured to New Hampshire and Glasgow, Scotland, with Berklee’s Transatlantic Collaboration. In his second year he was the recipient of the 2010 Berklee String Department award for outstanding musical achievement.
    In 2011, Trent moved back to Vancouver where he toured and recorded with artist such as The Wailin’ Jennys, John Reischman, Calvin Vollrath, Alex Flock and The Fretless.
    Rock Paper Scissors, Trent’s new solo album is an all original project featuring Jordan Mann on bass, Steve Fletcher on piano and Jon May on drums. The music is creative, inspired, edgy and beautiful as it crosses the lines between jazz and folk.

     
  • Rik Barron - Speechless

    www.rikbarron.com

    Beautiful is a word you don’t often hear when speaking about the banjo but the warmth, richness and timelessness that Rik Barron brings to his instrument defies stereotypes. A warm and engaging artist he utilizes a variety of old-timey tunings combining elements of folk, old time, parlor music, minstrel banjo, steamboat calliopes, Irish music and more. Toss in mandolin, tenor banjo, guitar, a healthy dose of Newfoundland wit and you have music that moves from melancholic to mischievous with uncommon ease. Fifty years after picking up the banjo Rik continues to explore its beauty and push it’s boundaries.

     
  • Darren McMullen - Shoes for Molly

    darrenmcmullen.com

    DARREN MCMULLEN is a highly sought after multi-instrumentalist based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. His list of on-stage weapons includes mandolin, bouzouki, tenor banjo, whistles, guitar and bass.

    Darren has been behind one instrument or another since the age of four – first a piano then a guitar then anything he could lay his hands on. His first regular gig was with the hugely popular Halifax band “The Cornerboys”. He chorded his way through the audition, told the band he was a trad music fanatic, got the gig, and swiftly went home to start teaching himself some trad music! Once he found the genre, there was no going back. One job rolled into the next as Darren learned new instruments along the way.

    It was in the early days of his next band, “Hair of the Dog”, when Darren and the band’s fiddler Martin St.Maurice realized their common love of traditional instrumental music. In 2001, they recorded their album “Fingerboard Grooves” which went on to be nominated for an East Coast Music Award for the 2002 Instrumental Album of the Year. Hair of the Dog played relentlessly for the next three years; 2003 saw them play 207 shows. With the exit of the band’s lead singer, Hair of the Dog morphed into “The Gig Dogs” in 2004, and remains one of Halifax’s most celebrated pub acts.

    2004 was a turning point for Darren. J.P. Cormier was in the market for a bass player, preferably a ‘utility guy’ who could move between several instruments in the run of a show. Not surprisingly, he took notice of Darren. Darren went on to hold a permanent position touring with J.P. for four years playing halls and festivals across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. During his time with J.P., Darren recorded his second album “Decade” in J.P.’s studio. It too went on to receive an ECMA nomination for the 2010 Instrumental Album of the Year.

    Since then, Darren has been busy touring and performing with a wide range of bands including the Colin Grant Band, Pogey, Dave Gunning, Matt Andersen, Bruce Guthro, Matt Minglewood, David Francey, Gillian Boucher, Troy MacGillivray, Andrea Beaton, Rachel Davis, Anna Ludlow, and Chrissy Crowley. In the fall of 2010, Darren was hired by The Rankins for their 22 date Acoustic Tour.

    In the spring of 2011, Darren hit the studio to record a new album. Armed with his truckload of instruments, and calling on some good friends to join him. Instruments include Guitar, Mandolin, Mandola, Bouzouki, Electric and Upright Bass, Cello, Whistles, and Banjo. Guests include Matt Andersen, Colin Grant, Jason MacDonald, Rachel Davis, Jason Roach, and Dave Gunning, who also co-produced, engineered, and mixed the project. “Shoes for Molly” was released at the Celtic Colours International Festival on Cape Breton Island, October 2011.

    Darren’s tour schedule, both as a soloist and a guest musician, continues to keep him on the road. Having recently wrapped a Canadian tour with David Francey, followed closely by another 14 date run with the Rankin Family, Recording sessions with David Francey,and a regional tour with Matt Andersen, Darren looks forward to a jam packed summer playing Canadian and U.S. shows and festivals including dates throughout Maine and New Hampshire with the hot new trad-funk fusion band “Sprag Session”.

     
  • Andrew Collins - Cats And Dogs

    www.sytesounds.com

    As a solo artist and 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 multi-instrumentalist. Andrew plays mandolin, mandola, mandocello, guitar, and fiddle, deftly navigating across the bluegrass, old-time, jazz, blues, swing, Celtic and classical traditions.
    Andrew’s two longest-standing collaborative projects, the Creaking Tree String Quartet (CTSQ) and the Foggy Hogtown Boys, bring together some of the most talented acoustic musicians in Canada. Both bands have received national and international recognition for their musicianship and creativity in composition and arrangement. CTSQ has earned four Juno Award Nominations and received four Canadian Folk Music Awards, while the Foggy Hogtown Boys have earned numerous awards from the Central Canada Bluegrass Association and were nominated as Best Ensemble at the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Awards.
    Andrew’s career as a solo artist is no less impressive. The Central Canada Bluegrass Association nominated him five times as Mandolin Player of the Year, which he secured in 2005. He has engineered and produced several albums that showcase the breadth of his abilities as a composer and instrumentalist. In 2003, Andrew produced and recorded an album of ten instrumental duets entitled Likewise (2003), collaborating with guitar virtuoso and fellow Torontonian Marc Roy. His debut solo album, Little Widgets (2005), is a self-produced collection of genre-bending originals that earned him a Canadian Folk Music Award for Pushing the Boundaries in 2006. In 2007, Andrew took a different track and collaborated with world-renowned Celtic musician, Brian Taheney, to release Mando Lore (2007). Andrew and Brian’s mutual love of traditional music is apparent on every track of the album, which features various instruments in the mandolin family on new renditions of old Celtic and American old-time tunes. In addition to working on his own albums, Andrew regularly contributes to other albums as a session musician.
    Over the last seven years, Andrew has added engineering and producing to his list of professional skills. Working out of his Toronto-based studio, Sytesounds, he has recorded albums by The Foggy Hogtown Boys, Creaking Tree String Quartet, Chris Coole, Brad Keller, John Showman, and Tuxedo, and has produced and engineered albums for Annie Lou, The Unseen Strangers, Laura Repo, Kitgut Stringband, Sweet Lowdown, and Lickin’ Good Fried, among many others.
    Andrew’s most recent self-produced and engineered solo project follows in the tradition of his 2005 album, Little Widgets. Cats and Dogs (2011) features twelve instrumental pieces and showcases Andrew’s proficiency as a composer and versatility in the folk, contemporary jazz, and classical traditions. In the newest phase of his performance career, Andrew is now fronting his own trio and touring his music. In this project, he is supported by multi-instrumentalist Mike Mezzatesta (mando family, guitar and fiddle) and James Mceleney on upright bass.

     
  • Shaun Ferguson - Ascensions

    www.shaunferguson.ca

    Biographie – Shaun Ferguson

    Artiste émergent de la Péninsule acadienne, Shaun Ferguson s’inscrit dans la nouvelle génération de guitaristes et compositeurs à surveiller. C’est en 1992 que Shaun découvre la guitare, et ses expériences musicales au cours des dix années suivantes l’amènent à développer sa vision d’un projet personnel s’articulant autour de ses compositions. Depuis 2001, Shaun affine sa signature et son identité musicales en plus de multiplier les associations et les prestations. En 2011, il présente le fruit de son travail au grand public en signant un premier album entièrement constitué de matériel original.

    L’album Ascensions, son premier opus en carrière, représente un cheminement aboutissant sur un retour aux sources. Plusieurs types d’ascensions s’entrecoupent sur cet album : d’une part, on expérimente une forme d’élévation qui s’installe d’une composition à l’autre, ensuite chaque pièce contient en elle-même une ascension. Par exemple, la progression musicale de Zénith vers son apogée – son propre zénith – contient une ascension en soi. La pièce Ascension transporte l’auditeur par ses envolées… D’autres types d’ascensions sont plus personnels, plus profonds; chacun est invité à les découvrir – à Sentir l’invisible… Le choix des titres retenus encourage une écoute attentive et souligne les subtilités et nuances de la musique. Pour Shaun, le mot ascension est synonyme d’élévation, de cheminement, d’évolution.

    L’intérêt grandissant de Shaun envers le «fingerstyle» est très apparent sur son premier disque; les possibilités expressives que lui procure cette nouvelle direction l’inspirent et nourrissent ses compositions. Il combine également un ensemble de techniques qui lui permettent de déclencher des notes de la main gauche sur le manche de l’instrument. Par l’addition de ces deux pôles, Shaun enrichit son langage musical et élargit les potentiels de la guitare acoustique. Toujours à la recherche de nouvelles couleurs, il n’hésite pas non plus à expérimenter différentes manières d’accorder ses guitares. Sourire en coin, Shaun précise qu’à l’intersection des approches verticale (harmonique) et horizontale (mélodique) se situe son approche «diagonale»…

    À l’instar de plusieurs autres artistes, Shaun Ferguson est un autodidacte. C’est en se fiant à son intuition qu’il a appris à jouer et à composer, à exploiter des sonorités qui vibrent en harmonie avec ses idées musicales. Au fil de ses associations avec d’autres artistes, il a également glané plusieurs connaissances qu’il transfère de la guitare au violoncelle, à la basse, à différents instruments à cordes ou aux percussions. Shaun s’intéresse beaucoup à toutes les formes d’art, et il a pris part à plusieurs projets communs alliant poésie, arts visuels ou danse et musique.

    Depuis 2004, certaines des compositions de Shaun voyagent à travers le monde par le biais de la compagnie montréalaise Intermède Média. Jusqu’à date, on a pu entendre des extraits de ses pièces accompagner documentaires et télédiffusions au Canada, au Royaume-Uni, au Danemark, en Australie, en Espagne, en Corée du Sud, aux États-Unis… Shaun est le premier compositeur néo-brunswickois à être engagé par Intermède Média depuis sa fondation.

    Avec son premier album en poche, Shaun Ferguson souhaite faire découvrir son matériel à de nouveaux auditoires puisque sa musique instrumentale aplanit les barrières de langues et ouvre les frontières. Et il a déjà d’autres albums et projets en vue…

     

Instrumental Group of the Year

  • The Fretless - Waterbound

    www.thefretless.com

    The Fretless is a young and innovative band that melds the worlds of celtic, folk and chamber music into an amazing and unique sound all their own. They may look like a string quartet, but with innovative arrangements and roots deeply based in Celtic and Canadian fiddle styles, The Fretless is creating their own unique path in the music world.



    It’s not uncommon for a modern string quartet to play some crossover material, but what The Fretless does is different. They aren’t a classical quartet playing arrangements of folk tunes, but a folk/celtic band with a twist! Playing the instruments of a classical string quartet, the members of The Fretless are fundamentally folk musicians who know the traditions and styles, but also happen to have extensive technical training and chamber music experience.

    

Hailing from all across North America, the members of The Fretless are: Ivonne Hernandez – violin, viola, step dancing and vocals (Victoria, BC, Canada); Trent Freeman – violin, viola and feet (Vancouver, BC, Canada); Karrnnel Sawitsky – violin and viola (Saskatoon, SK, Canada); and Eric Wright – cello (Los Angeles, California, USA).



    Ivonne, Karrnnel and Trent met many many years ago in the Canadian fiddling and step dancing competition circuit and quickly became great friends and each others best competition! It was inevitable they would each end up making names for themselves among Canada’s top fiddlers. Winning such awards as the BC Provincial Fiddle Championship, Saskatchewan Provincial Fiddle Championship, Canadian National Fiddle Championship Finalists, and Grand North American Fiddle Championships, it is clear how this solid foundation paved the way to their musical success.

    

Ivonne and Trent went on to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, USA. It was there that they met Eric. It’s not often that you see a cellist that can play traditional and Irish music! With his beautiful tone and technical abilities, Eric can not only play the subtly ornamented Irish tunes, but he can also accompany the tunes mixing bass & melody lines and rhythmic patterns, as only a drummer could! 



    With their titles and abilities, they have all had very successful careers as solo performers with their own bands, as well as being highly in demand as teachers. The members of The Fretless are also highly sought after sidemen and session musicians with other well known bands and artists.

    

Their debut album ‘Waterbound’ was recorded in Victoria, BC, Canada by the award winning and grammy nominated Joby Baker. Waterbound features two outstanding vocalists; Ruth Moody of the Juno Award Winning band “The Wailin’ Jenny’s” singing the title track ‘Waterbound’; and Norah Rendell of the band ‘The Outside Track’. Already getting rave reviews and airplay across North America & Europe, The Fretless are currently touring to promote ‘Waterbound’, and can be found gracing stages and airways around the world. With their fresh and new approach to traditional music, The Fretless is a lethal supergroup that is a force to be reckoned with on the folk music scene!

     
  • Sultans of String - MOVE

    http://www.sultansofstring.com

    Raucous world-roots string wizards, CFMA winners and JUNO nominees, Sultans of String thrill their audiences with their global sonic tapestry of Spanish Flamenco, Arabic folk, Cuban rhythms, and French Manouche Gypsy-jazz, celebrating musical fusion and human creativity with warmth and virtuosity. Fiery violin dances with rumba-flamenco guitar while a funk bass lays down unstoppable grooves. Acoustic strings meet with electronic wizardry to create layers and depth of sound, while world rhythms excite audiences to their feet with the irresistible need to dance.

    “Canada’s ambassadors of musical diversity” include 6-string violinist Chris McKhool (Pavlo), dueling guitar czars Kevin Laliberté (Jesse Cook, The Chieftains) & Eddie Paton (Robert Michaels), bass master Drew Birston (Chantal Kreviazuk), and the jaw dropping talent of Cuban percussionist Chendy Leon (Parachute Club, Alex Cuba)!

    Since their formation only 5 years ago, Sultans of String have been riding a wave of success, from their debut CD, Luna, and 2nd offering, Yalla Yalla!, both hitting #1 on world/international music charts in Canada, to their triple Canadian Folk Music Award nomination, winning Instrumental Group of the Year. The band has been recorded live for broadcast on BBC Television, SiriusXM in Washington DC, CTV’s CanadaAM, CBC’s Canada Live, and has topped campus/community radio charts in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Belarus, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Spain, The Netherlands, U.S. and U.K.

    In the past year alone, they’ve acquired a JUNO (Canada’s Grammy) nomination, representation from acclaimed promoter David Wilkes (Emmylou Harris, Bela Fleck), and booking representation in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. They also took home 1st place in the International Songwriting Competition (out of 15,000 entries) and placed as finalists for two 2011 International Independent Music Awards. The band just released their 3rd album entitled MOVE, presenting, once again, an exhilarating celebration of world music styles.

    “Canada is a real meeting places of musical influences from around the world” says bandleader/violinist McKhool. “At the same time, as a band we try to tell uniquely Canadian stories, putting forth our vision of the world as one family.” Chris’ paternal Makhoul grandparents immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in the early 1900s, and his Egyptian-born mother, an accomplished pianist, also has paternal Lebanese ancestry. “Growing up, I was taught the values of tolerance, respect for all peoples and celebration of culture.” McKhool’s unbridled passion for exploring the rhythms and melodies has led him to the far corners of the world, incorporating instruments and styles everywhere he went.

    Touring as a trio to quintet, McKhool draws from this collective of master musicians to bring Sultans of String to community, festival and intermediate/high school audiences around the world including the Celtic Connections Festival in the U.K., Birdland jazz Club in NYC, Canada’s National Arts Centre, Mariposa Folk Festival, Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre, and Folk Alliance in Memphis, TN. Sultans of String have also performed on larger stages with Windsor & Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestras with noted conductor Maestro John Morris Russell (Cincinnati Pops), as well as their Cuban Trumpet Ensemble.

    http://www.sultansofstring.com

     
  • Oliver Schroer & Nuala Kennedy - Enthralled

    www.nualakennedy.com

    In January 2007, fiddler and composer Oliver Schroer was invited to Glasgow, Scotland to play on “Astar” a piece commissioned by the Celtic Connections Festival and written by flautist Nuala Kennedy. Over the course of the festival both Nuala and Oliver realized that they
    shared an approach to music making which was highly compatible and embarked on a duo album project.
    The results speak for themselves – superb playing throughout, and a musical understanding and compatibility that is obvious. Although never able to tour together due to Oliver’s illness Enthralled was finished the following year just prior to his untimely passing.
    Musicians: Oliver Schroer, fiddle; Nuala Kennedy, flute and whistles; Bill Brennan, piano; Brian Kellock, piano; Kevin MacKenzie, guitar; David Woodhead, bass; Andrew Downing, bass; Jason LaPrade, dobro; Filippo Gambetta, diatonic accordion; and Joe Macerollo, accordion.
    Produced and arranged by Oliver Schroer & Nuala Kennedy.

     
  • Metis Fiddler Quartet - Northwest Voyage Nord Ouest

    http://www.metisfiddlerquartet.com

    Join the Métis Fiddler Quartet on a musical voyage that will take you across the trade routes of the Northwestern frontier and back. Drawing on their diverse backgrounds in classical music, jazz, and beyond, siblings Alyssa, Conlin, Nicholas, and Danton perform Métis fiddle music passed down by Elders. The group strives to share their passion for Métis fiddle music with new audiences through their performances, educational presentations and interactive workshops across Canada and the world. Born with proud Métis roots in Winnipeg, the Métis Fiddler Quartet now explore the musical roots of their Métis culture through unique arrangements that honor their heritage. The Métis Fiddler Quartet has been fortunate to be able to work and collaborate with some of the leading scholars, teachers and performers of the genre including: Anne Lederman, Lawrence \”Teddy Boy\” Houle (Ojibwe, Manitoba), James Flett (Ojibwe, Manitoba), John Arcand (Métis, Saskatchewan) and Colin Adjun (Kugluktuk, Nunavut). The Métis Fiddler Quartet has brought fiddle music to audiences across Canada and internationally. Highlights include performing at the Vancouver Olympics, National Aboriginal Achievement Awards and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Alyssa, the eldest of the siblings, began her musical studies on violin at the age of 3 at the University of Manitoba Suzuki School, where she also found her love for the viola. Alyssa received her Bachelors and Masters in Viola Performance from the Conservatoire de Lausanne, Switzerland. Alyssa’s chamber and orchestral performances have included tours of Russia, Germany, China, the U.S. and South America. Alyssa’s classical training led her to explore her Métis heritage music, in addition to such genres as mariachi, classical, and contemporary. Alyssa’s collaboration with fiddler Lawrence “Teddy Boy” Houle (Ojibwe/Métis) on her highly regarded CD, “Oméigwessi Reel Métis: A Tribute to Walter Flett”, won the ‘Best Fiddle and Best Instrumental Album’ award at the 2008 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. Conlin cultivated his love of music from an early age. He began on violin and later switched to double bass and was a member of the Toronto Youth Symphony Orchestra. He has recently completed his Bachelor of Music at the University of Ottawa, majoring in classical singing Performance. Conlin is also currently working on solo project of original songs, and new arrangements of traditional folk songs in French. Nicholas is an avid performing artist and music educator. He began his musical studies before the age of three, and graduated from the Young Artists Performance Academy of the Royal Conservatory of Music. Nicholas has worked with elders on reserves communities learning traditional songs. He continues to pass on those lessons through his music and educational workshops. These traditions are an inspiration for the music on the debut Métis Fiddler Quartet album, North West Voyage. Danton, the youngest brother, began his cello studies at age three. He is also a gifted jazz pianist and devotes his free time to bikram yoga.

     
  • Gypsophilia - Constellation

    www.gypsophilia.org

    Enchanting a sit-down crowd one moment, whipping audiences into a dancing, laughing, clapping, singing frenzy the next, Gypsophilia is promoting its third album, Constellation, produced by Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Lhasa) in Montreal.

    Halifax-based, the septet mixes gypsy jazz with klezmer, funk, classical and indie in their sparklingly original music.

     

English Songwriter of the Year

  • Catherine MacLellan - Silhouette

    www.catherinemaclellan.com/

    Silhouette is the highly anticipated new album from Catherine MacLellan. The record captures her best qualities effortlessly—stitching together elegantly woven songs with her memorable blend of heartfelt and powerfully introspective lyrics and catchy melodies.

    Recorded largely at a secluded cabin in rural Prince Edward Island, MacLellan brought together a band of longtime friends and musical collaborators with producer David Baxter to craft the 14-track album that Canada’s Exclaim! Magazine has touted as being “a near-hour-long album devoid of filler…a testimony to MacLellan’s ascent to greatness.” Indeed, the subtle yet steadfast strength of the album is undoubtedly the understated power of MacLellan’s songwriting and performance on the largely acoustic-driven songs.

    Her sweet tones weft gracefully throughout pensive and internalized lyrics that ponder, in the most elegant terms, the most relatable of internal dilemmas—balancing work and family, love blooming and fading away, and evaluating one’s own personal strength. Throughout the 14 tracks on Silhouette, it’s felt that you’re listening to the voice of an every-woman with a gift for expressing with poise the most personal of internal conflicts.

    A particularly sweet note on Silhoutette hits on the penultimate track “Snowbird”, a stripped down cover version the most lauded song ever written by her father Gene MacLellan, featuring Canadian icon Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo). It’s a meaningful acoustic tribute to the elder MacLellan’s songwriting legacy, and fan favourite re-imagined by Catherine in a whole new light.

    MacLellan’s star has long been rising in North America. Voted Critics Favourite New Discovery by Penguin Eggs Magazine in 2008, her last record Water In The Ground reached out to expand her already loyal fan base as she toured in support of legendary artists including Bruce Cockburn in the United States and Steve Forbert in the UK, while also holding her own by showcasing in Boston, Berlin, Cannes, Memphis, New York, London, and Paris.

    Her previous albums have collectively hit #1 on the iTunes Canada Roots charts, and been acclaimed by tastemakers at Maverick Magazine, fRoots, The Austin Chronicle, and Boston Globe.

    Like the person in the room who demonstrates his or her commanding presence without announcing their arrival, Catherine MacLellan’s fine songwriting talent and accomplished performance draws her listeners in with little effort, and without need of any persuasion. Silhouette is a reminder that Catherine’s musicianship is unparalleled among performers of her generation.

     
  • Dala - Best Day

    www.dalagirls.com

    “Dala seem bound for a loftier place where substance stands equal to style.”
    - The Irish Times

    Juno nominees and winners of the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year, Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine of Dala write and sing in harmony best described as angelic. These two best friends met in their high school music class in 2002; they have since released five albums and toured extensively across North America. Darlings of the Canadian music scene, Dala are now poised to bring their fresh brand of acoustic pop music to the world.

    Drawing upon influences like The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, Dala write songs that are both catchy and insightful. Amanda’s ethereal soprano voice blends seamlessly with Sheila’s velvety alto, creating the lush harmonies that have become their trademark.

    “There’s nothing pretentious about Dala’s music; it’s stripped down and laid bare. That’s not to say it is without polish – far from it. Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther have worked hard to exploit every facet of their extraordinary musical blend, and it would be just as at home in a 1960s coffeehouse as it is now on the contemporary concert stage”.
    -Andrew Craig, Host of CBC “Canada Live”

    The sheer joy with which they perform is infectious, turning first-time listeners into instant fans. Dala are equally entertaining between songs, telling funny and down to earth stories that make every show unique. Dala have opened for artists such as Tom Cochrane, Stuart McLean of the CBC’s Vinyl Café, Richie Havens and Arlo Guthrie. No strangers to the festival scene, they have also performed at The New Orleans Jazz Festival, The Edmonton Folk Festival, California’s Strawberry Festival and Mariposa. In 2009, they were the only Canadian act invited to play at the 50th Anniversary of the Newport Folk Festival.

    Dala’s album “Everyone Is Someone” was released in 2009 to critical acclaim. It earned them their fifth Canadian Folk Music Award nomination, a Toronto Independent Music Award for Best Folk Group, and it was touted by The Irish Post as the Album of the Year. The song “Horses” was nominated by National Public Radio in the US as one of the “Top Ten folk songs of 2009″.

    “Dala can sing! What beautiful flights of melody and harmony, reminiscent of the Everly Brothers, the Louvin Brothers, Emmylou Harris and associates; though Dala can trade a melody line and leave one wondering who is taking the lead and simply leave one behind when the harmonies kick in.”
    -Peterborough Examiner

    In the summer of 2010, Dala’s PBS special “Girls From The North Country” was broadcast across North America. This concert features Dala’s own songs weaved around classics by Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot. The live cd and dvd for “Girls From The North Country” earned Dala the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for “Vocal Group of the Year”.

    The live album was nominated for a 2011 Juno Award in the category “Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Group”.

    “Best Day” is their fifth studio album, and will be released on Campus Records in Canada, and Compass Records in the US.

     
  • The Deep Dark Woods - The Place I Left Behind

    www.thedeepdarkwoods.com

    Chills climb spines when sound is given room to unfurl. The Deep Dark Woods’ unflinching pursuit of steadiness between decadence and minimalism is guided at every turn by their intuitive ability to balance grit, clarity, drive and restraint with a sure focus on experimentation.

    Winter Hours (2009), caught critics’ ears across the country. The album, a solemn ode to darker themes of seclusion and d…etachment, could yet warm even the bottomless, frozen nights of hometown Saskatoon, SK. With Winter Hours, The Deep Dark Woods won Best Roots Group at the 2009 Western Canadian Music Awards, and Ensemble of the Year at the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards. The band also had the runaway winner in CBC’s Great Canadian Songquest with “Charlie’s (Is Coming Down)”, a song about Good Time Charlie’s in Regina.

    The Deep Dark Woods frame their music with subtle orchestration; songs are trimmed with minimal embellishments of banjo, piano, with subtle mellotron flutters. Drummer and multi-instrumentalist Lucas Goetz’s layers heartbreaking arches of pedal steel under the clarity and warmth of Ryan Boldt’s voice. Newest member, organ-player Geoff Hilhorst furnishes the songs’ edges with slurred polyphonies, while surefooted, danceable basslines and rich second vocals belong to Chris Mason. Burke Barlow’s clarion guitar tone and lead lines are focused and impeccable.

    Their new album, The Place I Left Behind, finds continuity in themes of temporal and geographic alienation, neglected inward trails, and the scars of abandoned intimacies. The album opens with a song about Saskatoon’s rougher edges. “West Side Street” is a study in contrasts – finespun vocals and a gently rolling melody cushion the gloomy story. “The Place I Left Behind” is loosely based on an old folk standard. Gorgeously morose, the title track confirms that The Deep Dark Woods capture lonesome yearning at its loveliest. “Sugar Mama” is a sweet and lively invitation to tap toes and shake off the blues; a seeming coming-of-age story is treated with playful banjo and an airy gait.

    A rainstorm over the desert of modern music, The Place I Left Behind offers murder ballads alongside scrappy rockers, lovesick hymnals and slow-dance waltzes. The album illuminates folk traditions without stripping the shadows of roots music history – The Deep Dark Woods wake the ghosts of Appalachia with their prairie gothic pyre-side tales. The Place I Left Behind echoes with traces of time and space that are never fully abandoned or forgotten.

     
  • Jon Brooks - Delicate Cages

    http://www.jonbrooks.ca

    Upon his return from a 1997 trek throughout war ruined Bosnia-Herzegovina, Jon quit writing songs and performing, claiming, “I’m at least a 1000 books and emotions shy of earning the right to stand behind a microphone.” 8 years later – Jon dusted off his Taylor 615 Jumbo.

    Though Jon’s music is filled with grey and morally ambiguous characters living on the outskirts of approval, his mandate is unequivocal: “I’m not interested in writing ‘happy songs’ – I’ve chosen to write healing songs and for that reason, I’m obliged to reveal a wound or two now and then. That said, I’m less interested in writing ‘unhappy songs’: I want to write hopeful songs, inspiring songs and I expect I owe today’s listener some compelling argument as to why we should believe our present world can be improved, or healed. A song’s highest aim is to invoke empathy – to offer that rare sight of ourselves in others. In this sense, the songwriter is simply trying to ‘politicize love’, hence my contention: today’s songwriter should be a lobbyist for compassion to be our principle representative in government office.’

    In 2006 Jon debuted with NO MEAN CITY, a portrait of Toronto homelessness and a weighty exposition of the modern urban soul’s condition and moral fatigue. A year later Jon was afforded superlative acclaim with the release of OURS AND THE SHEPHERDS, a cd of Canadian war stories inspired by James Loney, Senator Romeo Dallaire, Sgt. Tommy Prince, and John McRae among others. The collection earned Jon a Songwriter of the Year nomination at the 2007 Canadian Folk Music Awards. OURS AND THE SHEPHERDS is now among the collections of the Canadian War Museum and the John McRae Society. 2009 brought MOTH NOR RUST, an album of songs looking inward and to what ‘neither MOTH NOR RUST can touch’. MOTH NOR RUST earned Jon his second Canadian Folk Music Award nomination for Songwriter of the Year. As well, MOTH NOR RUST’s music and lyrics were published by Canada’s esteemed literary quarterly, Exile Editions.

    Jon’s new record, DELICATE CAGES (2011) takes its title from the Robert Bly poem, TAKING THE HANDS: Taking the hands of someone you love/You see they are like delicate cages…

    Delicate Cages aims to reveal the complicit natures of good and evil, love and fear, and freedom and imprisonment. The DELICATE CAGES we live within are forms of enslavement – and not all ‘cages’ are necessarily bad. On his latest and most urgent and accessible collection of songs, Jon Brooks promises freedom to all who choose love over fear.

     
  • Annie Lou - Grandma's Rules for Drinking

    annielou.ca

    With a 2010 Juno nomination, a 2010 Western Canadian Music Award nomination and appearances at coast-to-coast Canadian folk festivals in 2010 and 2011, Annie Lou has become a familiar sight on the Canadian roots music stage.
    Annie Lou was let loose when Canadian songwriter Anne Louise Genest found herself drawn to the stringband sounds and story songs of old time mountain and traditional country music. “This music has a profound edge to it – there in the voices and in the playing is the lament we all carry as people trying to get by in this beautiful, terrible world.” says Genest. “Joy and grief are two sides of the same coin. The older music expresses that tension so perfectly.”
    Annie Lou’s much anticipated sophomore album “Grandma’s Rules for Drinking” was recorded at Sytesounds Studios in Toronto, with the help of some of Canada’s finest acoustic musicians. This wonderful new record delivers the same great energy and songwriting as her Juno-nominated debut effort, with a more delicate touch and subtle maturity. Pursuing the fine art of marrying new music with older traditions, Annie Lou once again offers up superb songwriting and hearty old-time tunes, unique styles and songs delivered with pluck, groove and a tough-but-tender northern feel.

    With some of Canada’s finest acoustic musicians on the roster, Annie Lou’s stringband instrumentation has evolved so that foot-stomping fiddle, banjo, guitar and upright bass sit comfortably alongside more delicate, poignant moments, with Genest’s vocals a rich centerpiece. Built around Genest’s original songwriting, Annie Lou is firmly rooted in both the past and the present, with a strong vein of Canadiana running through that marries it all together. Original and innovative while sounding old and familiar, Annie Lou is Canadian roots music at its finest.

     
  • PEAR - Sweet N Gritty

    www.pearband.com

    After fronting one of the most successful fiddle acts in the world, Lynae and Denis Dufresne toured the country with some of the biggest names in Canadian music. In 2005, they took time off the road to settle in Calgary, AB. They quickly became antsy and formed PEAR.

    With Lynae as the songstress and Denis as the musical backbone, PEAR quickly developed a grassroots following in both Canada and the US. Having thrilled festival goers around the world, PEAR has played the stages of The Wolftrap Music Festival (USA), Cropedy Festival (UK), in Canada; Country Music Week, Big Valley Jamboree, PNE Festival, Merritt Mountain Music Fest, and in Denmark; Skagen Festival, Horsens Festival, Midtfyns Festival, Tonder Festival.

    PEAR and Chronograph Records are thrilled to announce the much anticipated release of their first, full length, studio album: Sweet N Gritty. This debut features collaborations with a few musical heroes and a number of good friends and was produced on Nashville’s famed Music Row by Noah Gordon. “It’s our personalities, our attitude, our sound. Nothing describes us better than this!” says Denis. The upcoming single, Never Lookin Back, is a deliciously upbeat song of hope that leaves listeners hungry for more. The 13 infectious tracks stand testament to the duo’s love and passion for great music.

    With the release of their debut album and an extensive live performance tour (including upcoming dates in Canada, the US, Cuba, China, and Europe) just around the corner, PEAR is prime for the picking… now take a bite!

     

French Songwriter of the Year

  • Mes Aïeux - À l'aube du printemps

    mesaieux.qc.ca

    Le groupe Mes Aïeux est né en 1996 d’une bande d’amis qui avait une envie folle de brasser la cabane du Québec… Après l’échec référendaire de 1995, les membres de Mes Aïeux ont eu le goût d’écrire des chansons en français en puisant leur inspiration au cœur même du folklore québécois, de revisiter les contes et les légendes de leur patrimoine en la regardant à travers des lunettes contemporaines.

    Depuis sa création, Mes Aïeux a lancé six albums : Ça parle au diable! (2000), Entre les branches (2001), En famille (2004), Tire-toi une bûche (2006), La ligne orange (2008) et le plus récent À l’aube du printemps qui est sorti le 12 mars 2012. Le groupe a jusqu’à maintenant vendu plus de 650 000 copies de ses disques et il a présenté plus de 600 spectacles partout au Québec et quelques spectacles en Europe également où leurs albums sont également disponibles. De plus, le groupe a remporté trois fois le Félix du Groupe de l’année à l’ADISQ depuis 2007.

    Avec leurs textes mordants et leurs chansons entraînantes aux influences
    musicales les plus diverses où la tradition rencontre la modernité et avec leurs spectacles toujours hauts en couleurs – véritables épidémies de plaisir- Mes Aïeux propose un amalgame unique de joie de vivre, de dérision, de lucidité, de sensibilité et de douce folie.

     
  • Anique Granger - Les outils qu'on a

    www.aniquegranger.info

    Elle aime bricoler, travailler avec de mains, et un cours de lutherie se transforme en source d’inspiration… L’auteure compositrice-interprète Anique Granger a le cœur à l’ouvrage! Avec ses chansons faites-maison, ses histoires comme les saisons qui changent et ses mélodies qu’on veut préserver comme en pots Masson, Anique Granger chante les outils qu’elle a et sa voix s’imprègne en nous comme un souvenir précieux. En road trip mené par la guitare, elle sillonne entre les racines d’un folk maîtrisé et une bouffée d’air frais, remuant les émotions avec force et vulnérabilité.

    Fransaskoise d’origine, elle a élu le Québec comme domicile fixe entre ses tournées au Canada et en Europe. Si elle s’est d’abord imposée comme co-instigatrice du duo Polly-Esther, au sein duquel elle signe trois albums (dont Les cent pas: meilleur album francophone aux Western Canadian Music Awards en 2003), l’artiste mène de front une carrière solo depuis 2005. En 2008, elle lance son premier album Pépins, qui la propulse en tournée partout au pays et à l’étranger, des Jeux Olympiques de Vancouver, au Longest Night de Whitehorse, à la Fête du Canada de Gatineau, en passant par la Fête Fransaskoise de Batoche. Elle est aussi montée sur les planches de L’Estival St-Germain-en-Laye et des Déferlantes en France, de Pully à l’heure du Québec et du festival Voix de Fête en Suisse.

    Récipiendaire du Trille Or de l’Artiste de l’Ouest par excellence en 2009, Anique ré-apparaît sur la scène musicale franco-canadienne comme une douce révélation. Son regard transperce, sa timidité charme, son humour surprend. Ses textes secouent, sa joie de vivre fait taper du pied. Son folk révèle un fingerstyle bien délié, une maîtrise étonnante du genre et un goût d’aller plus loin.

    Les outils qu’on a : voici enfin ce deuxième opus si attendu, celui où l’artiste se révèle complètement, ses démons comme ses passions, dans un nouveau folk authentique, sans compromis, ni prétentions. Réalisé par Rick Haworth (Daniel Bélanger, Sylvie Paquette, Michel Rivard, Lhasa De Sela), Les outils qu’on a s’inspire du fait qu’Anique Granger veut tout construire, même ses instruments, et qu’elle se façonne une existence complètement à son image. Accompagnée par ses musiciens-acolytes avec qui elle travaille depuis belle lurette, elle tisse une chanson à la fois – une émotion entraînant l’autre, les manches retroussées, l’œil complice.

     
  • Caracol - Blanc Mercredi

    www.caracolmusique.com

    Hiver 2011. Alors qu’il neige dehors, Carole Facal (alias Caracol) s’enferme dans un cocon sonore pour composer les pièces de son nouvel album «Blanc mercredi». Dans le microcosme feutré de son studio, entourée de ses fidèles instruments, elle écrit, écrit, écrit. Inspirée par des images hivernales, des poèmes d’amour, des livres de peinture et d’art déco, les chansons se mettent à couler. Des textes francophones et anglophones se collent à des musiques aux accents folk, pop-alternatif et rétro-soul. Un univers intimiste se dessine, où sonorités délicieusement fêlées côtoient harmonies vocales raffinées, guitares à résonateur, ukulélés, vieux amplificateurs et percussions de toutes sortes. Une collection de chansons hypersensibles par lesquelles Caracol souhaite rappeler que la beauté existe toujours. Et que les certitudes, aussi rares soient-elles, sont belles.
    Pour ce deuxième disque, Caracol s’entoure à peu de choses près de la même équipe que pour l’enregistrement de « L’arbre aux parfums » (2008), son premier album acclamé par le public et la critique. Elle confie ainsi de nouveau la réalisation à Sébastien Blais-Montpetit (Félix du Réalisateur de disque à l’ADISQ en 2011 avec Radio Radio, et guitariste de DJ Champion). Accompagnée par les musiciens qui la suivent en tournée, c’est dans un esprit quasiment familial que se tisse «Blanc Mercredi». En résulte un album lumineux et authentique, résolument moderne, rempli d’amour. Ironique pour celle qui avait jadis juré ne jamais écrire à ce sujet !
    Le parcours de Caracol est sans aucun doute éclectique. Née au Québec d’une mère suisse et d’un père uruguayen, elle grandit dans une famille de mélomanes. Dès 5 ans, elle débute le violon, instrument qu’elle étudiera pendant 12 années. À l’adolescence, elle quitte abruptement le domicile familial pour partir à la découverte du monde et s’adonner à ses passions : la planche à neige et le voyage. Pendant 6 ans, assoiffée de liberté, en quête de montagnes et de glaciers, elle sillonne l’Amérique et l’Europe sur les circuits compétitifs de « half-pipe » et de « big air ». Après une série de blessures, elle abandonne tout sur un coup de tête et part seule, sac au dos et guitare à la main, pour un long périple à travers l’Europe. Suite à des rencontres inspirantes, elle écrit ses premières chansons, d’abord en anglais et en espagnol. Ce n’est que plus tard qu’elle apprivoisera le français. La musique prend désormais beaucoup de place dans sa vie.
    En 1998, elle rentre à Montréal et fait des études en sonorisation. C’est derrière la console qu’elle passera les années suivantes. Surmontant difficilement une grande timidité, elle continue à écrire des chansons en secret, convaincue que jamais personne ne les entendrait. Une suite de hasards la porte finalement au devant de la scène, d’abord comme choriste avec divers groupes, puis au sein du duo DobaCaracol, qui connaîtra un grand succès international.
    Paru en 2008, son premier album solo « L’arbre aux parfums » lui vaut de nombreux prix et nominations: Prix Miroir 2009 (Meilleur spectacle/Festival d’Été de Québec), Prix des Diffuseurs Européens SODEC/Rideau, nominations au JUNO Awards 2009 (Meilleur album francophone), Canadian Folk Music Awards 2009 (Auteur-compositeur francophone de l’année) et Gala de l’ADISQ 2009 («Le mépris », Chanson populaire de l’année). Elle reçoit également le titre de « Révélation Radio-Canada 2009 ». Ses tournées la portent partout à travers le Québec, le Canada, les États-unis et l’Europe. Elle fait notamment la première partie d’artistes internationaux comme Serena Ryder, Joseph Arthur et The Bangles.
    Depuis sa sortie, Blanc Mercredi s’est tissé une place dans la majorité des palmarès des meilleurs albums de 2011 et toute l’attention médiatique est tournée vers Caracol. Elle à d’ailleurs été Invitée aux émissions de télévision Star Académie et Studio 12, et Caracol se retrouve présentement en nomination aux Prix Génie dans la catégorie «Meilleure chanson originale» avec la chanson “Quelque part” figurant sur la trame sonore du film Starbuck.
    Depuis toujours, l’auteure-compositrice-interprète Caracol compose en trois langues (français, anglais, espagnol). De cette inspiration trilingue sont nées plusieurs pièces anglophones lors de la composition de son dernier album Blanc Mercredi. Caracol souhaite maintenant partager ces nouvelles chansons avec le public sous deux formes. Un E.P. de 6 titres sera disponible dès le 6 mars sur iTunes, via www.caracolmusique.com, et en spectacle, en tant que complément à «Blanc Mercredi». Parallèlement, un album au nom de “Shiver” incluant ces six pièces inédites et cinq tirées de Blanc Mercredi sera aussi disponible en magasin dès le 6 mars prochain. Cette sortie accompagnera sa tournée canadienne avec Amélia Curran, et Vincent Vallières au Québec en mars et avril 2012. Caracol partira ensuite présenter ses nouvelles chansons en Europe et en Australie.

     
  • André Dédé Vander - French toast et peines perdues

    vandermusic.ca

    Surtout connu pour son travail avec Les Colocs, pour lesquels il tient la basse, participe à l’écriture et à la création de l’album culte « Dehors Novembre », André Dédé Vander compte déjà plus de 20 années de carrière au sein de différents collectifs.

    Son parcours musical débute en Belgique. Il fonde en 1992, avec le guitariste Arnaud Bourgis, Les Frères Brozeur.

    En 1996, il s’installe à Montréal pour se joindre aux Colocs. Le son de sa basse et ses arrangements donnent la saveur reggae-dub à plusieurs titres de l’album Dehors Novembre, paru en 1998, qui connaît un immense succès (200 000 albums vendus). Sur ce disque, Vander coécrit la musique de « Tassez-vous de d’là », une partie du texte de « Belzebuth ». Il y chante aussi une chanson plus personnelle, « La Maladresse ». Suite au suicide tragique d’André Fortin, en 2000, Vander coréalise avec Mike Sawatzky un dernier album des Colocs à titre posthume, Suite 2116.

    Parallèlement à son association aux Colocs, il forme le collectif Du Beau Monde (Dub électro-organique) en 1997. De 2000 à 2002, il accompagne Stefie Shock sur scène. En 2002, il sort l’album, Vander et Du Beau Monde, qui mélange la chanson française, le jazz et diverses sonorités world reggae. Il fonde aussi Vander Dub Expérience (projet instrumental) qui offre une large place à l’improvisation.

    Vander et Borza Ghomeshi coréalisent, en 2003, ReDub Chroniques, un album collectif où figure, entre-autres, Richard Desjardins, Jim Corcoran, Marie-Jo Thério… En 2004, il fait paraître l’album Montréal Dub Sound System, en plus de collaborer aux projets Folk Off, à “99 % Hendrix” et d’accompagner le DJ Ghislain Poirier sur scène.

    En 2006, un album composé de remixs dub et de collaborations spéciales (Massilia Sound System, Kaly Live Dub) sort sous le nom de “Bass ma Boom Sound System vol.1″. En 2007, en plus de rouler sur scène avec “Bass ma Boom Sound System”, Vander crée, avec Michel Vézina, “Dub et Litté Sound System Littéraire”.

    En 2009, Vander reprend la basse pour le groupe Mad’moizèle Giraf. Les Colocs se reforment pour un spectacle événement aux Francofolies de Montréal. En 2010, ils remportent le Prix Jutra pour la meilleure musique de film, « Dédé à travers les brumes » (Éloï Painchaud et les Colocs). En 2011, Vander remporte le Prix de la chanson primée SOCAN avec « Y’a pas que » au Festival en chanson de Petite-Vallée. En mars 2012, il sort son album solo French toast et peines perdues, coréalisé avec Borza Ghomeshi.

    Prix et distinctions

    1998 – Triple disque d’or : Les Colocs, Dehors Novembre
    1999 – Gala de l’ADISQ, Félix « Groupe rock de l’année », Les Colocs
    1999 – Prix de la SOCAN, « Chanson populaire », Tassez-vous de d’là (André Fortin, Vander, El Hadji Diouf)
    2000 – Prix de la SOCAN pour Holà Décadence (Sébastien Plante, Pascal Dufour, Vander)
    2010 – Prix Jutra pour la meilleure musique de film, « Dédé à travers les brumes » (Éloï Painchaud et les Colocs)
    2011 – Prix Chanson Primée SOCAN à André Dédé Vander pour sa chanson Y’a pas que… ? au Festival en chanson de Petite-Vallée

     
  • Lisa LeBlanc - Lisa LeBlanc

    http://lisaleblanc.ca

    Moi, Lisa LeBlanc, je joue du folk trash. Je suis une Acadienne qui roule ses « r », qui aime se moquer d’elle-même, qui écrit des textes sans trop de froufrous et qui est tannée de chanter des chansons de fi-filles!

    C’est en plein coeur de Rosaireville, son village natal de 40 habitants au Nouveau-Brunswick, à Granby, lors de sa formation à l’École nationale de la chanson, ainsi qu’à Montréal, où elle réside depuis maintenant un an, que Lisa LeBlanc a écrit l’ensemble des chansons qui composent son premier album en carrière. Réalisé par Louis-Jean Cormier (Karkwa) et enregistré au studio Piccolo, l’album est disponible depuis mars dernier sur Bonsound Records!

    L’acadienne, qui composait ses premiers textes cinq ans plus tôt, est originaire d’une famille de mélomanes assumés. Excellente guitariste et auteure-compositrice-interprète prometteuse, Lisa LeBlanc a partagé la scène avec plusieurs artistes déjà. Lauréate de la grande finale du prestigieux Festival international de la chanson de Granby en septembre 2010, cet honneur lui donne une importante visibilité auprès des médias francophones du pays. Elle a depuis participé à la dernière édition du Coup de coeur francophone, aux FrancoFolies de Montréal ainsi qu’au Festival d’été de Québec l’été dernier, pour ne nommer que ceux-ci. Véritable bête de scène qui accumule déjà plus de 200 spectacles aux quatre coins du pays, en France et en Suisse, cette jeune artiste de 21 ans sait comment s’y prendre pour faire lever une soirée et faire danser son public! Trimbalant toujours avec elle son énergie, sa joie de vivre, son charisme, sa sincérité et bien sûr, sa belle voix et sa musique, le but de Lisa LeBlanc est simple: chanter aussi souvent qu’elle le peut! Et ce, pour notre plus grand plaisir!

     

Vocal Group of the Year

  • The Once - Row Upon Row of The People They Know

    theonce.ca

    Named for a unique Newfoundland phrase
    that means ‘imminently’, now is indeed the
    time for The Once.
    From their beginnings as three actors who
    also loved to sing together, The Once has
    embraced a different vision of Newfoundland
    music. Their sounds do not come from
    the noisy pubs and dockside taverns that
    fuel so much of the Island’s energy. Instead,
    their music comes from a quieter and more
    thoughtful place. Hope and tragedy are intertwined
    in their music, whether they are
    singing an old lament from World War I,
    original songs that speak of love defeated,
    or tasteful songs from the artists whose
    music inspires them.
    The title of their new album comes from a
    poem by poet George Murray, a poem that
    so inspired them they built a song around it.
    Song For Memory speaks of the power of
    words and music to freeze time and
    emotions, to make small moments large,
    and large moments small. The song’s
    climax features the memorable line, “row
    upon row, of the people you know”, life’s
    expectations written in both a personal and
    an expansive way at the same time.
    As a trio, the band has kept it uncomplicated,
    depending on the power of their
    voices and acoustic instruments. Lead
    singer Geraldine Hollett, has an instrument
    of rare power; she is a singer who can still a
    noisy room, so compelling she can tell a
    novel-length story with a few words.
    Accompanied by Phil Churchill and
    Andrew Dale on guitar, mandolin, fiddle
    and bouzouki, they create a perfect blend of
    voice and melody. Sometimes melancholy,
    sometimes funny, but always poignant, The
    Once sound like nothing that has ever come
    from Newfoundland.
    Their debut album has built a fervent
    following, and their live show is unique in its
    combination of intimacy and power. They
    have won several East Coast Music and
    Canadian Folk Music awards, and the
    country is waking up to just what an
    amazing band they are. With Row Upon
    Row of the People They Know,
    The Once will take its place amongst
    Canada’s finest performers.

     
  • Scarlett Jane - Stranger

    www.scarlettjane.com

    SCARLETT JANE is one of the most exciting new collaborations in recent Canadian music – the marriage of the distinctive songs and beautifully haunting voices of Andrea Ramolo and Cindy Doire.

    And now, Stranger, their debut recording, captures their strength and their vulnerability, and a progressive roots sound which embodies the raw and candid demeanor of Lucinda Williams, the moody sensuality of Stevie Nicks and Nick Cave, and the tender playfulness of Dolly Parton.

    Both Andrea and Cindy are road warriors. Andrea has two previous releases behind her, while Cindy has three – two of them in French, which has given her a following in both French Canada and Europe.

    They met several years ago at a tiny Toronto music venue; their solo careers were starting to move forward, and they shared a passion for prose, poetry, theatrics. and songs in minor keys. They liked blues and country, old school soul and rock’n’roll.

    The blend of their voices stopped conversations; their musical sensibilities interweaved seemingly without effort. Soon, they began collaborating as songwriters, performing on each other’s shows and singing on each other’s solo albums.

    But seemingly endless solo tours – both of them back and forth across Canada, and Cindy often on the other side of the Atlantic – made it difficult to build the inevitable duo they had begun to plan – they recall occasional meetings
    somewhere in the prairies, brief ‘hellos’ at roadside stops, and occasional reunions in small Toronto clubs.

    Inevitably, the need to write together and sing together became more and more important. Last fall, at a music industry conference in Niagara Falls, they debuted Scarlett Jane in front of audiences of festival bookers, agent, managers, publicists, and their own peers; the response convinced them they were on the right track.

    The groundwork laid in small Toronto clubs – perfect public rehearsals as they honed their songs, their harmonies, their band and their sound – began to pay off.
    Making their first major recording was the next logical step, and now Stranger is a reality.

    Stranger is produced and engineered by one of Canada’s most innovative producers, Stew Crookes, (Hawksley Workman, 100 Dollars, Doug Paisley, Justin Rutledge). The CD is a collection of ten alluring stories about longing and
    loneliness, about love, loss, and desire.

    The songs came together organically over a brief two months in the fall of 2011, wih Cindy and Andrea writing together at retreats in Mexico and northern Ontario, and in their shared apartment in downtown Toronto. Result: A rootsy folk/noir album with enough country-edged rockin’ wailers to keep dancers moving, and gorgeous ballads and moody set-pieces to satisfy the indie-pop fans.

    The singers’ collaborative songwriting, sultry performance style, and full band arrangements open up windows for the duo on both the indie scene and in major markets, nationally and internationally.

    Scarlett Jane: powerful and irrefutable, musically and dynamically. From the studio to the stage, this intriguing female duo is geared for great things. Listen for them
    on the radio; see them as they set out for a 35-date cross-country tour starting in May, and ending in early July at the famed Mariposa Folk Festival.

     
  • Dala - Best Day

    www.dalagirls.com

    “Dala seem bound for a loftier place where substance stands equal to style.”
    - The Irish Times

    Juno nominees and winners of the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year, Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine of Dala write and sing in harmony best described as angelic. These two best friends met in their high school music class in 2002; they have since released five albums and toured extensively across North America. Darlings of the Canadian music scene, Dala are now poised to bring their fresh brand of acoustic pop music to the world.

    Drawing upon influences like The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, Dala write songs that are both catchy and insightful. Amanda’s ethereal soprano voice blends seamlessly with Sheila’s velvety alto, creating the lush harmonies that have become their trademark.

    “There’s nothing pretentious about Dala’s music; it’s stripped down and laid bare. That’s not to say it is without polish – far from it. Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther have worked hard to exploit every facet of their extraordinary musical blend, and it would be just as at home in a 1960s coffeehouse as it is now on the contemporary concert stage”.
    -Andrew Craig, Host of CBC “Canada Live”

    The sheer joy with which they perform is infectious, turning first-time listeners into instant fans. Dala are equally entertaining between songs, telling funny and down to earth stories that make every show unique. Dala have opened for artists such as Tom Cochrane, Stuart McLean of the CBC’s Vinyl Café, Richie Havens and Arlo Guthrie. No strangers to the festival scene, they have also performed at The New Orleans Jazz Festival, The Edmonton Folk Festival, California’s Strawberry Festival and Mariposa. In 2009, they were the only Canadian act invited to play at the 50th Anniversary of the Newport Folk Festival.

    Dala’s album “Everyone Is Someone” was released in 2009 to critical acclaim. It earned them their fifth Canadian Folk Music Award nomination, a Toronto Independent Music Award for Best Folk Group, and it was touted by The Irish Post as the Album of the Year. The song “Horses” was nominated by National Public Radio in the US as one of the “Top Ten folk songs of 2009″.

    “Dala can sing! What beautiful flights of melody and harmony, reminiscent of the Everly Brothers, the Louvin Brothers, Emmylou Harris and associates; though Dala can trade a melody line and leave one wondering who is taking the lead and simply leave one behind when the harmonies kick in.”
    -Peterborough Examiner

    In the summer of 2010, Dala’s PBS special “Girls From The North Country” was broadcast across North America. This concert features Dala’s own songs weaved around classics by Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot. The live cd and dvd for “Girls From The North Country” earned Dala the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for “Vocal Group of the Year”.

    The live album was nominated for a 2011 Juno Award in the category “Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Group”.

    “Best Day” is their fifth studio album, and will be released on Campus Records in Canada, and Compass Records in the US.

     
  • Whitehorse - Whitehorse

    www.whitehorsemusic.ca

    Six Shooter Records’ Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet tie the musical knot with the debut of their new band, Whitehorse, marrying their talent and chemistry on stage as a smoldering duo. Gutsy and resolute in their pursuits of sound and substance, Luke and Melissa’s fusion of the personal and professional brings to mind the road-tested romance of Johnny and June.

    Whitehorse is the culmination of years of honing solo skills as singer-songwriters. The two musicians have worked side by side for nearly a decade, contributing to one another’s records, touring and performing together, unknowingly yet instinctively moving towards the day when each would entrust their life and work to the other.

    The debut record appeared in late summer 2011, when days are languid and nights are for the kind of porch dwelling dreamers described in Night Owls, the “McCartney-esque lullabye” that appears on the album. (Globe and Mail). The 8-song self-titled work opens and closes with intrigue, the Eulogies for Whiskers that offer hushed whispers over guitar that is both suggestive and menacing. Meaning is elusive, and it is this chase, this pursuit, that propels Whitehorse forward.

    Old songs are transformed, reinvented but not stripped of their histories. Whitehorse carries with it the stories and worlds of both artists. Passenger 24 and Broken are the memories of the early days of Luke and Melissa’s collaborations, and the magic the two bring to each other’s work. Sparks grow to flames on I’m On Fire, a country-singed rendition of a classic tale of burning desire. Emerald Isle and Killing Time is Murder are hints of what’s to come. One draws from personal experience, the other lets imagination run wild. These songs show the true breadth of Whitehorse’s mastery of storytelling and musicianship.

    In Whitehorse, songbird and falcon unite. Spurred by chemistry, intimacy, and of course romance, the band races on.

     
  • Sweet Alibi - Sweet Alibi

    www.sweetalibi.com

    Since their debut in the spring of 2009, Sweet Alibi has been captivating audiences with their alluring blend of soulful melody and folk/roots tradition. Playful sense of lyricism set to powerful vocal harmony set the stage for a performance which is up front and personal and instinctively
    compelling.

    Drawing influence from a vast array of musical references, Sweet Alibi
    apply a quirky pop sensibility to an eclectic set. Songs range in mood from
    hauntingly provocative ballads to left of centre takes on everything from
    Country to old school RnB. Backing their vocals with electric guitars,
    banjos, hand percussion, ukuleles, upright bass,Sweet Alibi compliment a
    diverse set with an equally eclectic instrumentation.

    Comprised of three core members (Jessica Rae Ayre, Amber Nielsen, and Michelle
    Anderson), and backed by an array of Winnipeg’s finest musicians, the group
    performs steadily both as a stripped down trio and with a fully fleshed out
    rhythm section. The band has shared the stage with many of Manitoba’s
    folk/roots community and have performed everywhere from intimate coffee
    houses and mainstay clubs to outdoor concert series and festivals. Having finished their highly anticipated debut album with Juno award winner Mitch Dorge, Sweet Alibi are currently touring their album across Canada. Keep your ears open for when Sweet Alibi is nearest to you !

     

Ensemble of the Year

  • The Fretless - Waterbound

    www.thefretless.com

    The Fretless is a young and innovative band that melds the worlds of celtic, folk and chamber music into an amazing and unique sound all their own. They may look like a string quartet, but with innovative arrangements and roots deeply based in Celtic and Canadian fiddle styles, The Fretless is creating their own unique path in the music world.



    It’s not uncommon for a modern string quartet to play some crossover material, but what The Fretless does is different. They aren’t a classical quartet playing arrangements of folk tunes, but a folk/celtic band with a twist! Playing the instruments of a classical string quartet, the members of The Fretless are fundamentally folk musicians who know the traditions and styles, but also happen to have extensive technical training and chamber music experience.

    

Hailing from all across North America, the members of The Fretless are: Ivonne Hernandez – violin, viola, step dancing and vocals (Victoria, BC, Canada); Trent Freeman – violin, viola and feet (Vancouver, BC, Canada); Karrnnel Sawitsky – violin and viola (Saskatoon, SK, Canada); and Eric Wright – cello (Los Angeles, California, USA).



    Ivonne, Karrnnel and Trent met many many years ago in the Canadian fiddling and step dancing competition circuit and quickly became great friends and each others best competition! It was inevitable they would each end up making names for themselves among Canada’s top fiddlers. Winning such awards as the BC Provincial Fiddle Championship, Saskatchewan Provincial Fiddle Championship, Canadian National Fiddle Championship Finalists, and Grand North American Fiddle Championships, it is clear how this solid foundation paved the way to their musical success.

    

Ivonne and Trent went on to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, USA. It was there that they met Eric. It’s not often that you see a cellist that can play traditional and Irish music! With his beautiful tone and technical abilities, Eric can not only play the subtly ornamented Irish tunes, but he can also accompany the tunes mixing bass & melody lines and rhythmic patterns, as only a drummer could! 



    With their titles and abilities, they have all had very successful careers as solo performers with their own bands, as well as being highly in demand as teachers. The members of The Fretless are also highly sought after sidemen and session musicians with other well known bands and artists.

    

Their debut album ‘Waterbound’ was recorded in Victoria, BC, Canada by the award winning and grammy nominated Joby Baker. Waterbound features two outstanding vocalists; Ruth Moody of the Juno Award Winning band “The Wailin’ Jenny’s” singing the title track ‘Waterbound’; and Norah Rendell of the band ‘The Outside Track’. Already getting rave reviews and airplay across North America & Europe, The Fretless are currently touring to promote ‘Waterbound’, and can be found gracing stages and airways around the world. With their fresh and new approach to traditional music, The Fretless is a lethal supergroup that is a force to be reckoned with on the folk music scene!

     
  • Whitehorse - Whitehorse

    www.whitehorsemusic.ca

    Six Shooter Records’ Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet tie the musical knot with the debut of their new band, Whitehorse, marrying their talent and chemistry on stage as a smoldering duo. Gutsy and resolute in their pursuits of sound and substance, Luke and Melissa’s fusion of the personal and professional brings to mind the road-tested romance of Johnny and June.

    Whitehorse is the culmination of years of honing solo skills as singer-songwriters. The two musicians have worked side by side for nearly a decade, contributing to one another’s records, touring and performing together, unknowingly yet instinctively moving towards the day when each would entrust their life and work to the other.

    The debut record appeared in late summer 2011, when days are languid and nights are for the kind of porch dwelling dreamers described in Night Owls, the “McCartney-esque lullabye” that appears on the album. (Globe and Mail). The 8-song self-titled work opens and closes with intrigue, the Eulogies for Whiskers that offer hushed whispers over guitar that is both suggestive and menacing. Meaning is elusive, and it is this chase, this pursuit, that propels Whitehorse forward.

    Old songs are transformed, reinvented but not stripped of their histories. Whitehorse carries with it the stories and worlds of both artists. Passenger 24 and Broken are the memories of the early days of Luke and Melissa’s collaborations, and the magic the two bring to each other’s work. Sparks grow to flames on I’m On Fire, a country-singed rendition of a classic tale of burning desire. Emerald Isle and Killing Time is Murder are hints of what’s to come. One draws from personal experience, the other lets imagination run wild. These songs show the true breadth of Whitehorse’s mastery of storytelling and musicianship.

    In Whitehorse, songbird and falcon unite. Spurred by chemistry, intimacy, and of course romance, the band races on.

     
  • Oliver Schroer & Nuala Kennedy - Enthralled

    www.nualakennedy.com

    In January 2007, fiddler and composer Oliver Schroer was invited to Glasgow, Scotland to play on “Astar” a piece commissioned by the Celtic Connections Festival and written by flautist Nuala Kennedy. Over the course of the festival both Nuala and Oliver realized that they
    shared an approach to music making which was highly compatible and embarked on a duo album project.
    The results speak for themselves – superb playing throughout, and a musical understanding and compatibility that is obvious. Although never able to tour together due to Oliver’s illness Enthralled was finished the following year just prior to his untimely passing.
    Musicians: Oliver Schroer, fiddle; Nuala Kennedy, flute and whistles; Bill Brennan, piano; Brian Kellock, piano; Kevin MacKenzie, guitar; David Woodhead, bass; Andrew Downing, bass; Jason LaPrade, dobro; Filippo Gambetta, diatonic accordion; and Joe Macerollo, accordion.
    Produced and arranged by Oliver Schroer & Nuala Kennedy.

     
  • Le Vent du Nord - Tromper le temps

    http://www.leventdunord.com

    Since its inception in August 2002, Le Vent du Nord have been enjoying rocketing success. They have received several prestigious awards, including a Juno. The band is now one of the most-loved Quebec folk outfits throughout the world. The group’s current line-up consists of singers / multi-instrumentalists Nicolas Boulerice, Simon Beaudry, Olivier Demers, and Réjean Brunet. Some of their songs come from traditional folk repertoire, while others are original compositions. On stage, these four friends achieve peaks of happiness they eagerly share with any and all audiences. Le Vend du Nord know how to deliver music that will move any crowd – to their feet and in their hearts! This is undoubtedly music of the here and now.

     
  • La Bottine Souriante - Appellation d'Origine Côntrolée

    www.bottinesouriante.com

    La Bottine Souriante

    La Bottine Souriante first appeared on the Québec music scene in 1976 and since has become a living legend of French North American roots music. In over twenty five years, this remarkable group has released twelve albums, four of which are certified Gold and three Platinum. In 2001, they also released a musical anthology to celebrate their 25th anniversary.

    Altogether, they have sold over half a million albums! The group has won dozens of awards and headlined festivals around the world. La Bottine Souriante is no longer simply a Québécois/Canadian musical phenomenon. The group and their explosive sound have crossed borders the world over and left in their wake countless enchanted audiences. The group has developed a distinctive sound that successfully combines traditional sounds with a dash of jazz, salsa and pure folk, while at the same time exhibiting the vitality and pride of its mother culture. In addition, the music identifies strongly with the current World Music movement. La Bottine has developed an exceptionally tight, cohesive sound, with their unique flavour of celebratory music. These two elements, music and celebration, characterised by pulsating rhythm, breathtaking sound, and exuberant spirit, have been inseparable. And it is directly into this turbulent energy that La Bottine Souriante sweeps the listening audience. It is no wonder that the US-based Dirty Linen magazine has proclaimed La Bottine “The best band in the world”!

    This musical blend is generated by nine solid, traditionally rooted musicians: Benoit Bourque (vocals, button accordion, foot tapping and dance); Éric Beaudry (vocals, foot tapping, mandolin, bouzouki, guitar); David Boulanger (vocals, fiddle, foot tapping, percussion); and Pierre “Pedro” Belisle (piano, piano-accordion, trumpet) taking up the swing with jazzman François Marion (acoustic and electric bass). Since 1990, a fourpiece brass section has added an even more exciting dimension to La Bottine’s incomparable sound, featuring the musical direction and brass arrangements of Jean Fréchette (saxophone, percussions and arrangements), Robert “Bob” Ellis (bass trombone), André Verreault (trombone), Jocelyn Lapointe (trumpet) and Sandy Silva (percussive dance).

    La Bottine Souriante has taken part in numerous folk festivals around the world, among them the TØNDER FESTIVAL and the prestigious WOMAD. The group has appeared on many compilations, notably with Kepa Junkera (Bilbao 00:00h) from the Basque country as well as with Paddy Moloney and The Chieftains (Fire in the Kitchen).

    ♦ La Bottine Souriante means smiling boot, a reference to the worn-out soles of a working man’s footwear.
    They’ll wear out your soles pretty quickly as well.

     

Solo Artist of the Year

  • Michael Jerome Browne - The Road Is Dark

    www.michaeljeromebrowne.com

    Long recognized as a musician’s musician and a master of traditional American
    roots styles, award-winning multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter Michael Jerome Browne takes the road less traveled and leads his listeners on an
    unforgettable journey into the heart of acoustic blues. With eight originals and six seminal covers recorded live off the floor and with no
    overdubs, The Road is Dark proves that when it comes to acoustic blues, Michael Jerome Browne is the man you want behind the wheel.

    Born in South Bend, Indiana, Michael is the son of English professors whose love
    of music and poetry inspired them to take their nine year old to the great jazz,
    blues and folk clubs in their adopted home of Montreal. By age fourteen, Michael
    was already a regular on the folk and blues scene adding banjo, fiddle, and
    mandolin to his masterful command of all variety of guitars and harmonica.
    Fourteen years as lead singer and guitarist with Montreal blues outfit The Stephen Barry Band, and backing up many legendary artists (including Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame inductee Vann “Piano Man” Walls), Michael honed his vocal and electric guitar skills and established him as a master of a wide range of American Roots music styles.
    Browne’s previous recordings, the self-titled “Michael Jerome Browne”, “Drive On” and “Michael Jerome Browne & The Twin Rivers String Band” were nominated for Juno Awards in the Roots-Traditional and Blues categories. He has won Canada’s Maple Blues Acoustic Artist of the Year Award and in 2008 received the Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Solo Artist.

     
  • Matt Andersen - Coal Mining Blues

    http://www.stubbyfingers.ca

    MATT ANDERSEN: Breaking Through, One Audience at a Time

    Matt Andersen “Coal Mining Blues”
    The best performing songwriters, the ones who sound like they really mean what they’re singing about, tend to come from areas known for hard times and hard work. Like say, Perth-Andover, a rural blue-collar village in the Canadian Maritime province of New Brunswick—the home of acclaimed singer-songwriter and guitarist Matt Andersen. “Perth-Andover’s a really small, family-oriented community,” says Matt. “Everybody knows everybody. My dad’s worked as a logger pretty much his whole life. But there’s always been music around: My grandfather played fiddle, my mom plays piano in church. Most of my cousins have had bands at some point. Whenever there’s a get-together there’s always about nine or ten fiddles or guitars in the room.” Matt’s musical household got him interested playing early on and by junior high he was in the school band, first on tuba and later on trumpet. He took up guitar at 14, and before long was playing classic rock and Top 40 covers in pub bands while he studied studio engineering. Things changed dramatically, however, when he discovered the blues. “Through Eric Clapton I got into B.B. King, which led me to the Chicago electric stuff and eventually back to the Mississippi Delta guys,” says the 30-year-old singer. “What really hit me most about the blues was its total honesty.” Matt began to build his name on the Canadian circuit, his imposing voice and slashing slide guitar making a monolithic impression on audiences. After playing the prestigious 2004 East Coast Music Awards, Matt continued cultivating crowds, appearing with Randy Bachman, Bo Diddley, Little Feat, America, Loverboy, April Wine, and others. He signed with Busted Flat Records for a string of exalted albums: 2007’s Second Time Around, 2008’s Something in Between, and 2009’s Piggyback (a duo set with harmonica king Mike Stevens) and Live at the Phoenix Theatre. By 2009 Matt had become a frequent guest on Stuart McLean’s CBC radio show “The Vinyl Café” and had completed his fourth tour of the UK, where The Times called him “Canada’s greatest guitarist.” In 2010 he became the first Canadian to win Memphis’s famed International Blues Challenge, which led to festival dates in France, Italy, and the US, where he toured with Old Crow Medicine Show. Matt’s newest album, Coal Mining Blues, was produced by Colin Linden (who co-wrote and plays on several tunes) and recorded at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York. What is it Matt hopes audiences experience when they hear him? “I’m not trying to change anyone’s lives in a big way, but I love it when [listeners] really get involved in the music,” says Matt, performs over 200 shows a year and in 2011 won the Maple Blues Awards for Entertainer of the Year and Acoustic Act of the Year. “That’s what really makes it a great night, for everyone.” As Matt Andersen continues to do what he was born to do—play his exhilarating music—fans can look forward to many great nights, indeed.

     
  • Del Barber - Headwaters

    www.delbarber.com

    Del Barber is a singer-songwriter from Winnipeg, MB, whose lanky frame and cowboy slouch could make him a character straight out of a dustbowl novel. Experienced in the art of haphazard employment and with a personal odometer that has been racking up miles for years, for Barber, songwriting is a homecoming, a return, a reconciliation of restlessness and experience. Del Barber’s winsome, lonesome balladry leaves dusty footprints on the floor, traces of country-folk traditions that guide back to the late greats of songwriting history. Headwaters, Barber’s third album and Six Shooter Records debut, picks up the trail with a set of prairie parables that lead through finely crafted confessionals and twang-kissed tales of desires lived, left and lost. He has emerged as one of the next wave in Canada’s proud tradition of songwriting talent. Headwaters is a headstrong leap forward for Barber, buoyed by the momentum of his previous album, the Juno-nominated and two-time WCMA award winner Love Songs for the Last Twenty. Recorded partly in Winnipeg and partly in Maine, Headwaters blends a traveler’s sense of place with a wanderer’s sense of time, simultaneously urgent and patient, measured and confident.

     
  • Anne Louise Genest of Annie Lou - Grandma's Rules for Drinking

    annielou.ca

    With a 2010 Juno nomination, a 2010 Western Canadian Music Award nomination and appearances at coast-to-coast Canadian folk festivals in 2010 and 2011, Annie Lou has become a familiar sight on the Canadian roots music stage.
    Annie Lou was let loose when Canadian songwriter Anne Louise Genest found herself drawn to the stringband sounds and story songs of old time mountain and traditional country music. “This music has a profound edge to it – there in the voices and in the playing is the lament we all carry as people trying to get by in this beautiful, terrible world.” says Genest. “Joy and grief are two sides of the same coin. The older music expresses that tension so perfectly.”
    Annie Lou’s much anticipated sophomore album “Grandma’s Rules for Drinking” was recorded at Sytesounds Studios in Toronto, with the help of some of Canada’s finest acoustic musicians. This wonderful new record delivers the same great energy and songwriting as her Juno-nominated debut effort, with a more delicate touch and subtle maturity. Pursuing the fine art of marrying new music with older traditions, Annie Lou once again offers up superb songwriting and hearty old-time tunes, unique styles and songs delivered with pluck, groove and a tough-but-tender northern feel.

    With some of Canada’s finest acoustic musicians on the roster, Annie Lou’s stringband instrumentation has evolved so that foot-stomping fiddle, banjo, guitar and upright bass sit comfortably alongside more delicate, poignant moments, with Genest’s vocals a rich centerpiece. Built around Genest’s original songwriting, Annie Lou is firmly rooted in both the past and the present, with a strong vein of Canadiana running through that marries it all together. Original and innovative while sounding old and familiar, Annie Lou is Canadian roots music at its finest.

     
  • Rose Cousins - We Have Made A Spark

    www.rosecousins.com

    Rose Cousins finds insight in solitude and strength in
    numbers. Supported by a thriving Halifax music scene and
    welcomed by an equally vibrant Boston community, her new
    album We Have Made A Spark was made in the spirit of
    community and collaboration.

     

World Group of the Year

  • Sultans of String - MOVE

    http://www.sultansofstring.com

    Raucous world-roots string wizards, CFMA winners and JUNO nominees, Sultans of String thrill their audiences with their global sonic tapestry of Spanish Flamenco, Arabic folk, Cuban rhythms, and French Manouche Gypsy-jazz, celebrating musical fusion and human creativity with warmth and virtuosity. Fiery violin dances with rumba-flamenco guitar while a funk bass lays down unstoppable grooves. Acoustic strings meet with electronic wizardry to create layers and depth of sound, while world rhythms excite audiences to their feet with the irresistible need to dance.

    “Canada’s ambassadors of musical diversity” include 6-string violinist Chris McKhool (Pavlo), dueling guitar czars Kevin Laliberté (Jesse Cook, The Chieftains) & Eddie Paton (Robert Michaels), bass master Drew Birston (Chantal Kreviazuk), and the jaw dropping talent of Cuban percussionist Chendy Leon (Parachute Club, Alex Cuba)!

    Since their formation only 5 years ago, Sultans of String have been riding a wave of success, from their debut CD, Luna, and 2nd offering, Yalla Yalla!, both hitting #1 on world/international music charts in Canada, to their triple Canadian Folk Music Award nomination, winning Instrumental Group of the Year. The band has been recorded live for broadcast on BBC Television, SiriusXM in Washington DC, CTV’s CanadaAM, CBC’s Canada Live, and has topped campus/community radio charts in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Belarus, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Spain, The Netherlands, U.S. and U.K.

    In the past year alone, they’ve acquired a JUNO (Canada’s Grammy) nomination, representation from acclaimed promoter David Wilkes (Emmylou Harris, Bela Fleck), and booking representation in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. They also took home 1st place in the International Songwriting Competition (out of 15,000 entries) and placed as finalists for two 2011 International Independent Music Awards. The band just released their 3rd album entitled MOVE, presenting, once again, an exhilarating celebration of world music styles.

    “Canada is a real meeting places of musical influences from around the world” says bandleader/violinist McKhool. “At the same time, as a band we try to tell uniquely Canadian stories, putting forth our vision of the world as one family.” Chris’ paternal Makhoul grandparents immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in the early 1900s, and his Egyptian-born mother, an accomplished pianist, also has paternal Lebanese ancestry. “Growing up, I was taught the values of tolerance, respect for all peoples and celebration of culture.” McKhool’s unbridled passion for exploring the rhythms and melodies has led him to the far corners of the world, incorporating instruments and styles everywhere he went.

    Touring as a trio to quintet, McKhool draws from this collective of master musicians to bring Sultans of String to community, festival and intermediate/high school audiences around the world including the Celtic Connections Festival in the U.K., Birdland jazz Club in NYC, Canada’s National Arts Centre, Mariposa Folk Festival, Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre, and Folk Alliance in Memphis, TN. Sultans of String have also performed on larger stages with Windsor & Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestras with noted conductor Maestro John Morris Russell (Cincinnati Pops), as well as their Cuban Trumpet Ensemble.

    http://www.sultansofstring.com

     
  • Roberto Lopez Afro-Colombian Jazz Orchestra - Azul

    robertolopez.ca

    Composer and guitar player Roberto López takes us through a unique encounter between the wind ensembles from Colombia’s Caribbean coast and North-American Jazz Big Bands. Roberto presents some arrangements of traditional pieces written by great Colombian composers, as well as a series of his own compositions. A mesmerizing tour through afro-Colombian rhythms: Porro, Cumbia, Paseo, Champeta, Mapalé and Chandé.

    Before creating the Afro-Colombian Jazz Orchestra, Roberto López went to Colombia to study the traditional sounds and rhythms. He appropriated the language and melodies and created arrangements that he applied to the traditional repertoire of the brass bands of Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

    Azul is the third album released by Roberto López (Artiste Révélation Radio-Canada Musique 2010-2011, nominee at the JUNO AWARDS 2011, at the GAMIQ Awards and at the Canadian Folk Music Awards 2010). Along with his other group, the Roberto López Project, he has released his first two albums, “Soy Panamericano” in 2009 and “Qué Pasa?” in 2006.

    With Roberto López (guitar, tiple, ukulele, llamador, caja, maracas) at its head, The Afro-Colombian Jazz Orchestra can count on the talents of Jean-Sébastien Leblanc (clarinet), Joel Miller (tenor sax and clarinet #2), David Carbonneau (trumpet), David Grott (trombone), Fraser Hollins (upright bass), Massimo Sansalone (drums) and Kullak Viger-Rojas (alegre, congas and tambora). Christopher Smith (bombardino) and Bruno Lamarche (clarinet #3) are also featured on the album as musical guests.

    —————————————

    Le compositeur et guitariste montréalais Roberto López nous amène dans une rencontre inédite entre les ensembles à vent de la côte caraïbe colombienne et les big band de Jazz nord-américains. Il nous propose ses arrangements de pièces traditionnelles de grands compositeurs de la musique colombienne, de même que de nouvelles pièces issues de son propre chef. Un voyage envoutant sur fond de rythmes afro-colombiens : Porro, Cumbia, Paseo, Champeta, Mapalé et Chandé.

    Avant de créer le Afro-Colombian Jazz Orchestra, Roberto López s’est rendu en Colombie pour étudier sur le terrain les sons traditionnels. Il a fait siens ces rythmes et mélodies et créé des arrangements pour les appliquer au répertoire traditionnel des groupes de cuivre de la côte colombienne des Caraïbes.

    Azul est le troisième album de Roberto López, un artiste nommé Révélation Radio-Canada Musique en 2010-2011 et récipiendaire de nominations aux prix Juno en 2011 ainsi qu’aux GAMIQ et aux Canadian Folk Music Awards en 2010. Avec son autre formation, le Roberto Lopez Project, il a fait paraître « Soy Panamericano » en 2009 et « Que Pasa? » en 2006.

    Dirigé par Roberto López (guitare, tiple, ukulele, llamador, caja, maracas), l’Afro-Colombian Jazz Orchestra compte dans ses rangs Jean-Sébastien Leblanc (clarinette), Joel Miller (sax ténor et clarinette #2), David Carbonneau (trompette), David Grott (trombone), Fraser Hollins (contrebasse), Massimo Sansalone (batterie), Kullak Viger-Rojas (alegre, congas, tambora). Christopher Smith (bombardino) et Bruno Lamarche (clarinette #3) figurent sur le disque à titre de musiciens invités.

     
  • Zhambai Trio - Tambanavo

    www.zhambai.com

    Zhambai Trio formed in Vancouver, BC in early 2010 following the musical inspiration of accomplished musicians Kurai Mubaiwa, Curtis Andrews and Navaro Franco. The group plays traditional and original music from Zimbabwe and features ancient instruments such as the mbira (“thumb piano”), hosho (maracas), and ngoma (hand drums) as well as the more contemporary Zimbabwean marimba. The haunting yet uplifting sound of the mbira rhythms and interlocking melodies combined with the lilting quality of the vocal harmonies are at once stimulating and relaxing. Zhambai Trio has performed at numerous venues in Vancouver to thrilled and enthusiastic audiences.

    “Zhambai” means scream in the Zimbabwean Shona language. The group’s central instrument, the mbira, is a melodic 25 key Zimbabwean lamellophone that in Shona mythology is believed to connect the living with the spirit world of the ancestors. It has been used for centuries in Zimbabwe to fulfill spiritual needs and for healing. In the past 3 decades it has gone world-wide and can be found in numerous new environments ranging from pop bands to movie soundtracks to world music fusion ensembles. The context may change but the effect of the instrument remains.

    Kurai Mubaiwa has been an established world musician and music teacher since 1994. He has toured across Europe, West Africa, Southern Africa and across Canada opening for and/or performing with artists such as Chiwoniso Maraire, Cesaria Evora, Andy Brown and Vusi Mahlasela at internationally recognized concerts and festivals. Playing the mbira since childhood in his native Zimbabwe, he is perhaps the best mbira/marimba player in Canada today.

    Curtis Andrews is a percussionist, composer and teacher with remarkable skills in African, jazz, South Indian, rock, and improvisational music. The recipient of multiple awards for his original music, he performs and records with a wide variety of groups and artists in Canada. Through extensive studies in Ghana, India, and southern Africa, he has developed a deep knowledge of the history and performance of music from those areas.

    Navaro Franco is a musician, dancer and teacher inspired by ancient traditions of earth based music and dance. She is interested in the role of traditional knowledge to support consciousness, community, and healing. Within her 20 years of experience, she has studied and performed Zimbabwean music in Canada and Southern Africa, primarily with Marimba Muzuva, and the Chigamba Family and their band Mhembero.

     
  • Sagapool - Sagapool

    www.sagapool.com

    C’est suite à un délire musical improvisé autour du thème du Parrain dans les corridors du Conservatoire que l’accordéoniste, la violoniste et le clarinettiste décident de former un groupe en 1999. S’enrichissant au fil des années d’une panoplie d’instruments divers, Sagapool a vu ses influences gitanes et balkaniques fleurir en un groupe original de six multi-instrumentistes unis par une complicité sans équivoque. Les pièces du nouveau spectacle défilent comme autant de petits voyages, du noyau cosmopolite de Montréal aux confins du Nord-Est canadien, des plus sereins espaces aux ponctuations les plus vibrantes d’énergie. Ce mélange d’espièglerie singulière, d’incroyable virtuosité et de profondeur nordique leur a permis de remporter un prix de musique folk canadienne, une nomination à l’Adisq et une vitrine à WOMEX (2010).

     
  • Surkalén - Essence de lumière

    www.surkalen.ca

    La rencontre musicale de Sandra Ulloa, Claudio Rojas et Rony Dávila se fait en 1995 à Valparaíso au Chili, dont ils sont originaires. Séparés, ils voyagent quelques années en Europe pour se retrouver en 2006 à Montréal au Canada. En 2008, ils forment le groupe « SURKALÉN TRIO ». C’est alors qu’ils se produisent officiellement à Montréal. En 2009, la violoniste russo-canadienne, María Demacheva, se joint au trio pour former le quartet actuel. Le groupe se renomme « SURKALÉN ».

    SURKALÉN fusionne l’héritage musical de la culture sud-américaine avec la musique du monde : Afrique, Asie, Europe et Moyen-Orient. Cette alliance musicale donne naissance à une musique unique et étonnante, fruit de leurs influences diverses et d’un style moderne qu’ils nomment ethno-fusion.

    Le nom du groupe n’a pas été choisi au hasard : « Sur » qui rend hommage à l’origine sud-américaine de trois des membres et « Kalén » qui signifie « différent » dans la langue selknam (les Selknam sont les anciens habitants de la Terre de Feu, un petit peuple amérindien disparu au milieu du XXe siècle).

    La majorité des créations du groupe sont fortement influencées par les rythmes sud-américains et autres musiques du monde. Entre rythmes ancestraux et sonorités actuelles, SURKALÉN propose une musique poétique et attrayante, identifiable socialement et culturellement.

    En 2009-2012, le groupe se produit dans plusieurs festivals : Festival du bout du monde de Gaspé, le Festival Musique-Multi-Montréal, Festival Folklorique latino-américain de Laval, Festival des Traditions du Monde de Sherbrooke ,Festival International de Percussions de Longueuil, Fête nationale du Canada, le Festival International Nuits d’Afrique de Montréal , Nuit Blanche au GESÙ (MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE 2012) et le Festival des arts de Montréal-Nord. Surkalén a été demi-finaliste au Syli d’Or 2010 de la Musique du Monde. Il donne également de nombreux concerts sur les scènes québécoises. Il enregistre un « Concert live » pour CBC Radio 2 de la radio de Radio-Canada (août 2010) et « Surkalén en concert » pour la télévision franco-ontarienne TFO (septembre 2010).

    L’année 2008, le groupe lance son premier album « Viaje » , au titre évocateur « voyage » en espagnol. Présentant un mélange de mélodies traditionnelles et de sonorités modernes, il se permet un léger flirt avec le jazz.

    Au juin 2012 SURKALÉN sort leur dernier album « Essence de lumière » réalisé entre octobre 2011 et juin 2012. L’album a reçu l’appui du Conseil des arts et lettres du Québec et ses partenaires . Aussi le groupe a été choisi dans le programme « Artistes en résidence » du GESÙ, cette résidence d’artistes a permis mettre en scène le nouvel album dans une des plus belles salles de Montréal.

    Le nouvel album Essence de lumière est un hommage aux profondeurs de l’être; une quête spirituelle avec un message d’amour, d’espoir et de liberté. Essence de lumière est l’expression de l’âme et de l’évolution du groupe. C’est la continuité d’un travail créatif, pluriel et ouvert sur le monde avec des valeurs d’égalité et de dignité.

    « Essence de lumière est un hommage à la lumière intérieure et éternelle qui habite en nous »

     

New/Emerging Artist of the Year

  • Pharis & Jason Romero - A Passing Glimpse

    www.jasonandpharis.com

    Pharis and Jason Romero live in the tiny interior BC town of Horsefly. They spend their days playing the old-time and early country music they love, and building some of the finest banjos worldwide. They have one foot firmly planted in tradition, with enough rough edges to keep pushing within a sound all their own.

    Both are well known in North American old-time and roots music circles; Pharis as founder of B.C. group Outlaw Social, and Jason as creator of J. Romero Banjos, a premier custom banjo workshop. Following releases with The Haints Old Time Stringband and a concept album backing up the West Coast’s best old-time fiddlers, their 2011 release A Passing Glimpse comes as their most recent and unique album exploring roots music. An album of hand-written and -picked songs, building on their rock-solid reputation as purveyors of early roots music, it won Americana Album of the Year at the Independent Music Awards, hit #1 on the North American Folk DJ playlists, and was on many Best of 2011 lists including Folk Alley, Uprooted Music Review, Galaxie Folk-Roots, and others.

    Much of their singing is crafted in the tradition of the classic brother duet, but they are by no means a throwback. They take great pleasure in unusual and close harmonies, and developing these harmonies takes time. This husband-wife duet has done their homework, studying and performing the traditional and country blues, roots and old time songs from the early days of radio to the present. Pharis is also a noted songwriter – “a BC historical treasure” (BC Folklore Society) whose songs have been played on radios around the world – and half of their duet show encompasses original songs of love, loss, work and the country people she grew up and still lives with. Both are accomplished instrumentalists, accompanying themselves with acoustic guitars, resophonic guitar, and banjos.

    Jason is a master luthier, with instruments played by Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, and Dirk Powell; every banjo and resophonic guitar they play is made in their home workshop. He is fluent in banjo styles from early fingerstyle to clawhammer to bluegrass, and the duo well takes advantage of his flexibility. When he’s not playing banjo, his resophonic and acoustic guitar playing is a distinct texture, rhythmic and percussive, over Pharis’ rock solid rhythm guitar.

    A show with the duet moves from spacious, almost ethereal, folk songs to hard edged country blues, with stories and an easy rapor; it carries a feeling of intimacy and complete love for each other and the music at hand. This is music not made for profit or product, but made by hand, the old-fashioned way. Music made from love of the tradition and informed by a need to write or find the most beautiful songs.

    When not building and performing, they are much in demand at music camps and workshops including BC Bluegrass Workshops, Fiddle Tunes, Voiceworks, Fiddle Works, Georgia Straight Guitar Workshop, and others.

     
  • Scarlett Jane - Stranger

    www.scarlettjane.com

    SCARLETT JANE is one of the most exciting new collaborations in recent Canadian music – the marriage of the distinctive songs and beautifully haunting voices of Andrea Ramolo and Cindy Doire.

    And now, Stranger, their debut recording, captures their strength and their vulnerability, and a progressive roots sound which embodies the raw and candid demeanor of Lucinda Williams, the moody sensuality of Stevie Nicks and Nick Cave, and the tender playfulness of Dolly Parton.

    Both Andrea and Cindy are road warriors. Andrea has two previous releases behind her, while Cindy has three – two of them in French, which has given her a following in both French Canada and Europe.

    They met several years ago at a tiny Toronto music venue; their solo careers were starting to move forward, and they shared a passion for prose, poetry, theatrics. and songs in minor keys. They liked blues and country, old school soul and rock’n’roll.

    The blend of their voices stopped conversations; their musical sensibilities interweaved seemingly without effort. Soon, they began collaborating as songwriters, performing on each other’s shows and singing on each other’s solo albums.

    But seemingly endless solo tours – both of them back and forth across Canada, and Cindy often on the other side of the Atlantic – made it difficult to build the inevitable duo they had begun to plan – they recall occasional meetings
    somewhere in the prairies, brief ‘hellos’ at roadside stops, and occasional reunions in small Toronto clubs.

    Inevitably, the need to write together and sing together became more and more important. Last fall, at a music industry conference in Niagara Falls, they debuted Scarlett Jane in front of audiences of festival bookers, agent, managers, publicists, and their own peers; the response convinced them they were on the right track.

    The groundwork laid in small Toronto clubs – perfect public rehearsals as they honed their songs, their harmonies, their band and their sound – began to pay off.
    Making their first major recording was the next logical step, and now Stranger is a reality.

    Stranger is produced and engineered by one of Canada’s most innovative producers, Stew Crookes, (Hawksley Workman, 100 Dollars, Doug Paisley, Justin Rutledge). The CD is a collection of ten alluring stories about longing and
    loneliness, about love, loss, and desire.

    The songs came together organically over a brief two months in the fall of 2011, wih Cindy and Andrea writing together at retreats in Mexico and northern Ontario, and in their shared apartment in downtown Toronto. Result: A rootsy folk/noir album with enough country-edged rockin’ wailers to keep dancers moving, and gorgeous ballads and moody set-pieces to satisfy the indie-pop fans.

    The singers’ collaborative songwriting, sultry performance style, and full band arrangements open up windows for the duo on both the indie scene and in major markets, nationally and internationally.

    Scarlett Jane: powerful and irrefutable, musically and dynamically. From the studio to the stage, this intriguing female duo is geared for great things. Listen for them
    on the radio; see them as they set out for a 35-date cross-country tour starting in May, and ending in early July at the famed Mariposa Folk Festival.

     
  • Lisa LeBlanc - Lisa LeBlanc

    http://lisaleblanc.ca

    Moi, Lisa LeBlanc, je joue du folk trash. Je suis une Acadienne qui roule ses « r », qui aime se moquer d’elle-même, qui écrit des textes sans trop de froufrous et qui est tannée de chanter des chansons de fi-filles!

    C’est en plein coeur de Rosaireville, son village natal de 40 habitants au Nouveau-Brunswick, à Granby, lors de sa formation à l’École nationale de la chanson, ainsi qu’à Montréal, où elle réside depuis maintenant un an, que Lisa LeBlanc a écrit l’ensemble des chansons qui composent son premier album en carrière. Réalisé par Louis-Jean Cormier (Karkwa) et enregistré au studio Piccolo, l’album est disponible depuis mars dernier sur Bonsound Records!

    L’acadienne, qui composait ses premiers textes cinq ans plus tôt, est originaire d’une famille de mélomanes assumés. Excellente guitariste et auteure-compositrice-interprète prometteuse, Lisa LeBlanc a partagé la scène avec plusieurs artistes déjà. Lauréate de la grande finale du prestigieux Festival international de la chanson de Granby en septembre 2010, cet honneur lui donne une importante visibilité auprès des médias francophones du pays. Elle a depuis participé à la dernière édition du Coup de coeur francophone, aux FrancoFolies de Montréal ainsi qu’au Festival d’été de Québec l’été dernier, pour ne nommer que ceux-ci. Véritable bête de scène qui accumule déjà plus de 200 spectacles aux quatre coins du pays, en France et en Suisse, cette jeune artiste de 21 ans sait comment s’y prendre pour faire lever une soirée et faire danser son public! Trimbalant toujours avec elle son énergie, sa joie de vivre, son charisme, sa sincérité et bien sûr, sa belle voix et sa musique, le but de Lisa LeBlanc est simple: chanter aussi souvent qu’elle le peut! Et ce, pour notre plus grand plaisir!

     
  • Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers - In The Time Of The Great Remembering

    www.bencaplan.ca

    Rugged, raspy, and roaring with charisma, Halifax’s Ben Caplan is to folklore what smoke is to bourbon. Perfectly coupled. Ben’s songwriting is as bold in range as it is in ferocity. Fuelled by a quality of melodrama and powerful lyricism, it’s the romance and the manhood crashing with his voice that gives Caplan a truly innovative and experimental artistry. A sound that bridges the gap between controlled composition and unruly passion.

    Striding in pace with gypsy-inspired strings amid the sultry tones of clarinet and saxophone, Caplan has marked his place in the Canadian music landscape with a growling spirit similar to that of Tom Waits. Caplan’s tours have extended throughout the Commonwealth, the rhapsodic energy in his live show an elegant cacophony gaining attention around the world. Breaking between guitar, banjo, piano, and melodica, Caplan’s stage show is almost reminiscent of a burly and bearded Freddy Mercury; a raging, strong, and exploratory songwriter, it’s the blues in his soul, and the heart in your chest pounding as one that makes Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers an unmissable act.

    The music of Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers is diverse, ranging from poetic ballads to frenetic gypsy anthems, but even when the band delivers the roughest of bar room stomps, there is a surprising depth and musicianship to the songs. Expressive percussion, upright bass, violin, sax, clarinet, flute, and terrific use of call and response sing-along choruses all help Caplan & The Casual Smokers stand out from the masses influenced by the same sounds.

     
  • Three Little Birds - Three Little Birds

    www.threelittlebirdstheband.com

    Three Little Birds is a fusion of three distinct women who candidly sing their minds on social and political issues. Drawing upon a variety of musical influences their songs combine everything from Balkan styled harmonies within reggae beats to country-flavoured melodies amidst Tin-Pan Era arrangements. Erin Saoirse Adair is an Ottawa-based singer-songwriter and folk musician, Amelia Leclair is a singer/percussionist who studied Latin music styles while in Brazil and Angela Schleihauf is currently studying oboe performance at the University of Ottawa. Three Little Birds are defined by the eclectic mélange of their diverse interests.

    Three Little Birds present strong vocal harmonies over upbeat acoustic arrangements consisting of mostly guitar, oboe, percussion, stand-up bass violin, and voice and keep their instrumentation simple in order to emphasize their lyrics. On stage it is their goal to spark dialogue. Three Little Birds have performed in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto and have been featured at the Ottawa Jazz and Tulip Festivals.

    Their self-titled debut album was recently released thanks to the support of the Popular Music Grant, awarded by the Ontario Arts Council, and private donors.

     

Producer of the Year

  • Rob Szabo - A Natural Fact (Steve Strongman)

    www.stevestrongman.com

    There are reasons why Canadian blues artist Steve Strongman was the 2011 Maple Blues Award winner for Guitar Player of the Year. There are reasons why Steve Strongman consistently packs venues across Canada for his performances. There are reasons why he was chosen as one of Hamilton, Ontario’s “Top 40 Achievers Under 40 Years Old” by the area’s major newspaper. There are reasons why in the last three years Strongman has performed at major blues festivals in Rio de Janeiro, France, Switzerland, Mexico City, Memphis and Canada, including two appearances at the famed Montreal International Jazz Festival, four appearances at the Mont Tremblant International Blues Festival, and the Ottawa Blues Festival.
    Charisma. Verve. Passion. Unbridled talent.
    Beyond Strongman’s talent as a songwriter, guitarist and front man is his ability to engage his audience and deliver an outstanding performance at every live show. With his inimitable guitar playing and soulful vocals, Strongman delivers incredible performances with power and passion.
    Beginning his professional music career at the age of 16, Strongman has spent over 20 years touring Canada, Europe and, more recently, South America. Along the way he’s been chosen to open shows and perform with Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan, Randy Bachman, Roy Clark, Otis Clay, Jeff Healey, Sonny Landreth, and British legend, Joe Cocker, to name a few. A Maple Blues Award winner, he was the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Mel Brown Blues Award, as well as the 2010 Hamilton Music Award winner for Blues Recording of the Year for his second studio release, Blues in Colour.
    Recently Strongman released his highly anticipated acoustic CD A Natural Fact, produced by Rob Szabo and featuring solo acoustic material with Alec Fraser on standup bass, Dave King on drums, Jesse O’Brien on piano, and a duet with blues and roots music sweetheart Suzie Vinnick.
    “I’ve always had a love for acoustic based music, especially blues. I’m really proud of this CD and I look forward to showing people a different artistic side.” Strongman says.
    Steve Strongman has a way of stirring a crowd that evokes the emotion, maturity and authenticity of classic blues themes. His music speaks for truth and passion, and offers hope for the soul in the face of hard times in a way that that leaves audiences hungry for more.

     
  • Chris McKhool - MOVE (Sultans of String)

    http://www.sultansofstring.com

    Raucous world-roots string wizards, CFMA winners and JUNO nominees, Sultans of String thrill their audiences with their global sonic tapestry of Spanish Flamenco, Arabic folk, Cuban rhythms, and French Manouche Gypsy-jazz, celebrating musical fusion and human creativity with warmth and virtuosity. Fiery violin dances with rumba-flamenco guitar while a funk bass lays down unstoppable grooves. Acoustic strings meet with electronic wizardry to create layers and depth of sound, while world rhythms excite audiences to their feet with the irresistible need to dance.

    “Canada’s ambassadors of musical diversity” include 6-string violinist Chris McKhool (Pavlo), dueling guitar czars Kevin Laliberté (Jesse Cook, The Chieftains) & Eddie Paton (Robert Michaels), bass master Drew Birston (Chantal Kreviazuk), and the jaw dropping talent of Cuban percussionist Chendy Leon (Parachute Club, Alex Cuba)!

    Since their formation only 5 years ago, Sultans of String have been riding a wave of success, from their debut CD, Luna, and 2nd offering, Yalla Yalla!, both hitting #1 on world/international music charts in Canada, to their triple Canadian Folk Music Award nomination, winning Instrumental Group of the Year. The band has been recorded live for broadcast on BBC Television, SiriusXM in Washington DC, CTV’s CanadaAM, CBC’s Canada Live, and has topped campus/community radio charts in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Belarus, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Spain, The Netherlands, U.S. and U.K.

    In the past year alone, they’ve acquired a JUNO (Canada’s Grammy) nomination, representation from acclaimed promoter David Wilkes (Emmylou Harris, Bela Fleck), and booking representation in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. They also took home 1st place in the International Songwriting Competition (out of 15,000 entries) and placed as finalists for two 2011 International Independent Music Awards. The band just released their 3rd album entitled MOVE, presenting, once again, an exhilarating celebration of world music styles.

    “Canada is a real meeting places of musical influences from around the world” says bandleader/violinist McKhool. “At the same time, as a band we try to tell uniquely Canadian stories, putting forth our vision of the world as one family.” Chris’ paternal Makhoul grandparents immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in the early 1900s, and his Egyptian-born mother, an accomplished pianist, also has paternal Lebanese ancestry. “Growing up, I was taught the values of tolerance, respect for all peoples and celebration of culture.” McKhool’s unbridled passion for exploring the rhythms and melodies has led him to the far corners of the world, incorporating instruments and styles everywhere he went.

    Touring as a trio to quintet, McKhool draws from this collective of master musicians to bring Sultans of String to community, festival and intermediate/high school audiences around the world including the Celtic Connections Festival in the U.K., Birdland jazz Club in NYC, Canada’s National Arts Centre, Mariposa Folk Festival, Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre, and Folk Alliance in Memphis, TN. Sultans of String have also performed on larger stages with Windsor & Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestras with noted conductor Maestro John Morris Russell (Cincinnati Pops), as well as their Cuban Trumpet Ensemble.

    http://www.sultansofstring.com

     
  • Mike Roth - Best Day (Dala)

    www.dalagirls.com

    “Dala seem bound for a loftier place where substance stands equal to style.”
    - The Irish Times

    Juno nominees and winners of the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year, Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine of Dala write and sing in harmony best described as angelic. These two best friends met in their high school music class in 2002; they have since released five albums and toured extensively across North America. Darlings of the Canadian music scene, Dala are now poised to bring their fresh brand of acoustic pop music to the world.

    Drawing upon influences like The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, Dala write songs that are both catchy and insightful. Amanda’s ethereal soprano voice blends seamlessly with Sheila’s velvety alto, creating the lush harmonies that have become their trademark.

    “There’s nothing pretentious about Dala’s music; it’s stripped down and laid bare. That’s not to say it is without polish – far from it. Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther have worked hard to exploit every facet of their extraordinary musical blend, and it would be just as at home in a 1960s coffeehouse as it is now on the contemporary concert stage”.
    -Andrew Craig, Host of CBC “Canada Live”

    The sheer joy with which they perform is infectious, turning first-time listeners into instant fans. Dala are equally entertaining between songs, telling funny and down to earth stories that make every show unique. Dala have opened for artists such as Tom Cochrane, Stuart McLean of the CBC’s Vinyl Café, Richie Havens and Arlo Guthrie. No strangers to the festival scene, they have also performed at The New Orleans Jazz Festival, The Edmonton Folk Festival, California’s Strawberry Festival and Mariposa. In 2009, they were the only Canadian act invited to play at the 50th Anniversary of the Newport Folk Festival.

    Dala’s album “Everyone Is Someone” was released in 2009 to critical acclaim. It earned them their fifth Canadian Folk Music Award nomination, a Toronto Independent Music Award for Best Folk Group, and it was touted by The Irish Post as the Album of the Year. The song “Horses” was nominated by National Public Radio in the US as one of the “Top Ten folk songs of 2009″.

    “Dala can sing! What beautiful flights of melody and harmony, reminiscent of the Everly Brothers, the Louvin Brothers, Emmylou Harris and associates; though Dala can trade a melody line and leave one wondering who is taking the lead and simply leave one behind when the harmonies kick in.”
    -Peterborough Examiner

    In the summer of 2010, Dala’s PBS special “Girls From The North Country” was broadcast across North America. This concert features Dala’s own songs weaved around classics by Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot. The live cd and dvd for “Girls From The North Country” earned Dala the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for “Vocal Group of the Year”.

    The live album was nominated for a 2011 Juno Award in the category “Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Group”.

    “Best Day” is their fifth studio album, and will be released on Campus Records in Canada, and Compass Records in the US.

     
  • Glen Simmons - Soldiers & Sailors (The Navigators)

    www.thenavigators.com

    From the rocky Atlantic shores of Newfoundland The Navigators have worked their way to the top of the Eastern Canadian Folk/Roots Music Scene by performing music that is much like the province itself, rocky, energetic, un-predictable, and unforgettable. Formed in 2000, the groups’ sound is based on two baritone lead singers who complement and contrast each other in ways that create fluid dynamic performances of both original and traditional material. The two lead singers also share lead instrument duties with acoustic & electric guitars, fiddle, tin whistle, and bodhran backed by a stellar rhythm section. The Navigators are renowned for leaving the audience with an unforgettable experience & performance.

    The Navigators’ acoustic/electric contemporary sound draws on Newfoundland’s rich traditional heritage with links to the old world. The groups’ third recording “Solders & Sailors” is a mix of modern electric & acoustic folk and traditional Irish Newfoundland melodies steeped in local folklore. “Soldiers & Sailors” released fall 2011 is not unlike Sea Miner” featuring what Navigator fans have come to expect from their live shows as well as more of what was heard on their first release (“Dance and Sing”) – rollicking upbeat tunes perfect for kitchen parties. “Soldiers & Sailors” highlights a deeper, softer more serious side; Arthur’s songwriting as many others from his home province is significantly influenced by Newfoundland’s people, history, tragedy and rugged coastal beauty, many songs with a strong undertow and longing for Home. “Soldiers & Sailors” was produced by Glen Simmons (Fables, Wonderful Grand Band) with many co-writes with Arthur. Many of these new songs have a contagious grove and hook and has audiences already singing along at their live concerts.

    Soldiers and Sailors (Independent)
    As hard a working band as any beyond their Newfoundland borders, The Navigators channel their thrilling pub and club presence into Soldiers And Sailors – a warm and welcome disc built upon a bedrock of folk sensibilities and rock influences. In Fred Jorgensen they have such a compelling and emotional vocalist that comparisons to the late great Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners do not go amiss. While Jorgensen provides an electrifying wallop, Arthur O’Brien has proven himself a wonderful, engaging, songwriter highlighted by Pullin’ Oil From The Sand – a heartbreaking tale of the homesickness Maritimers feel migrating to Alberta’s oil fields. And his moving Safely O’er The Sea deserves its place alongside the best of Ron Hynes. O’Brien, though, balances these touching tracks with his light-hearted A Sunny Night In Paris, flushed full of fun with a delightful reggae lilt, and Just Me, is a rollicking drunken swagger amidst dubious company, methinks. Even the auld traditional biddy Step It Out Mary makes it home with a fresh pair of nickers. But if the arrangements to Andy M. Stewart’s Queen of Argyll are, somewhat, too ambitious, it’s a small slip in an otherwise assured and affecting recording.
    – By Roddy Campbell

     
  • Francois Couture - YAHNDAWA' (YAHNDAWA')

    www.yahndawa.com

    Quand un orchestre à cordes s’harmonise aux chants du peuple wendat.

    When a string orchestra merges with the songs of the wendat people

    Une dormance de plus de cent ans nous sépare du sens de ces paroles mais
    l’émotion, elle, demeure intacte. Laissez-vous porter.

    More than a hundred years of slumber separate us from the meaning of these
    lyrics, yet the emotions conveyed remain intact. Let yourself be carried away.

     

Pushing the Boundaries

  • Sagapool - Sagapool

    www.sagapool.com

    C’est suite à un délire musical improvisé autour du thème du Parrain dans les corridors du Conservatoire que l’accordéoniste, la violoniste et le clarinettiste décident de former un groupe en 1999. S’enrichissant au fil des années d’une panoplie d’instruments divers, Sagapool a vu ses influences gitanes et balkaniques fleurir en un groupe original de six multi-instrumentistes unis par une complicité sans équivoque. Les pièces du nouveau spectacle défilent comme autant de petits voyages, du noyau cosmopolite de Montréal aux confins du Nord-Est canadien, des plus sereins espaces aux ponctuations les plus vibrantes d’énergie. Ce mélange d’espièglerie singulière, d’incroyable virtuosité et de profondeur nordique leur a permis de remporter un prix de musique folk canadienne, une nomination à l’Adisq et une vitrine à WOMEX (2010).

     
  • Sultans of String - MOVE

    http://www.sultansofstring.com

    Raucous world-roots string wizards, CFMA winners and JUNO nominees, Sultans of String thrill their audiences with their global sonic tapestry of Spanish Flamenco, Arabic folk, Cuban rhythms, and French Manouche Gypsy-jazz, celebrating musical fusion and human creativity with warmth and virtuosity. Fiery violin dances with rumba-flamenco guitar while a funk bass lays down unstoppable grooves. Acoustic strings meet with electronic wizardry to create layers and depth of sound, while world rhythms excite audiences to their feet with the irresistible need to dance.

    “Canada’s ambassadors of musical diversity” include 6-string violinist Chris McKhool (Pavlo), dueling guitar czars Kevin Laliberté (Jesse Cook, The Chieftains) & Eddie Paton (Robert Michaels), bass master Drew Birston (Chantal Kreviazuk), and the jaw dropping talent of Cuban percussionist Chendy Leon (Parachute Club, Alex Cuba)!

    Since their formation only 5 years ago, Sultans of String have been riding a wave of success, from their debut CD, Luna, and 2nd offering, Yalla Yalla!, both hitting #1 on world/international music charts in Canada, to their triple Canadian Folk Music Award nomination, winning Instrumental Group of the Year. The band has been recorded live for broadcast on BBC Television, SiriusXM in Washington DC, CTV’s CanadaAM, CBC’s Canada Live, and has topped campus/community radio charts in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Belarus, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Spain, The Netherlands, U.S. and U.K.

    In the past year alone, they’ve acquired a JUNO (Canada’s Grammy) nomination, representation from acclaimed promoter David Wilkes (Emmylou Harris, Bela Fleck), and booking representation in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. They also took home 1st place in the International Songwriting Competition (out of 15,000 entries) and placed as finalists for two 2011 International Independent Music Awards. The band just released their 3rd album entitled MOVE, presenting, once again, an exhilarating celebration of world music styles.

    “Canada is a real meeting places of musical influences from around the world” says bandleader/violinist McKhool. “At the same time, as a band we try to tell uniquely Canadian stories, putting forth our vision of the world as one family.” Chris’ paternal Makhoul grandparents immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in the early 1900s, and his Egyptian-born mother, an accomplished pianist, also has paternal Lebanese ancestry. “Growing up, I was taught the values of tolerance, respect for all peoples and celebration of culture.” McKhool’s unbridled passion for exploring the rhythms and melodies has led him to the far corners of the world, incorporating instruments and styles everywhere he went.

    Touring as a trio to quintet, McKhool draws from this collective of master musicians to bring Sultans of String to community, festival and intermediate/high school audiences around the world including the Celtic Connections Festival in the U.K., Birdland jazz Club in NYC, Canada’s National Arts Centre, Mariposa Folk Festival, Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre, and Folk Alliance in Memphis, TN. Sultans of String have also performed on larger stages with Windsor & Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestras with noted conductor Maestro John Morris Russell (Cincinnati Pops), as well as their Cuban Trumpet Ensemble.

    http://www.sultansofstring.com

     
  • Briga - Turbo Folk Stories

    www.brigamusic.com

    Briga is the daughter of a Polish father, and a Québecoise mother. Born in Québec and raised in western Canada before her return to Montréal, Briga’s music is a reflection of her fragmented identity: a hybrid of songs written in French and English, all accompanied by her fervent violin firmly rooted in eastern European and Romani folk sounds learned from the days her father played the piano to put the children to sleep. Baptised Briga by her fellow band mates in the ex-yugoslavian band Les Gitans de Sarajevo, her name means sorrow or burden. It can be used as an endearing term for loved ones (moje brigo… = oh my burden…)
    The new album Turbo Folk Stories (Bahtalo Records 2012) comes to us a year after her touring through the Balkans playing Romani (Gypsy) weddings with Bulgaria’s no.1 Violinist and her mentor, Georgi Yanev (Георги Янев).
    Inspired by these travels, Briga has brought back repertoire to her Montréal musicians and they have collectively arranged the new album. Turbo Folk Stories is a concept album that brings us back to a folk roots sound by featuring a mix of traditional Bulgarian, Macedonian & Serbian songs, as well as original repertoire that at times makes a light reference to the musical genres of Serbian Turbo Folk & Bulgarian Chalga.

     
  • Gadji-Gadjo - La Folle Allure

    gadjigadjo.com

    C’est avec admiration et respect pour les cultures de l’Europe de L’Est que GADJI-GADJO partage avec vous leur passion pour cette musique aux accents chauds et fougueux. S’inspirant à la fois de la musique klezmer, tsigane et Québécoise, GADJI-GADJO est un groupe haut en complicité, magie, plaisir et leur fougue musicale est contagieuse.

    Avec de nouvelles compositions étoffées et excitantes, exécutées par des musiciens chevronnés et où l’improvisation vous surprendra, il ne fait aucun doute que GADJI-GADJO s’impose comme un groupe à connaître dans le paysage de la musique du monde du Québec.

    Sous l’invitation de Mélanie Bergeron à l’été 2002, les membres rassemblent des pièces traditionnelles klezmer et
    tsigane et fondent GADJI-GADJO. Les musiciens proviennent de diverses régions du Québec et sont regroupés à Montréal. Ayant tous complétés des études universitaires en musique et évoluant dans divers milieux musicaux, ils présentent des influences qui deviennent des atouts pour la couleur du groupe.

    Bientôt leur coup de foudre pour cette musique du monde
    attisera les premières compositions en 2004. Avec son instrumentation acoustique diversifiée, l’héritage klezmer et tsigane de leurs influences est enrichi par la musique du monde et la musique traditionnelle du Québec.
    Leur musique festive a été à l’affiche lors de nombreux festivals, dont le Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (2004 à 2010), Festival Mémoires et Racines de Joliette, Le London Sun Festival Ontario, Le Festival de Théâtre de Sibiu en Roumanie, en passant par la France, Los Angeles, New-York et le Yukon!

    En 2008 ils ont remporté le prix GAMIQ dans la catégorie “Meilleur album de musique du monde”.
    Nominé à l’ADISQ en 2008 dans la catégorie “Musique instrumentale”

     
  • The Fretless - Waterbound

    www.thefretless.com

    The Fretless is a young and innovative band that melds the worlds of celtic, folk and chamber music into an amazing and unique sound all their own. They may look like a string quartet, but with innovative arrangements and roots deeply based in Celtic and Canadian fiddle styles, The Fretless is creating their own unique path in the music world.



    It’s not uncommon for a modern string quartet to play some crossover material, but what The Fretless does is different. They aren’t a classical quartet playing arrangements of folk tunes, but a folk/celtic band with a twist! Playing the instruments of a classical string quartet, the members of The Fretless are fundamentally folk musicians who know the traditions and styles, but also happen to have extensive technical training and chamber music experience.

    

Hailing from all across North America, the members of The Fretless are: Ivonne Hernandez – violin, viola, step dancing and vocals (Victoria, BC, Canada); Trent Freeman – violin, viola and feet (Vancouver, BC, Canada); Karrnnel Sawitsky – violin and viola (Saskatoon, SK, Canada); and Eric Wright – cello (Los Angeles, California, USA).



    Ivonne, Karrnnel and Trent met many many years ago in the Canadian fiddling and step dancing competition circuit and quickly became great friends and each others best competition! It was inevitable they would each end up making names for themselves among Canada’s top fiddlers. Winning such awards as the BC Provincial Fiddle Championship, Saskatchewan Provincial Fiddle Championship, Canadian National Fiddle Championship Finalists, and Grand North American Fiddle Championships, it is clear how this solid foundation paved the way to their musical success.

    

Ivonne and Trent went on to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, USA. It was there that they met Eric. It’s not often that you see a cellist that can play traditional and Irish music! With his beautiful tone and technical abilities, Eric can not only play the subtly ornamented Irish tunes, but he can also accompany the tunes mixing bass & melody lines and rhythmic patterns, as only a drummer could! 



    With their titles and abilities, they have all had very successful careers as solo performers with their own bands, as well as being highly in demand as teachers. The members of The Fretless are also highly sought after sidemen and session musicians with other well known bands and artists.

    

Their debut album ‘Waterbound’ was recorded in Victoria, BC, Canada by the award winning and grammy nominated Joby Baker. Waterbound features two outstanding vocalists; Ruth Moody of the Juno Award Winning band “The Wailin’ Jenny’s” singing the title track ‘Waterbound’; and Norah Rendell of the band ‘The Outside Track’. Already getting rave reviews and airplay across North America & Europe, The Fretless are currently touring to promote ‘Waterbound’, and can be found gracing stages and airways around the world. With their fresh and new approach to traditional music, The Fretless is a lethal supergroup that is a force to be reckoned with on the folk music scene!

     

Young Performer of the Year

  • Lucas Chaisson - Growing Pains

    lucaschaisson.com

    At just 18 years of age, Lucas Chaisson has a strong grasp of who he is musically. Known for his creative rootsy spins on pop tunes, it is Lucas’ original material that defines him. Described as folk, roots, blues and country, he joins his eclectic tastes and musical mannerisms together with his soulful voice and a lyrical knack far beyond his years.

    Lucas has been well received in his home province of Alberta and across Canada. His first release, entitled “No Loitering,” earned him a nomination for “Young Performer of the Year” at the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Awards, and invitations to many of the countries most prestigious festivals including the Edmonton, Canmore and Winnipeg Folk Festivals. More recently, he was chosen as one of 22 Alberta artists to represent the province at the annual International Folk Music Alliance Conference in Memphis, Tennessee. There he was declared a “must see” on the prestigious Folk DJ List. Lucas’ third release “Growing Pains” will be released on June 12, 2012 at the Ironwood Stage in Calgary and is already garnering media attention.

    His skilful, percussive guitar style, insightful lyrics and honest vocals keep audiences engaged and wanting more. Although in the business a relatively short time, Lucas’ drive and passion for music is spreading quickly.

    The term “old soul” is over used but it’s literally the case with this clever young tunesmith. His lyrics are mature, well crafted and interesting. His vocal styling is akin to that of Brett Dennen and Ron Sexsmith; his performance style is reminiscent of a young Neil Young. When he’s on stage, he is exactly where he is supposed to be.

     
  • Emily Madronich - Take It Away

    http://music.cbc.ca/#/artists/Emily-Madronich

    Bio: Emily Madronich Singer/Songwriter
    Emily is a 15 year old grade 10 student from Port Colborne, Ontario who is a prolific song writer. Although much of her music has been composed on a ukulele, Emily also plays piano. With an eclectic appreciation of music, she enjoys music ranging from Folk, Hip Hop, Indie music to Heavy Metal.
    Emily has a velvety voice and fresh insightful lyrics that belies her young age. Her music is lyrical, smooth and full of meaning and hard to categorize.
    “Talk is cheap an you’re buying every word,
    Your buying every word they say,
    And you know we’ll never be together
    If you keep acting this way,
    People only say what they say,
    To get in the way,
    ‘Cause their own jealousy,
    And it just ain’t fair, it just ain’t fair to me, fair to me”

    Crazy You and Me

     
  • The Archers - Much More Than Merry Men

    www.thearchersband.com

    Victoria Folk/Rock band, The Archers, were crowned Youthinks “BC’s Best Teen Band” in Vancouver in April 2011, then went on to win Victoria’s “Garage Band Live” title in May 2011. They produced their own EP, “Much More Than Merry Men”, in August 2011, and discovered it had national appeal on CBC Radio. They have played events like Rifflandia Festival, TedX and Fringe Festival and are equally at home performing acoustically as they are a full band.

    The five friends creating this unique Indie-Folk/Rock sound include Ethan Caleb, Sandy Hughes, Liam McLaren, Liam Moes and Robert McMullen. They pride themselves in their ability to be multi-talented musicians, songwriters and performers. The Archers share the roles of guitar, piano, bass, drums, mandolin, banjo and multiple other percussion instruments, creating, through this trade off of instruments, an impressive and versatile sound. Audiences enjoy their fresh Folk resonance, compelling harmony, and fantastic energy.

    The band was formed in early 2010 by Sandy Hughes and Ethan Caleb. After a few months the two songwriters set out to find a drummer and a bass player. Before too long they found a very reliable rhythm section comprised of Liam Moes on drums and Liam McLaren on bass. In September of 2010, Liam McLaren was moved from his role as bass player to playing piano, guitar, and mandolin, and Robert McMullen joined the band as bassist. Since then the band has grown exponentially and have succeeded in more ways than they expected.

    Much More Than Merry Men has been played on CBC’s Definitely Not the Opera, All Points West along with other programs since CBC Radio network sent out, “Out of My Hands” on their playlist. The Archers are The Zone 91.3FM’s Band of the Month for June 2012.

    Since playing Rifflandia 2011, Fringe Festival, and TedX Youth Conference, they have also played Victoria’s Canada Day in the Inner Harbour, FolkWest Fundraiser, Earth Day and many high schools and benefit concerts. They just recorded their single, Cathedrals, which will be released this spring on iTunes and completed a packed 2 week tour of BC and Alberta in May. Stay tuned the adventures have just begun!

     
  • Rebecca Lappa - Myths and Monsters

    www.rebeccalappa.com

    Rebecca Lappa Bio

    If you love a good story then you’ll fall for Rebecca Lappa’s songs, which bring fascinating characters to life through well-crafted lyrics and haunting melodies. Unlike typical teen songwriters who seek inspiration from their diary, Rebecca is inspired by history, myths and her imagination to write her trademark story songs. In the spring of 2012, Rebecca released her second CD, “Myths and Monsters”, produced by the acclaimed songwriter Alana Levandoski. This collection of 7 folk-pop tunes will take the listener on a magical journey and pave the way to establish Rebecca as one of Canada’s most promising young singer-songwriters.

    Before her 15th birthday, this Edmonton teen had quite the stand out year! She received a Young Performer of the Year nomination for her debut album, “Not in Neverland”, at the 2011 Canadian Folk Music Awards. Plus, Rebecca received a Harvard Broadcasting Exposure Travel Grant to attend this award ceremony. In March 2012, she was the only teen among the top six finalists of the All-Albertan Song Contest for her song “Welcome to Wayne.” In April, she received a Songwriting Boot Camp prize in the Sonic Youth category at the Calgary Folk Festival Songwriting Competition for her song “The Bargain”. Also in April, she was a finalist in the Here is Canada national contest for her song “We are Canadians”. Lastly, she was selected to participate in this summer’s Galaxie Young Performers Program at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and will be mentored by Royal Wood.

    She is currently selling her music on iTunes and KERF. Plus her CD “Not in Neverland” is available through the Alberta Public Library system. She has had songs played on CBC, CKUA, CFBX, CJSF, CJSR, Women’s Radio Channel on Live 365, Vents Music Podcast, Prairie Belles Podcast and WITRR Radio Network. Rebecca has been filmed for Shaw TV, Breakfast Television, Global TV, Balcony TV and CTV News. She has been interviewed on CBC’s Edpod Challenge and Daybreak Alberta. She has had press coverage in The Edmonton Journal, Saint City News, The Edmonton Sun, The West Edmonton Local, Beaumont News, Alternative Trends Magazine, The Edmonton Examiner, The Drumheller Mail and Vue Weekly. 



    This gifted vocalist, who accompanies herself on keyboard, is passionate about her music and building a fan base. In fact, in 2011 she performed at 100 events across Alberta such as The Works, Nextfest, Beaumont Blues Festival, SOSfest, Uptown Folk Club’s Winterfest, Heart of the City Festival, Homefest, Winspear’s Musicians in the Making, Festival of Trees, Ice on Whyte, Grey Cup Huddledome, The Blue Chair, Profiles Art Gallery, The Art Walk, Pine Trails Music Festival, Metropolis Event, Edmonton International Airport, Alberta Winter Games, St. Albert Children’s Festival, and the Big Valley Jamboree Family Stage. Last summer, she not only attended Berklee Summer School, but also performed at the famed Café 939 and impressed the professors with her mature songwriting ability. For more information go to www.rebeccalappa.com

     
  • Cassie & Maggie MacDonald - Fresh Heirs

    www.cassieandmaggie.com

    “Fresh, Exciting, Charming and Fun, Cassie & Maggie MacDonald are a dynamic Celtic Sister duo that have emerged onto the music scene as the ones to watch.”

    With their unique blend of traditional Celtic/folk music, Cassie & Maggie MacDonald bring more to the table than your average fiddle and piano duo… in addition to her fiddle playing, Cassie is also an award winning stepdancer and sings back-up for Maggie who plays piano, guitar, accordion and sings lead.

    2011 Galaxie Rising star award winners and nominees for the 2012 ECMA Roots/Traditional Album of the Year as well as Music Nova Scotia Award for New Artists of the Year and Traditional Album of the year, the girls are off to a great start with their debut album Fresh Heirs which has garnered them much recognition and praise.

    The girls have been busy over the past year; soloists in the 2011 Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, and representing Canada at the Hamburg, Germany International Polizi Show, the girls have also represented Nova Scotia in Paris, France where they performed at the Canadian Embassy. A busy summer lies ahead with appearances at the Old Songs festival in Altamont, NY, the Stan Rogers festival in Canso, NS, Lunenburg Folk Harbour festival, Summerfest in New Bedford, MA, Festival memoires et Racines in Joliette, QC, and countless other festivals, and shows.

    What people are saying about Cassie & Maggie…

    “Cassie and Maggie MacDonald encompass everything you could ask for in a musical act, their talent is only surpassed by the joy with which they so generously share it. Exciting and innovative, they have found the perfect balance between musical integrity, and sheer entertainment. While still staying true to their Celtic roots, they have explored and tested the boundaries of traditional music, bringing a breath of fresh air to the genre with their original compositions and arrangements. It is certainly an exciting time in what promises to be a long and successful career.” -Warren Robinson, past Vice President of Folk Alliance International

    “I saw the MacDonalds for the first time at the Folk Alliance conference in February. They were enchanting!” –Peter MacDonald (executive director Ontario Council Folk Festivals)

    “I first met the girls when we were all teaching and performing at The Celtic Roots College and Festival in Goderich, Ontario this past summer. It was Cassie and Maggie that turned my head like no other act there. There is something very special about their sound, their dedication and their spirit that drew me to want to see every moment of their performances! I was not alone, they have quickly become fan favourites at that festival as I know they will be wherever they go.” -Cheryl Prashkar (President North East Regional Folk Alliance)