2013 Performers Preview

Full performer line up for the 2013 Edmonton Folk Music Festival will be announced on May 29th at 11:00 am.

Loreena McKennitt

Loreena will be making a long-awaited swing through Canada’s Western Provinces in a just-announced, mini tour for the Summer of 2013.

“I’m truly excited to be heading back to places that hold such fond memories”, says Loreena. “The musicians and I have had great audiences in the West, and as someone born and raised under a prairie sky there’s always something extra special about being there.”

Joining Loreena on tour is a stellar cast of musicians including Brian Hughes on guitars, bouzouki and oud, Hugh Marsh on violin, Caroline Lavelle on cello and vocals, Andrew Downing on Double Bass, Ben Grossman on hurdy gurdy and percussion and Rick Lazar on percussion.

Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Cockburn has always been a restless spirit. Over the course of four decades, the celebrated Canadian artist has traveled to the corners of the earth out of humanitarian concerns—often to trouble spots experiencing events that have led to some of his most memorable songs. Going up against chaos, even if it involves grave risks, can be necessary to get closer to the truth.

“My mother once said that I must have a death wish, always going to what she called ‘those awful places,’” laughs Cockburn. “I don’t think of it that way. I make these trips partly because I want to see things for myself and partly out of my own sense of adventure.”

Small Source of Comfort, Cockburn’s 31st album, is his latest adventurous collection of songs of romance, protest and spiritual discovery. The album, primarily acoustic yet rhythmically savvy, is rich in Cockburn’s characteristic blend of folk, blues, jazz and rock. As usual, many of the new compositions come from his travels and spending time in places like San Francisco and Brooklyn to the Canadian Forces base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, jotting down his typically detailed observations about the human experience.

Fatoumata Diawara
Introducing a fresh new talent with a unique sound, a bagful of beautiful self-penned songs and a tumultuous life story behind her, Fatoumata Diawara’s debut album, ‘Fatou’, was released on World Circuit on September 19, 2011.
Tall, superbly poised and elegant, with an iridescent smile, this sometime star of African film draws elements of jazz and funk into an exquisitely sparse contemporary folk sound – refracting the rocking rhythms and plaintive melodies of her ancestral Wassoulou tradition through an instinctive pop sensibility. At the centre of the music is Fatou’s warm, affecting voice, spare, rhythmical guitar playing and gorgeously melodic songs that draw powerfully on her own often troubled experience.

Good For Grapes
Good For Grapes formed in September of 2010, after a group of friends took a trip to Victoria, BC for some modest busking. Since the moment they stepped onto the ferry, they were an attraction. Drawing unexpected crowds, naturally this young and aspiring band took form; an original and talented five piece group, with an array of harmonizing voices and instruments. Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, this folk / alternative act has been gaining momentum ever since they stepped into the music scene. Their live stage performance in this time has evolved into an incredibly active, folk stomping, and inviting energy; always resulting in an extremely enthusiastic and involved audience. Beginning by supporting charities and foundations, their unique folk sound has been accepted into a large variety of venues. Through this, they have gained a loyal fan base which grows at every turn.

Cold Specks
Describing her sound as “Doom Soul”, Cold Specks’ music is steeped in the musical traditions of the Deep South. No wonder then that Al cites the Lomax Field Recordings and James Carr as influences along with Bill Callahan and Tom Waits. With a voice that evokes the ‘spirit feel’ of Mahalia Jackson and the visceral tones of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Cold Specks’ sparse arrangements and chain gang rhythms stop you dead in your tracks.

The Head and the Heart
Their music pulses effervescently—both explosively danceable and intuitively intelligent. With Americana roots and strong vocal harmonics that swell like a river, this band finds its anchor in solid songwriting that has even the jaded humming along by the second listen. Their shows are, simply, one hell of a lot of breathless fun. Each song explodes into a potent supernova on stage, where half the audience is zealously singing along with every lyric, and the other half is wishing they knew the words…. This is an album for people who unabashedly sing and drum along on the steering wheel, and also for those who appreciate a well-crafted collection of songs that build into something wholly beautiful. There is in this music a counter-cultural optimism, with roots that grow deep and melodies that lodge themselves far into that place inside you where the head meets the heart.

Neko Case has The Voice, rough around the edges but possessing a formidable strength and range, that causes critics and fans to swoon. To go with that Voice, is an artistry with a trajectory that is fascinating to watch unfold and grow. Where it will take her, and us, is the thrilling part.

So what does her country stuff sound like? Goddamned exceptional is what it sounds like. Dramatic, gutsy, mysterious, powerful; you name it. It’s forthright and passionate, and it sincerely knocks my socks off.” —Bust Magazine
“She treats Americana like a wellspring of weirdness, not a retro refuge, keening over ghostly pedal steel like a twangier (and more lucid) version of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval.” —Spin
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Rayland Baxter is a gentleman, a singer of song, a teller of tale, a picker of strings, a thinker of things. Born in the untamed hills of Bon Aqua, Tennessee, he tells a story unlike any other, a story that is true and full of unraveling emotion. No lines drawn, no box to be found in the world of Rayland Baxter. He is who he is and he tells the unmatched story. Whether it be the story of love, the story of struggle, or the story of joy, the road that he travels is full of dust and flowers, fire and ice, comets and dreams, and he walks with stars in his eyes, leaving the scent of wild magnolias for those on his trail…for us, we are fortunate to find him at the end, smilin’. Tradition is a staple in Rayland’s music. In any given song, one can hear the nuances of his favorites…from Dylan to Van Zandt, Johnson to Hopkins, or anyone else on the musical map that has tickled his fancy at one time or another. His reconstruction of song is mesmerizing in its own right…a true artist…a humble man…a dreamer.

Martin Sexton – one of the most talked-about arrivals on the “new folk” acoustic music scene. The guitarist, singer, and songwriter has an amazing vocal range and makes effective use of it on his recordings and in his live shows. Unlike so many other contemporary singer/songwriters, his vocal style can be described as truly soulful, combining the best qualities of singers like Van Morrison, Al Green, Aaron Neville, and Otis Redding. Now, for nearly 20 years, Martin Sexton has channeled his love of soulful folk, blues, rock and pop music into accessible, emotional songs.

Ruthie Foster - Those who have followed Ruthie Foster’s eclectic musical history know that she can burn down any stage with her combustible blend of soul, blues, rock, folk and gospel. Let It Burn is a recording that smolders, sizzles and ignites with an intensity born from her vibrant voice and indelible presence.

On Let It Burn, Ruthie Foster takes the listener on her most personal journey yet, sounding like she is pouring her heart out late at night, and her deeply soulful vocals create a spiritual soundscape to support her testimony. This is the album her fans have been waiting for – and that the rest of the world will listen to in wonder.

Laura Smith – In Laura Smith’s music, real emotions ebb and flow. Your heart is in her capable hands, and likewise, she has entrusted you with hers. As she sings, her strong, melodious voice waves and catches, snagging on a scar here and there, surfing on a wonder, staring down a riddle… Smith’s music is direct and honest. Sometimes, fiddles and guitars gently lift and carry her spirited vocals, while her melodies and careful poetry dig deep. Laura Smith had to take some shore-leave but she’s back into the stream of her songwriting life; ebbing and flowing; brave and surfacing.