As the year ramps up we are getting very excited about the 2013 Edmonton Folk Music Festival. To whet your appetites, here are a few artists that are confirmed to play for you on Gallagher Hill in August.
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
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 her latest recording, 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.
Stay tuned for more artist releases as the months go by.