Self-described “pilgrims of funk, soul ‘n’ roll”, the fabulous Julian Taylor Band are heading out on an eleven date tour of Southern Ontario in support of their double vinyl release “Desert Star” (2016, Aporia Records) during February and March. Desert Star – one of our favourite albums of 2016, was originally released on four E.P.s before the vinyl version made its appearance last fall. If you love the sound of a funk, soul and rock n’roll band, with some folk, blues, jazz, reggae and calypso thrown into the mix, you definitely need to check them out – they’re wonderful live. The tour starts in Windsor at The Rondo on March 16, they’re at Aeolian Hall in London ON on March 25, with a Hamilton date at The Casbah on April 2. You can check out all the tour dates online at juliantaylorband.com. Julian Taylor sat down with us at the Folk Music Ontario conference this past October to chat about his music, and the new album. Music: Julian Taylor Band “Just A Little Bit”, “One Time”, Get Loud” and “Set Me Free” from “Desert Star” (2016, Aporia Records).
The Hillside Festival is getting ready to bring Hillside Inside. The summer festival’s wintery cousin, will delight music lovers at a variety of venues in Downtown Guelph. They’re celebrating ten years of winter programming, and, as usual, they’ve put together a wonderfully diverse programme. Concerts, workshops and community activities, there is something for everyone.
Guelph Celtic Orchestra are getting ready for their St. Patrick’s Day Extravaganza. This year’s event takes place at the Italian Canadian Club, 135 Ferguson Street, Guelph on Saturday March 18 2017 at 7:30 p.m. (Doors 7 p.m.). This year’s concert also features the Guelph Pipe Band and the orchestra’s award winning step dancers. The performance will be followed by a ceilidh dance. Tickets are $20 advance ($25 at the door), $10 (children aged 6-16) and are available through Janus Books, 10 Paisley St., Guelph and their website at guelphceltic.ca.
Toronto bluegrass band The Slocan Ramblers have a reputation for producing some of the best live acoustic music out there – a refreshingly youthful and fiddle-free take on bluegrass featuring Adrian Gross on mandolin, Darryl Poulsen on guitar, Alastair Whitehead on bass and Frank Evans on three-finger and clawhammer banjo. They released their second album “Coffee Creek”, the follow up to their very well received 2012 debut “Shaking Down The Acorns”, in 2015. An album that explores the outer reaches of bluegrass while respecting its traditions, Coffee Creek was recorded live off the floor with Chris Coole (from the Foggy Hogtown Boys) at the controls and features a healthy dose of their own original material. The Slocan Ramblers will be appearing at the River Run Centre in Guelph on January 27, The Old Town Hall in Newmarket on March 25, The Registry Theatre in Kitchener on April 7, the Aurora Cultural Centre on May 12 and the Regent Theatre in Picton on May 20 alongside dates in Western Canada, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. We caught up with banjo player Frank Evans in Toronto, to chat about their music. For more information visit slocanramblers.com. Music: The Slocan Ramblers “Pastures of Plenty / Honey Babe”, “Elk River”, “Coffee Creek” and “Call Me Long Gone” from “Coffee Creek” (2015, Self).
Banjofest Guelph sounds like the perfect day out for anyone who love’s banjo. Guelph’s first festival devoted to banjo music takes place at Silence, 46 Essex Street in Guelph on Saturday March 11 2017. The festival features a full day of banjo music, in all its glory. The afternoon Session (2-5:30 p.m.) features Buckwheat Honey, Lotus Wight, The BIG Schotts, and Chris Coole with Arnie Naiman, commemorating the recording of their album “5 Strings Attached With No Backing” (1997, Merriweather Records) 20 years ago. The evening session (8-11 p.m.) includes performances by The Banjo Mechanics featuring Ian Pattison and Lewis Melville, Tim Posgate with Andrew Downing and The Lonesome Ace Stringband. Tickets are $25 per session or $40 for both sessions (there are only 55 tickets available for each session) and can be purchased by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The event is co-sponsored by Woodall Music Acoustic Roots Music Instructional DVDs and Folkway Music. To learn more about Banjofest we caught up with organizer and banjo player Ian Molesworth. Music: Arnie Naiman and Chris Coole “Country Blues” from “5 Strings Attached With No Backing” (1997, Merriweather Records), The Banjo Mechanics “Still Jiggin’ For Trout” from “JlP” (2014, Self).
The Bombadils, featuring Sarah Frank (fiddle, banjo, vocals) and Luke Fraser (guitar, mandolin, vocals), will be bringing their kitchen party folk to Wheatley ON for a Kingsville Folk Music Festival fundraising concert at the the Car Barn Restaurant on Thursday January 12 2017 at 7:30 p.m. (Doors at 7:00 p.m.). Tickets are $20, and can be reserved at 519-825-7436. The Bombadils released their first album as a duo, “New Shoes” on Borealis Records earlier this year. Check out our interview recorded with Sarah and Luke at the recent Folk Music Ontario conference in Ottawa. For more information on the Bombadils visit thebombadils.com. Music: The Bombadils, Train In The Night from New Shoes (2016, Borealis Records).
On the back of rave reviews at this summer’s Kingsville Folk Music Festival, Toronto’s folk quintet Union Duke are heading back down into Ontario’s banana belt for a show at Leamington’s Bank Theatre on Saturday November 26 at 8 p.m. (Doors 7 p.m.) The band released their third album “Golden Days”, the follow-up to the very well received “Cash & Carry” earlier this year. With a lively alt.folk bluegrass pop sound, the band inhabit the same territory as Mumford & Sons and The Strumbellas. They have a fabulous live show, and are definitely worth checking out if you haven’t yet done so. Get your tickets online HERE. Check out Union Duke online at unionduke.com.
Brian “Colorblind” Blain has been writing and performing his unique brand of slow-cooked, solid-groove folk blues for more than 40 years. Brian released a “live” solo album called “New Folk Blues” in 2011 that took a light-hearted look at his life in music, while giving him free rein to indulge his passion for folk, blues and jazz. Brian has elected to revisit the tracks on the New Folk Blues album by inviting musical friends Harry Manx, Clayton Doley, Drew Jurecka, Colleen Allen and others into the studio, leading to a sweetened, stacked and mastered version of the album appropriately titled “New Folk Blues 2.0”. Brian will be celebrating the reboot of the “New Folk Blues 2.0” album on Saturday, October 29 at Toronto’s legendary Old Mill where he will be joined by George Koller, Michelle Josef and Alison Young, all of whom contributed to the new recording. For more information visit brianblain.com.
Roger Roger are a great Winnipeg folk-pop duo featuring twins, Madeleine and Lucas Roger. They’re on tour in Ontario this August, including a show in Guelph at the Red Brick Cafe on August 10, and they’ll also be at this year’s Summerfolk, which takes place the weekend of August 19-21, in Kelso Park, on the shores of Georgian Bay, in Owen Sound. Their debut album “Fairweather” has been receiving lots of airplay, including on Folk Roots Radio. To learn more about the band, we caught up with Roger Roger’s Madeleine Roger at home in Winnipeg. For more information, visit rogerrogermusic.com. Music: Roger Roger “13 Crows”, “Scott Free”, “Think of Me” and “Fairweather” from “Fairweather” (2016, Self).
Northern-Irish singer-songwriter Ciaran Lavery has just released his sophomore long-player “Let Bad In”, the follow-up to 2013’s critically-acclaimed “Not Nearly Dark”. Ciaran will be making his Canadian debut at Silence in Guelph on Monday August 15. He’ll also be opening for Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs as Case/Lang/Veirs at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto on Tuesday August 16 and Wednesday August 17. Tickets for the solo show at Silence are $20 in advance/ $25 at the door and $12 for students and unwaged and available at Royal Cat Records in Guelph, Forch’s Record Store in Cambridge and online at dollartone.com. We caught up with Ciaran at home in Northern Ireland to chat about his music. For more information visit ciaranlaverymusic.com. Music: Ciaran Lavery “Shame” from “Not Nearly Dark” (2013, Self), “Okkervil River” and “Return To Form” from “Let Bad In” (2016, Believe Recordings).
Northern-Irish singer-songwriter Ciaran Lavery has been creating quite a bit of a buzz for his achingly beautiful songs and stellar songwriting, especially on his 2014 “Kosher” EP and “Not Nearly Dark” album, and top download tracks “Shame” and “Left for America”. Ciaran’s just released the very well received “Let Bad In” (2016, Believe Recordings) and he’ll be making his Canadian debut at Silence in Guelph on August 15 at 8 p.m. (doors 7:30pm). Tickets are $20 in advance/ $25 at the door and $12 for students and unwaged and available at Royal Cat Records in Guelph, Forch’s Record Store in Cambridge and online at dollartone.com. The show is a co-presentation of Guelph Roots, Hillside Festival and Dollartone and supported by Forch’s Record Store. For more information visit ciaranlaverymusic.com.
The Fitzgerald Family will be bringing their own brand of high-energy fiddle and group step-dancing to the Fergus Grand Theatre for the Guelph Celtic Orchestra Seasonal Finale on Saturday May 28 at 8 p.m. Featuring champion Canadian old-time fiddlers Julie (24), Kerry (23), and Tom (20) supported by brother Pat (25) on percussion, and a repertoire that includes traditional jigs and reels alongside bluegrass, jazz and swing, Celtic and gospel, it promises to be a great night out. Advance tickets are $25, $30 at the door. If you’re still not sure why you need to be there, you might like to check out their promotional video. Buy tickets online HERE.
Iconic Toronto folk-pop band Skydiggers are about to release their latest album, a tribute to Byrds songwriter Gene Clark, appropriately titled “Here Without You – The Songs of Gene Clark”. The album features eight songs written by the famed writer of such classics as “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better”, “She Don’t Care About Time”, “Set You Free This Time” and “Eight Miles High”, all delivered in the trademark, stark and intimate, Skydiggers style. The album, produced by Michael Timmins from the Cowboy Junkies, will be released on May 13 on Latent Recordings. The Skydiggers will be in Guelph for a show at the Guelph Little Theatre, 176 Morris St Guelph on Thursday May 7 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and available from Janus Books. Out of town tickets are available HERE. Check out the other Skydiggers dates HERE.
Dave Gunning is back in Ontario on tour for eight shows in April including a Road to Kingsville Folk Fest show at The Bank Theatre in Leamington on April 15, The Registry Theatre, Kitchener (April 16), Hugh’s Room, Toronto (April 21) and The Moonshine Cafe, Oakville (April 28). He’ll also be appearing at this summer’s Mariposa Folk Festival (July 7-10). Dave joined us to chat about the tour and his latest album (number eleven) “Lift”. For more information on Dave’s tour dates, visit davegunning.com. Music: Dave Gunning “I Robbed the Co. Store”, “They Don’t Do That No More” and “Sing It Louder” from “Lift” (2015, Wee House of Music).
Dobro & Claw, the only dobro and clawhammer banjo duo act in the known universe, features Ivan Rosenberg on dobro and Chris Coole on banjo. They’re in Cambridge on Thursday March 31 for a Mill Race Folk Society show in the Galt Room at 8 p.m. A two-man folk festival, they put on a fabulous live show. Their latest album, “Return to Trion” features eleven tracks, ranging from Robbie Robertson’s “Stage Fright” and the country classic “Fool Such As I” to traditionals like “Georgie” and “Sail Away Ladies”, alongside three originals. Admission is just $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Check out millracefolksociety.com for all the details. For more information about Dobro & Claw, visit www.dobroandclaw.com. Photo: Mike Melnyk.
Nudie brings his old school country Americana to Guelph for a homeroutes.ca/concerts/guelph house concert on Wednesday April 6 at 8 p.m. (Doors 7:15 p.m.). After spending time in Toronto, Montreal, Phoenix, Austin and New York, Nudie now hangs his Gibson guitar in Charlottetown, PEI. Nudie has appeared at the Philadelphia & Ottawa Folk Festivals, Willie Nelson’s end-of-tour party in 2006, and recently featured in the support slot for Marty Stuart & The Fabulous Superlatives. For more information, visit nudiemusic.com. Photo credit: A Karpinski.
Toronto-based singer-songwriter Mark Martyre is heading out on his Bluebird tour of Southern Ontario and Montreal this March, which includes shows at Silence (Guelph) on March 4, The Artbar (Hamilton) on March 5 and The Piston (Toronto) on March 13 among others. Check out all the tour dates HERE. Mark joined us at the Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about his music and play a couple of songs live. For more information, visit markmartyre.com. Music: Mark Martyre “I Know What It’s Like” from “Red Letters” (2014, Self), “Long Goodbye” (Live), “The Devil On Your Back” (Live) and “Oh Luna” from “Red Letters” (2014, Self).
Main Stage favourites from the 2014 Kingsville Folk Music Festival, alt. folk band Fish & Bird are back on tour in Ontario during February. Raised on a diet of Radiohead and classic roots music, Fish & Bird are a fabulous live band, and well worth checking out. Their fourth album, “Something in the Ether” was released in September 2014 on Fiddlehead Records to critical acclaim. Fish & Bird play Leamington (February 25), Guelph (February 26), Hamilton (February 27), Burdock (February 28), Owen Sound (February 29). The Leamington show, presented by the Sun Parlour Folk Music Society & The Sun Parlour Players Community Theatre, takes place at The Bank Theatre, 10 Erie South, Leamington on Thursday February 25 at 8 p.m (doors 7 p.m.). Advance tickets are $20 and available online HERE. In Guelph, they’re back at Silence for a Guelph Roots show on Friday February 26 at 8 p.m. (doors 7:30 p.m.). Tickets are $15 in advance ($20 at the door). Advanced tickets may be purchased online HERE. For more information about Fish & Bird visit fishandbird.ca.
The 14th Annnual Winterfolk Blues and Roots Festival takes place on the Danforth in Toronto from February 12-14 2016. Featuring some of the best blues and roots artists on the Canadian music scene, playing on five stages in four venues, it promises to be a fabulous weekend of live music. This year’s featured performers include Old Man Luedecke, Nashville’s Mean Mary, David Storey (of Corner Gas fame), Sudbury bloodgrass band Murder Murder, Toronto soul rockers Julian Taylor and blues great Jack De Keyzer, among many others. We caught up with Festival Director Brian Gladstone in Toronto to chat about this year’s festival. Buy tickets online HERE. For more information about Winterfolk, visit winterfolk.com. Music: Old Man Luedecke “The Early Days” from “Domestic Eccentric” (2015, High Romance/True North) and Jack de Keyzer “Electric Love” from “Electric Love” (2012, Self).
The winter version of the Hillside Festival, Hillside Inside is just about here. It runs from January 29 – 31 at a variety of venues in downtown Guelph. As usual the festival features some great community activities alongside some fabulous musical performances. Artists performing at this year’s festival include Basia Bulat, Casey Mecjia (from indie faves Ohbijou), Dakhabrakha, The Strumbellas, The Elwins, Geoff Berner and the Grand River Ramblers. Anna and Jane McGarrigle, sisters to Kate McGarrigle and aunts of Rufus and Martha Wainwright, will also be reading from their family memoir Mountain City Girls in the afternoon of Saturday, January 30 in the gorgeous sanctuary of St. George’s Church. A Q & A will follow. There’s also a Sunday Gospel Session, youth showcase and the winter festival favourite, Girls and Guitars – taking place in six downtown storefronts (cafes, stores, and a gallery), showcasing six female singer-songwriters for half-hour shows that you can take in on the street or in the store. Individual show tickets and weekend passes are available online or at The Bookshelf, 41 Quebec Street, downtown Guelph. Buy tickets online HERE. Check out hillsidefestival.ca for all performance and community event details.