Festival time is upon us..... what ?!
Winterfolk Blues & Roots Festival
Coming up in February is one of my favourite festivals in the Toronto area, a little known fact is that when I moved to Canada this was one of the first festivals I attended, I volunteered, and was given the job of managing the stage at The Black Swan which is still the hub and main venue for the festival.
It has grown quite a bit in stature in the eight or so years since then and I have attended almost every year to date. Since establishing Blues & Roots Radio the festival has been great in giving us access to chat with artists performing and allowing us to take photographs for our reviews and blogs. A big thank you to the founder Brian Gladstone and his team, to Beverly Kreller of Speak Music Publicity for all your help in accommodating Blues & Roots Radio.
If you have never attended it is well worth a visit, I'll give you some insight a bit further down this blog, but first, I wanted to tell you about the preview which happens at Hugh's Room Live in Toronto this coming weekend January 21st.
It's a showcase and fundraiser to help with the festival in one of Toronto's best and much loved listening rooms.
The Festival Preview
Acoustic Harvest + Winterfolk Blues & Roots Festival Present: Winterfolk XVI
Artists performing include HOTCHA!, Dirty Dishes, Mr. Rick, Brian Gladstone with Tony Quarrington, Julian Fauth and Brighid Fry.
Hugh’s Room Live, 2261 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON
Sunday, January 21st - Doors 6:00 pm / Music 7:30 pm
TICKETS: $20.00 Advance / $25.00 at Door | Call 416-533-5483 to reserve.
Dinner reservations guarantee seating.
This years line up for the main festival is a wonderful mix of established and up and coming artists.
It takes place in the Danforth area of the city, a number of indoor venues play host over three days. The atmosphere is always fantastic and we thoroughly enjoy the intimate venues and the fact you can chat with the artists after the shows in the bars or restaurants that play host.
Showcases take place at various times hosted by organizations like Acoustic Harvest, Speak Music Publicity, the Moonshine Cafe and others.
Some of this years performers include Al Lerman
A 40+ year veteran of the Canadian blues scene and one of the top harmonica players in the country, Al is a an engaging and skilled performer whose often humorous anecdotes are interspersed between great blues numbers.
Nominated in 2016 for Maple Blues Award as ' Acoustic Act Of The year ' he has won two Juno Awards with his former band FATHEAD.
Alfie Smith is a prolific songwriter, an accomplished performer and talented multi-instrumentalist.
Known best for his resophonic guitars, brazen slide licks and uncompromising vocals
Durham County Poets’ groovy roots sound capturing hearts everywhere they play. The five seasoned musicians, all of whom are songwriters, work together individually and collaboratively in composing their music.
Delving into a variety of styles and genres, their musical influences include a broad range of artists. From The Band to Dire Straits, Leon Redbone to James Taylor and Neil Young, they have managed to put it all together to create their own musical style.
There are amazing performers everywhere at this years events, and most are good friends and appear on our playlists regularly .... Clan Hannigan .... Andy Griffiths ... Jon Brooks ... Jory Nash .... Jack De Keyzer .... Kat Goldman.... Kim Doolittle ... Laura Bird... Moscow Apartment .... Jessica Pearson & The East Wind .... and that barely scratches the surface.
Moscow Apartment is a young indie folk duo based in Toronto who are taking the Canadian Music Scene by storm. an acoustic duo whose close, sweet harmonies and exquisite song craft defy their young age, they are both just 15 years old. Influenced by Big Thief, Feist, Joni Mitchell, among others, Brighid & Pascale, skilled multi instrumentalists (guitar, piano, violin, ukulele, mandolin, banjo and bass) and grads of Girls Rock Camp Toronto.
Jessica Pearson & The East Wind
Jessica Pearson and the East Wind’s music is a blend of maritime kitchen parties, breathtaking Harmonies and intimate traditional melodies.
Kim Doolittle's 9th studio album, ' Into The Blue ', produced and co-written by Ken Whiteley is the sum of 43 years. It comes straight from the heart and the songs reflect a deep desire to move forward in her musical life authentically, with an eye on looking back at where it all began.
Toronto’s Winterfolk Blues and Roots Music Festival is on the Danforth, Feb. 16-18, 2018. It’s an all-ages, mid-winter, weatherproof event, where you’ll find the best of urban, blues, rock, jazz, country, folk and roots music , emulating a multi-stage rural summer festival.
More than 150 artists will be performing at 5 venues over 3 days. The festival will also include special tribute events, an awards ceremony, community stages and various themed musical workshops with something for everyone to enjoy.
I'll bring some more news as we get closer to the festival, but it will be worth a visit on Sunday January 21st to Hugh's Room to take in the preview first of all.
Until next week
HAPPY NEW YEAR
A new year is when we often look back and contemplate what has gone before, and when doing so at Blues & Roots Radio just before Christmas, we realized how very fortunate we were to be in a position to meet so many artists whose music we play. From Canada and the USA, UK and Ireland to as far away as Australia . we hope to meet many more this year.
Blues & Roots Radio Album Of The Year Award 2017
We also took stock of the many releases in 2017 which captured our attention, and felt that it would be right to choose an Album Of The Year that stood out and was worthy of recognition. That proved to be no easy task let me tell you. The year was full of outstanding releases.
We have always steered away from awards, maintaining that for an award to mean anything, it would have to have integrity, not be open to a public vote, but carefully considered and decided upon, we felt this year we had the credibility to be trusted to do just that, we certainly have the knowledge that is needed to judge an album not just on how the songs sound, but on the content within the lines, the musicianship the presentation of the album and the hard work and heart put into it.
We had a short list ( more of a long list ) of fifty releases, and we sat down for a couple of weeks to carefully consider. Our final choice was an amazing body of work, and like the artwork, the songs draw you in deeper, begging answers to questions about each song. It's the job of a Singer / Songwriter I guess, to paint pictures, weave tales and beg the questions, as well as create melodies and musicianship that enhances the experience for the listener. Stephen Fearing has managed to do all of that with his fantastic release ' Every Soul's A Sailor ', the photograph on the front of the album just draws you right in, and it's a wonderful album that leaves you craving more. I did a review of the album back in March and it sums up the reasons why I think Stephen is worthy of this inaugural award from Blues & Roots Radio.
So the very first Blues & Roots Radio Album Of The Year Award 2017 goes to Stephen Fearing for ' Every Soul's A Sailor '
Read our full review of the album
I have 10 albums on my desk already that are contenders for next year.
Click the button below to hear Stephen's thoughts
SEE STEPHEN FEARING'S WEBSITE FOR TOURING DATES
FATEA MAGAZINE AWARDS UK
It's awards time of year all over, a time to recognize achievements and hard work. Our association with Fatea Magazine in the UK has been an excellent one over the years, Neil King and his team have established a reputation second to none for integrity and their mandate of putting the artist first echoes that of Blues and Roots Radio. Neil established the magazine 30 years ago, an amazing achievement in itself, one which Fatea are planning to recognize by way of events this year, so visit their website and look out for details of what's to come.
Their annual awards will be aired exclusively on Blues and Roots Radio this Friday 12th January at 8pm GMT, 3pm EST, we are very honoured to be hosting the event for the third year in succession.
Fatea is proud to announce the shortlists for the Fatea Awards.
The awards are nominated by the Fatea team and recognize excellence over 2017.
Each award has a shortlist of three and we congratulate all artists on the shortlist as well as the many others that were nominated and every artist and band that released music or performed live during 2017.
No artist is allowed to win more than one award and all have featured in the magazine during the last year. The nominations are listed in alphabetical order
The winners of the Fatea Awards will be announced during a two hour radio special, this year hosted by Blues & Roots Radio.
Click the button below for a list of all the nominees, and congratulations and good luck everyone
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
A group of seven world-renowned Canadian guitar makers inspired by the Group of Seven, the famous painters who changed the way Canadians saw their country, built extraordinary instruments that demonstrate the depth of artistry that exists in Canada. Each luthier created a guitar inspired by one of the original members of the Group of Seven.
Our coverage of the Acoustic Conversations series started this week and featured luthier Grit Laskin and musician Jesse Cook inspired by the painter FH Varley.
Episode 1 can be listened to on demand here on our website, it's well worth a listen not only for the conversation and insight into the making of the guitar but also for the outstanding playing of world renowned guitarist Jesse Cook.
The next show - Episode 2 - airs Monday January 8th at 10pm EST and is repeated on Saturday January 13th and features luthier Sergei de Jong and musician Emma Rush providing another fascinating insight into how craftmanship, music and art are all interlinked, the insiration for Sergei's guitar was group of seven painter JEH MacDonald.
For more information about the shows visit our page here on our website
The Group of Seven Guitar Project exhibition is on at the
McMichael Canadian Art Collection until March 18, 2018
For more information, visit mcmichael.com
2017 was a great year for awards for Blues & Roots Radio too.
We won the Business Excellence Award 2017 in October presented by Charles Sousa MPP on behalf of the Legislature of Ontario and the Mississauga Board of Trade for our efforts in promoting independent artists in Canada and around the world, and just last week we were voted Best Radio Station 2017 by Laurel Canyon Music UK.
It is always an honour to receive these awards on behalf of the Blues & Roots Radio team around the world. We have some of the most passionate people around who all share our core values. Big shout out to them all.
Thanks to all who are responsible for the awards, we greatly appreciate being recognized for our work.
At Blues & Roots Radio we don't look back for long, we assess what has worked and what has not and move on into the future. We have many new projects that will be rolled out this year, McMichael being one of many we hope in Canada, and there are also some exciting projects taking place with our media partners in Australia.
David Harris has established an international reputation as one of the worlds leading music photographers, and along with his team at Music World Media he will be working more closely in 2018 with us at Blues & Roots Radio. He brings photography, news and reviews from the music and art world.
Check out their website and all the projects they are involved with at the moment all across Australia. I will keep you updated as we get close to announcing some collaborations.
Lots of hard work ahead in 2018, but as my Dad would always say " You only get out what you put in "
Until next week, stay safe and warm in the Northern Hemisphere, and stay out of the sun in the Southern Hemisphere, those temperatures are nuts !
It's my very last blog before we break for the festive season so I just wanted to say firstly a huge thank you to everyone from Blues & Roots Radio HQ in Port Credit, Ontario, I hope you have a wonderful time with family and friends, or if you are on your own at this time of the year please take my warmest regards of the season and know that our thoughts at Blues & Roots Radio are with you wherever you are in the world. There are many festive shows on the station over the course of the next week or two, so tune in and let the music and the many fantastic hosts keep you company.
That brings me nicely to a very special announcement which I have the honour of relating to you for the brand new series of shows from the McMichael Canadian Art Collection called ' Acoustic Conversations ' that will be aired exclusively on Blues and Roots Radio in the New Year.
ACOUSTIC CONVERSATIONS ON BLUES & ROOTS RADIO
The Group of Seven Guitar Project exhibition is on at the
McMichael Canadian Art Collection until March 18, 2018
For more information, visit mcmichael.com
A group of seven world-renowned Canadian guitar makers inspired by the Group of Seven, the famous painters who changed the way Canadians saw their country, built extraordinary instruments that demonstrate the depth of artistry that exists in Canada. Each luthier created a guitar inspired by one of the original members of the
Group of Seven.
When they first met in an industrial Toronto studio in the early ‘70’s, these guitar makers had no idea that their work would develop the craft of guitar building into an art form itself. But, much like the original painters, they have gone on to impact not just their own field but popular culture as well.
To complement and enhance the exhibition, there were very special Acoustic Conversations featuring each luthier and a musician, including a live performance with the guitar. The series, which was a sell out, was recorded LIVE and will air exclusively on Blues & Roots Radio's Essential Channel with a listen again archive on the specially created website page if you missed the original broadcast.
The luthiers and their respective artists are as follows:
Linda Manzer...................Lawren Harris
Sergei de Jonge.............J.E.H. MacDonald
Tony Duggan-Smith.......Arthur Lismer
David Wren..........Franklin Carmichael
George Gray..............Frank Johnston
Grit Laskin........................F.H. Varley
Jean Larrivée................A.Y. Jackson
THE FIRST SHOW
We are delighted to announce the airing date for the first show will be January 1st 2018 at 10pm EST, the show will be repeated twice on Saturday January 6th at 9am EST and 9.30pm EST to cover different time zones.
It is an incredible start to the series with luthier Grit Laskin who created the guitar inspired by the work of F.H. Varley. Grit will be in discussion with celebrated guitarist Jesse Cook in a moderated conversation as well as a live performance, with Jesse playing this very special guitar.
SEVEN SHOWS IN THE SERIES
A further 6 shows will be broadcast over the following weeks with the amazing luthiers who created each guitars with performances by some of Canada's amazing guitarists including Don Ross playing a George Gray guitar inspired by artist Frank Johnston
The project was the initial idea of luthier Linda Manzer and the McMichael took a huge leap of faith in getting behind her vision, they commissioned each guitar for the exhibition and have put together an incredible amount of ideas that are running alongside the main exhibition. The Blues and Roots Radio shows are just one part of that and we are extremely thankful to be given the opportunity to air the conversations and performances to our listeners from Canada and around the world.
RADIO SHOW AIRING DATES AND TIMES
For a full list of show airing times with detailed links to the luthiers, artists and musicians involved please visit our new website page created for the McMichael Art Collection Group Of Seven Guitar Project.
FILM SCREENING DATES
The Group of Seven Guitar Project film will be screening at Ted Rogers Hot Docs Cinema at Bloor and Bathurst in Toronto. Here are the screening dates:
FRI FEB 2 - 4pm & 6:30pm
SAT FEB 3 - 4pm & 8:45pm
SUN FEB 4 - 1pm & 6:30pm
MON FEB 5 - 8:45pm
TUE FEB 6 - 9:15pm
WED FEB 7 - 4:15pm
THU FEB 8 - 1pm & 9:15pm
I would like to say a huge thank you to the McMichael Gallery and in particular to Anna Stanisz and Nick Foglia for having faith in us at Blues & Roots Radio in presenting these shows. Another person who deserves special mention is Stephen Fearing, as without his initial conversation this would never have happened,
Stephen will finish the series in February where he will be in conversation about the special baritone guitar he played which was built by all the luthiers combined, ending what is a truly fascinating insight which brings together art, workmanship, music and the deep love of all involved in their passions.
Show two in the series will air on January 8th 2018 10pm EST featuring
Sergei De Jong
Group Of Seven Artist
I will keep you posted about all the shows coming up and events which are related to it, meanwhile visit our website page for details on each radio show visit
For more information about the exhibition, visit mcmichael.com
Have a happy holiday
I have been introduced to many amazing performers since moving to Canada, in turn through the artists who make the music I have been introduced to some of the people who make the instruments for those same artists. Incredibly that path took another turn this week when I was invited to a meeting at the McMichael Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario.
The McMichael Art Gallery
The McMichael Art Gallery is located on the original lands of the Ojibwe Anishinabe People. It is uniquely situated along the Carrying Place Trail which historically provided an integral connection for Aboriginal people between Ontario’s Lakeshore and the Lake Simcoe-Georgian Bay Region.
Celebrating The Art Of Canada
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection stands alone as the only public fine art gallery in the nation that focuses on Canadian art and the Indigenous art of the country, both historical and contemporary. The permanent collection consists of over 6,400 artworks by Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, their contemporaries, and First Nations, Métis, Inuit and contemporary artists who have contributed to the development of Canadian art. The McMichael is also the gallery of record for works on paper from the Inuit community of Cape Dorset, as they are the custodians for the Cape Dorset archive, totalling more than 100,000 artworks. The McMichael celebrates the Art of Canada.
Built of fieldstone and hand-hewn logs in a modernist design, the McMichael houses thirteen exhibition galleries where floor-to-ceiling windows enable visitors to enjoy views of the densely wooded Humber River Valley. Beyond the galleries are 100 acres of forested land, from a ridgetop ‘wilderness garden,’ planted by the McMichaels to echo the northern forest beloved of the Group of Seven, to the heritage wetlands and waterways.
The McMichael is an agency of the Government of Ontario and I have always wanted to visit, I tried a couple of years ago to go and see an exhibition but I travelled on one of the only days it was closed ! It was not meant to be at that time I believe, the timing was perfect this week and I was blown away by the exhibitions that lay within it's hallowed walls.
Let me tell you a little of The Group Of Seven for those non Canadians who may be reading this, some of you may or may not know who they are and their significance to the nation.
Today, these men are among Canada’s most famous artists. For many, their works have come to symbolize what is the distinctly Canadian identity.
The Gallery lies northwest of Toronto, It houses an extensive collection of paintings by Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, First Nations and Inuit artists.
The core of this art collection and the very gallery itself are the result of the dreams and vision of two people, Signe and Robert McMichael, who were completely captivated by the paintings of the Group of Seven which seemed to embody the same love and respect they had for the Canadian landscape.
The Group of Seven, also known as the Algonquin School, was a group of Canadian landscape painters from 1920 to 1933. Believing that a distinct Canadian art could be developed through direct contact with nature, the Group of Seven is best known for its paintings inspired by the Canadian landscape, and initiated the first major Canadian national art movement.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, circumstances brought together these artists who were committed to exploring, through art, the unique character of the Canadian landscape. Collectively they agreed that Canada’s rugged wilderness regions needed to be recorded in a distinctive painting style. This style would break from European tradition and reflect an increasingly nationalistic sentiment.
What's all this got to do with music and Blues and Roots Radio ? .... Read on !
The Group of Seven Guitar Project - The McMichael delivers rare masterwork guitars by top Canadian luthiers
Focusing on seven handmade guitars commissioned by the McMichael from great Canadian luthiers Jean Larrivée, Tony Duggan-Smith, George Gray, Sergei de Jonge, William “Grit” Laskin, Linda Manzer and David Wren.
This special exhibition at the McMichael introduces acoustic instruments inspired by and honouring each member of the Group of Seven, along with an eighth guitar dedicated to Tom Thomson and the role he played in the evolution of the Group.
An idea conceived by luthier Linda Manzer in 2012, The Group of Seven Guitar Project applauds a formidable group of Canadian artists from a century ago while demonstrating the global influence of a new group of seven that has, since the early 1970s, shaped the sound and form of the guitar under the tutelage of Jean Larrivée in Toronto.
Over the last few months a series of concerts called ' Acoustic Conversations ' have been taking place at the gallery with the amazing luthiers who were commissioned to build the guitars for the project, they talk about their work and the artist from the group of seven who inspired them to build their guitar. Seven of Canada's top guitarists / performers were invited to play the instruments in front of an audience as part of the series, Jesse Cook, Kevin Breit, Bruce Cockburn, Stephen Fearing, Don Ross .... and .... the series also included a performance by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who made history by playing a Jean Larrivée ( the main influential luthier ) guitar in space.
Blues & Roots Radio's Connection
We were extremely honoured to have been invited for a tour of the exhibition which culminated in an invitation for us to exclusively air and present the series ' Acoustic Conversations ' to our audience here in Canada and around the world as part of our schedule beginning in the new year,
We met with two very passionate people regarding this project, Anna Stanisz who is Associate Director, Creative Learning & Programs, at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. She holds Master's degrees in Art History and Archeology from Sorbonne University in Paris. Prior to joining the McMichael, Anna worked in Poland as an assistant curator at the National Museum in Cracow, and we met Nick Foglia who is the Director of Communications, Marketing and Sales,
We look forward to presenting 7 renowned guitar makers, inspired by 7 iconic artists, who crafted 7 one-of-a-kind guitars. the art of Canada unplugged with some of the nations top performers brought to you through our award winning platform, the exhibition and concert series has been extended to March 2018 and we'll be publishing details on our website very soon of the airing dates, the extended concert series and the exhibition in general.
I pinch myself a lot through my work with Blues & Roots Radio at some of the work we have had the good fortune to experience, but this time I really have to sit down to take the enormity of it all in. Our platform has been chosen by one of Canada's most prestigious art galleries to air their presentation of some of the nation's most well known luthiers work, which will be played by world renowned musicians from across Canada !
I wish my Dad was around for me to tell him this one !
I'll keep you posted on the dates but meanwhile check out The McMichael and go and see the exhibition for yourself if you are in the area, it's a must see wonderful experience !
Until next time
Well that year has gone fast !
I know it's not quite over yet but it only seems like yesterday that I was making plans to head down to Australia, I really cannot believe it's been almost a year !
December is always a manic run up to the holidays for me personally, this year for the first time in four years I will be on holiday for five days, it's testament to the work done by the team that our systems allow us to work in this manner and remotely check in and fix if we have to, hasn't technology come a long way.
Before we get there however there is a lot going on ... as always !!
I want to give a huge shout out to Shawna Caspi and the fine people at Folk Music Canada for the warm welcome they gave us last weekend at the Showcases in Toronto, it was so great to catch up with a lot of friends we have made through music that had flown in or driven to Toronto from other parts of Canada, check some of the great artists who were there that we got to catch up with, many of them are working on new material which will be out next year .....
Is a rare talent, gifted in many ways ..... and I love the bio on her website .... I chose the one paragrapher :) says it all.
Shawna Caspi performs solo, but there’s a whole band under her fingertips. A mighty singer, a story sculptor, and a truth teller, she has toured across Canada and the USA and believes in poetry and the power of one person and one instrument, accompanying herself with a remarkable lyrical fingerpicking guitar style. Shawna loves the landscapes of her travels and while weaving them into her songs, she has also been portraying them on canvases, painting one-of-a-kind works of art inspired by the rich scenery she sees on tour.
Website : www.shawnacaspi.com/
Thanks Shawna !
The Small Glories
We had gone down to see Cara Luft and JD Edwards perform, we have known them for a while through music as solo artists and I was so impressed with their first album as a duo, you really need to have ' Wondrous Traveler ' in your collection this Christmas
Beautiful people with beautiful souls, playing beautiful music together !
Website : thesmallglories.com
Red Moon Road
There is something about the province of Manitoba, great music seeps from its very pores, take old friends Red Moon Road, I've been a huge fan for a long time and always love to see them, such lovely gracious people and if you have not heard them you really need to check out their albums, buy one for Christmas and prepare yourself for the next one coming in 2018, it's going to be special.
Thank you for the pint Daniel ! .. and the hugs one and all !!
Website : www.redmoonroad.com
Durham County Poets
My friend Kevin Harvey was there with the band of brothers from Quebec that are The Durham County Poets .... boy ... these guys are good !
Book them or buy their latest album ' Grimshaw Road ' ... it's wonderful ...they are fabulous live !
Website : durhamcountypoets.com
Les Tireux d'Roches
I met new friends too... this band absolutely blew me away, this was the first time I had heard them live and what a show they put on, great to grab a chat with them afterwards, very talented and very gracious ... watch this video and I dare you not to tap your feet .... sing along..... yes, they sing in French, but you'll be word for word at the end of it .
Les Tireux d'Roches is the name of a Quebec musical group founded in 1998 from the Mauricie region, They explore the sounds giving way to a new expression from traditional Quebec folklore. Storytellers - musicians - chansonniers, they play a large number of instruments ( cello, bouzouki, guitar, banjo, saxophones, clarinets, accordion, flute, harmonica ).
I kid you not they are infectious !
Website : tireuxderoches.com
Cheshire Carr is a Montreal-based folk-rock collective, a very eclectic bunch indeed, glad I caught their set, they were brilliant, you need to check them out.
Website : cheshirecarr.com
Almost done for this week, you can tell how my spare time goes can't you ?!
I love to take in music and this weekend coming is no exception.
The last band to take the stage last weekend is the band I am going to see this weekend coming, It's a fab early Christmas gift from Anne who knows how much I love to see Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar perform.
The show is this Saturday December 9th, I've got my ticket, I'll see you there for a Christmas pint
Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar - Road To Memphis Fundraiser
They won the Toronto Blues Society International Blues Challenge regional finals with a 10 piece band ! Samantha has crunched the numbers and needs to raise some money to get all 10 members of Delta Sugar all the way down to Memphis, TN and compete against the best blues artists this world has to offer!
The show will take place at Gypsy Soul Headquarters at the Ildsjel Collective interactive performance space ( parking is free and on site )....Beverages will be available for purchase. There are only a handful of tickets available - so don't wait to get yours.
Tickets : www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3155296
Website : samanthamartinmusic.com
Another great weekend of music coming up, there are many festive gigs in our area and in areas around the world near you, take a listen over the next few weeks to Blues and Roots Radio and find out what's going on at the grassroots in your neck of the woods ..... I have to squeeze in a BRR office party too with Anne, Neil and Megan ... I've been in training for it !!
Until next time, have a great week ahead filled with music and cheer.