Leak of the Week resumes February 27 at 10 am. Check every week to see some of the artists that will be joining us for the 38th annual Calgary Folk Fest July 27 - 30, 2017.
The full 2017 artist line up will be announced on April 22.
After over 30 years together, a Canadian Music Hall of Fame induction, and more than a few songs that have reached anthemic status, how can any band remain as consistently vibrant and relevant as Blue Rodeo? The magic is in the relationship between co-leaders Greg Keelor and Jim Cuddy—the way the two men sing together, interact on stage, and generously lift each other’s songs represents the rarest of musical partnerships. Blue Rodeo’s popularity has never been defined by generation or genre—technically they fall into the realm of country-rock, with guitar-based songs punctuated by flourishes of keys and pedal steel, but whether it’s Cuddy crooning a ballad or Keelor delving into psychedelic rock, every Blue Rodeo number is built around a core of classic singer- songwriting.
Of course, Cuddy and Keelor don’t pull off this magic trick on their own: bass player Bazil Donovan has been with them since Blue Rodeo’s birth and most of the rest of the players have been part of the fold for a decade or two, making for a resoundingly solid on-stage crew. Whether they’re playing crowd favourites like “Lost Together” or “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” or new tunes from their latest album, 2015’s 1000 Arms, the effortless camaraderie among the members shines strong. Basking in the glow of a Blue Rodeo performance is not only a distinctively Canadian pastime, it’s an out-and- out pleasure.
Thundering drums, strings taking flight, choruses like tidal waves; Béatrice Martin's third album is the biggest and boldest vision yet as Coeur de pirate. The atmospherics and production are wilder, colder and lusher. Even when she boldly expands her horizons and sonic experiments, she never hides her pirate heart. The artist credited for bringing la chanson française to a new generation dares to map the highs and intense lows of her experiences moving through heartbreak, discovering new sources of joy (motherhood), fighting for love, coming out the other side. In generously articulating the full spectrum of her feelings, Martin shows us a story of surviving and thriving.
Inuk throat singing isn’t an easy sell to the masses living south of the 60th parallel, but Tanya Tagaq has brought it to a wide audience. Anyone who has seen Tagaq perform can immediately understand how she’s managed to take her craft mainstream (sort of): her performances are so intense, beguiling, and utterly arresting, it’s impossible not to resist the call of her on-stage movement, her unnerving gaze, and the combination of sweet and fiercely guttural sounds emitting from her ever-swaying body.
While Tagaq’s technique certainly is rooted in Inuit tradition, her approach is thoroughly modern and more than a little bit punk rock — the music is unsparingly confrontational in both tone and content. Retribution – the follow-up release to her 2014 Polaris-winning album Animism – is more musically aggressive, political, challenging and spine tingling. It’s not dinner party ambience music; rather an honest, a complex, exhilarating, howling protest and portrait of a violent world in crisis. An outspoken activist, Tagaq weaves themes of sexual and environmental assault (the intense cover of Nirvana’s “Rape Me” on Retribution, was very deliberately chosen), women’s and Indigenous peoples’ rights, and the destructive powers of capitalism into her work.
Set to the soundtrack of Jesse Zubot’s stunning violin and Jean Martin’s dynamic drumming, with an arsenal of digital and analogue effects, Tagaq delivers everything she’s got with an unparalleled strength and ferociousness that is changing the way audiences dream of the power of the North.
As kids together the Alvin brothers—Dave and Phil—loved the blues, and would travel to the big smoke to see blues legends Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, and T-Bone Walker. That love of the blues inspired them, and they became the backbone of the legendary roots-rockabilly-R&B band the Blasters, a group that, along with Slash Records label mates X and Los Lobos, shook the L.A. punk scene in the early ‘80s. Phil’s raspy, blues-shouting lead vocals went perfectly with the retro rockers penned by brother Dave who also twanged it up on lead guitar.
In the great tradition of siblings in the entertainment biz, the two had a falling out. Dave stayed with music, playing with a variety of L.A. bands before settling in solo as a critically acclaimed singer songwriter, fronting his band The Guilty Men. Phil left for the world of academia (he’s a math prof with a degree in artificial intelligence). But eventually the bonds of brotherhood and a passion for the blues drew them back together. Their first reunion recording was a collection of Big Bill Broonzy songs, then another blues-soaked LP.
About their musical reunion after three decades apart, Dave Alvin says, “You get to a certain age and you realize you’re not immortal, so what the hell; let’s make a little music together. Let’s go back to our common ground, the blues.”
Few in the roots scene had heard of Yola Carter before she made her first appearance at Nashville's influential Americana Festival last September, which might've suggested that she was some sort of musical rookie. In fact the 33-year-old black, British singer-songwriter is a seasoned studio and stage pro. She's acutely aware that her musical background might be illegible to many Americana types, given that she spent a dozen years amassing credits under her given name, Yolanda Quartey, as a lyric and melody writer, arranger and featured gospel-soul diva in the world of U.K. electronic and pop acts like Bugz In The Attic and Massive Attack and fronting country rock ensemble Phantom Limb. Long before that, Carter was a fiddle-playing kid growing up in a small seaside town in the southwest corner of the U.K., enthralled by autobiographical Appalachian tales, then a young adult treating the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack and the Byrd’s Sweethearts of the Rodeo as gateways into exploring old-time music and longhaired country-rock. Her sights were set on making hippified, down-home music of her own, but she elected to take all the paying gigs she could in the meantime, fashioning herself into a far more skillful singer and song-crafter in the process.
Her storied history and feelings of personal and cultural isolation resulted in her 2016 debut EP Orphan Offering, which catapulted her and her soul country sound into the ears of the Americana world. It’s full of magnetic, fiddle-powered songs with austere melodies, delivered in a keening, needle-pointed timbre; with vigorous, emotive and finesse-filled phrasing. From full blooded gospel hollering to conjuring up lovely trad country sounds with awe-inspiring harmonies and tasty playing from her backing band, it’s no surprise she’s crossed the pond to take the United States by storm.