Steve Poltz is not normal. He was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia but has lived most of his life in Southern California and those geographic poles are quite likely responsible for his unhinged genius. He is a dual citizen but has often said that, “should a hostage situation arise, I become conveniently Canadian.”
There are few artists out there who can play, sing and write like Colter Wall. A prairie-born songwriter from Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Wall has evoked visceral reactions from industry veterans, his musical heroes and peers, as well as a loyal and quickly-growing grassroots fan base.
For two decades, Gretchen Peters has been one of Nashville’s most beloved and respected artists. “If Peters never delivers another tune as achingly beautiful as ‘On A Bus to St. Cloud,'” People Magazine wrote, “she has already earned herself a spot among country’s upper echelon of contemporary composers.”
Mike Farris is a musical renaissance man. He has toured as lead singer for the Southern Rock Band Screaming Cheetah Wheelies, and following the demise of blues & rock legend Stevie Ray Vaughn, as the lead singer for the incomparable blues band, Double Trouble. In his solo career he began to rediscover and reinterpret traditional black spiritual music by adding his own mix of vintage southern soul.
With gorgeous vocal harmonies and a versatile musical set-up that includes clawhammer banjo, acoustic guitars, mandolin and occasional harmonica, The Honey Dewdrops treat listeners to a raft of memorable, beautifully performed songs blending folk and acoustic Americana with a hint of bluegrass.
Harry Manx is no stranger to Salt Spring Island. A long-time resident, he can often be seen driving his pick-up truck into town with his dog sitting quietly in the back. What is not obvious though is that he tours internationally and has earned six Juno Nominations, seven Maple Blues Awards, Folk Artist of the Year , Blues Artist of the Year (seven times) and Album of the Year here in Canada.
Winners of the GRAMMY® Award for Best Bluegrass Album of 2018. The Travelin’ McCourys do not stand still. They are on the road, and online, entertaining audiences with live shows that include some of the best musicians and singers from all genres. It’s always different, always exciting, and always great music.
Mike Farris is a musical renaissance man. He’s toured as lead singer for the Southern Rock Band Screaming Cheetah Wheelies, and following the demise of blues & rock legend Stevie Ray Vaughn, as the lead singer for the incomparable blues band, Double Trouble. In his solo career he began to rediscover and reinterpret traditional black spiritual music by adding his own mix of vintage southern soul. For his efforts, Farris won the prestigious Americana Music Award for Best New & Emerging Artist, a Dove Award for Best Traditional Gospel Album of the Year and a 2015 GRAMMY® award for Best Roots Gospel Album.
If you caught Mike Farris’ killer show last season hang onto your hats – he’s bringing a full band this time around.
One of the leading contemporary folk artists of the American Midwest, Greg Brown’s music reflects a poetic spirit while also sounding thoroughly down to Earth. His deep, craggy voice expresses quirky humor and the mysteries of life and love with equal skill, and over the course of a career that's spanned more than five decades, he's earned a passionate following for his heartfelt and uncompromising music.
With roots in small town Iowa, Greg Brown’s rich folk style is heavily influenced by his origins. His mother played electric guitar, his grandfather was a banjo player and his father was a Holy Roller preacher. Brown’s songwriting has been lauded by many, and his songs have been covered by Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin. At the personal request of Jeff Bridges, Brown also contributed songs for Bridges’ Oscar-winning role in the film Crazy Heart. Ultimately, Brown is a storyteller who moves his audiences with his warmth, humor and deeply human musical vision.
For those of you lucky enough to catch the Mandolin Orange shows at Southend Grooveyard, you know their beautifully crafted songs and their straightforward yet elegant performance style.
They formed in 2009 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina around the talents of singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Martin and violinist/guitarist Emily Frantz. Martin and Emily had met the night of Obama’s first inauguration at an old-time music jam in Carrboro, North Carolina. They had each been irresistibly drawn, and drawn back, to the authenticity of bluegrass and other southern roots music. Their sound is a heady mix of bluegrass, gospel, folk, country, and pop drawn from wells both old and new. It invokes a sort of earthy timelessness, beautifully enriched by their effortless harmonies.
With four distinct voices clustered around a single microphone, Darlingside effortlessly draw audiences into their lush musical world. David Fricke of Rolling Stone describes them as “a quartet with a rich line in acoustic textures and chamber-rock dynamics.” The band’s sound, characterized by classical strings, tight vocal arrangements, bluegrass and rock instrumentation, and smart lyricism is the product of complete collaboration among the four close friends. The group has no frontman - instead, lead vocals are traded from moment to moment, and each song features a new combination of instruments and textures, pulling heavily from folk, retro-pop, barbershop and chamber music.
"Exquisitely-arranged, literary-minded, baroque folk-pop" – NPR Music
Three Women and The Truth is a trio of accomplished, richly talented, multiple award winning female songwriters, Mary Gauthier, Gretchen Peters and Eliza Gilkyson, whose songs cut through the murky layers of life's complexities and bring clarity to many of the challenges we all long to make sense of. Writing from their life’s experience, these songwriters are skilled in balancing personal tales with classic underpinnings, which hint at the evocative idea that all our lives are full of events and incidents that touch on the mythic and the timeless.
Mary Gauthier is a singer songwriter who the Associated Press named one of the best songwriters of her generation. She’s been praised by both Dylan and Waits, and has had her songs recorded by dozens of artists, including Jimmy Buffett, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw and Candi Staton. Her songs have been used in Film and Television, most recently on the ABC hit show Nashville, HBO’s Banshee, and Masterpiece Theater’s Case Histories.. Her record Mercy Now was named in the top 5 records of the decade by No Depression Magazine. She’s often been called a writer’s writer, and that thrills her to no end.
Eilen Jewell laughs when told her label’s president called her a musicologist. But she confirms she and her husband and bandmate, Jason Beek, have a passion for studying American music.
“We really love to uncover the past. It’s almost like digging for buried treasure,” she says. “For me, that’s where music is at. I like all kinds of music as long as there’s the word early in front of it.”
Although her country-flavored and blues-infused version of contemporary folk has drawn comparisons to musicians like Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, Jolie Holland, and the Be Good Tanyas, Eilen Jewell's strongest influences have been the classic sides recorded by Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday.
For over 20 years, Slaid Cleaves has spun stories with a novelist's eye and a poet's heart. A rootsy singer and songwriter who’s made his bed in the folk world, Cleaves grew up in Maine and lives outside Austin, Texas but tours much of the year. In 1992, he won the New Folk award at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Now, twenty-five years into his storied career, Cleaves’ songwriting has never been more potent.
The characters in Slaid Cleaves’ songs live in unglamorous reality. They work dead end job, they run out of money, they grow old, they hold on to each other (or not) and they die. With an eye for the beauty in everyday life, he tells their stories, bringing empathy to their uncaring world.
Singing vibrant duets, writing deadly songs, playing handmade banjos and loving old acoustic guitars, Pharis and Jason Romero have a classic story. When some scratchy old records and a custom banjo led to their meeting in 2007, they quickly knew they were in for the long haul. They've since released five records - three as a duo - and toured across North America and the UK. They've won a Juno award, been featured on NPR Music, CBC, BBC, and Folk Alley, and have performed on A Prairie Home Companion and CBC's The Vinyl Cafe. They are passionate teachers and believers in many things folk, and their heartbreakingly harmonic live show is an ever-evolving and never-ending quest for good songs and beautiful sounds.
Born in Nashville in1982, Justin Townes Earle grew up as the son of country-rock iconoclast Steve Earle, who gave him his middle name in honor of the great Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Since launching his recording career a decade ago, he has established a reputation as a singular leading light in the Americana music community. With fearless, personally charged lyrical insight and infectious melodic craftsmanship, the young veteran singer-songwriter has built a rich, personally charged body of work.
Now, on his seventh album, Kids in the Street, Justin Townes Earle raises the creative and personal stakes to deliver a deeply soulful set that’s both emotionally riveting and effortlessly uplifting. Taking himself out of his creative comfort zone and assembling a new set of collaborators, Earle has created one of his most potent efforts to date, reflecting all manner of new influences upon his life and his art.
Coming to Salt Spring Island for the first time ever, this third incarnation of this travelling revue features one of their best line-ups of artists yet. This will be an evening of unique collaborations and authentic musical entertainment like no other, cementing the Black Hen Roadshow as one of the finest touring showcases of contemporary roots music in the country.
Steve Dawson and his Black Hen label need no introduction to Canadian roots music fans. A musician’s musician in the truest sense, he is both a highly sought after producer and in demand performer.