Buffy to headline Canmore folk fest

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Alberta’s longest running folk music festival will look both backward and forward for the 41st annual version of the ever-popular event.

The Canmore Folk Music Festival (Aug. 3-6) has announced the majority of its 2018 lineup and, in looking back, has booked folk legend Buffy Sainte-Marie, who has appeared several times over the years, as one of the headliners. Looking forward, newcomers Les Poules ŕ Colin will present dark and traditional Quebecois folk on the main stage.

In between will be something for everyone, including Western Canadian, Maritime and U.S. performers covering folk, blues and pop. Currently, 14 of 18 acts are booked, “and we’re very excited about having Buffy Sainte-Marie back,” said festival director Sue Panning.

“She’s been in the business for 50 years, but she’s still so relevant. She’s a multi-award winner, hall of famer, Order of Canada recipient and 2015 Polaris Prize winner. She’ll be here with a band and her new album (20-track Medicine Songs) is fantastic.

“And festival favourite Ruthie Foster (Texas) from years back is coming back. I saw her at a Kansas City Folk Alliance event with her band and it’s no wonder she’s a multi-award winner.”

Coco Love Alcorn (see page 53 Freebies) will add a touch of jazz and pop, and will take the main stage after performing at every other festival venue last year.

From the U.S. is L.A. singer-songwriter Nick Waterhouse, who will arrive in Canmore with a multi-piece band to add some R&B and soul flavour, and Pennsylvania trio The Stray Birds, which feature soaring harmonies and folk grounded in bluegrass.

Other Canadian acts include: Victoria, B.C.’s Jon and Roy and their laid-back surf sound; Cuban-Canadian blues and harmonica man Carlos Del Junco; Maritimers Dave Gunning and J.P. Cormier, who met 20 years ago while playing with Stompin’ Tom Connors and Nova Scotians Cassie and Maggie and their Juno-nominated blend of traditional and contemporary Celtic music.

Blues/roots performer Susie Vinnick, a 10-time Maple Blues winner, will perform her new album Shake The Love Around with her band, while prairie musician and Juno winner Joey Landreth and his “cool, sort of smoky voice,” according to Panning, will be in town with a trio.

Finally, off-the-wall funny guy Steve Poltz, who has been embroiled in a song-a-week contest with Jim Croce’s son A.J., will work the audience.

As well, the School of Song mentorship program will feature five or six acts, while locals will appear at several venues.

“This festival is so well known,” said Panning. “It’s great when I go to conferences and speak with agents or artists, and they ask how long this festival has been around. When I tell them ‘40 years’ they just say ‘wow.’ Even when I was in Europe and Spain last year, everywhere I went, people knew about the Canmore Folk Music Festival.

“It’s great for our little town.”

Festival standards such as the pancake breakfast, CKUA’s Friday broadcast, pub stage events in the Canmore Miners’ Hall will return and Panning said festival organizers are always working to partner with groups like Banff Centre and artsPlace.

The event itself relies on hardworking volunteers to see continued success. According to Ken Pillipow, general manager, 580 volunteers were involved in all aspects of the festival.

One of those longtime volunteers is Canmore’s Kayla Eykelboom, said Pillipow, who first went to the festival as a toddler, then volunteered for a few years, then sold her art at the art market last year and this year, “she’s designing our T-shirt, poster, program cover and advertising. It shows how involved our volunteers are.”

Tickets are now on sale for the 2018 festival, from www.canmorefolkfestival.com or Stonewaters Home Elements on Main Street in Canmore.

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Rocky Mountain Outlook