A folk fest that ain’t just folk folks

For 2011 variety dominates beloved summertime fest’s roster

The Calgary Folk Music Festival running from July 21 to 24 announced its lineup Wednesday — and it’s funny because the term “folk” as we know it barely applies. Edmonton’s Cadence Weapon plays on the same stages as Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Can-country stars Blue Rodeo. Calgary-Montreal dreamsters Braids performs on the same hallowed ground as Vancouver accordion lunatic Geoff Berner. The fucking Herbaliser is playing. Then there’s the workshops the collaborations and plenty more — too much in fact to list in this space. But here are the five Fast Forward Weekly is most excited to catch.


1. Ti-Coca and Wanga Neges

Hailing from Petitionville Haiti the music of duo Ti-Coca and Wanga Neges starkly contrasts their poverty-stricken hometown. Boasting an all-acoustic sound this is Haitian folk music like you’ve never heard: This is celebration delivered via double bass the manouba (a wooden box) and the meringue. Intoxicating voodoo to say the least — and certainly the type of music that’s fitting for a sunset over the Bow River. Aww!

2. Joel Plaskett

Otherwise known as Nova Scotia’s unofficial ambassador the seemingly ageless lanky troubadour puts on a terrific live show. If there was an award for clever onstage banter while tuning a guitar Plaskett would take the prize every year. More importantly the Haligonian sings of the Maritime experience — everything from riding the Dartmouth ferry to falling in love with his wife at the Khyber while she was doing his makeup for a video shoot. (If you don’t get these references don’t worry the man writes damn catchy tunes.) Sincere funny and flat-out entertaining: You will develop a crush on him if you don’t already have one.

3. Cadence Weapon

Never mind the fact that this rapper is Edmonton’s poet laureate (which you have to admit automatically makes Edmonton a million times cooler). Cadence Weapon is just really fucking awesome. He writes clever rhymes accompanied by sick beats blending electro with rap raising the bar for all Canadian hip-hop artists. He called his album Afterparty Babies because people can make babies to his music. Plus if anyone gives him lip he probably has a poet laureate ID badge he can flash. Take that Blue Rodeo!

2. Coeur de Pirate

Tattooed and pixie-like Beatrice Martin could pass for a Suicidegirl — if her music weren’t so darn sweet. Her heart-melting brand of piano-pop proves like Karkwa and Malajube that francophone Québécois music can indeed transcend language barriers.

Her eponymous 2009 LP proved just that: Whimsical without veering into overtly saccharine territories Martin’s tiny voice and compact nimble melodies envelops listeners like a well-loved quilt. And if we’re lucky maybe she’ll play a few Armistice songs — Martin’s gorgeous side-project with Bedouin Soundclash’s Jay Malinowski and the Bronx’s Joby J. Ford. Get on it tete carre!

3. SociaLybrium

What have the members of Parliament Funkadelic been up to you ask? Well in the case of rock ’n’ roll hall of famer Bernie Worrell he’s kept on the path forged by his legendary group with SociaLyrbrium. Behind the veil of greying dreadlocks his Worrell mans the synth churning out spacey psychedlic funk with jittering organ lines reeling it all back down to Earth. As gyrating instrumental funk goes 2009’s For You For Us For All proves that few can do it better — and rawer — than Worrell.


T. Buckley

Timeless isn’t — and shouldn’t be — a common descriptor but it’s hard not to hear the best bygone eras in his harmonica-laden folk and stomp-worthy rock ’n’ roll.


OK they’re hardly locals anymore — they’re having their faces featured on the Urban Outfitters website. Powerful harmonies meet reverb-drenched pedal play.

Kris Ellestad

Calgary’s best-kept worst-kept secret Kris Ellestad unveils his latest album No Man is Land to the masses. Expect weirdo art-folk veering with Ellestad’s unique lungs veering from lilting to full-tilt.

Cutest Kitten Ever

The press release is calling Kris Demeanor’s latest project “rapture pop.” Don’t be left behind.

Matt Masters

Saved By Radio’s resident country singer this one’s good for a honky-tonk swing or for crying in your beer —both acceptable folk fest activities.

Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk

Bold and brash meets nuanced and introspective with Mann’s honeyed vocals easing it all down.

Emily Jill West

Canmore favourite leaves the Communitea to bring her delicate Prairie song-stories to the big stage.


Cinematic folky pop duelling boy-girl vocals — it’s all there. Raleigh take the term folk seriously but not as seriously as its sense of experimentation.