Shane Koyczan, Chad VanGaalen, Carsie Blanton among acts performing at the Calgary Folk Music Festival’s 2020 Block Heater

Blockheads rejoice: Calgary Folk Music Festival’s annual winter event is back for its fifth year this February.

And the half-decade Block Heater is bigger, better and, er, blockier than ever.

This year’s fest, which takes place the 20-22 in 2020, has more artists, more venues, more components and more general goodness required for those frosty, frosty, frigid Feb. days.

And the eclectic and inspirited lineup is one that may even have some uninitiated local music lovers rethinking those all-inclusive sun-chasing plans in order to warm their ears here at home for the first time.

Headliners include: eloquent and inspiring West Coast spoken-word artist and musician Shane Koyczan; Calgary’s wizard of weird and wonderful Chad VanGaalen, who will be stepping out of semi-retirement for the show; delightfully jazzy New Orleans chanteuse Carsie Blanton; Kid Koala, the famed Canadian DJ, turntablist, scratchmaster and visual artist; haunting, lovely, delicate and dreamy Vancouver pop performer Hannah Georgas; superb T.O. alt-country songwriter Justin Rutledge; the “Godfather of PowWowStep” and former Tribe Called Red member and producer, DJ Shub; mesmerizing Latin musician Boogát; Tamara Lindeman’s sweet, breezy folk project The Weather Station; and great and gritty Americana vet Del Barber.

Those are only several of the 38 acts from around the globe that will be participating this year — an impressive number considering where it started and how far it’s come.

“It’s bigger than some of my colleagues have in the summer, by quite a bit,” says the folk fest’s artistic director Kerry Clarke.

Other national acts performing at the 2020 Block Heater include Sam Lynch, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, Jayme Stone’s Folklife, and Edmonton artists such as Marlaena Moore and nêhiyawak — the latter being one of many Indigenous performers at the event.

“I will not program a summer festival or a winter festival without a significant number of Indigenous artists,” Clarke says. “I think it’s really making sure that we send that message that it’s important to us.”

And of course it wouldn’t be a Calgary folk fest event without a lotta Calgary in it, and that’s delivered again with such disparate and notable locals as 36?, Amy Nelson, Jess Knights, Sunglaciers and Lynn Olagundoye.

“We love our local artists,” Clarke says simply.

Like the focus on Indigenous musicians, Olagundoye will be part of a strong contingent of diverse artists appearing as part of Heater’s Black Future Month celebrations, which will also include acts such as AfrotroniX, Son Little, Cécile Doo-Kingué, Élage Diouf and Sunny War, as well as a film screening and a panel discussion.

On the blockier — or blocksier — side of things, after the past couple of years which saw them focus the action more in the East Village, and its venues such as Studio Bell, the King Eddy and the Central Library, the festival is going a little more back to its roots. They’ll be staying there, but returning to several venues in the folk fest’s neighbourhood of Inglewood, including programming at Festival Hall, Ironwood Stage and  “Japanese-ish” restaurant and lounge Gorilla Whale. Again, it allows for a quick walk between all of the venues, which was how the event was originally conceived.

As for how far Block Heater has come in its relatively short time, Clarke says she and the fest are pleased with where it’s at in year five.

“It’s what we always hoped,” she says, noting that when it started there were some who weren’t sure the vision was one that would work, but have been onboard and helped it become what it is — bigger, better and blockier.

“We’ve significantly increased everything year by year,” she says. “It’s really on a fast-growth trajectory.”

Block Heater runs Feb. 20-22 at various locations. For tickets and the schedule, please go to calgaryfolkfest.com.

Here is the complete list of artists playing Block Heater 2020:



Amelie Patterson 

Amy Nelson 

Bella White



Carsie Blanton

Cécile Doo-Kingué

Chad VanGaalen 

David Wax Museum

Del Barber

DJ Shub

Élage Diouf  


Hannah Epperson 

Hannah Georgas 

Jayme Stone’s Folklife

Jess Knights

Jom Combine

Justin Rutledge


Kid Koala

Laura Hickli 

Lynn Olagundoye

Marlaena Moore 


Richard Inman

Sam Lynch

Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar

Shane Koyczan

Son Little


Sunny War 



The Weather Station

Wyatt C. Louis