Cheater Sheet For Block Heater: Picks to help you make your way through the Calgary Folk Music Festival’s 2023 winter wonderland

The Calgary Folk Music Festival presents their eighth annual Block Heater Festival, which, like its namesake, keeps your engine purring through the long, cold vagaries of late winter. While the venues change up year to year, the theme of hearing quality music you might have missed continues, carrying you across icy commutes and dark mornings to the first crocuses of spring.

With 32 artists and 13 shows to choose from, here are a few to crank your spark plugs.

Saturday, Feb. 11, Festival Hall

Block Party, 1 p.m.- 2:15 p.m.:
Julie Doiron, Jesca Hoop, Aysanabee, and Benjamin Longman
Do the Write Thing, 2:45 p.m.- 4 p.m.:
Amy Nelson, Clerel, Sister Ray, and Stephen Taetz

In the Lotta Music for a Few Bux category, check out Block Party and Do the Write Thing. Eight artists in two sessions for twenty bucks seems a steal as you’re guaranteed to find something to delight, especially when Manchester’s genre-defying Jesca Hoop mixes it up with the spare, heart-on-what-leaves stylings of Julie Doiron, and the songs of Ojibway-Cree artist Aysanabee, whose music throws past and pop in the blender. After a brief stage clearing, Calgary’s Amy Nelson lays down her modern-gal take on old-timey bluegrass clippings with Cameroon-born singer Clerel’s latitude-stretching music, all seasoned with the delights the other artists bring to the party.

Friday, Feb. 10, Central United Church, 7 p.m.

Hayden, The Deep Dark Woods, and Cold Specks

When you consider that the archival tones of Deep Dark Woods are, in fact, a church of their own, one can only imagine the revelations to come when their set is flanked by Hayden’s unflinching, sun- and rain-drenched moments of real, and Cold Specks’ gorgeous musings from another wavelength. All this within the heavenly acoustics of a church that’s older than the province of Alberta. Hallelujah!

Sunday, Feb. 12, Jack Singer, 7:30 p.m.

The Jayhawks, Heartless Bastards and Aysanabee, with Amy Nelson on the Duet Stage

A show worth seeing even without the esteemed headliners, whose Americana blue jeans were hung out on the line to dry in the sun, already so well worn that the knees sported several patches, before most bands even figured out you could take those chords and spin them into enough dreams, melodies, and visions to feed music to a nation for decades without it ever tasting like it was canned.

Block Heater runs February 9 to 12 at various venues. For information, go to