Serena Ryder, Sam Roberts Band, Indigo Girls, Joel Plaskett Emergency, Los Lobos, Matt Andersen and Elliott Brood are probably the best-known acts who will be performing at the 2014 Regina Folk Festival which goes Aug. 8-10 in Victoria Park.
But artistic director Sandra Butel expects audiences will find plenty of lesser known acts to marvel at too.
“This year, the majority of headliners we’re not sharing with any other festivals,” she says. “They’re just us. It’s our 45th anniversary, so our goal going in was to have a mix of new and old — look a little back to the past, but also look to the future. And, as always, we try to have artists from different musical styles and cultural backgrounds for people to discover.”
Butel says she derives special pleasure from introducing audiences to unheralded acts. “That’s always exciting for me, the acts people have never heard of before. They might not even be able to pronounce their names. Blitz the Ambassador, for instance, is a hip hop artist from Ghana. Mexican Institute of Sound is from Mexico, obviously. Klo Pelgag is a francophone artist from Quebec. QuiQue Escamilla is originally from Chiapas, so we’ve got a little bit of a Latino thing going on with him, Los Lobos and Mexican Institute of Sound.
“DahkaBraka are a mesmerizing group from Kyiv, which is timely considering what’s going on in Ukraine,” Butel continues. “Saidah Baba Talibah lives in Toronto, her mother is the jazz singer Salome Bey so she’s a real force of nature. And Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens is a gospel group with three back-up singers and a wonderful band led by a blind piano player.”
Of the better known acts at the festival, Butel singled Serena Ryder out for special mention.
“She’s a giant star now. She’s played the festival a couple of times, but she plays arenas now. She’s co-hosting the Juno Awards [with Johnny Reid and Classified] in Winnipeg later this month, and she performed the national anthem at the Grey Cup in Regina last November. We’re very lucky to have her at the festival.”
As for the other headliners, Sam Roberts, Indigo Girls, Joel Plaskett, Los Lobos and Matt Andersen have never played the festival before. From a local perspective, Andino Suns are the most prominent band on the bill, and they’ll be joined by a couple of other Saskatchewan acts after the Sampler showcase is held at Bushwakker on March 22.
“Our goal as a festival is to create a sense of community and promote multicultural understanding,” says Butel. “So we work hard to have a good balance of artists from different backgrounds, gender, even sexual preference perhaps. Music makes people feel good, and there always seems to be a really open attitude at the festival. That’s our hope every year, that we enlarge people’s understanding and tolerance of each other. And when you sit in the park and see everyone with huge grins on their faces, we feel there is a bridge that’s being built between people.”
You can find more information on the festival here. And to close, here’s the video for Plaskett’s song “Fashionable People” off his 2007 album, Ashtray Rock: