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Official

folk on rocks g the uide FOTR 2013 | FREE

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Official folk on the rocks Program on page 13

edgeyk.ca

special issue FOLK ON THE ROCKS 2013 Editor

Laurie Sarkadi managing_editor@edgeyk.ca

CONTENTS

Photo Editor

Pat Kane patkanephoto@arcticmail.com

Front EDGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Design

Janet Pacey design@edgeyk.ca

Ad Design

Erin Mohr ad_design@edgeyk.ca

Advertising

Jeremy Bird advertising@edgeyk.ca

Publisher

Brent Reaney editor@edgeyk.ca

Contributors

Dave Brosha Norm Glowach Pat Kane Doug Liddle Francois Rossouw Laurie Sarkadi

Official Folk on the Rocks Festival Program. . . . . . . 13 Yellowknife's Music Scene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 A Brief History of Folk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 A Love Letter to FOTR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Heart Beat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54

This FOTR edition of Edge YK is available at: Black Knight Pub

Originals by T-Bo

Coyote’s Steakhouse and Bar

Overlander Sports

Dancing Moose Cafe

Signed

Down to Earth Gallery

Smokehouse Cafe

The Fieldhouse

The Wildcat Cafe

Gallery of the Midnight Sun

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Yellowknife Airport

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Yellowknife Co-op

The Multiplex

Northern Images

as well as many other businesses And online at edgeyk.ca, folkontherocks.com and at the Festival! EDGEYK.CA

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Cover photo by Francois Rossouw from Folk on the Rocks

Work in Progress: Godson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

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All rights reserved. ISSN 1927-7016 (Print) ISSN 1927-7024 (Online)

EDGE YK Folk Factoids. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7


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front edge

Rockin’ with Folks Matters My oldest son, just home from college, spotted his autographed Liquid Eyez CD in an old shoebox. Ecstatic, he popped it into our aging Technics player and started rapping ‘Bounce’ with Yellowknife’s Godson. “Yah,” he smiled, head bobbing. “Old School.” All three sons grew up with Godson’s hip hop, which came to life in thrilling, main-stage performances at Folk on the Rocks. It doesn’t get much better than that, dancing in the sand with throngs of people to songs about where you live, X1A, then taking in the spectacle of international and southern imports playing folk, calypso, rock, punk… such is the diversity of the festival. For children especially, live music exposes them to the magic of performance, and the possibility that one day, they too might take to the stage. Folk on the Rocks has nurtured northern talent for 33 years – Juno-award-winning Leela Gilday of Yellowknife was just eight the first time she sang at the festival, accompanied by her iconic musical father Bill – but it also exposes musicians from around the world to the thunderous beats of Dene drummers, the cool vibe of Digawolf singing in his Tlicho language, the trancey, guttural chants of Inuit throatsingers. These performances are the backbone of a festival renowned for its great music, spectacular lakeside setting, and 300 of the friendliest volunteers you’ll ever meet. But don’t take my word for it. Vancouver rocker Doug Liddle’s poignant “Love Letter to Folk on the Rocks” (see page 51), which he wrote after performing with Swank in 2009, proves the festival is one potent experience. For a glimpse into what’s happening the other 362 days of the year, I canvassed city musicians to get their take on Yellowknife’s music scene, and Pat Kane will catch you up on the festival’s history. Most importantly, this special edition of EDGE YK includes the festival’s program. We’re counting on you to pack this issue along with your sunscreen and blanket when you head to Long Lake for the music. Represent, Yellowknife!

Laurie Sarkadi Editor

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If you have questions on sex or relationships, we can help.

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Got Questions? We’ve got answers.


English and French Immersion Kindergarten registrations are being accepted at École St. Joseph and Weledeh Catholic School for 2013-2014

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EDGE YK Folk Factoids In the mid-1980’s, the Children’s Area had its own beer garden The Root Beer Garden. The first FOTR was supposed to launch in 1979, but was delayed a year to get finances and plans in order. Several promotional jacket buttons were made for a festival that never happened. Some Yellowknifers still claim to have them stashed away.

Last year was FOTR’s most successful year for ticket sales, with more than 5,600 festival-goers.

FOTR was originally inspired by, and based on, the nowdefunct Farrago Folk Festival in Faro, Yukon. The FOTR site is administered by the City of Yellowknife but is the traditional land of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

Food vendors ran out of food on the opening day in 1998. No cameras or recorders of any kind were allowed on FOTR property in 1994 with the exception of CBC Winnipeg and Television Northern Communications (TVNC).

In 2010, Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo were the first and only musicians to request a Green Room (preparation area) as part of their contract. FOTR staff erected a tee-pee behind Mainstage for the duo. Rumour has it, they kicked out Buffy SainteMarie when it was discovered she was using it to prepare for her own sets, as well. Again, just a rumour.

Early FOTR festivals had a women’s festival area (and concert) that showcased female musicians, performers, artists and theatre workshops, as well as an exhibit called “herstory” that featured women’s achievements in the North. The iconic FOTR owl, the official emblem, was designed by Paulatuk artist Abraham Anghik Ruben, and was on the cover of the 1980 festival program. Since then, the owl has appeared in Folk merchandise sporadically. It was excluded from the festival in 1981, 1985, 1987 and 1988. Four different versions of the owl have been used throughout FOTR history.

In 1982, organizers had a No-Beer Garden, which lasted only one festival. EDGEYK.CA

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The Mainstage was designed and built in 1998 for $90,000.

photo FOTR/Pablo Saravanja

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In 1989, a group of skydivers surprised the crowd by parachuting over the FOTR site.


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Aaron “Godson” Hernandez has been a fixture on Yellowknife’s music scene for 18 years, dropping beats and profanity-free lyrics that touch on the unique highs and lows of northern living. Rapping messages about drinking and driving and other social issues, Godson has been elevated from hip hop artist to northern youth mentor and ambassador, earning the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal this year. With 10 CD releases, TV appearances on Canadian Idol and Dragon’s Den, and guaranteed packed dance floors wherever he goes, Godson shares his unique perspective on Yellowknife’s musical community through an email with EDGE YK.

photo Dave Brosha, courtesy Godson

A chat with YK’s homegrown hip-hop master


Edge YK: For a city its size, how do you rank Yellowknife's live music scene?

Is it possible to make a living strictly with music in Yellowknife?

Godson: For a city our size, the amount of talent is tremendous. Yellowknife thrives in having great bands and artists from every type of genre. As for as the actual "live" scene, we go through our ups and downs. Our summers are filled with endless opportunity to catch great live bands and shows. There's never a dull moment. It seems during our winter months, the pace slows down and you don't get too many live events on the go. There are however a lot of jam nights at bars and coffee houses to fill your cravings. Other than that, you don't see a whole lot of live events or concerts like we used to have years ago. It's not a fault of the artists or the establishments. I think it's just the part of a cycle we go through, and I'm sure we are on the upswing once again.

What does Yellowknife do well? Godson: The great thing about our city music landscape is we are all in this together. You see a certain bond out there between all of us. We seem to have a certain respect for each other. It's not a competition. We all know in order for our music scene to survive we have to help each other out. Now with Music NWT established, it's giving more opportunities and guidance for a lot of new artists.

What is it lacking? Godson: Where I find we are lacking is the decline of "big name" concerts in our city. I know it seems odd that I say that, being a local artist, but having the big names up here gives huge opportunities for local bands to open up for them or play alongside them and learn from them. It creates excitement both for the artists and concertgoers. It's a great way to get your name out there to ones who may not have been able to see you in the first place. These concerts are heavily attended by us YK’ers because it's a big event and because of that, your name becomes established too. I got my big break in town by opening up for Great Big Sea when they came up, which exposed a whole new audience to my music.

Do you still have your recording studio and services? Godson: I have a studio that I carry around with me all the time. We've gotten to the point where all you need is a computer and a microphone. I do a lot of workshops in the northern communities, teaching the kids how to write and perform hip hop in a positive way. I bring my "studio" with me and they all get a chance to record too!

Godson: Yes and no. I'll word it this way; you can make a living out of music "based" in Yellowknife, but to do it all in Yellowknife, I'm gonna say no. Let me tell ya, I took the leap almost two years ago to do music full time and I did it for a year. It was great, it was fun and financially I got by, however, most of the gigs took place outside of Yellowknife. I'm sure any other established touring Yellowknifer can tell you the same thing. There's only so many times you can perform in Yellowknife before you water yourself down to the local audience. This is why I may only perform once or twice a year here in my hometown. But I only say this because I've been performing here for about 18 years. For newer artists, I say play, play, play! Get your name out there.

What are you working on musically these days? Godson: Musically, I'm starting to work on a new album. It's been three years since my last so I hope to put out album number 11 later this year. I've always had ideas floating around my head as to what kind of approach I will have this time around. But I'll leave that as a secret for now ;)

What would you say has been the highlight of your musical career to date? Godson: There have been so many. Each topping the last. But by far the biggest highlight was receiving the Queen Elizabeth ll Diamond Jubilee Medal this year. I got to fly to Ottawa to receive this medal from the Governor General. Really put a stamp on the 18 years of hard work I put into this.

What are your thoughts on the importance of having Folk on the Rocks in Yellowknife? Godson: Folk on The Rocks is such a staple to our music scene. It gives our city its own identity, which we can be proud of. It also lets our musical community collaborate with some of the best from the south. It really is the best thing about our music scene. I've been involved in many aspects of it. As a performer, as an MC and even as part of the selections committee.

Godson DJ’s every other Saturday night at Sam’s Monkey Tree in Frame Lake. You can sample his music and videos at his website www.thegodson.com

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Adult (19+): $80/day, $105/wknd Youth (8-18)/Senior (60+): $48/day, $60/wknd

Gate tickets (July 20 - 21)

Adult (19+): $90/day, $120/wknd Youth (8-18)/Senior (60+): $55/day, $70/wknd (All prices include GST and handling fee)

Tickets available at

Fiddles & Stix, 5018-52nd St., Yellowknife And online at folkontherocks.com 867-920-7806

Rock the Folks July 19

separate charges apply

Warm the Rocks July 20 taking place at the festival

Festival Weekend July 20-21

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FOLK ON THE ROCKS 2013 Hello Folkers,

There are a few other people that we need to thank. Pearl Rachinsky, Festival Coordinator, has both the left brain capacity to manage performer accommodation and travel, and the right brain ability to create this year’s wonderful graphics. Keith MacNeill, Artistic Coordinator, keeps our arts edge well managed and has

Welcome to the 2013 season of Yellowknife’s Folks on the Rocks. Our Government knows how important arts and culture are to our society and our economy, and we are proud to support this lively summer festival taking place under the midnight sun. The approach of Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017 is a great opportunity to celebrate everything that makes this country remarkable, including this unique outdoor festival, which draws talent from the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and around the world. On behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Government of Canada, I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to make this year’s Folks on the Rocks a success.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Folk on the Rocks 2013. Have a fantastic weekend. Thanks for coming.

Penny Ruvinsky Executive Director (Thanks Dan for herding cats)

Dan Round President (Thanks Penny for gluing it together)

Bienvenue au festival Folks on the Rocks de Yellowknife 2013. Notre gouvernement sait que les arts et la culture sont importants pour notre société et notre économie. Nous sommes fiers d’investir dans ce dynamique festival d’été sous les étoiles. À l’approche du 150e anniversaire du Canada, en 2017, le moment est bien choisi pour célébrer tout ce qui fait du Canada un pays remarquable, dont ce festival en plein air, qui attire des artistes des Territoires du Nord-Ouest, du Nunavut et d’ailleurs dans le monde. Au nom du premier ministre Stephen Harper et du gouvernement du Canada, je remercie tous ceux et celles qui ont travaillé avec ardeur pour que le Folks on the Rocks de cette année soit un succès. The Honourable James Moore / L’honorable 15

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The Board of Directors of Folk on the Rocks works throughout the year to brainstorm and develop the policy and long term vision that helps create a solid, balanced framework within which to thrive. As the festival gets closer, the members of the board also act as team captains for many of our volunteer areas. Thanks to Sarah Elsasser, Byron Dolan, Breanna Bray, Caitlin McGurk, David Wasylciw, Ashley Larmand, Michael Gannon, William Greenland, and past directors Robert Andrews, Michelle LeTourneau and Karen Lajoie.

a whole hearted enthusiasm thats provides a gentle male presence in an almost totally female workplace (thanks to all the MacNeill women for helping him hone those skills). Courtney Holmes, Volunteer Coordinator extraordinaire, managed to get all the volunteers in the same place, on the same weekend, with the same intention of having a great festival. Her quirky, thoughtful demeanor reminds us, time and again, that nothing is worth losing your cool over.

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Welcome to the 33rd Folk on the Rocks Music Festival and thank you all for your support. We could not do this without you.


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FOLK ON THE ROCKS 2013 Borderless Art Movement, Yellowknife, NT Storytelling preserves history, passes on knowledge, and celebrates us and the world in which we live. B.A.M! has a collaborative approach to storytelling using paint, music, movement, and spoken word to tell northern stories in a spontaneous and dynamic format. This year, B.A.M! is stoked to introduce their newest paint throwing, music jamming, heart thumping, improvisational arctic adventure.

Digawolf, Yellowknife, NT Digawolf, a passionate guitarist originally from Behchoko (Rae-Edzo), NT, plays and sings with great respect for the land, the Tlicho culture and the elders. His dynamic, ethereal, emotional music is inspired from the earth and the conflicts that arise from the evolution of his native culture. Every song takes you on a ride across the Northern landscapes and into the hearts of its people. www.myspace.com/digawolf

Erebus & Terror, Yellowknife, NT With their NWT roots, Erebus & Terror brew an upbeat and urgent sound with ballads seen through the eyes of the northern young and hungry. After years of Snow Castle shows and outdoor adventures under the midnight sun, E&T has a new spin on the evolution of northern www.music.erebusandterror.bandcamp.com

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Proud supporter of Folk on the Rocks and musicians up North


FOLK ON THE ROCKS 2013 Genticorum, Montreal, QC The huge sound emanating from this trio features intricate fiddle and astute melodies, backed by guitar, electric bass, and rich resonant three-part vocal harmony. Genticorm brings the music and the audience together with their Quebec traditional music and celtic sound. www.genticorum.com

George Leach, Sta'atl'imx Nation, Lillioet, BC This bright star of the Sta’atl’imx Nation from Lillioet, B.C., has earned his artistic integrity. His debut album, Just Where I’m At (2000), garnered international recognition, establishing him as a respected singer, songwriter, guitarist and performer, winning Best Male Artist and Best Rock Album at the 2000 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. George’s passionate stage presence and connection to the audience is unwaveringly sincere. www.georgeleach.com

Grapes of Wrath, Kelowna, BC Platinum-selling Canadian folk-rock trio The Grapes of Wrath return to Folk on the Rocks with their new release “High Road”. High Road is the first album in 22 years to feature all three of the band’s original members Kevin Kane, Tom Hooper and Chris Hooper. www.grapesofwrath.ca

WOULD LIKE TO CONGRATULATE FOLK ON THE ROCKS ON ANOTHER STELLAR FESTIVAL!

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Groove‘n a Bucket, Yellowknife, NT This unlikely gaggle of groovy super-space ‘gags’ters’ is here to take you on a journey of don’t -look-down-in-case-you-get-dizzy sky-rocketing hi-jinx, loosen-your-pants belly poppin’ giggle fests, and fasten-your-seat-belts extrrrrreme fun. With backgrounds in music, art, dance, improv, theatre, and shennaniganistry, this trio proudly wields for you in their imaginary tutus and trousseaus, all the colours of the rainbow and just maybe a pot of golden jellybeans too.

Gus and Pogo, Yellowknife, NT Over the years you’ve likely seen Frosty Children’s Theatre on the snowy stages of the Snow Castle with Oddy the Hare, The Ptarmigans, Bug Off and Gus and Pogo go to the Vet. This year the Troupe performs Gus and Pogo go to the Vet at Folk on the Rocks. Find out how Gus, with the help of his feline friend Pogo, conquers his fears!

Hayden, Toronto, ON Having spent nearly two decades creating uniquely affecting music defined by deep personal sentiment and attracting listeners across musical genres, Hayden now signs to Arts and Crafts for the release of his seventh full-length record, Us Alone. www.wasteyourdaysaway.com/

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We look forward to seeing you at the Festival to enjoy the music and share our message of Solidarity. PSAC North continues to be a proud sponsor of Folk on the Rocks magazine area date line area

See what local events are happening. Take the opportunity to showcase your event!


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FOLK ON THE ROCKS 2013 Hey Ocean, Vancouver, BC Hey Ocean may be the quintessential West Coast band. Their roots, name and many of their lyrics hark back to the Pacific shores they call home. However, over the last 6 years they have earned a reputation as much more than just ambassadors of the Pacific Northwest. In the spirit of classic pop, Hey Ocean! is refreshingly musical with compelling lyrics, beautiful harmonies and superb musicianship at the front and center. www.loveheyocean.com/

Ilannaat, Rankin Inlet, NU "Ilannaat", an Inuktitut term describing good friends, is a new throat-singing duet with an old soul. Kathleen Merritt and Kerri Tattuinee are indeed good friends, who grew up together in the tiny Arctic community of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Since the age of seven, they have been inspired to learn the art and ancient practice of Inuit women’s throat-singing.

Jaffa Road, Toronto, ON JUNO nominated (2010, 2013) Jaffa Road is an acclaimed Toronto based world music group made up of some of Canada’s most exciting and innovative interpreters of inter-cultural music. Their music creates a unique sonic landscape that takes listeners on a journey that is at once ancient and modern, acoustic and electronic, sacred and secular. www.jaffaroad.com

Greetings Folk on the Rocks! The Department of Education, Culture and Employment celebrates the talents of all artists and performers participating in this year’s festival. Congratulations to the dedicated organizers and volunteers for their efforts in providing an exciting venue to showcase the arts. The Support to Northern Performers program assists NWT performing artists, festival and events.

The NWT Arts Council supports artistic projects from writing and visual arts to storytelling, film, dance, music, theatre and festivals.

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. Take time to meet and get to know the talented artists in your community


FOLK ON THE ROCKS 2013 SCHEDULE Thursday, July 18 12:00 noon FREE CONCERT in Civic Plaza featuring: The Sweet Lowdown

Friday, July 19 WARM THE ROCKS 6:00 p.m. Civic Plaza (by donation) 8:00 p.m. Top Knight Ilannaat ($15 at the door) Gus and Pogo Go to the Vet Louie Goose The Kerplunks Yes Nice BAM! The Trade-offs The Medicine Hat Erebus & Terror

Saturday, July 20 LEFT STAGE 1:00 Rock the Folks RIGHT STAGE 1:00 2:00 3:00

Jaffa Road Hey Ocean! Common Threads: Natasha Duchene, Kelly Clark, and The Sweet Lowdown

FAMILY STAGE 1:00 2:00

The Kerplunks Gus & Pogo, Groove’n a Bucket, Yellowknives Dene Drummers 3:00 Nelson Tagoona and Ilannaat

CULTURAL/WORLD STAGE 1:00 2:00 3:00

Yellowknives Dene Drummers; Dene Hand Games; Ilannaat Stoop Jam: The Crooked Brothers and Genticorum Digawolf

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1:00 1:55 2:50 3:45 4:45 5:45 6:45

Natasha Duchene The Medicine Hat Owls by Nature Erebus & Terror Yes Nice with B.A.M! George Leach Hayden

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MAINSTAGE

4:00 Opening welcome: Yellowknives Dene Drummers 4:20 The Medicine Hat 5:25 Heart Strings: A Collaboration featuring Nelson Tagoona, The Crooked Brothers, Aviva Chernick, Aaron Lightstone, Paul Cressman, Carmen Braden, and Travis Mercredi 6:30 Genticorum 7:30 Digawolf 8:30 Grapes of Wrath 9:45 The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer 11:00 Hey Ocean!

Sunday, July 21 LEFT STAGE 1:00

Kiss My Riffs: The Trade-offs, George Leach, Digawolf, and The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer 3:00 B.A.M!

RIGHT STAGE 1:00

Gospel Hour with The Sweet Lowdown and The Crooked Brothers 2:00 Yes Nice 3:00 Grapes of Wrath

FAMILY STAGE 1:00 2:00 3:00

Hey Ocean! Groove’n a Bucket; Ilannaat; Gus & Pogo The Kerplunks

CULTURAL/WORLD STAGE 1:00

Rhythm Throwdown: Paul Cressman, Nelson Tagoona, Ilannaat 2:00 Jaffa Road 3:00 Dene Hand Games; Ilannaat

BEER GARDEN STAGE 1:00 1:55 2:50 3:45 4:45 5:45 6:45

Poor Choices Louie Goose Kelly Clare Genticorum The Trade-offs The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer Grapes of Wrath

MAINSTAGE 4:00 5:00 6:00 7:00 8:15 9:30 11:00

Owls by Nature Jaffa Road Sweet Lowdown Crooked Brothers George Leach Hayden Closing with Yellowknives Dene Drummers


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FOLK ON THE ROCKS 2013 Building stronger communities. At BMO Bank of Montreal®, we take pride in our local communities. That’s why, each year, through various sponsorships and community involvement we are committed to providing our support. BMO Bank of Montreal is proud to support Folk on the Rocks and to be a Standing Ovation Sponsor.

®

Registered trade-marks of Bank of Montreal.

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FOLK ON THE ROCKS 2013 Kelly Clark, Yellowknife, NT The powerful voice of Kelly Clark brings a bit of Nashville to the North, with a classic rock edge. Her sound has been compared to Sheryl Crow, Martina McBride and Sass Jordon. Kelly's engaging stage presence draws audiences in with her vast repertoire of radio hits and her own originals.

Loren McGinnis, Yellowknife, NT One of Yellowknife’s earliest risers, Loren is the host of The Trailbreaker on CBC North Radio. He also does comedy. He’s a creator, writer and performer on the TV and web series Knife Knews and Knife Life. Loren is a returning Folk on the Rocks emcee. He emceed at the 2011 festival when Fred Penner lit his guitar on fire and played until it was a pile of ashes. Did that really happen?

Louie Goose, Inuvik, NT

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Louie Goose, born on the west coast of Victoria Island, moved to Aklavik in the mid 1950s. Louie began playing guitar at age 10, accompanying local fiddlers and singers before he hit adolescence. He formed his first band at 16 with friends from the Grollier Hall Catholic Residential School and is credited with introducing live music to much of the region. A regional manager for CBC Inuvik in the 70s and 80s, Louie’s listeners helped develop his stage persona which has captivated his audiences for almost 45 years.


FOLK ON THE ROCKS 2013 Natasha Duchene, Yellowknife, NT Pianist, composer, adventurer and dreamer Natasha Duchene entrances audiences from the abandoned ruins at the Salton Sea to the icy waters in Canada’s north, sharing the stage with both folk and jazz musicians alike. Natasha fuses electroacoustic and instrumental composition with traditional songwriting and jazz to create a style that is compelling, mysterious, and very human.

Nelson Tagoona, Baker Lake, NU Beatboxer/guitarist, duet throatbox pioneer, solo throatbox inventor and multi-talented musician - these are the many hats of Nelson Tagoona from Baker Lake, NU. Nelson brings an undeniable and totally inspiring surge of positive energy to the stage, switching up between his own form of beat-boxing ('throatboxing') and riffing on his electric guitar. He takes musical traditions/ forms and embraces them on a new and refreshing level. www.facebook.com/NelsonTagoona

Owls by Nature, Edmonton, AB Described as “Whiskey-fueled folk rock anthems”, Owls By Nature’s tunes have been living up to their reputation. With incredible live shows filled with frenetic energy, the band has a on an innovative stance when it comes to rock’n’roll. www.owlsbynature.com

Paul Cressman, Yellowknife, NT For the last decade Paul Cressman has played with various bands from coast to coast. After moving north in 2007, Paul began branching out on his own. Combining beatboxing, instrumentation, digital effects, looping technology and slam style poetry, Paul creates slowly evolving musical landscapes with beats for your soul, music for your spirit and words for your mind. (PS. Paul’s the one with the glasses in the photo).

Poor Choices, Yellowknife, NT Poor Choices are a guitar-driven psychedelic country rock band forged out of a leaky wood stove in a floating palace on Yellowknife's Houseboat Bay. Two singer songsters added bass, drums and a generator to form an upbeat two steppin' Northern skiffle back beat. When the choices get poor, the fun gets rich.

The Crooked Brothers, Winnipeg, MB

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Jesse Matas, Darwin Baker and Matt Foster - three are songwriters and multi-instrumentalists on banjos, mandolins, dobro, guitar and harmonicas bring seemingly limitless musical arrangements and vocals to our stages. The Crooked Brothers three distinct styles and touches create a refreshing sense that they will never write the same song twice. They ring scraps of railway iron like bells. They whistle through their teeth. They sing and shout. Whatever they're up to, this is a seriously good time! www.crookedbrothers.com

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The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer, Vancouver, BC The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer stir up a lot more than just violent nautical imagery. Armed with a sack of harmonicas, a mess of foot percussion and a road-worn Telecaster, Shawn “The Harpoonist” Hall and Matthew “The Axe Murderer” Rogers kick out raw and primal blues. These guys will knock your socks off. www.harpoonistaxemurderer.com

The Kerplunks, Nanaimo, BC The Kerplunks, award winning children’s entertainers, bring high-energy, colourful performances to the stage - and outfits that match! These folks are committed to educating children through musical creativity. When they start playing, the kids are soon dancing and following along with the actions. Even parents can’t resist getting up out of their seats! www.thekerplunks.com

The Medicine Hat, Guelph/Toronto, ON The Medicine Hat is the sound of falling in love: magical, uncompromising, and a bit ridiculous. Born in a cold basement after folk songstress Nabi Loney and her boyfriend Tyler Bersche realized that they had written enough songs about each other to make a record, The Medicine Hat became the soundtrack to the first of hopefully many love stories. www.musicbymedicinehat.com

www.bigrockbeer.com

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Hand-Crafted Music Deserves Hand-Crafted Beer


Brilliance on stage... Music is like food for our souls. It lifts us up, enriches our communities, and connects us all.

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FOLK ON THE ROCKS 2013 The Sweet Lowdown, Victoria, BC The Sweet Lowdown is an acoustic roots trio from Victoria B.C. Drawn together by mutual passion for old-time groove, hard driving bluegrass, sweet harmonies and well-wrought songs, The Sweet Lowdown (Amanda Blied – guitar, Shanti Bremer – banjo and Miriam Sonstenes – fiddle) blend original song-writing with old time roots music to create a sound that is both unique and timeless.

The Trade Offs, Iqaluit, NU The Trade-offs, a quartet of ambitious musicians from Iqaluit, Nunavut, reflect the fact that the Canadian Arctic has always been a place where ancient and modern ideas are fused. These guys craft a vintage sound inspired by the blues, jazz, funk and soul recordings produced by both Stax and Motown Records. Creating music that is immediately familiar with their brand of “Arctic Soul,” The Trade-offs are leading a new generation of northern artists determined to be heard. www.facebook.com/Thejayjaysnunavut

Travis Mercredi, Yellowknife, NT Travis Mercredi, an NWT Metis sound designer and guitarist, resides in Yellowknife. He works in audio production for film, television, radio, theatre, musical production and location sound. He is a well know member of both Erebus & Terror, and Sinister Oculus. A lover of both quiet minimalism and decadent noise he strives for an eclectic middle ground between the two but is always willing to veer either way if inspiration calls.

Yes Nice, Edmonton, AB Redefining home through colour and spirit, Yes Nice is a band that captivates audiences through their charismatic energy and enticing harmonies. Lyrically and musically, Yes Nice stretches boundaries with dynamic songwriting that stands out in the Canadian indie musical landscape. www.yesnice.ca

The Yellowknives Dene Drummers, Yellowknife, NT

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The Yellowknives Dene Drummers are a group of traditional drummers who are representative of the Yellowknife Dene Region of the Northwest Territories. The drummers share the spirit of the Dene drum and bless the festival with their performances. Expression of thanks through dance is part of the celebration and everyone is welcome to partake in this ceremony of life.


Spring auction and dance a huge success! Thanks so much to the businesses and patrons (you know who you are) who made the Auction/Dance 2013 a huge success. We raised almost $10,000 at the event - all of which goes back into the infrastructure of the festival site. Yellowknife - you rock! Canadian North Airlines Alianait Festival, Iqaluit Blachford Lake Lodge Brrlesque Buffalo Airwear Calgary Folk Fest Tickets Collective Soul Space/Sundog Dave Brosha Fiddles and Stix Fit 2 the T Flowers North For Women Only Fran Hurcomb

Just Fitness NACC Nicole Garbutt Makeup Old Town Glassworks Pat Kane Rosalind Mercredi Saeid Mushtagh Salmon Arm Festival Sarah’s Hot n’Ready Top of the World Travel Western Artic Moving Pictures William Greenland

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Look for our big volunteer thank-you signs around the festival grounds.

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FOLK ON THE ROCKS 2013

SPONSORS

Canadian Heritage City of Yellowknive GNU Culture, Language, Education and Youth GNWT Arts Council GNWT Education, Culture and Employment GNWT: Industry, Tourism and Investment (SEED) GNWT: Municipal and Corporate Affairs Service Canada

FACTOR Huntingdon Capital Corp Microsoft Millennium Technologies Northern News Services Nova Court Hotel Pido Productions Radio Taiga Signed Socan Foundation TAIT Communitcations

ENCORE Canadian North Airlines CBC North Big Rock Breweries Coast Fraser Towers DT Electric Matco Northwestel SSI Micro Ltd.

STANDING OVATION adFrame Association Franco-Culturelle de Yk. BMO Bank of Montreal CJCD Mix 100 De Beers Canada Explorer Hotel Northern Journal Polar Tech PSAC North Super 8 Yellowknife The Yellowknife Inn

APPLAUSE Corothers Home Hardware Building Center Danmax Communication Ltd. Dynamic Services Home Building Centre Manitoulin Transport Molly Maid North Slave Correction Centre Pick’s Steam Pido Productions Spark - The Branding Shop St. John Ambulance Yellowknife Beverages

WHISTLE Avery Cooper Bartle and Gibson Black Knight Pub Bromley & Sons Ltd. Ecology North Jack Antonio

Javaroma Gourmet Coffee & Tea Kavanaugh Bros. Ltd. MainStreet Donair and Falafel Northern Arts & Cultural Centre Northern Frontier Visitors Centre Northland Utilities Nunasi Corporation The Racquet Club

PATRONS Adam Dental Clinic Boston Pizza Bullock’s Bistro Canadian Tire Creative Basics Fire Prevention Services Fire Prevention Services Ltd. Food Rescue NWT Hertz Rent-a-Car KopyKat North Mike & Mark’s Restaurant National Rental Car Northbest Distributors Ltd. Northern Fancy Meats Pioneer Supply House Quality furniture Reddi Mart Shoppers Drug Mart Superior Propane The Cellar Bar and Grill Weaver and Devore Trading Ltd Yellowknife Downtown Liquor Store Yk Buzz

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FOOT STOMP

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GOVERNMENT FUNDERS


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Yellowknife’s Music Scene An Evolution of City and Sound

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On any given school night, when he could have been studying, 15-year-old Pat Braden would be found in one of Yellowknife’s smoky bars instead, laying down the backbeat to some Top 40 AC/DC or Hank Williams covers. In the mid-70s, almost every establishment had a house band — either local or flown from the south — and bass players like Braden were in big demand. For Yellowknifers, stepping out on a Friday night meant a cornucopia of 11 live bands to choose from.

by Laurie Sarkadi

and another upstairs for dancing. If swing was your scene, the Explorer Hotel’s cabaret room could accommodate 300 people and an 18-piece Big Band flown from Los Angeles, while the Hoist Room and Cantina featured jazz.

Eleven!

“I was revolving in and out of one of these places,” recalls the laid-back Braden, now 51 and widely revered as a musical elder in the capital. “I was just playing music like crazy.” In summers, downtown streets were blocked off and bands played outdoor dances.

Packed dance floors swayed to A-circuit groups playing at the Rec Hall, Gold Range, Gallery, Elks Club and Legion – the latter three hosting two bands, one downstairs for listening

I’ve never known Yellowknife to have a shortage of musicians — creativity and artistry seem to percolate from the bedrock — but it’s hard to reconcile today’s somewhat fickle live music

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The Yellowknife band “Enterprise” before a performance upstairs at the Elks Hall, circa 1985. From left to right: Peter Cullen, Sue Leon, Jim Curry, Tom Hudson, Norman Glowach, Pat Braden, James Milligan. photo submitted by Norm Glowach

Then in the ‘80s, something shifted. Bartenders started to turn on stereos instead. DJs realized they could charge less than bands, and the Anik Satellite brought cable television into people’s homes. The internet, with its limitless entertainment possibilities, and the demolition of large music venues like The Gallery and the Rec Hall, further changed the way people socialize and consume live music.

While it’s unlikely the city will ever be able to crank it up to 11 again, there’s an astonishing volume of talent in a broad array of musical genres finding new platforms for performance, including Javaroma Jams, Tyler Shea’s Folk Fridays at the Mackenzie Lounge, Fuego, Diamante, the ice stage at the Snowcastle and the beer barge afloat Great Slave Lake. In addition to Folk on the Rocks — voted among Canada’s Top 10 music festivals by CBC Radio 3 — dedicated volunteers with the support of a revitalized Music NWT have rallied to add eight different festivals throughout the year: Cabin Fever, Pride, Solstice, Longjohn Jamboree, Old Town Ramble & Ride and Snowking among them. Susan Shantora is a singer with degrees in voice performance, music education and classical training. She’s also a board member and performer with COSY — Classics On Stage Yellowknife — a 35-member classical music group with EDGEYK.CA

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The ‘70s were a boom time for Yellowknife, a hardscrabble mining town still adjusting to the gentrification and growth that came with morphing into a government centre in 1967. There was no satellite or cable, so television consisted of stale hockey games and episodes of Bonanza flown up from Toronto. Socializing with live music at the clubs was where it was at.

“Now it’s mostly on weekends, mostly one night, and it’s still fun,” says Braden. “It’s not bad or worse, it’s just different.”

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scene with a time when Franklin Avenue tore a page from New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. Some historical context is useful.


regular concerts that fill the niche for people hankering for Brahms, Telleman or opera arias. Grey Gritt. photo Dave Brosha, courtesy Grey Gritt

“We get about 100-150 people at concerts,” she says. “For Yellowknife, that’s great.” Shantora teaches music in three schools, where she sees tons of kids with big talents, “but my personal soap box is we as a community aren’t doing enough to support the youth so they can realize their potential, whether they want to sing pop, or play guitar in clubs, whatever.” In 2007, she started the spring Yellowknife Music Festival, where people from out of town come and evaluate students and teachers and share their knowledge through workshops and performances. It’s one way young piano players and other classical musicians can work their way into larger festivals and choirs across the country. And she’s using Skype to give lessons to kids in outlying communities. Yellowknife’s isolation from the rest of Canada’s music scene is the proverbial double-edged sword. The disconnect can be great for the creative process, especially surrounded with such natural beauty, but there’s little chance of being discovered by a top promoter or producer, or landing in a major recording studio – although thankfully, veteran musicians Norm Glowach, and later, Norbert Poitras, have provided countless northern artists with quality studio recordings over the years; and now Stephen Richardson and David Dowe have added Double D Rockstar Studios to the mix. Still, being a medium-sized fish in a small pond can have its advantages too. Take talented young singer-songwriters Dana Sipos and Grey Gritt, Folk on the Rocks alumni who drifted to Yellowknife and quickly established themselves as bright lights on the northern musical landscape, each expanding their artistry through a myriad of collaborations and friendships. In short order, both also found national platforms for their poetic lyrics and bluesy folk through the CBC – Sipos through its Songquest competition, and Gritt through a performance for the Truth North Concert Series, opening for bluesman Paul Reddick. “It is a land of opportunity in many ways,” says Gritt. “The only difficulty I see is how to transfer that to elsewhere.” Travis Mercredi, guitar player for Yellowknife’s six-piece Indie rockers Erebus and Terror, agrees. “You can look to the North as a place that’s a respite to the rest of the world, you can come into yourself,” he says, “but it’s definitely not a good place to make a professional living off music.”

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If I had to think of one band that defines the potential of Yellowknife’s music scene it would be Erebus and Terror, longtime Yellowknife lads who’ve gone through several musical transformations since high school (Mandeville Drive, Greasy Twigs, Esker, Giant Con) but never seem to lose their youthful, good-time vibe, or their ability to pack a venue with hipsters aching to dance to their self-described “shipwreck rock” originals. Yet even with that following, the band — named after two ill-fated ships from the Franklin expedition — like so many continued on page 39

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Erebus and Terror perform at the Snowcastle. photo Brent Reaney

continued from page 36

others, purposefully limits engagements. In a city of less than 20,000, you don’t want to wear out your welcome.

restaurant soon to open called The Cellar is rumoured to be musician-friendly — same for the newly renovated Elks Club.

“Generally music is supported by large social scenes,” says Mercredi. “There’s not a lot of socializing. The venues are as supportive as they can be, but because of the cost of running a business in this town the venues aren’t willing to absorb that much risk.”

Palmer says his experience booking live acts is that the city is “too” social.

photo Pat Kane

OVE TRU HARDWARE

“Who would have thought you could do this for a living, and it’s thanks to the North,” says lead singer Karen Single-Novak, the only non-Hungarian in the group. They have their own recording equipment and release original tracks that play on CKLB radio (another place to hear live musicians every Friday morning), which boosts their revenue stream. Single-Novak and her husband — the band’s guitar player — recently got an apartment, but for years they lived with their young son at the Gold Range Hotel, free accommodations being part of the band’s contract. She says the ‘Range’s’ notorious history as a rough ’n tumble place is just that, history. “I’ve seen more fights in High Level,” she says. “I love the Gold Range. It’s not the prettiest place, but it’s the feeling you get when you’re there. It’s very special, very unique.” The bar has seen a sort of revival in recent years, not in decor — its ragged ambience, completely devoid of pretence, has not

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Old Town musician Ryan McCord.

Ahh, the anomalous Welder’s Daughter. Here’s a band that left one of Canada’s hottest music scenes — Vancouver — to tour their Top 40 hard rock across the country. They landed in Yellowknife for a gig at the Gold Range Hotel 10 years ago, having just added country songs to their setlist, and, except for their extended gigs at Inuvik’s Trapper’s Lounge, have never left. Ranked Canada’s number one working club band by Canadian music agents, with 341 shows in 2012, the move appears to have paid off.

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Flint Palmer used to manage Twist, a small lounge that’s actively sought to make its mark as a live music destination, hosting jams, bands and solo acts. Like so many people I spoke to, Palmer, who also DJ’ed for 25 years, says the city’s music scene ebbs and flows. He’d categorize the current status as a low, with both music groups and venues dropping off (Le Frolic Bistro/Bar being the latest casualty), but says the tides are turning. You’ll see him working at the refurbished Wildcat Cafe this summer, where a new 46-person deck will accommodate veteran songsters such as Tracey Riley and Jim Taylor. A new

“It’s tough because Yellowknife being such a diverse community, there’s sometimes 15 different events —fundraisers, music — the same night. You have to be aware of what’s going on in town, what’s happening at the Top Knight, or whether Welder’s Daughter is in town.”


In May, a public Dene drum dance to celebrate spring was held at Somba K’e Park. photo Laurie Sarkadi

changed much since the heydays of the ‘70s — but in clientele. Late-night hordes of young people are coming to sync with the energy of a live dance band. It’s a beautiful sight, all the mixing of cultures and ages, a melting pot of booties with varying degrees of two-stepping prowess, shaking it out on a wellstomped hardwood floor. If DJs can be blamed in part for the downturn of live performances like that, they certainly get credit for the other side of the equation – getting people to dance. Sam’s Monkey Tree attracts a steady weekend crowd, where Yellowknife’s hip hop ambassador, Godson, DJs every other Saturday night. The Raven too has managed to stay afloat with a mix of live bands and DJs. But another kind of DJ’d electronics, bass music, is attracting a growing following. Dustin Philippon, a.k.a. Pronoia, is a 26-year-old graduate of Pacific Audio Visual Institute in Vancouver, where he sunk his teeth into an exploding electronic music scene. He learned to throw his own bass shows around town — using midi controllers and drum machines — “with the goal to make girls dance.” He succeeded. Pronoia was packing After 8 Billiards Club with his bi-weekly, multi-media productions last summer when college and university students are home and restless. Now he's busy organizing Yellowknife’s first electronic music festival July 27th at the Multiplex with Chad (Cynergii) Hinchey and southern acts. With a name like Pronoia, the opposite of paranoia, chances are he’ll succeed with that, as well. “I was told it means that everybody is out to do you good — that a person could just give you something that could change your life — and I thought, I’d like something like that to happen to me, and it just kind of stuck,” he says.

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Now that I know the meaning of pronoia, I can declare Yellowknife’s music scene “pronoid.” What we lack in the finer features of music industry commerce, we more than make up for in sharing and generosity. Old Town seems to be at the heart of the matter. Cheap rent aside, collaborative music thrives amongst houseboaters and shack dwellers.

“A shack jam has a real down-home kind of atmosphere — it's crowded, hot and loud, and can inspire some great music,” says Ryan McCord, an Old Town fixture in the Dawgwoods, Back Bay Scratchers and most recently, Old Town Mondays. He’d taken music lessons as a kid, then kind of put it aside until he moved to Yellowknife in 2003 and experienced his first stage performance at a jam at Lucille’s (formerly The Cave), in the old Gallery building. Living in Old Town afforded him ample opportunities to learn from other musicians, so he did. I can relate. My own story is almost identical. About the same time 10 years ago, I learned guitar and started singing thanks to friends like Wade Carpenter, who frequently hosted house jams where more seasoned musicians didn’t mind newbie singers like me croaking — or choking on guitar. Leela Gilday invited me to be part of a singer-songwriter spotlight at Lucille’s, then owned by Tracey Riley, where I made my terrifying debut. I’m in a band now with real players, musicians who share their talents with several other singer-songwriters, everyone backing up everyone else’s hopes and dreams. I don’t have musical aspirations that could be inhibited by Yellowknife, since opportunities I could never have imagined have miraculously come to pass – including performing at Folk on the Rocks. My most regular gig is pub night at Avens Seniors Centre once a month, where I desperately try to channel Hank Williams. They recently held a volunteer appreciation dinner where I got to sit amongst a who’s who of Yellowknife’s musical royalty, people whose ancestral roots in the North dig back thousands of years; who have the heartbeat of Dene drumming in their DNA – Paul Andrew, Joseph Nayelly, John Tees, George Tuccaro, William Greenland, Lee Mandeville…some got up to perform some country tunes with bass player Bobbi Bouvier, who last I remembered had been stricken by a mysterious illness that put her in a wheelchair. Musicians held fundraisers to show support for her at the Gold Range. It must have been tough. But there she was now, walking, standing, singing, smiling; through some inexplicable twist of fate, she got better. When “everyone is out to do you good,” as Pronoia says, anything is possible. Music can be like that. Especially in Yellowknife.


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A Brief History of We’ve all been there, to that very Canadian place that has left an impression on our collective memory: a lake, a sunset, a guitar and a song. Those ingredients make up the staple diet for anyone looking to escape to nature, but for Yellowknifers, that escape is in our own backyard.

The Long, Sandy Road to Success Compiled by Pat Kane using FOTR archives

This year marks the 33rd anniversary of Folk on the Rocks, a celebration of music and arts from across the circumpolar North and around the world. It is truly an international party with a regional flavor all its own. It has grown to become one of Canada’s premier summer festivals and, if you are a Yellowknifer, it is “the best weekend of the year.”

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Here, we present A Brief History of Folk on the Rocks.

The first site map in 1980.

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But creating and sustaining a festival this large, this diverse and this popular was no easy task. Like most good ideas it started on a lake, near the rocks, with a sunset in the background, a guitar in hand, and the need to sing a few songs.


1980: Folk on the Rocks is Born Fifteen-hundred people make their way to Long Lake for the inaugural Folk on the Rocks festival. Co-organizer Ted Wesley jams alongside performers Utah Phillips, Ken Bloom and John Allen Cameron, entertaining audiences for three days over the summer solstice weekend. The first FOTR is a huge success.

1981-1983: Expansion Holding true to the festival mandate of promoting and supporting Northern talent, 16 performers from the area return in support of that goal in ‘81. Side stages are built to expand the Long Lake venue. Other artists, including carvers, moccasin makers, printmakers and painters are invited to be part of the festival – their work displayed in a 45-foot trailer for public viewing. In 1982, a touring version of FOTR called Folk on the Road takes shape and plays in Whati and Fort Smith. For the main festival in Yellowknife however, Ann Peters joins the organizing team and helps expand the festival even further; a children’s stage is built and a fence is put up around the venue. In keeping FOTR family-friendly, a near-beer garden is introduced. It doesn’t last very long. The following year, an idea for a theme is implemented. “The Circle” is chosen as the 1983 theme as a tribute to First Nations, Metis and Inuit cultures across the NWT. The igloo, teepee and drum are the symbols. Folk on the Road travels to Fort Smith, Fort Providence and Fort Simpson.

1984-1988: Crossroads As Folk grows in popularity, so do expectations. In ’84, the organizing team adds international performances by musicians from Central and South America and a headliner, Juno winner Murray McLaughlin. Poor weather forces the first cancelation of a major act just minutes before McLaughlin is set to perform. The sun and McLaughlin return for the Sunday show. Finances are tight the following year and the festival carries a large amount of debt. Faced with a tough decision, festival President Rosemary Cairns, decides that the show must go on. Folk is limited to only two days for the first year since it began. 1986 sees more problems: Expo ’86 draws many of the NWT musicians to Vancouver so they are not able to attend Folk. The festival is limited to a oneday Summer Solstice event at Petitot Park, Sir John Franklin High School and Northern Arts and Cultural Centre. The future of Folk on the Rocks remains uncertain until the organizers take two big gambles. Keeping in line with the rest of Canada’s summer festival circuit, Folk is rescheduled to mid-July and some high-profile (and high-priced) acts like Spirit of the West, are invited to Yellowknife. The gambles pay off, the crowds come in droves and ticket sales pay for nearly half of the $65,000 budget. Folk on the Rocks recovers from a near-death experience. Or does it? The next year, in 1988, poor publicity and poor weather hamper the weekend. Barely 600 people purchase tickets, and once again, the festival is on the verge of collapse.

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continued from page 44

1989-1993: Getting Back on the Horse

1999-2003 Coming of Age

Organizers of the 1989 festival know that audiences expect more. Marketing is now a priority, and so is the quality and variety of performers. Through ’89 and ’90, more events are held, including Warm the Rocks, and new cultural musicians are brought in: Japanese Drummers, Eastern European and Jewish traditional performers wow the crowd. Folk is now more than just folk music. Jeff Pitre of Pido Productions provides the festival sound, a relationship that continues to this day.

In keeping with the mandate of fostering and promoting northern talent, the first Warm the Rocks night is incorporated into the festival, giving less-experienced performers the chance to play at Mainstage. Great weather and an impressive lineup bring nearly 3,800 people through the gates in 1999.

Northern Quebec and Labrador. Festival-goers come in droves, eager to hear a lineup with so much diversity. The festival is now finding its footing, until heavy rain in 1993 nearly washes out the event. A mere 650 people purchase tickets, and once again, FOTR falls into debt.

summer festival circuit. In these years, Inuit throatsinger Tanya Tagaq makes her first appearance, punk group Gob attracts a younger audience than in previous years, and The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie plays to a raucous crowd, solidifying FOTR as a truly Canadian festival.

1994-1998 Growing Pains, Fresh Start

2004-2009 On a Roll

Rain and poor weather hamper the festival through the mid-to-late 1990s. The society, now officially Folk on the Rocks (previously called the Society for the Encouragement of Northern Talent, or SENT) deals with washed-out stages in 1995 and is forced to move indoors at the arena. With the weather always a looming threat, organizers secure funding to build The Mainstage. Architect Simon Taylor is hired to build the amphitheater-style stage and with the help of the North Slave Correctional Centre and volunteers, co-founder Rod Russell’s small, modest stage is removed and replaced in the spring of 1998.

The festival builds on the idea of attracting a younger, more diverse and environmentally friendly crowd. In 2005, CBC showcases FOTR as a unique Canadian event featuring music from across the circumpolar regions. The idea of celebrating the North and Northern artists starts to pay off. The following year, volunteers and local organizations chip in with their own ideas to make FOTR a “green” festival: recycling bins, re-using plates and cutlery, recycled toilet paper and composting.

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The society also looks to the future in 2003, as it becomes part of the International Folk Alliance. Improved connectivity and networking with other festivals in Canada lead to the exchange of ideas in making FOTR a respected event on the national

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Following a successful 10th anniversary, FOTR continues to bring in eclectic and traditional acts, which in turn, help pay off the heavy debt accumulated through the mid-1980s. Acts from Halifax, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver jam alongside bands and traditional acts from Canada’s north, including Innu from

Heading into the new millennium, archival projects come to the forefront and the preservation of 20 years of FOTR memories, photographs, videos and volunteer contributions are commemorated in an ongoing museum project.


The new energy, interest and improvements to all aspects of the festival create resurgence in community spirit. FOTR is not just something to wait for; it’s something to be a part of. Some 300 volunteers make the festival happen, and 2008 sees new records for crowds as nearly 3,300 people pack the site, only to be outdone the following year with 5,100 festival-goers. The multicultural fusion of music from northerners, at least one major headline act and performers from other countries seems to be the magic formula for drawing audiences. In the late 2000s acts like Sam Roberts, Sarah Harmer, Plants and Animals, Elliott Brood, The Sadies and Great Lake Swimmers set new expectations for quality music at what is quickly becoming one of Canada’s premier summer music festivals.

2010-present: Going Strong The 30th Anniversary of Folk on the Rocks brings in an all-star lineup. Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jim Cuddy, Greg Keelor, Tanya Tagaq, Leela Gilday, and a slew of other nationally recognized acts join founder Ted Wesley at the 2010 festival. FOTR has another huge moment in the spotlight as it is named one of Canada’s Top 10 summer music festivals by CBC. The national broadcaster’s own Grant Lawrence hosts the mega celebration. Now on the national scale, FOTR continues inviting big-name acts and incorporates even more opportunities for up-and-coming northern artists through new collaborative workshops. Family-friendly acts mix with socially charged performances. Merchandise, art, local goods and a “green” approach add to the feeling of community involvement. A new attendance record of 5,600 music lovers passing through the FOTR site is set in 2012. It is now a larger, better-produced festival than it’s ever been, but still remains at its core a weekend celebration of music by a lake, on the rocks.

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Images from the 1990 festival program.

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Come on down the hill To Old Town August 2–4 magazine area date line area

Visit oldtown y k.com for the full event schedule

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Take in the arts, culture and live music spread across Yellowknife’s historic neighbourhood


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A Love Letter to Folk on the Rocks

A Vancouver musician speaks from the heart

July 20, 2009

Dear Folk on the Rocks, Thought I'd drop you a line before this sleepless, giddy euphoria gets rubbed out by day-to-day mundanities and I find a million excuses not to write this. Thanks much for inviting us to your festival. We've been at this for a very long time. We have played hundreds of gigs and our experience at FOTR ranks with the very best we've had as performing musicians. Our main stage set put us in front of the largest crowd we've ever played to and – considering we played right after THE proverbial tough act to follow (ExChanging Beats) – I was really, really moved by the response. Our right stage gave us a receptive, appreciative audience for our quieter material.

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I was particularly impressed not only with the stylistic breadth of the performers you chose, but that the majority of the audience listened receptively to everything across that stylistic spectrum. I've always been bugged by genre-fication. Louis Armstrong once said there's only two kinds of music: good and bad. And he was a jazz guy who did several records with Jimmy Rogers (ground zero for what we now call country music). Genres down here are almost a kind of uniform, a superficial form of tribalism. Yes, we love the hipsters that come hear us in the clubs, but I sincerely doubt many of them have crossed the street to listen to a hip hop show... Not to mention northern storytellers, calypso performers, hippie rockers or throat singers. (Admittedly, I haven't much either. Of our fellow travelers for the weekend, I was only previously familiar with Old Man Luedecke, Sam Roberts and T. Nile.) But, to have an audience of – I'm guessing – 1,500 to 2,000 witness something as mind blowing as ExChanging Beats and then generously give us eyes and ears and feet right after... that was profoundly moving. Later that evening, I (middle-class, middle-aged white guy sporting cowboy hat) shared a really cool conversation with one of the members of Red Power Squad (young, passionate First Nations EDGEYK.CA

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And the beer garden madness...Well, that's what we're used to, only magnified considerably. It was as fun as fun gets, but it was also a lot more. It was heartening. It was moving... I felt part of something important, something transformative. Your festival has a lot of soul.


man sporting traditional war paint as his stage regalia) about eradicating boundaries, transcending rivalries, and the bridge-building, transformative power of music. Had you seen that conversation, as described, in a movie, you would have said, "how unlikely, how trite," but that conversation happened and it meant a lot to me. We both recognized that we spoke different dialects of the same language. I also admired how local talent and culture were nurtured and incorporated. The Canadian inferiority complex sometimes subconsciously dictates, "It can't be very good if it comes from here," (to paraphrase a Ford Pier song). Again, ExChanging Beats was genius, but I'm also grateful for my introduction to Digawolf, Dana Sipos, The Dawg Woods and Wake Up Hazel to name but four I heard perform. It was also an honour to play with Dana Sipos and Pat Braden during the Endless Summer Strings workshop. (As an aside, that was my biggest fear of the festival. That I learned to play a calypso rhythm on my dobro – not my most familiar instrument, to put it diplomatically – in the company of eight musicians I've never played with before, in front of a substantial audience, was something of a personal victory. I gave myself permission to fail, and mostly managed not to.) And the volunteer program... Wow. A community fully active in creating its own culture... That's where the holistic vibe comes from, I think. We have never been treated better. Tireless enthusiasm. Everyone wearing a volunteer shirt that I passed, checked in: "What do you think of the festival? Are you having fun? Do you need anything?" An ongoing subtext of "We're happy you're here." You are all so genuine, kind and generous! Thanks to all, but I'll drop the names I remember right now in my sleep-deprived stupor (apologies for any oversights): Julia (drove us several times and danced at all of our sets), Vanessa (drove and charmed us several times), Vickie and Marissa (made us giggle and talked us down while driving us to our first set after the cell phone grid debacle made us late and even helped us carry our gear) Ashley, (general enthusiasm), Catherine (general enthusiasm) and Tawm (no one's dicking with your equipment on my watch!). We also really dug Deneze's companionship and general air of "all is calm, all is good." And the site? Wow... Otherworldly... Beyond beautiful. But, really just the sprinkles on the icing on the cake. Niggles? Only a couple. I thought the stories of the bugs must be hyperbole. But, no... How long does it take to psychologically accept you're lower on the food chain? And, the unprecedented success of the festival denied us our farewell beer... Those festivalgoers literally drank the town dry...Oh, sad, thirsty band... But, to be part of that unprecedented success was pretty amazing! We made a lot of really cool new friends there. If we're welcome back, we're a coming! Just say the word. You're awesome!

Love, Doug Liddle For Swank magazine area date line area

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Swank did return to headline the FOTR spring dance in 2010. Vancouver-based Liddle now plays with Cloudsplitter and The Jardines, as well as various recording projects, and says “four years later, FOTR still remains a huge highlight in my musical life.”

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Want to apply for NWT Student Financial Assistance? The deadline for applications is July 15th.

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Late applications are accepted but payment is not guaranteed for the start date of fall classes.


Heart Beat

Folk tradition sees the festival open and close with a Dene prayer and drum dance. The closing prayer is for safe travels home.

Enjoy the festival!

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photo FOTR/Pat Kane

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Profile for Verge

EdgeYK Folk On The Rocks Guide  

EdgeYK Insiders Guide to Folk on the Rocks

EdgeYK Folk On The Rocks Guide  

EdgeYK Insiders Guide to Folk on the Rocks

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