Can’t get enough great music? Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered.
The music carries on throughout the year and in various venues at MusicFest concerts held throughout the Comox Valley and beyond.
Check the listings below and grab your tickets online.
American cellist Eric Longsworth, who lived in Montreal for more than fifteen years and has been based in France since 2002, has formed a new group, crystallized around recent encounters with musicians from diverse cultures. With Jean-Luc Difraya from Marseille, on percussion and voice, and kora player Cherif Soumano, from Mali, Eric Longsworth is pleased to present the World Kora Trio.
The colors of African music embodied by the kora resonate with the original jazz and folk compositions of the electric cellist. The percussionist, with his celestial voice, impels the trio towards wide open spaces, world wide, as in music of the world.
Far from “conceptual”, their dialogue is playful, dynamic, and effervescent, illustrating beyond doubt that music is a universal language that defies borders.
A rare musical proposition…world music in the truest sense.
Genesis of the project
Eric Longsworth, electric cellist living in France, and Cherif Soumano, kora player from Bamako, met at the “Rochefort en Accords” Festival in 2010. Festival director Philippe Thieyre suggested that they open the 6th edition of the festival with a cello/kora duo. The two musicians immediately hit it off.
Cherif’s playing is strongly influenced by traditional music from Mali, in which the kora is historically a key instrument. At the same time, he has spent years playing rock, reggae and jazz. In jazz, Cherif has found an expression for his openness to other musical cultures, and a wonderful outlet for his abilities as an improviser.
Eric is one of those difficult-to-classify artists, who shapes unforgettable melodies with his electric cello. Influenced by his American roots, Eric plays music like a story-teller telling stories. Equally at home within and without the large family of jazz, Eric enjoys exploring the emotion inherent in the music.
« Rendez-vous »
Following the experience with Cherif, Eric called on Jean-Luc Difraya, with whom he had long wanted to play. Jean-Luc’s percussion accentuate the rhythmic dynamic of the kora and cello. Plus, Jean-Luc’s extraordinary voice counterbalances the percussive attack of the kora, and interlaces with the cello for melodic counterpoint. Especially appreciated for his versatility and intuitive originality, Jean-Luc expands the palette of sounds of this unusual trio.
It is easy to imagine that in the current social and political context, projects such as this one, open to and curious about other cultures, will reach out to touch peoples’ hearts.
A featured part of our Global Music Concert Series, this evening at the Komox Band Hall is a co-presentation with the I-Hos Gallery and the Comox Valley Multicultural and Immigrant Support Society.
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Quebec’s Le Vent du Nord knows how to turn the lost past into intensely listenable performances that push their roots in striking global directions. Since 2002, the quartet has given more than 1000 concerts worldwide, racking up several prestigious awards, including two Junos (Canada’s Grammy) for Best roots album. Celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2012 with a 7th album “Tromper le Temps”, Le Vent du Nord returns to its roots, drawing from yesterday and today as it lets us glimpse hopes of possible tomorrows.
Tromper le Temps was nominated at the 2013 Juno Awards (Roots and Traditional album – Group), 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards (Group of the Year, Album of the Year) and won the prestigious 2012 International Prize Charle Cros (world music).
Considered a driving force in progressive folk, Le Vent du Nord captures the energy and mirth of a Saturday night kitchen party, infusing old Québec with a breath of fresh, cosmopolitan air.
Since its founding in 2002, Le Vent du Nord have become compelling Francophone ambassadors, winning critical acclaim and audience adoration across Europe and North America. The quartet has performed well over 1,000 concerts, racking up several prestigious awards, including International Prize Charles Cros 2012 for World music, two Junos (2004 & 2011), a Canadian Folk Music Award, and ‘Artist of the Year’ at the North American Folk Alliance Annual Gala.
The band delivers catchy songs and tunes, some taken from the Québec traditional folk repertoire while others are original compositions. The group has a rich and varied instrumentation, well-polished musical arrangements, and wonderful vocals.
NEW SHOW – TROMPER LE TEMPS
Directed by Michel Rivard
Having given the La Part du Feu concert 250 times in North America, Europe, South America, and Oceania, Le Vent du Nord presents a new show with the songs of Tromper le temps (Fooling Time), its 7th album. Made up of 4 singers and multi-instrumentalists, Le Vent du Nord returns to its roots, drawing from yesterday and today to give us a glimpse the hopes of possible tomorrows. Through songs meant to resist the march of time, the Tromper le temps concert evokes often forgotten episodes of Québec’s history with provocative texts and poetic descriptions destined to endure throughout the ages. A way to fool time…while there is still time! It is a concert that stirs emotions and touches the heart and soul.
Not content with standard approaches to tradition, Le Vent du Nord have also created a symphonic concert, presented by Québec Symphony Orchestra, that “puts all traditional folk naysayers to shame” (Voir Montreal).
The pairing of Le Vent du Nord with a full symphony orchestra represents a brand new opportunity in high energy Pops & Family oriented symphonic programming. The traditional Quebecois style, with its driving, celtic-inflected rhythms, soaring melodies and vivid instrumentation has been paired with the vast resources of the traditional symphony orchestra.
These colorful arrangements have been carefully crafted so that the entire orchestra becomes a “fifth member” of this exciting band. In other words, these charts are emphatically NOT colorless sustained backgrounds. Every part, from piccolo to double bass, is effective, idiomatic and fun to play. The colors and textures are calibrated to balance naturally & effectively with an amplified ensemble. Everything the orchestra plays compliments or reinforces what is happening in the band, in the moment.
« To see them play live is to witness a explosion of notes, melody, and songs and an explosive and happy connection among musicians and audiance. » – FOLKWAX
“Just between us, may we say that Le Vent du Nord is THE best traditional Francophone band in this country? ” – Pierre Therrien, Espace Musique, Plaisirs Therrien
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Over the past decade or so Steve Dawson has become such an indelible fixture on the Canadian musical landscape that it’s tempting to take him for granted. One of the drawbacks of being so talented is that Dawson makes everything he does sound so effortless. The music that continually flows out of him is so natural and unforced that it’s possible to forget all of the toil that went into producing it. Behind the organic, flowing guitar work, the crisp arrangements and the laconic singing voice, resides one of the brightest, hardest working musicians the country has ever produced.
In addition to working on his own music, he’s kept very busy producing memorable albums by such luminaries as Jim Byrnes, Kelly Joe Phelps, Old Man Luedecke, The Sojourners, and The Deep Dark Woods, as well as bringing the award winning Mississippi Sheiks Tribute Project to fruition (featuring Steve’s work with Madeleine Peyroux, Bruce Cockburn, John Hammond, and many more). Add to that his session work and touring commitments and it’s amazing that this 2-time Juno award winning artist (not to mention 5 other Junos for his production work!) ever finds the time to create any new work under his own name.
A new solo album from Steve is always something special. Because Dawson is such a diverse artist, you’re never quite sure what kind of mood he’ll be in when he finally makes it into the studio to record. A master of many genres from gentle acoustic ditties and gut bucket blues through to free flowing experimental compositions, Dawson is comfortable in almost any musical setting you could name, and his newest album, “Nightshade” draws from these many interests to form his most satisfyingly complete album to date.
Though “Nightshade” continues in the vein of his four previous solo recordings, it nevertheless expands upon the language of his guitar work and offers more complex and fully realized songs than ever before. The opening cut, the riveting “Darker Still” sets the direction and mood as listeners encounter Steve Dawson, storyteller and chronicler of the dark side of life. Over twelve songs, we encounter a host of desperate characters and people from different walks of life poised at the crossroads, wishing they hadn’t done the things they can’t undo. Only on “Gulf Coast Bay”, an old Mississippi Sheiks tune reprised from the tribute concerts of last year, are listeners offered a reprieve or moment of brightness as Dawson’s tropical slide guitar shimmers its way through this memorable track.
When questioned about the challenging lyrical content, Dawson responds, “I read dark stuff, watch dark movies and am drawn to that kind of subject matter. As far as musical influences, I count Joe Henry and Elliot Smith as a direct influence on my writing. Their music is dark, but for myself, I don’t feel that dark as a person. Maybe writing music like this is a way to get it out of my system.”
Whatever therapeutic function creating the songs on “Nightshade” may have had for Steve, it’s his audience that benefits the most. And Dawson’s guitar is, as always, at the forefront, as the instrumental work on “Nightshade” is certainly the most nuanced and gut wrenching of his career to date. From the Weissenborn that drives “Fairweather Friends” to the pedal steel that defines “We Still Won the War” or the 12-string slide guitar on “Darker Still”, “Nightshade” like all of Dawson’s recordings offers a veritable musical feast for string aficionados. Banjos dance through “Side of the Road” (a song that was inspired by the life of bluesman Skip James), and snatches of acoustic melodies can be heard from time to time, but given the serious tone of many of the songs, Dawson wisely opted for a harder more electric sound this time out, and the results certainly speak for themselves as his instrument channels (among others) Duane Allman, Jimi Hendrix, Ry Cooder, and Marc Ribot to eloquently express the desperate emotions suggested by many of the lyrics.
As always, Steve Dawson has brought in some of the best players in the business to back him up. Frequent collaborators Chris Gestrin (keys) Keith Lowe (bass) and Geoff Hicks (drums) lock in from the first note to sympathetically complement the twists and turns posed by this challenging music. Acclaimed singers Jill Barber, Jeanne Tolmie and Alice Dawson provide a sweet counterpoint to the songs’ dark edges to elevate the whole proceedings and round out what may be the finest album Dawson has ever created.
“Nightshade” represents a significant leap forward for Steve Dawson and is destined to become one of the most admired and well loved albums in an already impressive body of work.
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“Skydiggers record covers of great Canadian artists
Gordon Lightfoot, Ron Sexsmith, Linda McRae and Neil Young.”
(quote from Montreal Gazette, Metro Winnipeg, Nova Scotia Herald and Post Media News July 2013)
It’s no accident the current buzz surrounding Linda McRae is building. Linda’s new release Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts nominated by the Canadian Folk Music Awards for Contemporary Album of the Year has been on the Roots Music Report Charts for 42 straight weeks.
Produced by Linda and Marc L’Esperance featured performers include The Sojourners, Doug Cox, Gurf Morlix, Ray Bonneville and Samantha Parton (Be Good Tanyas). Charting #1 at CKUA, #4 Top Canadian Album, #1 & 2 Top Canadian Songs (Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts/Be Your Own Light) and #8 Top Canadian Artists on the Folk DJ’s list the recording also earned 5* reviews in No Depression and Rock Star Weekly, and 4.5* in Penguin Eggs. All this and the recent inclusion of Linda’s song Burning Bridges on the The Skydiggers most recent CD confirms the buzz is definitely building.
Earning two-platinum and three gold records as a member of Spirit of the West Linda left the band to resume her solo career and has since released four critically acclaimed recordings: Flying Jenny with producer Colin Linden (Bruce Cockburn, Bob Dylan), Cryin’ Out Loud, producer Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier), Carve It To The Heart producers Linda McRae and Marc L’Esperance and her fourth release as mentioned above.
Performing on clawhammer banjo, acoustic guitar, accordion and porchboard stompbox, Linda combines old-time sounds with universal themes of heartbreak & redemption offering an intriguing sepia postcard from the past that is vibrant and alive in the present. Recordings and performances with musical luminaries include Bruce Cockburn, Neko Case, Alejandro Escovedo, Gurf Morlix, and Ray Waylie Hubbard.
Recent performance include Plainsong Festival NE, Yukon Arts Centre, Vancouver Island Music Festival BC; South Country Fair AB; Barbican Theatre UK; Maverick Festival UK; The Bluebird Café TN; and New Folsom Prison, California’s infamous maximum-security prison where she performed in concert and facilitated writing workshops for the inmates. These workshops lead to the creation of her EXPRESS YOURSELF Writing Workshops currently being presented in detox centres, alternative schools, and youth and adult correctional facilities across North America.
For more information on these workshops please visit http://lindamcrae.com/writing_workshops
Linda has partnered with the following festivals in order to present her workshop as part of their community outreach programs: 2013: Plainsong Festival NE, South Country Fair AB, Coldsnap Festival BC; and also booked in 2014: Hamburg Music Fest NY, Vancouver Island Music Fest BC.
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Fearing is well known within the international folk and roots music community as one of its most accomplished songsmiths, storytellers and guitarists. A double Juno award winner in his native Canada, he has experienced commercial and critical success, both in his solo career and with roots/rock supergroup Blackie and The Rodeo Kings. Along the way, Stephen has toured and recorded with everybody from Merle Haggard to Shawn Colvin.
Northern Ireland born and raised White has earned a global following for blending folk and pop stylings with a poet’s sensibility. Working with the great names of Irish music – Sinead O’Connor, Van Morrison – and writing with the likes of Peter Gabriel and Neil and Tim Finn, Andy has won Ireland’s top songwriting awards and toured the world many times. A published author, his recent on the road journal/novel 21st Century Troubadour has scored rave reviews.
“An exceptional disk featuring a collection of marvellously crafted, wonderfully eclectic and melodic roots material, with the duo harmonizing effortlessly, each allowing the other to shine from moment to moment and from track to track.”
“The album’s tracks are so natural that they seem like they’ve been around for years. The give and take is unselfish and the camaraderie is evident.”
“Written over the course of eight summer vacations at Fearing’s place in Guelph, it’s clear that White’s moody, electric Brit-punk sensibility kick-started something dangerous and rebellious in Fearing. Between them, they came up with 13 storytelling songs about love, disappointment and second chances. It’s a blues-rock album with a big Celtic soul, and it’s been aeons since I heard something so beautifully written and recorded”
“The album’s about dualities … hi-tech but organic, folk with an injection of Beatles, local but still universal”
“Two heads are better than one”
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