2023 Performers

Sarah McLachlan

Sarah McLachlan is one of the most celebrated singer songwriters in entertainment with over 40 million albums sold worldwide. She has received three Grammy Awards and twelve Juno Awards over her career and has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Sarah’s music embodies the art of songwriting on its most personal level and her indelible vocals resonate with people everywhere. Her songs have had a profound influence; “Angel,” “Building A Mystery,” “Fallen,” “I Will Remember You,” “Adia,” “Sweet Surrender,” “World On Fire,” “Possession,” and countless others are an inspiration to music lovers around the globe.

Sarah McLachlan with smile, fingers brushing her hair back
Rickie Lee Jones with blue jacket on

Rickie Lee Jones

Pieces of Treasure (BMG Modern Recordings), Rickie Lee Jones’ newest album, has been a long time coming.  In a career that has spanned more than four decades, the renowned singer songwriter has interpreted an extraordinarily wide range of songs from writers and artists she loves, often collected on the same album—showtunes, blues, folk, rock (David Bowie publicly praised her take on “Rebel Rebel”). She was nominated for a 1989 Best Jazz Vocal Performance Grammy for her rendition of “Autumn Leaves” from Rob Wasserman’s Duets album; a year later she won in the same category for her duet with Dr. John of “Makin’ Whoopee.” 


featuring Anjelika Jelly Joseph

History doesn’t stand still. It impacts, influences, and inspires the ebb and flow of the future by informing the present. Galactic draw on 25 years together in order to progress with each performance and subsequent record. After 10 albums, over 2,000 gigs, and tens of millions of streams, the proud New Orleans, LA quintet—Ben Ellman [saxophone, harmonica], Robert Mercurio [bass], Stanton Moore [drums, percussion], Jeffrey Raines [guitar], and Richard Vogal [keyboards]—have kept the torch burning through five U.S. presidential regimes, the turn-of-the-century, Hurricane Katrina, a Global Pandemic, and a much-anticipated recovery. 

GALACTIC 2023 Press1 - Please credit Josh Brasted Photography.jpeg
Al Qahwa band standing

Al Qahwa

The group name Al Qahwa is Arabic for “the coffee house”. It was inspired by the coffee house culture in the Middle East where people would go to hear the latest news, music, poetry and stories. The repertoire began with traditional songs from Syria, Egypt and Iraq and then in 2018, the group started adding original repertoire by members of the band.

Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore with the Guilty Ones

Roots music legends, Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, have been friends for 30 years, but only recently realized they had never played music with each other before. So in 2017, Grammy winner Alvin and Grammy nominee Gilmore, decided to hit the highway to swap songs, tell stories, and share their life experiences.

David Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore playing instruments
AV & The Inner City

AV & The Inner City

“AV & the Inner City” is a soul/roots group which formed during the course of the COVID19 pandemic and opioid crisis pandemic in the inner city of Edmonton. 

The group is made up of 6 singers: band leader and multi award-winning soul singer-songwriter AV (Ann Vriend); Debbie Houle (co-founder of the Juno-nominated international touring Indigenous a cappella group “Asani” and backup singer for Juno winner Maria Dunn), jazz radio host, jazz singer, and professional pickle company owner Johanna Alleyne (company: Mojojojo Pickles and Preserves); …


A nomadic tribe of multi-instrumentalist songwriters (most of whom are siblings), from Cortes Island, the Awakeneers offer a genre-bending blend of acoustic positivity that orbits elliptically around the idea of folk music.

Segueing from a foot-stomping fiddle tune to a hip-hop guide to mindfulness, or a meditative love song to Mother Earth, their music centres around honest vocals with rich harmonies and diverse instrumentation

image of Awakeneers with instruments and image reflecting on a water's edge
Lindsay Beaver & Brad Stivers sitting in chairs with instruments

Lindsay Beaver
& Brad Stivers

A long time ago, MusicFest had a favourite band who frequented our Festival and other MusicFest events. Do you remember the 24th Street Wailers? Of course you do! Well front person, drummer & guitarist from the 24th Street Wailers, Lindsay Beaver is all grown up and for the past few years, has been making a huge splash in the Austin blues scene. As a young, white, Canadian woman, that is no small feat!

We are thrilled to welcome Lindsay and her excellent musician partner Brad Stivers (along with their killer band) back home; back to Vancouver Island MusicFest.

Blackburn Brothers

An obvious uniqueness that identifies and sets apart the band is that Blackburn is a band of brothers – literally. Duane (lead vocals), Brooke (guitar), Cory (drums) and Robert (who took part on harmony vocals and song writing on the newest release) all share the Blackburn name; a name that has become truly connected to Toronto music history.

blackburn square

Blue and Gold

The Blue And Gold is a musical collaboration between Juno nominated and WCMA Blues ‘Artist Of The Year’ Ndidi O and folk-roots guitarist / banjo player Trish Klein (The Be Good Tanyas, Frazey Ford, Po’ Girl) which celebrates the musical artistry and legacy of pioneering female Blues musicians.

Bryan Bowers

From his rather unglamorous beginning as a street singer, Bryan Bowers has become a major artist on the traditional music circuit. He has redefined the autoharp and is also well known as a singer-songwriter. Bryan has a dynamic outgoing personality and an uncanny ability to enchant a crowd in practically any situation. His towering six foot four inch frame can be wild and zany on stage while playing a song like `Dixie’ and five minutes later he can have the same audience singing `Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ in quiet reverence and delight.

Bryan Bowers playing autoharp

Bros Landreth

The Bros. Landreth, a long time favourite band among fans of Vancouver Island MusicFest, are coming back this summer.

Hot off of a 2023 Juno nomination for  (Contemporary Roots Album of the Year) and as writers for the song ‘Made Up Mind’ which just won Bonnie Raitt a Grammy award for Best Americana Performance, the Bros are flying high.

The Brother Brothers

“wonderful … fabulous old-time playing and sibling harmony” – NPR

The Brother Brothers are the indie folk duo of Adam and David Moss. The identical twins were born and raised in Peoria, Illinois and originally based in Brooklyn, but have been ultimately and profoundly shaped by indiscriminate rambling. They are the kind of people who have a story about everything, and more so, one you might genuinely like to hear.


The Brother Brothers sitting on an outside staircase
Nora Brown with Stephanie Colmand standing looking at each other holding instruments

Nora Brown with
Stephanie Coleman

Nora Brown started learning music at the age of 6 from the late Shlomo Pestcoe.  From his tiny studio apartment in Brooklyn, Pestcoe instilled in her the belief that music is meant to be shared.

Nora plays traditional music with a focus on Southern Appalachian banjo and guitar playing.  Along with mentors in the northeast like the late John Cohen she also has traveled and learned directly from master musicians including Alice Gerrard, George Gibson and the late Lee Sexton and Art Rosenbaum.


It’s folk music that’s brimming with the kind of chemistry that could only come from a husband and wife.  Nadia, a Francophone-Métis singer-songwriter, and Jason, a Plains-Cree guitarist, create the are award-winning duo: Burnstick. Two performers whose voices and languages ​​blend together with ease, Burnstick pushes the boundaries of contemporary folk music, weaving together the unique sounds of vintage Weissenborns with intriguing vocal harmonies, while allowing the beauty of simple melodies to shine through. It’s hard to deny the magic they create as they command the stage with their palpable performances.

male and female band members of Burnstick sitting on ledge with instruments
Daryl Chonka sitting on step, wearing a blue hat, sweater and jeans, sitting on the deck edge of a cabin

Daryl Chonka

Daryl Chonka and his band have broken onto the west coast Canadian music scene in a warm wave of wonderful world rhythms, island-born folkadelia, ocean-deep song writing and larger than life heart. 

Hailing from Saltspring Island, the band has successfully launched itself into the world with the depth and talent of a long accomplished collective. Having spent decades writing, producing and playing with many of Canada’s greatest musical legends including Buffy Sainte-Marie, Randy Bachman, Neil Young and The Sadies, Chonka has also produced and played with a host of Africa’s finest musicians including Masauko, Mongezi Ntaka and Arouna Diarra.

Classic Albums - Roy Forbes performs the
BIM - Thistles Album

There are records that stay with you for a lifetime. You likely listened to them so much when they came out, you can still play them in your head and just maybe, even name the songs in the order they appeared on sweet vinyl.

Iconic Canadian folk-rock performer Roy Forbes (used to be know as BIM way back then) has a couple of albums from those days that  fans of the 70’s singer-songwriter days can relate to that way and his Thistles album is certainly one of them.

Thistles Front
Music is Medicine {Album Cover} || 18.349 || Coast Salish Photographer

Curtis Clear Sky & the Constellationz

Curtis Clear Sky & the Constellationz are a live band who create a unifying experience with their funky rhythms, soulful harmonies and uplifting lyrical empowerment providing an Indigenous worldview.

Based out of Vancouver, the band released their acclaimed album Indigifunk in 2019 that consists of Hip-Hop with Latin-Funk, Soul, Ska, Reggae & Blues.

Scott Cook

In 2007, Albertan songwriter Scott Cook quit his job teaching kindergarten in Taiwan and moved into a minivan. He’s made his living as a troubadour ever since, touring almost incessantly across Canada, the US, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere, averaging 150 shows and a dozen summer festivals a year, and releasing seven albums of plainspoken, keenly observant verse along the way. His latest collection Tangle of Souls comes packaged in a cloth-bound, 240-page hardcover book of road stories and ruminations, equal parts introspection and insurrection. 

Scoot book with blue checkered shirt
JD Crosstown

JD Crosstown

When J.D Crosstown walks on stage an immediate hush falls over the crowd. His tall, lanky figure, flat brimmed hat and unassuming presence stirs enough curiosity and interest to quiet the room. He sets the stage with his easy wit and charm, making everyone laugh. And then he plays, his fingerpicking folk style reminiscent of old folk classics, like Lily of the West and Little Sadie. His voice, surprisingly deep, authentic, timeless and somehow still vulnerable at its roots.

Nikki D & the Sisters of Thunder

Nikki D won the hearts and ears of our MusicFest audience last year when she took part as a member of the incredible collaboration, HER Majesty, which featured an unprecedented group of fabulous women blues singers and players from around North America.

We are very happy to bring her back to Vancouver island this summer, this time, with her own band, The Sisters of Thunder!

Nikki D copy
Liam Docherty sitting in a chair playing a red and white guitar

Liam Docherty

“He’s not just an accomplished blues guitar player; he’s a great songwriter, and he’s playing pieces of music by people like Tommy Emmanuel, and Tony McManus, who are two of the finest players in the world, and he is just nailing it. He’s also a phenomenal Celtic guitar player. He blows me away; just a super talented kid. He’s not a show-biz kid. He’s a true

Doug Cox – Producer

Liam is an official partner of Taylor Guitars and has been playing publicly since the age of 7. 

Dongyang Gozupa
with Mei Han

“Dongyang Gozupa” is a progressive rock band based on Korean Traditional Music with Yanggeum (Korean hammered dulcimer), Bass and Percussions. Dohyuk JANG, a Percussionist of a rock band that won the Korean Popular Music Awards,started this band with Eunhwa YUN, a top- notch Yanggeum player. Recently, Bassist Minhwi HAM known for his creative performance, joined as a new bass player.

Mei Han (Ph. D.) is one of the world’s premiere zheng artists.

Dongyang square
two performers in a park connected with headsets

Écoute Pour Voir

“United for a moment and bound up together in movement, dancers and spectators engage in singular encounters and each solo becomes a close dialogue, an interaction that is at once unique and momentous.”

LISTEN TO SEE (ÉCOUTE POUR VOIR) is made up of various solos dispersed throughout the Festival and danced simultaneously. Dancers and spectators wear headphones connected to an iPod and share in a choreography for the duration of a piece of music.

Roy Forbes

Roy Forbes is one of Canada’s best loved songwriters and performing artists. He’s been at it for over fifty years now and has picked up some tokens of appreciation from his peers along the way. There is a street named after him in his hometown of Dawson Creek in Northern B.C. and a star on Vancouver’s Granville Street where the names of the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame members are enshrined. Over the years, Roy has had a couple of Juno nominations and has a handful of WCMA awards on his shelf. In 2021, he received a CFMA ‘Producer of the year’ nomination for his work on his current album, Edge of Blue.

Angelique Francis

Angelique Francis

This highly sought-after musician hosted the 2022 Maple Blues awards (Canadian blues music awards),was nominated for four 2023 Canadian Blues Music Awards, a 2023 Canadian folk music award, a 2022 Ontario folk music award, and was a feature act at the Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea festival (Miami to Jamaica), Grolsch Blues Festival (Germany), Sighisoara Blues Festival (Romania), Massey Hall and the list goes on!

Jemma Hicken

Known for her unique voice and heartfelt performances, Jemma Hicken (Jemma & the Good Thing) is a singer-songwriter from Cortes Island, BC. With a pop song forever stuck in her head and a folk song forever stuck in her heart, Jemma crafts catchy and cathartic tunes that have charmed audiences on both sides of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Drawing on the humour and sentimentality of John Prine, the innocence of Paul Simon and Ingrid Michaelson, and the fire of Ani DiFranco, Jemma is a folk-pop force.

Jemma Hicken sitting on couch with guitar leaning on couch base
TK Flower Press Pic - Credit -Savanah

Tennyson King

Born in Hong Kong, raised in Canada, this nomadic musician brings a jovial personality to the stage. Tennyson King is an award winning nomadic indie folk musician. He captures audiences – first with his reverberant, edgy sound and then with his humorous stories of life-on-the-road. He often appears solo in great halls to small intimate theatres or bring in the band on the big festival stage and they create a huge sound surely to get everyone moving.


After an almost 20 year hiatus, the sensational pioneering, live instrument sampling and electronic dance improvisation band, Lappelectro, from Victoria, BC, lead by Daniel Lapp, is back. Reformed for a main stage performance at last year’s Rifflandia festival, the new Lappelectro lineup delivers more of the magic that catapulted them into their own echelon of electronic/jazz/improvisation. The new lineup features DJ Mole playing an original 808 drum machine and original members Danuel Tate (Cobblestone Jazz, Wagon Repair) and Rick May (Michael Jackson) along with Lapp on a myriad of instruments, building layers of sound bytes.

barbralica edit

Barbra Lica

Barbra Lica is a Juno-nominated artist singer-songwriter based in Toronto.  A seasoned act on the North American club and festival circuits, Barbra has performed everywhere from New York City’s legendary Birdland to Toronto’s prestigious Koerner Hall. She has also headlined at festivals across the continent including Festival International de Jazz de MontréalVancouver International Jazz Festival and Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, and opened for the likes of Christian McBridePat MethenyBob Dorough, and Terence Blanchard.

Crys Matthews

Already being hailed as “the next Woody Guthrie,” Crys Matthews is among the brightest stars of the new generation of social justice music-makers.

A powerful lyricist whose songs of compassionate dissent reflect her lived experience as what she lightheartedly calls “the poster-child for intersectionality,” Justin Hiltner of Bluegrass Situation called Matthews’s gift “a reminder of what beauty can occur when we bridge those divides.”

Crys Matthews in white shirt tie and suspenders

Kristina Olsen and
Michael Dunn

Olsen & Dunn first crossed paths at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop in the ‘80s. Olsen remembers being captivated by an all night jam that would pop up every night in the main meadow. To her it seemed the vortex of the jam was gypsy-jazz guitarist and luthier extraordinaire Michael Dunn, and much of the excitement and energy was coming from the museum quality guitars he had built for some of the players there.

Jim Page

“Jim’s been writing great topical songs for as long as I can remember, bringing his acute wit and wry humor to a host of subjects that can really use both. In the tradition of Woody and Dylan, he cuts right to the heart with music you actually enjoy listening to. I’m a longtime admirer.”

Jim Page is an American singer and songwriter living in Seattle, Washington. He’s made 24 full length albums, been on a dozen compilations, done numberless tours, and written hundreds of songs. 

The Paperboys standing on steps of an old building

The Paperboys

When you think of Canadian music, who are the first contemporary artists that come to mind?

Is it a globe-touring sextet that, in a single set, can be counted on to stomp through Celtic reels, traditional Mexican folk, fiddle tunes, New Orleans brass band music, classic pop songcraft, bluegrass, and even a philosophical waltz or two, before bringing it all home with a Latino/West African singalong?


Toronto’s Polky was created by courageous Polish ladies, singer Ewelina Ferenc, dancer Ala Stasiuk, and multi-instrumentalist Marta Solek. Polky, meaning “Polish women,” came together through a shared passion for Eastern European music’s enigmatic and upbeat style. Joined by Canadian musicians, Polky brings its original sound to Eastern European traditional music by adding a uniquely Canadian and multicultural flavour. They take you on a musical journey to Poland, the melting pot of Eastern and Central Europe, with Ukrainian, Jewish, and Slovak musical influences!

three women dressed in blue, pink and red, wearing Polish flowered tiaras
Tissa Rahim standing in a room next to Persian type rugs

Tissa Rahim

Tissa Rahim, the Persian Powerhouse, is an established West Coast musician with a 40-city North American tour under her belt.

She has performed at House of Blues in New Orleans, the Gramercy Theatre in New York, and Vancouver’s quintessential jazz and soul club, Guilt and Co. Named one of 24 Magazine’s “Top 24 under 24”, her collaborators include producers such as 100 Monkeys’ Jackson Rathbone.

Jack Semple

It’s by design that Vancouver Island MusicFest artistic director Doug Cox rarely invites musical acts to return to the festival in back-to-back years.

“As far as I am concerned, Jack Semple is like Canada’s Jeff Beck,” said Cox. “He does things on his guitar that basically, no one else can do. Last year he came to the festival as an acoustic musician but seeing him play with his band is like nothing you have ever seen before.”


Jack Semple playing guitar
Naomi Shore standing in forest with blue jacket on

Naomi Shore

Naomi Shore has just released her sophomore album ‘Stability’ which, she has half jokingly categorized as Self Help Songs. Over the last three years, Shore has overcome her pandemic fueled identity crisis and broken through her creative insecurities to record and release a brand new record.

Naomi has said that these songs were written during some very challenging times over the last few years. “Most of the lyrics on this album started as little affirmations, I was repeating to myself just to get through. I can’t speak for all artists but I know a lot of us really struggled with our sense of purpose and belonging when Covid shut everything down.

Sinha Danse:
Out of Bark and Bone

Sinha Danse is a contemporary dance company founded in Montreal by choreographer Roger Sinha over 25 years ago. Creation, production and distribution are at the heart of its mission, creating choreographic projects of excellence inspired by the Indian cultural heritage of its founder.

skye consort and emma

Skye Consort
& Emma Björling

Emma Bjorling has twice brought her Swedish Acapella group, Kongero, to MusicFest and this time she returns with an exciting new project!

Skye Consort & Emma Björling perform trans-Atlantic arrangements of songs & tunes from Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Scotland, England, Québec, Acadia, the USA, as well as original compositions.

Sprig of That

Sprig of That is a tabla, fiddle, and guitar trio playing a hearty Midwest-raised and globally inspired acoustic stew. In February 2023, they released bloom, their full-length, all-original debut album, produced by Wes Corbett (Sam Bush Band, Joy Kill Sorrow) and engineered/mixed by Dave Sinko (Punch Brothers, Béla Fleck, Edgar Meyer) recorded at Nashville’s legendary Sound Emporium studios over the course of a week in December 2021.

Sprig of That Band holding instruments
STORRY photo


STORRY is a multidisciplinary artist who writes and produces her music, and is intrinsically involved in all aspects of her career from designing album covers to directing award-winning music videos. Her debut concept album ‘CH III: The Come Up‘ was produced and released independently, and was nominated for a 2021 JUNO award for Adult Contemporary Album alongside Celine Dion and Alanis Morrissette.

Steven Taetz

“Toronto-based singer-songwriter Steven Taetz’s soaring harmonies makes the listener swoon, and the sound captures a perfect ‘first dance’ moment.”

Music Mecca Nashville

Some voices are definitely best suited for specific genres, but a voice like Steven Taetz’s can handle it all. Rollicking roots rock, gentle pop ballads, blue-eyed soul, and cool jazz — he approaches it all without flinching, delivering songs with a strong and crystal clear voice that demands the listener’s full attention.

photo of Steven Taetz with outstretched arms wearing a black fringed jacket
Under the Surface band standing at water's edge with reflection of them in the water

Under The Surface

Under the Surface is a Dutch band formed by drummer Joost Lijbaart, guitarist Bram Stadhouders  and vocalist Sanne Rambags. Their debut album released on Challenge Records in 2017 was nominated for an Edison.

Three generations of unique Dutch musicians find each other in a common urge to improvise in which aesthetics, poetry and ensemble play have a major role. The listener is taken to an almost dreamlike new reality.

Luke Wallace

“Luke is like a modern Pete Seeger. From the moment he hits the stage, he has the audience singing about positive change. We desperately need that and we need him on stages all across our Country right now! He doesn’t back down but he doesn’t alienate people either. He’s a perfect voice for right now.”

Doug Cox

Luke Wallace standing in front of a stand of trees
warp trio square

Warp Trio

“Every chamber music program needs this kind of energy. While the beginning and ending compositions by Haydn and Brahms provided expected pleasures, it was the Warp Trio’s own jazz/tango/classical worksthat gave the concert a kick in the pants.”


Described in Free Times as, A talented group that exemplifies the genre-obliterating direction of contemporary classical music, Warp Trio is NOT your typical piano trio.

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