Here’s our 2015-2016, 36th Annual Season Lineup so far!
Trent Severn: Indie songster Emm Gryner is a three time Juno nominee. Multi-talented Juno nominee Dayna Manning toured with Joe Cocker and Burton Cummings. Violin whiz/songbird Laura C. Bates performed at Massey Hall and The Glenn Gould Studio. Together they are a Canadiana band based in folk, roots and old country whose songs are fueled by the folklore of Ontario; whose lyrics pay tribute to Canadian legends. Their lyrics seamlessly offer inside jokes Canadians will laugh at, yet nothing a welcome visitor couldn’t relate to and enjoy. Their debut album earned two 2013 Canadian Folk Music Award nominations for Vocal Group of the Year and New Emerging Artist of the Year. This fall they will release their second CD, Trillium. Trent Severn are three treasured and talented musicians who have years of experience touring this country and getting to know audiences, a seed that blooms to life on a Canadian stage.
Ann Vriend: Ann Vriend’s vocal sound has been described as an enchanting cross between the girly timbre of Dolly Parton and the blues-filled prowess of Aretha Franklin. Ann belts out her songs in between entertaining comedic intervals. In 2013 she won the Canadian nation-wide “She’s the One” contest at the Ottawa Bluesfest in the solo category. Her new album, For The People In The Mean Time tells tales of her rough, inner city neighbourhood against the backdrop of explosive indie soul beats and harmonies. The album was nominated for Pop Album of the Year at the Toronto Independent Music Awards.
Kat Danser: Kat Danser’s music navigates a paddle steamer from the muddy banks of the Mississippi Delta downriver toward a big ol’ full moon over New Orleans. Dubbed ‘Queen of the Swamp Blues’, this guitar slinger, songsmith, and blazing vocalist channels the spirit of roots, blues and gospel music pioneers. Her fourth album, Baptized by the Mud, addresses the dichotomy of ‘church-blues’: blues music as devilish and church music as angelic. This sub-genre demonstrates that human truth and the divine are one in the same – “one is preached from behind the pulpit and the other from behind the plow”.
Jon Brooks: With a death count of 75 The Smiling and Beautiful Countryside is an album of rural Canadian murder ballads that defies categorization and resists any ‘folk,’ ‘singer-songwriter,’ or ‘solo acoustic’ description. Equal parts local Canadiana and universal horror, it buries all the trademark Jon Brooks social commentary in a shallow, roadside grave. Philosophical paradox, gallows humour, impossible love, titillating gore, adulterous sex, serial killers, gun dealers, rampage killing, missing women, First Nations catastrophe, necrophilia, Shakespeare, and John Milton: This is neither an album for casual fans nor is it music that will ever be heard in your dentist’s waiting room.
The T. Buckley Trio: The T. Buckley Trio delivers soulful laments and gritty truths, wrapped in a cowboy blanket to create a distinct western Canadian flavour. The trio features T. Buckley as the band’s lead vocalist and principle songwriter, winner of the 2010 Calgary Folk Festival songwriting contest; Derek Pulliam, on stand-up bass and vocals and Tim Leacock on electric guitar, mandolin and vocals. The band brings a more-than memorable stage presence and harmonies that create a sound much larger than their modest stage set up. The band’s latest recording, Northern Country Soul, charted No. 1 on both CKUA and CJSW.
Stephen Fearing: Born in Vancouver, BC. Stephen Fearing spent most of his boyhood and teenage years in Dublin Ireland. There, he picked up the guitar and traces of the Irish and English musical traditions that have informed his music ever since. A founding member of the Juno award winning Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, Fearing also records and tours with Andy White. The consistent quality of work produced over Stephen Fearing’s two decades plus career has earned him a West Coast Music Award for Best Folk Music Recording, a Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Songwriter and a Juno Award for Yellowjacket for Roots and Traditional Album of The Year. Mixing powerful lyrics, creative arrangements and brilliant guitar playing, Stephen Fearing has built up a loyal and dedicated international audience through thousands of live shows and nine critically-acclaimed albums, from his 1988 release Out to Sea, to the 2013 release of Between Hurricanes.
Mariel Buckley: Mariel affects each listener with her new-school take on old-school country music. Fresh from her 2015 Calgary Folk Music Festival debut, Buckley is in the early stages of planning her second full length album. Her debut CD Motorhome garnered praises nation wide from CBC, CKUA and CJSW as well as the ever-reputable No Depression Magazine. Her haunting alt-country melodies have a distinct and introspective quality, with a wisdom and maturity that allows fully-formed, succinct and compelling tales to emerge. Buckley offers a crunchy, roots alternative, her songs are full of visceral lyricism and gutsy musicianship.
The Sweet Lowdown: The Sweet Lowdown features Shanti Bremer on banjo, Miriam Sonstenes on fiddle and Amanda Blied on guitar. Fresh off a tour with CBC’s Vinyl Cafe, The Sweet Lowdown’s newest release, Chasing The Sun, was No. 1 on the Folk DJ Charts in January 2015 and has just been nominated for Roots Recording of the Year by the Western Canadian Music Awards. Their second album May won Roots Album of the Year, at the Vancouver Island Music Awards and a nomination for Vocal Group of the Year at the 2013 Canadian Folk Music Awards. The Sweet Lowdown have developed original acoustic roots music that draws from earth and sky, mountain music to be sure; mountains tied to the natural environment of the Pacific Northwest. You’ll hear influences in this music as far-ranging as Celtic jigs, Appalachian fiddling, contemporary pop and a particularly Canadian blend of driving tradition and ground-breaking originality.
Adrian Nation: Adrian Nation is making his first Canadian tour thanks to the efforts of CKUA’s Andy Donnelly. Guitar builder, rugby player, carpenter, martial artist, climber, are all reflected in his musical catalogue. Although acoustic guitar driven, his music shows touches of folk, rock and even country. Politics, philosophy and poetry are all to be found woven into his songs. Influenced at an early age by the genius of Dylan, Mark Knopfler and Bruce Cockburn, Adrian took to playing and composition with a renewed intensity and he has evolved into one of the most insightful and incisive songwriters of his generation.
Evans and Doherty: Evans & Doherty have performed from Waterford, Ireland to New Waterford, Cape Breton, from Berlin to Boston and from Nova Scotia to New Zealand. Since coming to Canada from Ireland, Kevin Evans & Brian Doherty have been an integral part of the East Coast music scene for thirty years. In celebration, they’ve released 30 Years of Folkin‘ Around. To capture the essence of an Evans & Doherty performance, take a lively blend of traditional, original and contemporary songs, add a liberal sprinkling of stories and humour, then sit back to enjoy and sing along. Kevin’s song Christmas Memories achieved platinum status in Canada for John McDermott. His song The Orchard was recorded by Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy and Stompin’ Tom Connors recorded Silver Sea. At home in a pub-setting, concert hall or festival, Evans & Doherty are first-rate musicians and singers possessing the ability to entertain any audience, any place, any time.
Sarah Jane Scouten: In 2014 Sarah Jane released The Cape, throwing a wake for all the things we won’t have back again; shameless nostalgia for place, time, lost loved ones, frayed family ties and bonds too strong to break. Her songs are faithful to a long-standing folk music tradition, but often spill over into modern themes that are outspoken and edgy, from homelessness to midwifery to tongue-in-cheek heartache songs and unabashed Canadiana. Sarah shows her signature flair for the roots of roots music, from Western-swing, honky-tonk, Cajun and Appalachian string band music to a hint of the Maritimes.
Bill Bourne: Juno winner Bill Bourne has received international acclaim for his recordings and live performances. His songs convey stories that are poetic and life affirming. Raised in a musical family in rural Alberta, he was known to sleep behind the piano at country dances while his parents played. He began his professional career in 1975. He has toured and recorded solo and with Scotland’s Tannahill Weavers, Bourne and MacLeod, Shannon Johnson, Hans Staymer and Andreas Schuld, Tri-Continental with Lester Quitzau and Madagascar Slim, Eivor Palsdottir, Bop Ensemble and The Free Radio Band. His latest recording collaboration is Trancescapes Gaia Sadhana, free improv music for meditation and relaxation, scheduled for release in fall 2015. A veteran of the international blues and roots music scene, life on the road is reflected in Bill’s music – powerful rhythms and soulful songs, steeped in blues, world beat, cajun, celtic, folk, latin, funk, poetry and more.
Gordie Tentrees: Tentrees’ blend of folk, roots and blues is deeply personal and lyrically rich. Somebody’s Child was written after watching the bombs go off at the Boston Marathon, all while wondering if his wife had crossed the finish line. Themes of despair turn to courage in Wheel Girl, an ode to northern hero Jessica Frotten who went from accident victim to wheelchair athlete. Dead Beat Dad is a confession of a struggling father urging on his male mates to make a difference. These are songs of triumph, heartache and redemption that will tear your heart out, one note at a time.
Tony McManus: Tony McManus is recognized as the leading guitarist in Celtic Music. In Tony’s hands the complex ornamentation normally associated with fiddles and pipes are accurately transferred to guitar preserving the integrity and emotional impact of the music. Nominated as Musician of the Year by both the BBC Folk Awards and The Scottish Traditional Music Awards, in 2002 Ceol More hit the Critic’s Album of the year list in Acoustic Guitar magazine and was named Live Ireland Awards Album of the Year. The Makers’s Mark saw him showcase 15 of the finest luthier built guitars, recording a solo piece on each instrument. A challenge from mandolin virtuoso Mike Marshall to learn the Bach E Major Prelude on guitar led to an exploration of classical and baroque music, resulting in his newest CD Mysterious Boundaries which contains a rendition of Bach’s Chaconne in D Minor – one of the greatest compositions of any age.
Dana Wylie: Dana Wylie is a farm girl from Saskatchewan who has travelled the world in search of home. Her struggle to reconcile the wanderer with the bumpkin, mixed with her crystal clear voice and fluid finger-style guitar playing, has resulted in a unique musical language that effortlessly straddles country and city, folk and intellectual. Her latest album, The Sea and the Sky, represents a deepening maturation of this language. As Roger Levesque of the Edmonton Journal put it, “Wylie shows the intuitive grace, smart, lyrical economy, and the ability to find insights in everything or anything that you expect of a mature songwriter.”
The Stray Birds: The Stray Birds are a genre-bending acoustic trio featuring multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Maya de Vitry, Oliver Craven, and Charlie Muench. They were raised with a steady diet of music ranging from The Carter Family and Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys to The Beatles and The Band, to the groundbreaking artistry of Jimi Hendrix. Their first full-length album, The Stray Birds, released in 2012, became a critical darling: NPR included it on their 10 Best Folk/Americana Albums of the Year list. Hundreds of gigs, and thousands of highway miles after that release, the band’s primary songwriters, Maya and Oliver, wrote new, original material inspired by their last two and a half years on the road. The Stray Birds honed the majority of these songs onstage together with instrumental virtuosity and gorgeous three-part harmony singing to release their most cohesive and ambitious album to date, Best Medicine.
Braden Gates: Braden Gates is quickly becoming one of the most intriguing singer/songwriters in the province. A born raconteur in both his songwriting and song introductions, he is drawn to those with a story to tell, aiming to communicate in a way that brings people together. At 16, he became the Alberta fiddle champion, an honor he won again in 2011 and 2012. His second album, Ferris Wheel, is a combination of intricate guitar work, driving fiddle playing and honest story telling. His latest work focuses on personal experiences and the stories of those he crossed paths with throughout his travels.
Annie Lou: Canadian Folk Music Award, West Coast Music Award, and Juno nominee Annie Lou is Anne Louise Genest, an artist who carries the spirit of an old storyteller, creating songs steeped in the flavours of oldtime mountain, Appalachian, and traditional country and bluegrass music. She writes songs that break the heart and put it back together again. She tells tales from rural life paths of hard-hit, hard-won victories of everymen and women. Beautifully creative songs and tunes range from rousing and boisterous to gentle and poignant, and map a homescape of hard-drinking grandmas, rural dancehalls, blue collar fashions, small towns and big cities. Annie Lou has just released her latest recording, Tried and True, original music, rooted in tradition. Her band, featuring singers Andrew Collins, mandolin and fiddle, Max Heineman, upright bass, and Sarah Hamilton, fiddle, offers boot grooving, heart moving music delivered with pluck and tenderness.
Brent Tyler: Brent Tyler has an intricate and skillful guitar style combined with a disarming and soulful voice befit of his literal seven-foot stature. He balances the soft subtlety of honest and introspective folk music with catchy and powerful soul-roots hooks and melodies. His giant delivery has evolved from imitative influences into his very own versatile, powerful, and dynamic style, drawing people in with his physical stage presence, story-telling ability, and surprisingly elastic vocal range. His music is lyrically textured with real life; honesty and love, hope and healing, authenticity and forgiveness. Brent’s newest CD Love Myself was released in 2015.
Del Barber & The Profiteers: JUNO-nominated and 2015 winner of the Sirius XM Indie award for Folk/Roots Artist or Group of the Year, Del Barber grew up on the Canadian Prairies, and the landscape is as much a part of him as the people he has met along the way. From the fertile Red River Valley to the pastures of the west, straight into the factory floors and slaughter houses of the city, Barber’s fourth album, Prairieography, is born out of a love for his home, its people and their stories. Barber sings from the heart about his roots, telling tales from the road, and offering incredibly personal and sincere observations of the world around him. Prairieography is the earnest travelogue of a wandering troubadour, and the realization that creativity is rarely a bolt of lightning. Good songs are the result of hard work, calloused fingers and learned lessons from a life well lived.
Dianne Quinton: Dianne hails from St. John’s, Newfoundland, influenced by the traditions of the eastern seaboard and her own love of country music. Blessed with a voice equally comfortable with the low, slow burn of a sassy blues and the sweetness of pure folk harmony, Dianne plays rhythm guitar, banjo and piano. She enjoys playing songs from a variety of genres including country, folk, gospel and traditional music and plays regularly with Horizon Ridge and The Still Waters. At the Nick she will perform with Peter May. Her debut CD of all original songs, Between Heartache and Hope was released in 2015.
Jayme Stone: Two-time Juno-winning banjoist and composer Jayme Stone makes music inspired by sounds from around the world, bridging folk, jazz and chamber music. The Lomax Project: An acetate disc-cutter and cactus needle stylus. The rutted roads of eastern Kentucky and the Georgia Sea Island coastline. Kitchen din and street noise. Songs everyone has come to know— and the storied singers nearly everyone has forgotten. These snapshots guided banjo innovator and musical instigator Jayme Stone to research and recast nineteen carefully chosen songs collected by iconic American folklorist and field recording pioneer Alan Lomax. With band mates, Moira Smiley, Sumaia Jackson and Joe Phillips, he revives, recycles and re-imagines traditional music. Their repertoire includes Bahamian sea chanties, African-American acappella singing from the Georgia Sea Islands, ancient Appalachian ballads, fiddle tunes and work songs collected from both well-known musicians and everyday folk: sea captains, cowhands, fishermen, prisoners and homemakers.
Ruth Purves Smith: In ’87 Ruth answered an ad for a “girl country singer”. Later bands included Rodeo-A-Go-Go and the all girl trio, Roadside Turnout with Kathy Cook. In ’96 Ruth embarked on a solo career and released Out In The Storm. In fall 2015 she released her latest CD, Faster Than The Speed of Dark. At the Nick, Ruth will be accompanied by David Holloway on guitar. While the stories in her music may appear to be simple, traditional country, they are supported by a sound that pulls influences from the city: complicated, restless and sometimes loud.
Christine Lavin & Don White: The Funny Side of the Street: A Night of Brighter Laughter will feature music that is smart, friendly, and breathtakingly funny. Quick on her feet and with a comedienne’s arsenal of irony and wit, Christine’s delightfully skewed songs cover a lot of territory. Don White, a multi-talented, one-of-a-kind iconoclast, brings a comic’s wit, and a poet’s heart to his songs and stories. They both encapsulate all that’s best about the folk scene: heart-breaking one moment and laugh-out-loud funny the next, they’re unafraid to take a hard look at all the pain and beauty of life. Together they deliver an evening of comedy and song that peers into more facets of experience, individual and national alike, than one would think possible. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll laugh some more. Two of America’s most-loved songwriters and raconteurs join forces for this fabulous and hilarious show.
Tim Williams: Maple Blues Award nominations, three Juno award nominations, five Betty Mitchell Awards for composition/musical direction in theatre, and many awards from Real Blues magazine attest to the high caliber of his work. Tim was named 2012 Guitarist Of The Year by the Calgary Blues Music Association and won the 2015 International Blues Challenge as Best Solo or Duo, and Best Guitarist (solo or duo). His latest CD Blue Highway offers threads from West Africa, India, Hawaii, Mexico and the Southwest. Tim’s blend of soulful vocals, wry sense of humour and awe-inspiring chops continue to win fans everywhere he plays.
Apr 16: Patrons’ Night / Open Stage – Performers Needed!
Want to play a couple of songs on the Nick stage? Sign up for our Patron’s Night Open Stage. We’ll do three sets featuring 12 acts, four per set on the stage performing round-robin. If you are interested, contact Vic at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.