Manitoba has earned a reputation for its folk and roots music. Internationally-acclaimed acts like The Bros. Landreth, The Wailin’ Jennys, The Duhks, Fred Penner, Chic Gamine, Del Barber, and many many more have been winning awards, hitting the charts, and taking over stages across the globe. One of the oft-cited reasons for many artists is something we happen to have in our own backyard: the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
"Manitoba is known throughout Canada and the world for having a incredibly strong folk and roots community – at the festival we are able to present new Manitoba artists every year because we are able to see new talent grow and develop," says Folk Fest executive director, Lynne Skromeda.
For over four decades, Folk Fest has been an inspiration for countless artists. The venerable organization also takes a bit more of a hands-on approach to the role of fostering a strong and vibrant scene. It presents several community programs throughout the year, including music classes, mentorship opportunities in schools, and initiatives geared at developing young artists, like the Stingray Young Performers Program.
"We also try to help them develop through our community programs, whether it’s being introduced to music at a school-age level through our MTS Future First Musical Mentors program or helping young artists take that next step in developing their careers as part of our Stingray Young Performers Program or teaching them new skills through our workshops, we feel we can help bolster the music community through these programs and the help of organizations such as Manitoba Music," continues Skromeda.
Several participants from community programs like the Young Performers Program have gone on to careers in music, including the likes of Cara Luft, Del Barber, Sc Mira, Cassidy Mann, and The Middle Coast, just to name a few.
"The Young Performers Program not only gave me the opportunity to perform at a hugely renowned festival, but they also continue to offer me performance spots in association with them throughout the entire year, and as a young artist, having that support to keep the momentum going is such an important thing," says singer/songwriter Mann, who landed a Western Canadian Music Award nod for her latest album.
"The Young Performers Program has been an extremely formative experience for us as a band and individually, and we have taken something new from it each year we have attended," says Roman Clarke of The Middle Coast, which won The Stingray Rising Star Award at last year's festival under its former name, Until Red. "We've created lifelong friendships through this program, and in this industry, every friendship you create can be looked at as a potential business relationship. Whether they are a band that you share the stage with at venue in their city, or they are the bridge between you and another group of people who are involved in the industry, or they simply become fans."
To support these programs, Folk Fest puts on its popular annual charity fundraiser, Folk Fest in the City, which is set to bring some of that festival magic to The Fairmont on November 20. Featuring live music and food from three music meccas in North America -- Louisiana, Cape Breton and Mexico -- the event also includes a silent auction with some pretty tasty prizes.
The music comes courtesy of three homegrown favourites: spectacular WCMA-winning Mexican trad rock outfit The Mariachi Ghost, NOLA-inspired bombastic Dirty Catfish Brass Band, and the Cape Breton styles of the Bart House Band.
Find out more about the event at winnipegfolkfestival.ca/support/folk-fest-in-the-city/