Another week, another four performers added to an already diverse Roots and Blues lineup.
"It's intriguing following the evolution of this year's musical mosaic, so markedly diverse even at this early stage," says Roots and Blues marketing manager Scott Crocker. "This cultural eclecticism has come to characterize the annual Roots and Blues lineup. Truly there is plenty to choose from for any listener's ear."
The Family Fun Zone just got livelier with the announcement that Juno Award-winning guitar-singer/songwriter Peter Lenton, aka Peter Puffin's Whale Tales signed has signed on.
Lenton has shared stages with David Suzuki, Stephen Lewis and Jane Goodall and is excited to contribute to festival and concert communities.
His songwriting is informed by past lives as a biologist, video producer and teacher. A one year break from a full time gig as a curriculum specialist... has grown exponentially into a full- time touring career as a whole-family concert performer, workshop facilitator and musical keynote speaker and songwriter.
Lenton is passionate about helping kids discover their own creativity and talents. He also inspires positive attitudes about peace-making, community building, bike helmet safety, reducing bullying, environmental stewardship, and more.
His concerts also celebrate storytelling, the value of true friendship, local and global citizenship and growing our sense of humour.
His mischievous mix of storytelling, thrilling singing, and skillful guitar-playing, and especially the ever-present audience engagement (audiences lead songs, play instruments, wear wacky wildlife costumes etc.), make concert experiences a refreshing celebration of the human spirit. Kids of all ages love it. And don't forget, children under 12 get free admission to the festival.
"A key component of the Roots and Blues selection process is a commitment to showcasing independent Canadian talent," says Crocker. "This year we have already signed indie artists such as Raleigh, Declan O'Donovan, Hollerado, and Shred Kelly to name a few. Another addition to the Canadian Contingent is Manitoba's mesmerizing chanteuse – Demetra Penner."
Penner is a songwriter, painter, filmmaker, yoga instructor and globetrotter. While based in Winnipeg, her muse has taken her and her art around the globe.
Her paintings have been hung in Vienna and Barcelona. Her films have been screened in New York. And her music... well, that's just now beginning.
With her silken voice revealing a wild soul of the world, Penner's songs speak to broad landscapes, icy tundra, and the solitude of the wild. They are manifested in bone-chilling melodies, haunting arrangements and the warm blanket of lush reverb.
Taj Weekes and Adowa
From Demetra to a place a little more southern – the island of St. Lucia and performing artist Taj Weekes with Adowa.
Weekes is an enigma – on the one hand deeply serious and intensely passionate about his worldviews, and on the other hand a gentle and humble man with a quick and easy smile. Driven to inspire conscious thought and provoke discussion through his poignant poetry and lyrics, Weekes says, "I write from the heart and I speak about issues that move me. I believe that's what really matters."
Born and raised on the island of St. Lucia, Weekes grew up the youngest of 10 children in a family where music was ever present. He grew up blissfully unaware of category or genre – to him, great music was, and still is, great music no matter what the style.
Evolving as a musician and feeling confined by the borders of tiny St. Lucia, Weekes left home to fulfill his musical ambitions in North America.
There he formed his band Taj Weekes and Adowa and label Jatta Records.
Taj Weekes and Adowa unite a true social consciousness with an unforgettable reggae groove.
Blending in elements of acoustic roots rock and afro-folk simplicity, the band's vibrant sound defies genre and has garnered critical acclaim and a wide audience across the globe.
Blackie & the Rodeo Kings
"Rounding out the list and with a timeliness most germane to this year's festival (it is the 20th Anniversary after all)," says Crocker. "We've got the Juno Award-winning Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, all three members of who have performed at the festival in the past, either as solo artists or as members of other groups.
Blackie & the Rodeo Kings originally formed in 1996 when Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson came together to record what was supposed to be a one-off tribute album to the great Canadian songwriter Willie P. Bennett.
At the time, all three members were deeply committed to burgeoning solo careers that they had no intention of putting on hold, and had no plans to turn Blackie into an ongoing concern.
Twelve years and a Juno Award later, while they still spend most of each year working on their individual projects, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings has organically evolved into one of the finest roots-oriented bands in North America.
In the interim, they have released five CDs and gradually developed a feeling of brotherhood manifested in a sense of groove, timbrel blend and melodic and rhythmic-play that is distinctive, mystical, energizing and evocative.
The sum is indeed greater than the parts - and the parts are as good as they get. Blackie and the Rodeo Kings remain one of Canada's greatest musical treasures.
Here's the rest of the slate of 2012 so far: Alex Cuba, Bettye LaVette, Bombino, The Boom Booms, The Beaton Sisters, Coco Montoya, Cuff the Duke, Declan O'Donovan, Deli 2 Dublin, Five Alarm Funk, Hazmat Modine, Hollerado, James 'Super Chikan' Johnson & the Fighting Cocks, Jayme Stone's Room of Wonders and Markus James and The Wassonrai.
Special advance ticket pricing for the 20th annual festival that runs Aug. 17 to 19 will be in place until May 25. Visit www.rootsandblues.ca, call 250-833-4096 or visit the office at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds.