The weather might be frigid, but preparations for Roots and Blues 2019 are heating up, with four more acts.
First up are Shawn Hall and Matthew Rogers, aka the Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, a Vancouver folk and blues act rooted in the blues and social conscience.
“This is not a bunch of ‘my baby just left me,’ there are some serious messages in their music,” says artistic director Peter North. “To show how broad their sound is, their 2014 album, A Real Fine Mess, won the ‘Blues Album of the Year’ and ‘Alternative Album of the Year’ at the Western Canadian Music Awards in 2015.”
That album also won them a Juno nomination. As well, the band received a Sirius XM Indie award in 2013 for Blues Artist of the Year.
Their songs have been featured on television shows such as CSI, NCIS New Orleans, The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, and the aptly-named TV movie Lizzie Borden Took An Axe.
Describing themselves as relentless touring artists, the band has performed their high-energy, sweaty, dance-floor boogy in the UK, Europe and the United States. They have appeared on stage with Taj Mahal, Booker T Jones, Mother Mother and played several music festivals.
Shifting sonic gears, Roots & Blues announces the all-acoustic Andrew Collins Trio from Toronto.
“Andrew is a leading light in the North American new acoustic roots scene, who blends everything, from jazz to bluegrass together.” says North. “Whether with this band or the Creaking Tree String Quartet, or the Froggy Hogtown Boys, he has been nominated for a couple dozen Canadian folk music awards.”
A prolific performer, Collins is equally comfortable on mandolin, fiddle, guitar, mandola and mandocello and composes, produces, arranges, writes and teaches across multiple genres, including a popular collision of folk, jazz, bluegrass, Celtic, and classical. With five Juno nominations and seven Folk Music Awards in hand, Collins is now zeroing in on his work with trio-mates fellow string guru Mike Mezzatesta, whose versatility shines through on guitar, mandolin, fiddle and mandola, and in-the-pocket James McEleney holding it down on the bass, mandocello and vocals.
They just released a new double album, grafting 11 vocal cuts to 11 instrumentals to create a seamless finish with their cleverly monikered double album, Tongue & Groove.
A man of many genres, Danny Michel is a master of rock/pop, folk, world or, more recently classical as well.
Thoughtful lyrics and charming performances have earned him a devoted fan base, three Juno Award nominations, The Polaris Prize, the CBC’s “Heart Of Gold,” and most recently the CFMA’s “Producer of the year” and “Oliver Schroer Pushing the Boundaries” Awards.
In 2011, Michel moved to Belize with the desire to make music with one of his favourite Belizean bands; The Garifuna Collective, a unique Afro-Amerindian cultural group, who will also perform at the 2019 Roots & Blues Festival.
Dubbed “One of the finest musical works of our time” by Billboard’s Larry Leblanc, Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me, earned a third JUNO nomination and a sold-out North American tour with Garifuna.
In 2016, released Matadora, a 10-song collection that explores Michel’s passion for the environment, peace romance history and space.
Then it was off to the Arctic where he recorded Khlebnikov, aboard the legendary Soviet-era Russian ice-breaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov during an 18-day arctic expedition through the Northwest Passage. The project began when Danny was invited to join “Generator Arctic” by Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield who assembled a small group of scientists, photographers, writers and musician to capture a unique perspective of the north.
Michel wrote and recorded the entire album aboard ship. Once home, his recordings were arranged for brass and strings by film composer Rob Carli. The result is a suite of atmospheric and haunting songs about the Arctic, our planet and our place in it. Michel and Hadfield are performing Khlebnikov with symphonies across Canada.
Injecting some muscular and joyful funk sounds to the festival lineup will be Mercy Funk, a young, large and enthusiastic ensemble based out of Edmonton, led by bassist Angela Proulx and featuring the vocals of Crystal Eyo.
Eyo was part of the highly popular Mad Dogs Experience cast that played Roots Blues in 2017. Last summer Mercy Funk followed an impressive debut e.p. with the appropriately- titled full length recording Feel Good. The album dropped at a sold-out release party in June 2018, and, thanks to airplay on local radio stations, has grown an incredibly diverse fanbase.
“Look for Mercy Funk to light up the Barn after the sun has gone down,” says North. “These four more Canadian acts cover a lot of musical terrain and are kinda nice pieces for the overall painting – something for everybody.”