The Garifuna Collective will bring music from the rich Central American tradition that includes the playing of unique hand drums, turtle shells and jawbones, guitars and bass to create a powerful energy on stage, building hypnotizing rhythms that form the backbone for the haunting melodies and powerful vocals that characterize the project. (Photo contributed)

Roots & Blues adds four more acts to 2019 festival

Slate broadens to include the return of Irish Mythen and world music of Garifuna Collective

If you’re not a fan of winter, dream on about the hotter-than-hot Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival that runs Aug. 15 through 18.

Coming off the best December ever for sales, following the announcement that Jim Cuddy and his band, African roots-rockers Tal National, young American bluegrass wizards Mile Twelve, Canadian guitar hero Jack Semple, Celtic harp player Tristan Le Govic and Valdy will be appearing, artistic director Peter North has added four more.

“To break up the winter doldrums, Roots & Blues brings music fans names that will inspire dreams of summer, while sitting in front of the Shade, Blues, Barn and Main stages, soaking up great sounds,” says North, announcing the return of Irish Mythen along with newcomers to the festival – Birds of Chicago, The Hamiltones and the Garifuna Collective.

“Irish Mythen is the woman with the amazing voice, and equally amazing stage presence, who can take an audience on a journey like few others,” says North. “This Irish artist and entertainer, who has called Prince Edward Island home for some time, created a huge buzz at Roots & Blues in 2017.”

As Liz Schwartz of the Philadelphia Folk Festival stated, “Irish opened her mouth and out flew a voice that came straight from the heavens, with all the power and the glory and the truth of someone destined to be a star.”

Mythen returned to Salmon Arm for a Valentine’s Day show in 2018 and such was the demand that weeks before her performance, there was a long waitlist for tickets. Confirming just how popular Mythen has become in the West, she is also making quick turnaround returns to both the Vancouver Island Music and Edmonton Folk Music Festivals this year.

Related: Breakout star of Roots & Blues returns to warm hearts on Valentine’s Day

Last summer Ry Cooder, American musician, songwriter, film score composer and record producer, returned to festival stages and, supporting the legend, was an “astoundingly great band,” The Hamiltones, says North, noting the group has dazzled audiences from Africa to Australia and beyond.

“Prior to hooking up with Cooder, The Hamiltones were joking around, putting an old-school spin on a popular rap song – and no one thought much of it,” says North. “Later that day, the clip was uploaded to Facebook where it reached nearly a million views in under 24 hours.”

The Hamiltones continued to create quartet-styled renditions of popular songs, including the infamous Birdman Spoof, Put Some Respeck On It.

The clip went viral and helped the group begin the transition from the background to the forefront and making 2018 a phenomenal year.

As well as with working alongside Cooder, the group was featured on three Grammy nominated albums: PJ Morton’s Gumbo, Johnathan McReynolds’ Make Room, and Tori Kelly’s Hiding Place.

“The Hamiltones will be a great addition to Roots & Blues 2019 as a concert attraction and in workshops,” adds North.

Related: Valdy to bring his folk music magic to Roots and Blues

“We want to give people some good news, and we want them to be able to dance when they hear it,” says JT Nero, singer/songwriter.

Birds of Chicago is built around the chemistry and fire between Allison Russell and Nero, and with their rock-steady band, BOC tour hard.

Russell and Nero played with different bands, (Allison with Po’ Girl and Nero with JT and the Clouds) before finding their way to each other in 2012.

Nero, who writes the bulk of the songs, found himself a transcendent vocal muse in Russell and the band honed its chops on the road, playing 200 shows a year, North says.

“Critically acclaimed albums, Love in Wartime and Real Midnight kept Birds of Chicago in the spotlight the last couple of years and Roots & Blues will be keeping spotlights trained on BOC as they spread their music and message,” North adds.

Rounding out the latest Roots & Blues release is the award-winning Garifuna Collective from Belize.

Related: Jim Cuddy to return to Roots and Blues stage

The band consists of the best musicians in the fertile Garifuna music scene.

They bring together the deep cultural roots of Central American Garifuna music, mixed with modern grooves, arrangements, and instruments – unique hand drums, the “primera” and “segunda,” turtle shells and jawbones, guitars and bass.

The musicians create a powerful energy on stage, building hypnotizing rhythms that form the backbone for the haunting melodies and powerful vocals that characterize the project.

“The lead singers of the current incarnation of the group reflect an intergenerational approach, women with striking voices and engaging personalities, whose songs echoed with the joys and sorrows they had experienced during their lives,” North says of this addition to the festival’s world music slate.

“Garifuna Collective has topped the world music charts in Europe, won a Juno with Danny Michel and their disc with Andy Palacio was voted #1 World Music Album of All-Time on the Amazon website.,” North says. “That’s guaranteed to have the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds pulsating all weekend long.”

Tickets to the festival are available at or by calling 250-833-4096.


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