If the mounting piles of snow trouble you, think hot – as in hot music in a hot month.
In just 216 days, the gates will open on the 25th annual Roots and Blues Festival, which will also pay tribute to Canada’s 150th birthday.
Artistic director Peter North is in the process of scoring gold again this year by introducing a lineup to appeal to fans of all ages.
In December, festival organizers announced that Booker T, the onetime leader of Booker T and the MGs, composer, bandleader, producer, singer, ace keyboard player, Americana music pioneer and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, will play festival 2017.
And if that’s not hot enough for you, how about Livingston Taylor, John Primer of Muddy Waters fame, The Lil’ Smokies, Mad Dogs, the fiery Celtic-Acadian fusion of Vishtèn and the rich vocals of Kaia Kater?
Livingston Taylor is the brother of singer-songwriter James Taylor, and is a longtime faculty member at Berklee College of Music.
“He’s written a number of great songs that James has recorded and comes from the same well and source points as James,” says North. “He’s as good a craftsman as his brother has been throughout the years and he’s a wonderful entertainer.”
Also super talented, John Primer was influenced by Muddy Waters’ former sideman, Sammy Lawhorn, who taught him to play slide guitar.
He joined the Chicago Blues All-Stars of Willie Dixon in 1979, then the Muddy Waters band until the latter’s death in 1983. Then he joined the Teardrops of Magic Slim and began a solo career.
The Muddy Waters 100 album recorded by Primer and various other artists, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2016 for Best Blues Album.
In 2016, Primer won a Blues Music Award as the Traditional Blues Male Artist of the Year.
Out of Misoula, Montana, come The Lil’ Smokies, a bluegrass band that recently won the Emerging Artist Award at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards.
With their roots submerged in the thick buttery mud of traditional bluegrass, The Lil’ Smokies have sonically blossomed into a leading player in the progressive acoustic sphere, creating a new and wholly unique, melody driven sound of their own.
The band also scored wins at the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Association where they picked up the Momentum Award for Best Band and at the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass festival band competition.
Get ready for the Mad Dogs Experience with the Alberta-based group of 17 musicians, who re-create the Joe Cocker and Leon Russell-led Mad Dogs and Englishmen show from the early ’70s.
“In following with a new tradition at Roots and Blues that has seen the festival showcase both the music of The Grateful Dead and The Band’s Last Waltz, 2017 will see us visit the incredible songbook created by Cocker and Russell, and an all-star band,” says North enthusiastically. “This show will be held in the Barn on Saturday night.”
Changing the beat yet again, for the past decade, the Acadian trio Vishtèn has dazzled audiences with its fiery blend of traditional French songs and original instrumentals that fuse Celtic and Acadian genres with a modern rock sensibility and indie-folk influences.
This band from Canada’s East Coast has been recognized as an ambassador of Francophone culture around the world.
Heading a couple of provinces west, meet Kaia Kater. Born of African-Caribbean descent in Québec, her new album couldn’t come at a better time, says North.
Kater grew up between two worlds – her family’s deep ties to Canadian folk music in her Toronto home; the other the years she spent learning and studying Appalachian music in West Virginia.
Her songs on her new album are fueled by her rich low tenor vocals, jazz-influenced instrumentation, and beautifully understated banjo.
Pleased with the developing list of performers North works on a successful premise.
“As always, you’re looking for the balance between veteran, established acts with proven track records who have made serious contributions to roots music, and emerging artists who are gaining critical acclaim in the early stages of their careers,” he says.
The festival may be a few months away but work to present a successful festival is well underway, steered by the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society’s.
The society’s AGM will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at the Comfort Inn.
Elections for directors to the board of the Salmon Arm Folk Music society will take place at the AGM.
Candidates interested in being on the board of directors must be a member of the society as of Jan. 5, and must submit their intention in writing in order to be considered.
For more information, go to www.rootsandblues.ca where you can buy tickets to this year’s festival. Members of the society can access tickets at early-bird prices until March 31.