JUNE 2-4 LAROCHE PARK, MECHANICSVILLE, OTTAWA
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Skydiggers have been a fixture on the Canadian music scene since their formation in 1988. They have 8 CD recordings to their credit. Their first studio album in five years, Bittersweet Harmony, spotlights the band's trademark harmonies, indelible melodies and articulate tales of closure and fresh starts. If original members Andy Maize (vocals, trumpet, guitar), Josh Finlayson (guitar, piano, vocals) and Ron Macey (bass guitar) give Bittersweet Harmony its depth and sense of place, Paul MacLeod (guitar, vocals) and Joel Anderson (drums)—both members since 1996—add fresh vision. Maize, a founding member of on-line retailer MapleMusic.com, is currently an executive at sister-label MapleMusic Recordings. Finlayson, who co-produced Gordon Downie's Coke Machine Glow is a member of Downie's solo band. Macey's production credits appear on the latest album by Celtic rockers The Mahones and he also manages young punks, Sweener. Meanwhile, MacLeod is an acclaimed solo artist with a debut album and a following in his own right, and Anderson plays with Jim Cuddy's solo band, records and tours with Oh Susanna and can currently be found sitting in with Kathleen Edwards' touring band. www.skydiggers.com
Andrew Cash and Peter Cash have long individual musical histories, although they only came together musically in 1999 for the first time. They never played music together as children, but both are established figures in the Canadian music scene; Peter Cash was the principal songwriter for the Skydiggers, and Andrew Cash was a longtime solo artist who appeared in the bands L'Etranger and Ursula. After ten years of touring, writing, and recording in these separate projects, the brothers decided to find out what sounds they could create if they joined musical forces. The result was 1999's Raceway. The first song that they recorded together, in 1997, was the title track on the album. The brothers' vocal harmonies on that first recording endeavor foreshadowed what was to come. The Cash Brothers have earned critical accalaim and the respect of peers and fans alike with follow up albums How was Tomorrow (2001) and Brand New Night (2003). www.cashbrothers.com
Jim Bryson is from Ottawa. His songs have been described as both folk and rock. They are a cultivated mix of hope and doubt, longing and uncertainty, and are flush with endearing tales culled from the town he calls home. Bryson has toured Canada and the UK extensively over the past few years and has continued to build a loyal fan base in both markets. His critically acclaimed releases include The Occasionals (2000), as well as The North Side Benches (2003), the latter of which appeared on many Best of lists, including that of Billboard’s Jason MacNeil and Americana UK’s Tim Ford. In addition to Bryson's own releases, his guitar playing and singing can be heard on numerous recordings, most recently with international luminaries such as Kathleen Edwards and Sarah Harmer. Bryson has also be seen playing piano, organ, guitar and even a little vibraphone in Kathleen Edward’s touring band. www.jimbryson.org
Juno nominee, Elliott Brood, have been celebrated for their foot stomps and whiskey-drenched vocals. Civil war storytellers and Detroit River rats, this trio has been promoting their album, Ambassador, in Canada and abroad. After completing a recent UK and Europe tour, Elliott Brood returned to Canada and headed west. Voices swell and square dancing reigns supreme whenever the Brood hits the stage. www.elliottbrood.ca
Emm Gryner, writer, label owner and versatile musician/producer, has captured the hearts of wayward souls with songs that are filled with dark and haunting hues behind their subtle shine. Emm’s deeply personal brand of orchestral pop/rock is clear and accessible, and always hints at redemption. Emm Gryner has performed with Ron Sexsmith, Sarah McLachlan, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, David Bowie and The Cardigans. www.emmgryner.com
At just 26, Justin Rutledge delivers all the promises of a seasoned performer, whether solo or when accompanied by the likes of David Baxter and Bazil Donovan (Blue Rodeo). His debut album, No Never Alone, is a collection of vignettes, beautifully rendered traditional songs, and sensitive, impacting ballads. Canadian greats, Mary Margaret O'Hara and Dan Whiteley, masterfully added to No Never Alone's simple, clean sound. www.justinrutledge.com
Best known as part of Canada’s top female a cappella group, Malaika, Lee Hayes is an award-winning songwriter and a gifted solo performer. This piano pop/folk diva has released five CDs: four with Malaika and now her critically acclaimed solo recording, The Secret Life. Hayes has toured Canada, the US and the UK, and is joined by the vocal and songwriting talents of her daughter, Charlotte Hayes. www.emberswift.com
With Lucas Silveira’s vocals, Jordan B.'s bass and Morgan Doctor on drums, The Cliks are a powerful indie-rock trio to be reckoned with. Their debut eponymous LP entered the top 40 Canadian campus charts on Chartattack and Earshot, without the help of major or indie label backing. They are currently in the studio recording their second album with producer Moe Berg. "…tough and tender rock" -The Globe and Mail www.thecliks.com
Bigstone is a group of young Algonquins, Ojibways, Oji-Cree and Cree men who come from various communities in Ontario and Quebec, and most of whom reside in Ottawa. They have performed at official openings, and powwows in Ontario, Quebec and the US. They also lead cultural awareness events at schools, and perform at occasions, such as Canada Day, Aboriginal Awareness Week and Aboriginal Day.
Hilotrons have a reputation as one of Ottawa’s most exciting and original groups. Their much-anticipated 3rd album, Bella Simone, is the work of musicians hitting their stride. Bella Simone is not only relentlessly catchy—it’s inherently soulful. Added to the familiar mix of dance floor electro, switchblade guitars, chunky keys, and vocal pyrotechnics, is a stunning array of songs about loss, bitterness and regret. www.hilotrons.com
Anchored by vivid songwriting and eclectic instrumentation, The Acorn produce an original brand of experimental and popular folk music that effortlessly marries modern and traditional forms. Their latest album, Glory Hope Mountain, is a song cycle based on a series of harrowing and awe-inspiring interviews with band member Rolf Klausener’s Honduran-born mother, and harbours the triumphs, discoveries, sorrows and life-affirming adventures of a life both remarkable and happily modest. Armed with drums, gut-strings, ukuleles, marimbas and the collective's best songwriting to date, Glory Hope Mountain is a stirring musical document. Since its release, The Acorn have garnered innumerable rave reviews across Canada, the United States, and abroad, and were most recently nominated to the 2008 Polaris Award long list. www.kelprecords.com
Some of the world's top musicians have taken notice of Ottawa singer/songwriter Kellylee Evans' unique voice in the urban-jazz world. In 2004, Evans won second place in the Monk Jazz Vocals Competition. Her debut album, Fight or Flight?, was recorded in a whirlwind two-day session with the help of a crack New York band. It is an eclectic but focused effort, held together by Evans' rich, expressive vocal range. www.kellyleeevans.com
Singer/songwriter Peggy White delivers a roots-infused blend of folk and country with her earliest influences stemming from traditional country. She has been writing with lyricist Gene Bruce for fifteen years. Peggy toured for twelve years in country bands before beginning her solo career. Her debut, Fair is Fair, produced by Gerry Griffin, is receiving radio airplay on roots and folk stations both at home and abroad. www.peggywhite.ca
Nukariik, meaning "two sisters" in Inuttitut, brings together two talented Inuit sisters in a unique blend of contemporary and traditional Inuit cultural performing. With roots in Kangiqsualujjuaq, northern Quebec, Nukariik have lived most of their lives in southern Canada, but maintain a strong connection to their culture through their Inuit friends, Elders and family. Nukariik have performed throughout Canada and internationally. www.nukariik.ca
Those who have seen The Habit live have called their music "melodic pop," "Anglo-Acadian R&B," and "folk-funk." Brought together in the spring of 2004 to perform a song for television written by founders/songwriters Dan Valin and Darren Rogers, the group's chemistry was so strong that they've been together ever since. Whether you hear them perform for 20,000 people or on a porch in the summertime, The Habit is aptly named. www.thehabit.ca
Ottawa singer/songwriter Joshua Morin releases his second album, Drunk Stoned or in Love, this summer. His four-piece band creates a full acoustic/rock sound, providing a nice complement to Joshua’s original tunes. He takes a worldly perspective in his lyrics, writing about travel, love and laughter. Joshua performs throughout central Canada and has found a favourable audience when his music is played on the local airwaves.
If you haven't already heard, Bleeding Heart will soon be taking over the world. They formed at the end of November and are young and full of spunk. Bleeding Heart are three 14-year-old girls: Hannah Stewart on vocals and guitar, Helen Pike on bass, and Thea Cunningham on drums. Their music is their own ripe and alternative style. They are looking forward to rocking out at WESTFEST.
Djembe drummer, Dr. Lee, will lead WESTFEST's first-ever Tam-Tam on Sunday, June 11 from 8:30 to 9:30 am. Everyone is invited to participate in this event that promises to wake up the city. Dr. Lee has been at the helm of the Stone Angel drum circle and Copacetic. He has collaborated with Sufi Girl (with whom he released the CD, Orange Galaxy, in 2002), and local jazz musicians Peter Hum and John Geggie. He has performed for The Cirque du Soleil, CBC, and the Museum of Nature. This year, he travelled to Guinea Conakry, West Africa to study djembe music with world class musician Aboubacar Fatouabou Camara. www.drleepercussion.com
MOCO (Musicians of the Ottawa Chamber Orchestra) is an ensemble of approximately 12 players made up primarily of string players from the Ottawa Chamber Orchestra. This ensemble is an outreach group of OCO, a 50-member, community-based symphony orchestra. MOCO performs a variety of light classical, as well as more popular selections. MOCO will be performing at the All Saints' Anglican Church during WESTFEST. www.ottawachamberorchestra.ca
Koichi Yano’s passion for dance started in Tokyo, Japan. Trained in Japan and the United States as an acrobatic dancer and aerial artist, he has worked for Montreal's Cirque Éloize. Yano's desire for the ultimate dance experience led him to Le Groupe Dance Lab in 2002.
Maybe you've noticed Amy Kubanek in an intersection or on the sidewalk performing with the Grasshoppa Dance Exchange. Kubanek's main interest is the grey area between dance theatre and performance art. She will perform a rare duet with her husband, Walter Kubanek, of Le Groupe Dance Lab. Walter just finished his fourth season with Le Groupe.
Ann-Marie MacDonald is an author, playwright, and actor. Her international best-selling novel, Fall On Your Knees, has been translated into seventeen languages and received the Commonwealth Prize, the Canadian Author's Association Award and two Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Awards. Her first play, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), was premiered in 1988 by The Nightwood Theatre, and since has had over 100 productions in Canada, the U.S. and abroad. Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) was produced by Canadian Stage in Spring 2001 and ran to sold out audiences with MacDonald in the lead role. The play has been honoured with the Governor General's Award, The Chalmers Award and the Canadian Author's Association Award. Ann-Marie’s most recent book, The Way the Crow Flies, has been published to much critical acclaim. Just as her books bring light to difficult subjects, so too do her presentations allow for insight. Ann-Marie is a warm and engaging speaker whose talent has swept the continent by storm. www.annmariemacdonald.com
Mark Frutkin has published ten books of celebrated fiction and poetry, most recently, Fabrizio’s Return (Knopf, 2006). His novel, Atmospheres Apollinaire, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for fiction and the Trillium Award. His work has appeared in the US, Holland, England and India and he has written on books and the arts for amazon.ca/com, the Globe & Mail, Montreal Gazette, Harper’s and the Ottawa Citizen. www.markfrutkin.com
Zoe Whittall is the author of two collections of poetry, The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life (2001) and The Emily Valentine Poems (Snare Books, August 2006). She edited the anthology, Geeks, Misfits & Outlaws, in 2003. Her first book of fiction, Bottle Rocket Hearts, is forthcoming with Cormorant Books in spring of 2007. Her poetry appeared in Breathing Fire 2: Canada’s New Poets, edited by Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane. www.zoewhittall.blogspot.com
Anita Lahey's collection of poems is Out to Dry in Cape Breton (Vehicule Press, 2006). The editor of Arc Poetry Magazine, Anita is also the former editor of Kitchissippi Times and a magazine journalist who has written for many national publications on subjects ranging from the history of rainbows to the Sydney Tar Ponds to the thrill of roller coasters. She contributes regularly to Ottawa Magazine and Maisonneuve.
Craig Poile’s poems have appeared in Queen’s Quarterly, The New Quarterly, The Malahat Review and Arc. His book, First Crack, was published by Carleton University Press in 1999 and made the shortlist for the national award for first books of poetry. He has also been active in Ottawa theatre as both a playwright and producer and is the co-owner of Collected Works Bookstore, WESTFEST's official bookseller.
Since entering the spoken word scene a year ago, 18-year-old DJ Morales earned a spot on the Ottawa Slam Team at the 2005 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Vancouver and won the 2006 Ottawa CBC Poetry Face-Off. She occasionally has to use fake ID to get into her own gigs. She is currently working on her debut full-length recording entitled, The CD That's Gonna Put Me Through College.
Doretta Charles first performed in a slam in 2003, and was transformed into a fireball with a microphone. She mixes spoken word, slam poetry, and song to deliver her unique take on issues such as gender rights, environmental awareness, and multiculturalism. She was on the 2004 Ottawa Spoken Wordlympics Team, performed at the 2005 UNESCO World Poetry Day and was a finalist at the 2006 Ottawa CBC Poetry Face-Off.
Greg Frankson, a.k.a. Ritallin, is an author, spoken word artist, producer and organizer. He directs the Capital Poetry Collective and operates 10milligram promotions. Ritallin was an Ottawa Slam Team member at the 2004 Canadian Spoken Wordlympics. He produced Live at Capital Slam 2005 and the Ritallin EP Capital Thoughts in December 2005. He published his poetry compilation Cerebral Stimulation in February 2006. www.ritallin.com
John Akpata is a writer, poet, journalist, musician and political activist. He was a member of the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Ottawa slam teams and is the current Ottawa Capital Slam Champion. He was also the 2004 Ottawa CBC Poetry Face-Off Champion. He released Kerheb, his critically acclaimed full-length CD, in 2005. John hosts Monday Night Scribes on CHUO-FM and writes for Ottawa XPress. www.mudsharkaudio.com/akpata.htm
Mosha Folger, the product of an Inuit mother and a Brooklynite father, grew up in Iqaluit, Nunavut and Vancouver, British Columbia. After a short stint back in Iqaluit as a computer technician, he moved to Nanaimo to study creative writing. He has been practicing his "Eskimo-centric" writing in Ottawa since summer 2004. He writes scripts, writes journalism, writes poetry and writes himself off.
Simply put, Aaron McKenzie Fraser takes a lot of photos. In the past 5 years, Aaron has had 5 solo shows and has been a part of close to 20 group shows in local galleries and galleries across Canada. Along with fine art work, Aaron works as a professional freelance photographer, maintaining a long list of national and international clients specializing in commercial/editorial portraiture work. www.amfraser.com
Adrienne Herron is a photographic artist who has lived in Toronto, Vancouver, Kitchener, Ottawa and Montreal. She graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2001. To express Adrienne's impression of a forest and its state, she moves the camera at the time the image is captured. This creates a softer, more delicate effect that reveals the forest's vulnerability, beauty, power and grace. www.adrienneherron.com
Aram Faghfouri was born in Tehran, Iran. She migrated to Greece with her family where they stayed for several years before finally relocating to Canada. Aram studied Web and graphic design, as well as digital photography. She is presently working with Canadian-based ambient jazz band, Iceberg, as their photographer and graphic designer. Her work can be found in the US and Europe. www.aramdesigns.net
Since 1982, Claude Latour’s works have been inspired by travels in central Africa, Russia, Europe, United States, Cuba and Canada. In 2003, he curated an art exhibit featuring eleven artists from the Kitigan Zibi Algonquin Reserve on Victoria Island celebrating the community’s 150th Anniversary of memories and survival. His latest works are photo-based images entitled, Visions from the Pow-Wow Trail.
Daniel Lavoie uses gouache paints to create his dramatic visuals of the human form. The past-artists/2006 behind each of Daniel's works makes each piece dynamic and individual.
In addition to being named one of the world's top florists, Gerry is an emerging visual artist who has explored his creativity in recent years through oil on canvas. He uses his strong sense of composition and colour to create striking, contemporary paintings.
Gilda Pontbriand's images travel between the mundane and a magical world, without making the illusion of reality its main objective. Her work invites viewers to not only admire the physical beauty of the painting, but to decipher the emotions that brought her to paint it. Her florals reveal themselves as metaphors, which go far beyond the materialistic to question their essence.
Renée DesChamps' mixed media, ever changing palette is a dynamic catalyst, revealing something new in every painting. She is always striving for an aesthetic surprise. Her art is a reflection of her life. Ideals, experiences and complexities have become visible in the many layers found in each painting. www.reneedeschamps.com
Ross Rheaume was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan of Ojibway, French Canadian and European ancestry. The creative arts have been a lifelong pursuit of Ross', taking the form of oil painting, music and interior design. www.rossrheaume.com
Cheryl Mazak's unique style of mixed media, rusty canvases and her contemporary portrait photography can be found in the homes of many Ottawa art aficionados. Her international appeal has grown, and her work can be found in Asia, Europe and the US. Mazak was listed by Ottawa Life Magazine as one of of the top 50 people of 2005 in the Nation's Capital. www.artonthewall.com
In her evocative landscapes, Maggie Glossop represents the spirit and essence of the Canadian landscape. She uses natural fibres: wool, silk, cashmere, mohair and angora, which she hand dyes and then processes into soft felted pictures or wall sculptures. Her work can be found at the Galerie Old Chelsea, The Britannia Gallery, The Philip Wood Gallery, and at her home studio during the West End Studio Tour in September.
For the last 30 years, Susan Jolliffe has been creating whimsical artifacts from found objects with clay and paint. She has also led workshops for children, created public art, and published a how-to book on making sculptures (Sculpture Vultures, 2000). Susan recently completed the illustrations for a children's book by Jan Andrews (Orca, 2005), and is now working on her own tea party book.
A Company of Fools is Ottawa’s only independent professional Shakespeare company. The Fools produce innovative, entertaining and accessible shows based on the works of William Shakespeare. Their Torchlight Shakespeare Series brings full-length Shakespearean plays to parks across Ottawa. The Fools are a physical theatre company and use the techniques of Clown, Commedia Del’arte, Mask, Puppetry, Vaudeville and Slapstick.