JUNE 2-4 LAROCHE PARK, MECHANICSVILLE, OTTAWA
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They're called 1755, they were formed in 1977 and the Acadian group is still making a mark in 2008. Honoured with an East Coast Music Award for Lifetime Achievement earlier this year, the humble Moncton based group remains surprised that anyone still listens to their music 30 years later. They shouldn't be though. Having an East Coaster play a tune by 1755 is akin to anyone of Irish descent playing a song by the Irish Rovers on St. Patrick's Day. Though 1755 (aka: The Acadian Beatles) began singing in English, they blazed a trail for Maritime Francophones who wanted to sing in their mother tongue.
Hard on the heels of his latest album Ashtray Rock, Halifax indie hero Joel Plaskett is making an impact wherever he can. Along with his band, Emergency, the singer/songwriter has watched his album earn a number one ranking on CBC Radio 3, a Juno nomination, three ECMA wins, international show dates and sold out events. It's described as a "mini rock opera" - an exuberant romp through the imagination and a celebration of everything important about growing up. With a collection of work that goes back almost a decade, The Joel Plaskett Emergency is without a doubt, one of Canada's best live acts.
Buffy Sainte-Marie virtually invented the role of Aboriginal activist pop star. Since then, she has far surpassed the achievements of today's mainstream celebrities. With 17 albums, three TV specials, five years on Sesame Street, movie soundtracks, a Fine Arts Ph.D. and an appearance on White House subversive lists, she is a legend, an inspiration and a source of pride for Canadians. Once a Billboard sensation and sought-after songwriter to such icons as Elvis and Cher, she disappeared from the public eye at the peak of her career. Now making only a few rare appearances a year, she's a prized addition to any stage.
Holly McNarland is one of those rare female vocalists whose voice isnÕt breathy or cute. Her sound packs a wallop that can literally affect your whole body. Debuting in 1995 with Sour, HollyÕs whisper-to-a-scream voice really became known in 1997 with Stuff. By her third album, Home is Where My Feet Are, the Vancouver-based siren proved that her pipes could both soothe and send shivers up your spine. With simultaneous intensity and vulnerability, this platinum selling singer/song-writer is a paradox Ð a super-charged pint-sized phenom, both delicate and beautiful. Her newest recording, Chin Up Buttercup, will be released later this year to much anticipation.
From being kicked out of Drama Arts school as a teenager to an eventual gold album, Acadian songstress Marie-Jo Therio has run the gamut. As an actress and a singer/songwriter, she has more than one reason to love the stage. Therio has earned parts in TV shows, a full length movie, the romantic opera Nelligan and Les Miserables but it's her alluring musical delivery, playful tempos and theatrical lyric delivery that has earned her the attention of fans in Canada, Europe and elsewhere. With a career spanning close to two decades, this Moncton musical phenomenon delivers a captivating performance.
If you haven't heard of her already, you soon will. Lucie Idlout is the complete package, great voice, fresh sound and spirit through and through. Although Idlout is of Native heritage, her music is more than a testament to being aboriginal, but rather a complete expression of being herself. Out of her tiny body comes a deep, aggressive voice, with passionate lyrics that take you on a journey full of sad stories and emotional unrest (Think Etta James mixed with the power Marianne Faithful and P.J. Harvey). Genuine and uninhibited, she freely exposes her conflicted psyche through voice, presence and passion.
Julie Doiron has been making music since she was 17 and played bass (as she still occasionally does) with indie rock icon's Eric's Trip. Since the band's first hiatus in 1996, Julie has recorded eight albums of her own which have been released all over the world. She won a Juno for her 2000 release Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars and her most recent release, Woke Myself Up was just nominated for the prestigious Polaris Prize. Julie has also had a book of photography published, toured in Gord Downie's other band and promoted a music festival all while raising her three children.
Putting the rock back in indie rock, Land of Talk's sound is fueled by Elizabeth Powell's stunning, unforgettable vocal melodies, haunting lyrics and a unique guitar style that mixes lush chord voicings with the dissonant urgency of Thurston Moore. The band, composed with Liz's Concordia music school chum Chris McCarron (bass), has been embraced by music bloggers and other venerables bands who they've toured with such as Wintersleep, The Dears, The Stills and more. Their self-released debut is called Applause Cheer Boo Hiss - it will consume you with its warm, yet fierce, embrace.
Only a year old, Grand Analog has already impressed crowds across Canada and in the States. They are unbalanced and dirty, never clean. Their music; a beautiful mess of rap n' roll, dub and soul - a hip hop slop shop of good times and bad. Their first and current album, Calligraffiti, is for the tired and heavy of heart - those ridden with struggles and striving for happiness. Exactly what the soul ordered, Grand Analog live shows lend a hypnotic blend of poetics and experimentation to a hip hop sound that's refreshing to any ear.
Sweet Nothing is the record Matthew envisioned himself making when he first started writing songs a decade ago. While crafting it, he was joined by special guests including Matthew's songstress sister Jill Barber, who delivered haunting vocals and the horn duo of James Shaw (Metric) and Evan Cranley (Stars) who played trumpet and trombone respectively. Matthew was also lucky (or just plain talented) enough to score the production work of Marty Kinack who is best known for his skills applied to both Sarah Harmer and Broken Social Scene's albums. Matt is currently finishing up his Sibling Revelry tour with sis Jill.
i see rowboats has quickly established itself as one of the most exciting new bands in Atlantic Canada. With music that is a confident and original mix of melodic, string-infused indie rock, their spirited Halifax sound is changing Canada's indie scene. i see rowboats formed in 2006 when long time friends William Robinson and Luke Fisher reconnected and collaborated to form the band. Soon after, the duo turned to drummer/percussionist Darcy Fraser as well as multi-instrumentalists Lisa Lipton and Solomon Vromans to complete the band. The five-piece co-wrote all the songs on their debut EP, Hide & Seek Behind the Throne, released in August of 2007.
Hurray for Higgsfield formed in 2005 as a musical project based on the folk recordings of Scott LeBlanc and Frank Russell. Both men were eager to find a more elusive style of music. Their collaboration produced unique soundscapes by mixing dark soulful vocal progressions with disillusioned choruses. Independently created within the reddened walls of a rundown city apartment, their first full-length album is set for release in the winter of 2008, followed by a string of tour dates on the east coast. Clever lyrics, reverb-heavy guitar riffs and somber synth undertones, prompt fans to bob their heads while pondering bigger questions in life.
The story of Kinnie Starr (yes thatÕs her real name) started well before her debut in 1996. The early nineties were spent honing her rhyming, poetry, guitar skills, intellect and overall creativity. That incubation period gave way to a raw and original groove-based lyrical style. Of European and Mohawk descent, her sound is not only musically diversified, itÕs culturally influenced too. With four albums under the trilingual-trip hop-folk-activist artistÕs belt, her feral talent has teamed up with the likes of Tegan Quinn (of Tegan & Sara) and Moka Only and has impressed audiences around the world.
Leela Gilday is a juno-nominated singer/songwriter from the Dene Nation, in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Her first album, Spirit World, Solid Wood, garnered much recognition including a place in MacleanÕs Top 50 Under 30, a Horizon award, several Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards and most recently, Up Here MagazineÕs ÓNortherner of the YearÒ title. With the release of SedzŽ, her second full-length effort, Leela echoes the heartbeat of the north with a modern rootsy acoustic interpretation. The album, whose title means ÒMy HeartÓ in Slavey, represents the new spirit of rising northern voices and articulates the bridge between worlds.
Tamara Podemski doesnÕt like to take chances when it comes to her music and image. As singer/songwriter who calls upon her roots to sing in English, Ojibway and Hebrew, she created her own label, Mukwa Music, to protect herself from stereotyping. Tamara launched her music career after starring in the Broadway hit Rent, at which point she became the lead singer of the Los Angeles-based band, Spirit Nation. Tamara has received numerous music awards and has had her music featured on film soundtracks and TV series such as The Rez, Moccasin Flats and The Seventh Generation. With three albums under her belt, she continues to tour world-wide.
Nukariik, meaning "two sisters" in Inuttitut, brings together talented Inuit sisters and throat singers, Karin Kettler and Kathy Kettler. Formed in 2002, Nukariik have roots in Kangiqsualujjuaq, northern Quebec, but have lived most of their lives in southern Canada, while maintaining a strong connection to their culture through their Inuit friends, Elders, and family. Nukariik have performed throughout Canada and internationally.
Hailing from the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation, Anishnaabe Writer Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm is also a collaborator, publisher, Indigenous arts advocate and communications consultant. Her writing has been published in the My Heart is a Stray Bullet collection, a chapbook Bloodriver Woman and in anthologies, journals and magazines in Canada and several other places around the world. Her accomplishments include a spoken word CD called Standing Ground, a feature in the tv series, Heart of a Poet and the 2007 documentary, Words from the Edge. She is also known for Without Reservation, an anthology of erotica by Indigenous writers, which she compiled and edited.
After setting the crowd aglow with blue light sticks and a massive game of pass the parcel and hauling a piano for fourteen blocks last year, Cara Tierney returns to WESTFEST’s roaring street scene to blend in, stick out, entertain and provoke thought. Born in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec she arrived in Ottawa in 2002 to study art history only to find herself a performance artist rearing to emerge and challenge our experience of art.
Theo Pelmus is a performance artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally, including shows in Copenhagen and the Bucharest Biennial. Theo has a BFA and MFA from the University of Fine Arts in Bucharest and is currently pursuing a second MFA at the University of Ottawa. He is an active participant in the Ottawa arts community, most notably as a programming member of Available Light Screening Collective and the vice-president of Gallery 101 board of directors. He is represented by La Petite Mort Gallery in Ottawa.
The Nemisak Singers have been performing together for three years. Their name, which means Ôsister singersÕ in the Cree language, is appropriate since the group is comprised of women playing traditional hand drums. The three aboriginal musicians live and work in Ottawa, but hail from various points across the country. Elaine Kicknosway is Swampy Cree from Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Northern Saskatchewan. Ida Meekis is Cree from Sandy Lake. Tania Dopler is Cherokee/Sauk Fox, born in Newfoundland. Together, they bring their powerful sound to a number of events for traditional opening ceremonies or simply to share social songs with different groups.
Sometimes performance transcends entertainment and becomes an artistic lesson in history and geography. That sometimes is always with the First Nations Cultural Performance. It offers a spectacular traditional showcase of various dancers, drummers and singers from Nations like the Mi'kmaq in the East, the Algonquin and Ojibway in the North and the Iroquois Nation. All join artistic and cultural forces to perform a selection of dance styles accompanied by traditional songs and drumming. It is both their honor and pleasure to delight audiences by sharing their pride and heritage wherever they go.
Heather O'Neill's first novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals (HarperCollins, 2006), was the winning title for Canada Reads 2007 and was also short-listed for the Governor General's Award for English language fiction. From her home in Montreal, Heather also finds time to contribute to This American Life and the New York Times magazine.
Stunt (Coach House Books, 2008) is Claudia Dey's first novel. A critically acclaimed playwright, Claudia's plays have been translated into French and German and are produced internationally (once, in the former Communist headquarters of New York City). They include, Beaver, The Gwendolyn Poems (Governor General's Award Nominee and Trillium Award Finalist) and Trout Stanley. Claudia also writes the "Group Therapy" column for the Globe and Mail.
In Girl #3, her first novel for young adults, Ottawa author Nichole McGill tells the tale of a 14-year-old papergirl who finds peace and predators, stalkers and ghosts in a Toronto ravine. Nichole is also the author of 13 Cautionary Tales and her fiction has been published in numerous journals and anthologies across North America. She has been WESTFEST LIT’s curator since 2008.
Paul Glennon is the Ottawa-based author of How Did You Sleep? and The Dodecahedron: or a Frame for Frames, which was a finalist for the 2006 Governor General's Award for fiction and was selected as one of The Globe and Mail's 100 Best Books of the Year. The first of his young adult trilogy, Bookweird, will be published in fall 2008 by Doubleday.
Jennifer Whiteford is an Ottawa author who lives in Centretown with her very shy dog and a large record collection. She has been writing fiction and self-publishing zines since age 15. Her debut novel, Grrrl, was published in 2006 by L.A.'s Gorsky Press - the same year she was voted "Best Local Author" by Ottawa XPress readers. Besides fiction, she interviews bands and writes music reviews for Razorcake Magazine and is currently at work on her second novel.
Ivan Coyote is an award-winning author of five books, yet her first love is live storytelling. According to Quills magazine, Ivan has a "distinctive and persuasive voice, a flawless sense of pacing and an impeccable sense of story." Her first novel, Bow Grip (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2006), was recently awarded the Relit award for best fiction and named by the American Library Association as a Stonewall honor book in literature. Ivan was recently Carleton University's Writer-in-Residence for 2007-2008 and is currently at work on her second novel.
Daniel Barrow is a Winnipeg-based media artist working in performance, video and installation. He has exhibited widely in Canada and abroad at such esteemed venues as The Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), New Langton Arts (San Francisco), and The Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver). Since 1993, Barrow has employed an overhead projector to relay ideas and short stories. Specifically, he creates and adapts comic book narratives to a "manual" form of animation by projecting, layering and manipulating drawings on mylar transparencies. In Barrow's words, this practice is part "graphic performance, live illustration and manual animation."
Mary Lavers is a spoken word performer who uses playful and often sexual language to discuss issues of social ethics, gender politics and sometimes, just good old-fashioned lust. She participated in the CBC Poetry Face Off and the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, co-founded Halifax's Poetry in the Park and organized writing workshops and events in Montreal and Halifax. Since moving to Ontario she has performed on countless stages, in numerous parks, on random streets and on a boat.
Free Will is a performance poet from Ottawa who has travelled from the Sub-Arctic to the Sahara (and many places in between) while recording and writing his poetry. He is the 2007 Capital Slam Champion and was a member of the Ottawa Slam Team at the 2007 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Halifax. He recently released his debut full length CD of spoken word and hip-hop entitled The House of Words.
Ritallin is an author, performer, speaker and promoter recognized as one of Canada's most successful spoken word organizers. He produced the Live at Capital Slam compilation CDs in 2005 and 2006 and released a book of poetry, Cerebral Stimulation, and a CD, Capital Thoughts, in 2006. Greg is the Creative Director of Cytopoetics, producers of the annual Scribology spoken word and music showcase, and is the lead vocalist for the spoken word/music ensemble Instant Release.
Trinidad native Stachen Frederick was the first President of the Kilimanjaro Black Students Association at the University of Ottawa. Since then, she has worked with local groups such as Nexus Africa and Ebony and Ivory Entertainment. Her poetry touches on her African heritage but mostly, her pride in her Caribbean roots. She is Trini to the bone and proudly works for the Trinidad & Tobago High Commission. She has performed her poems on radio and onstage in Ottawa and Montreal.
Tempest in a Teapot, A Company of Fools A Shakespeare adaptation performed with the Fool's characteristic physicality and wit, Tempest in a Teapot is pure entertainment. Written by A Company of Fools themselves and set to original music, this play takes you on a journey into the eye of the storm. Part parody and part homage, Tempest in a Teapot entertains audiences of all ages and offers critical insight into Shakespeare's original work. It teases its actors and audiences alike with the cultural and historical differences between our world and that of the playwright, all the while exploring ideas around race and religion.
World of Stories, Salamander Theatre Written and directed by Eleanor Crowder Travel the globe without ever leaving Westboro! World of Stories is a highly interactive performance designed to stimulate an appreciation of culture and diversity in young audiences. A feast of music and visual effects - including the largest puppet most kids will ever see - provokes participation and wonder. Meet Anansi the spider man, who precociously draws stories from the Sky God and invites the audience to travel to Africa and India, Europe and Asia to discover a world of traditional tales. Exploring cultural differences but highlighting universal similarities, this show is an ideal introduction to theatre for kids.
Scott Florence is the Artistic Director of Ottawa's A Company of Fools. He is a graduate of the del'Arte School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, California. He has worked with the NAC, Odyssey Theatre, Metaphysical Theatre, and PTP Players. A faculty member at Algonquin College, he's taught at Vancouver Improv Festival, University of Regina, and Moncton Comedy Festival. Scott is also a curator for .ism(e): performance cabaret.
Dr Lee (aka: Lee Garbutt) is a percussion-based musician and teacher. He creates sounds inspired by West African rhythms and fused with modern electronic beats for dance performances, art installations and music projects. In 2003 Dr.Lee released his first CD, Orange Galaxy. A year later, he traveled to Guinea, West Africa to study djembe drumming with highly respected djembe master, Aboubacar Fatouabou Camara. Dr. Lee's credits include collaborating with The Souljazz Orchestra, Antizario, the Peter Hum Jazz Ensemble and performing for Cirque du Soleil. He also led the drum circle at the Westfest Tam Tam in 2006 and again in June 2007.