JUNE 2-4 LAROCHE PARK, MECHANICSVILLE, OTTAWA
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As a unique guitarist and songwriter universally lauded for his lyrics, Danny Michel is an entertainer in every sense of the word. This two time Juno nominee's charm and wit make every song come to life; whether he's playing a chime-solo on a cell phone or attempting a new song on an out-of-tune piano, every moment is fresh and spontaneous. Best known for these dynamic solo shows, Danny rarely performs with a band. But when he does, it's an event. This year WESTFEST is proud to unveil his brand new seven piece band, "Danny Michel & The Camp Town Racers" (featuring Dennis Pendrith (Lightfoot, Cockburn) Dave Tolley (Xavier Rudd) Andrew Aldridge, Michael Dainjah, and Terence Gowan). The band's maiden voyage will feature upright bass, banjo, accordion, guitars, keys, glockenspiel, and more! Don't miss out on this very special evening!
From her debut record, Orchestra for the Moon, Jenn Grant's name has surfaced in four-star reviews from Harp and The Globe and Mail, and earned her several East Coast Music Award nominations. Her newest endeavor, 2009’s Echoes, is full of sincere songs that reflect the art and the heart of Jenn herself. A fine songwriter with a timeless and soulful voice, Jenn Grant knows the power of nuance and can beguile you like no other singer you are likely to hear.
ARCTIC combines diverse influences in unexpected ways: progressive rock and industrial sounds merge with ambient textures and acoustic singer/songwriter melodies to create something fresh, unconventional, and intriguing. With influences ranging from jazz to metal to rap, ARCTIC performs using a looping device to record, modify, and layer acoustic guitar performances into the haunting moodiness of a cold Northern landscape. ARCTIC has travelled Canada multiple times, appearing at NXNE and New Music West.
Honky-tonk heroes Prairie Oyster are bringing their wealth of talent to the WESTFEST mainstage! With more than 30 years under their well-worn belt, Prairie Oyster have never been swayed by prevailing musical trends. Their never-wavering musical integrity helps account for both their longevity and the deep affection with which they are viewed by roots music lovers across Canada and beyond. Prairie Oyster have the ability to incorporate traditional country, western swing, folk, bluegrass, rock 'n' roll, blues, Tex-Mex, and gospel flavours with a graceful ease. This talent has earned them a tally of six Juno Awards, eleven CCMA's, fourteen RPM Big Country Awards, and solidified their reputation as Canada's premier roots music ensemble.
As the youngest of eight children, Ottawa singer-songwriter Lynne Hanson was exposed to a diverse array of musical eras and styles as she grew up, resulting in a hybrid brand of roots music that merges universal themes with Texas soul-country. Prefacing each song with a story, her coffeehouse approach is both personal and engaging. Her latest album, Eleven Months, explores age old topics in a timeless fashion.
Ladies of the Canyon's sound is polymorphic, passionate, and true. They are candy sweet folk pop one minute, heart-wrenching soulful the next, and always follow the spirit of the moment. Their ethereal folkie guitar licks may turn suddenly to pounding rock drums and bass, or lush vocal harmonies that soar over a simple piano melody. The all-female quartet consists of Senja Sargeant, Maïa Davies, Jasmine Bleile and Anna Ruddick.
Lake of Stew is a seven piece acoustic string band based in Montreal, Quebec. Featuring a rotating cast of lead vocalists and impressive group harmonies, they sing a wide variety of original tunes, ranging from waltzes to sing-alongs, barnburners to boogies. They released their debut album, Ain’t Tired of Lovin’, in May of 2008; a record that showcases the energy and joy you’ll hear at any of their live shows.
Drawn to the drive and spirit of bluegrass, Jan Purcell and the Pine Road Bluegrass Band perform traditional, contemporary, and original tunes. In addition to their contributions to various bluegrass compilations, they’ve produced their own two albums, including their latest, Bluegrass Gypsy. Hailing from Wakefield, Quebec, this dynamic bluegrass band includes Jan Purcell singing lead and playing fiddle, Jon Purcell on guitar and vocals, Bryan Higgins on banjo, and Dickson Raynard on upright bass.
Americana singer-songwriter Ken Voita arrives at WESTFEST fresh from stints at the Mariposa and Tucson folk festivals. A Canadian-American who defies easy categorization, the songs on his debut album Hard Road convey an astonishing maturity while staying true to the traditional music he grew up with in a small town in the American southwest.
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.
Dave Draves occupies a small piece of Spruce Street that has seen many tell-tale artists share their wares in his Little Bullhorn recording studio. From the career upstarts of the Wooden Stars and Julie Doiron, through to Kathleen Edwards, Jim Bryson and Howe Gelb, Draves has played a key role in helping some of Ottawa’s best musicians harvest their sound. Onstage, he brings some of the musical currency from his studio space into the sounds and songs of his own performance.
By merging purist early sixties style reggae with catchy pop driven dance numbers and adding a dash of clever lyrical lament, Rudeboy has become Canada's best kept ska secret. Energy overload doesn't quite describe their live show, whose musical and visual experience usually leaves first timers stunned. Rudeboy is: Scott Amey (lead vocals, guitar), Matt Wood (drums, vocals), Steve Berndt (trombone, vocals), Craig Simon (lead guitar, vocals), Colin Burns (bass), and Andy Gorham (organ).
With an original sound and abundant energy, Boom Creek offer their audiences something new, exiting, and above all, an experience that only a wild, live rock’n’roll show can give. With pulsing grooves, breakneck tempos, and music with a true sense of urgency, Boom Creek is a force that both frightens and excites their audience, and provides a live show that is not to be missed.
Sarandonga Tropical Band reflects the spirit of Latin American culture: the enthusiasm, the joy, the folklore, the dances, and the warmth of Latin American people. Innovative and well-organized, this project reflects the artistic values and the background of its members, and brings to every audience the richness of the Latin American Culture. Bringing together the best rhythms of the Caribbean, Sarandonga Tropical Band offers an unforgettable Latin party.
At only 17, Jenna Glatt is already a versatile and gifted musician who has gained public recognition for her vocal talent. She has been featured three times at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival and has opened at various prestigious events and for well-known performers. Her musical styles and influences are diverse and include jazz, pop, and classical. Jenna is an engaging performer at the beginning of a promising career.
Glenn Nuotio is a half-Finnish Newfoundlander who arrived in Ottawa in 2006 via St. John's, Oxford, and Montreal. Armed with his training in classical piano and a band of local favourites, each of Glenn’s performances mix fragility with tantrum, chamber music with rock, and have gathered regional and national press attention, putting him on par with some of the country's freshest independent voices.
At the tender age of 16, Jenna Taggart already has a decade’s worth of experience on stage. Performing since she was five years old, Jenna has been seen on the community stage annually at Ottawa’s SuperEx. She mentored under Rob Clarot for nine years in the heart of Westboro Village, where she perfected and expanded her skills. After years of contributing to the WESTFEST community stage, Jenna is now making her debut on the WESTFEST mainstage.
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.
Mark Frutkin is the author of three books of poetry and seven of fiction, including Fabrizio's Return, winner of the 2006 Trillium Book Award and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book, and Atmospheres Apollinaire, which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award, the Trillium and the Ottawa Book Award. His latest book is Erratic North, his personal story as a Vietnam draft resister who chose to live in the Canadian bush. He currently lives in Ottawa.
Priscila Uppal was one of three Canadian writers on the 2007 shortlist for the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize. She is the author of five collections of poetry and the internationally acclaimed novel The Divine Economy of Salvation. Uppal completed her Ph.D in English Literature at York University in Toronto, where she is a professor of English Literature. She was named a “Canadian Writer to Watch” by the American Library Association. Her latest novel, To Whom It May Concern, is a modern, multicultural re-telling of King Lear through which Uppal explores the vulnerability and complexity of family and inheritance.
Saleema Nawaz was born in Ottawa and raised in Centretown, attending Lisgar Collegiate Institute and Carleton University. Her fiction has appeared in literary journals such as Prairie Fire, PRISM international, Grain, and The New Quarterly. Her first collection, Mother Superior, was published by Freehand Books in the fall of 2008 and was a finalist for the Quebec Writers' Federation's McAuslan First Book Prize. Her short story "My Three Girls," was the winner of the 2008 Writers' Trust of Canada / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize.
Mike Blouin has been the recipient of the Diana Brebner Prize for Poetry from Arc, Canada’s National Poetry Magazine, as well as the Lillian I. Found Prize for Poetry from Carleton University, and his work has been shortlisted for a National Magazine Award. He is the author of the collection of poetry, I’m Not Going to Lie to You, and the novel, Chase & Haven. He currently resides in Oxford Mills, and teaches high school in Kemptville.
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.
Luna Allison is a spoken word artist and jazz poet known for her ability to captivate audiences with soulful lullabies and hilarious diatribes. Her poetry is bold, sensual and heart-felt, reflecting a life-long interest in storytelling and jazz music. Luna released Urban Lullabies through Montreal-based Wired on Words in 2006 and features regularly at that city's Words and Music series. She has also performed in New York and at the Calgary International Spoken Word Festival.
A University of Ottawa accounting student originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Marcus Jameel anchored the Ottawa Slam Team at the 2008 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, where they broke the national team scoring record. The 2008 Capital Slam champion has shared the stage with the likes of Amir Sulaiman, Black Ice, Shane Koyczan and Dwayne Morgan. His conscious, articulate delivery style has been winning slams – and winning over audiences – throughout the National Capital Region.
Shannon lives by the word. She’s a freelancer, a writing teacher and, on occasion, a poet. While fairly fresh to performance, her words have been in the Ottawa milieu for years. You may have seen them in Ottawa Xpress, local advertising media or in Dharma Arts online zine where she’s the Chief Editor (dharmaarts.ca). Shannon aims to apply new angles to age-old topics like love, death, politics—crazy cat ladies. She is, in a word: unexpected.
Matt Peake does what most Ottawa writers over 30 do—he works for the federal government applying his poetic skills to pre-formatted memos. Matt’s poetry has been featured on CBC Radio One and in print in such well-known literary arts magazines as the Canadian Medical Association Journal. He can usually be found in Trio or Bridgehead, performing at Ottawa’s Capital Slam, or making origami birds out of rejection slips from the New Yorker.
Ottawa-based media artist Ehren Bear Witness Thomas has been producing short experimental video works for over six years. Bear was the recipient of the Golden Cherry Award for Video Artist of the Year in 2008. His video “BrokeDickDog” was included in the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography exhibition, Stealing the Gaze: Portraits of Aboriginal Artists, curated by Andrea Kunard and Steven Loft and hosted by the National Gallery of Canada. Bear’s current projects include producing a new video installation in preparation for the exhibition Home Land and Security at Render Gallery in Waterloo (2009) curated by Jeff Thomas. Bear is a co-founder of a Native DJ collective that hosts a monthly event, Electric Pow Wow, here in Ottawa, and he is looking forward to his spotlight on the main stage at Westfest, right before the headliners on Saturday Night.
The Latest Artists (Andrew and Deborah O'Malley) are a collaborative, multi-disciplinary artistic duo. Spontaneous DJ sets are seamlessly blended with improvised video art to create captivating and intriguing coordinated audio-visual performances. They launched their duo act in Berlin, Germany during the summer of '07, and presently hone their craft in Ottawa at their monthly DJ/VJ event, Tech/Tonic, along with regular appearances at arts and music events across the city and beyond. You can catch them between acts on WESTFEST's Domicile Mainstage.
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.