Afie Jurvanen isn’t from the Bahamas. He’s a Finnish Canadian from Barrie, Ontario. But his chosen epithet is fitting. Since 2009 he’s been making music under the name Bahamas- writing songs about sunsets, love affairs, and making out with crooked smiles. Through simple arrangements, he charts an escape route from the snow belt to the coral reefs. His new album, Bahamas Is Afie, was released August 19, 2014 and is a coming of age record. Self titled and self produced, it is the next step in the evolution of Jurvanen’s songcraft, guitar mastery, and melodic pop hooks, following his previous full lengths Pink Strat (2009) and Barchords (2011). Bahamas is Afie remains a sparse, moving, headphone album, complemented by a more developed arrangement of strings, brass, winds, orchestral percussion, and chamber choruses that transport the listener from moving seas to a search for strength, to a place of resolve and comfort. As a producer and session musician, he is known as one of Canada’s most talented guitarists and he has worked with artists such as Feist, Jason Collett and Jack Johnson, releasing his albums on the latter’s Brushfire Records. His first ever Sudbury show will truly be one for the books.
Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy (Saturday)
Having both played the festival on their own, Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy will headline together Saturday July 9th. Natalie MacMaster is a globally acclaimed Canadian legend and is one of the world’s top fiddlers while Donnell Leahy is the incendiary musical leader of the double-platinum selling family band Leahy. Their past performances at NLFB are still among the most talked about, and their 2016 appearance also promises to be one for the books. The pair are happily married, bringing together two of the ‘royal families’ of east coast music. With roots planted deep in Cape Breton Island, this fierce fiddling duo couple command the stage with an explosive celebration of raw energy and passion that infuses their traditional heritage with their taste for the contemporary. The ‘first couple of contemporary celtic music’ will be performing songs from “One”, (prod. by Bob Ezrin) their recording debut as a duo, as well as a selection of reinterpretations from their expansive catalogue of celtic music.
Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra (Sunday)
A potent mix of Afro-Colombian music and dance, with the brass and violin melodies of Eastern Europe, GKO combines live music, choreographed dance, circus, theatrical staging and dynamic audience interaction to take over dance floors everywhere they go. More than a simple band, GKO is a multi-disciplinary, multilingual, multi-sensory experience that is hard to define with words. Formed three years ago, the 16 piece group has already performed over 140 shows, including many festivals across Ontario, Québec, Eastern Canada, Colombia and parts of France. Their first album, Revuelta Danza Party has also been well received by the public and critics, reaching #1 rank on CIBL radio (Montreal) and remaining in their top ten world music rankings since its release this past September. The album perfectly exemplifies their creative potential, creating contemporary music that builds upon the roots of established musical styles.
At the core of Digging Roots is the husband and wife songwriting team of Raven Kanatakta and ShoShona Kish, who first met before an audition for a music festival while they were both still music students. They won their first gig after their chance meeting that day and haven’t looked back. It wasn’t long before they were writing songs and playing coffee houses and festivals. The duo (backed by full band) seem to have enjoyed a fairytale kind of good luck; recording in their own studio, traveling the world playing music, raising a family and winning awards — but in fact — it is old fashion hard work and a unique creative chemistry that is their secret. Their music is a hypnotizing mix of blues, groove, roots, reggae, hip-hop, and pop.
Nathan Lawr, the man behind the afrobeat groove machine that is Minotaurs, grew up outside Guelph, Ontario, where he still lives now. He was a pivotal player in the explosion of Canadian music in the early 2000s, being a key member of Royal City and having played with the Constantines, Jim Guthrie, Fembots and King Cobb Steelie. He first transitioned from folkie singer/songwriter to rhythmic bandleader on 2010’s The Thing, and hasn’t looked back since. Lawr’s status as a musical MVP easily draws others into his vision: Minotaurs is, by design, a big band that has included over a dozen musicians, including Sudburian brothers Ryan and Dan Levesque, as well as Sarah Harmer, who headlined last year’s festival.
In 2011, arriving to Montreal from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lionel Kizaba, having studied jazz and gospel drumming since childhood, had the idea to blend the sounds of Daft Punk to those of Fela Kuti and Congolose Rumba. The result is a unique and electrifying group with roots on three continents, melding funk, rock and western electro to the rhythms, languages and traditions of Africa.
Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire
Absolute musical UFOs, the entity named Les Hotesses d’Hilaire offers psychedelic-psychotronic rock music while touching soft melodies that would make the Lizard King proud. Created in 1972, the dashing acadian troupe emerged from Hilaire Brideau’s (father of singer Serge Brideau) basement right after the Y2K bug’s passing to live life to the fullest from now to the foreseeable end of the world. Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire are coming to Sudbury to conquer the hardest of hearts with their show as face-melting as it is tight.
Some things are just part of your DNA when you’re a young Toronto rock ‘n roll band. Mainly, it’s the echoes of smoky nights in Yorkville coffee houses when Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot found their voices, while a few blocks away on Yonge Street, The Band was forging the sound Bob Dylan would soon make his own.
It’s all ancient history to the young members of Sun K, but no one ever had to explain the significance to them. It came out the moment they began playing together in 2013 and has been the foundation of a sound that has quickly evolved to embrace the edginess of the early New York underground scene and the glowing, complex harmonies of west coast folk rock.
Sun K’s unshakable desire to add their link to the chain of all this great music is at the heart of the group’s full-length debut album, Northern Lies, out March 10 on MapleMusic Recordings. Produced by Cone McCaslin of Sum 41, whose production credits also include The Strumbellas and Operation MD, the eight-song collection is the first statement from a band eager to make its mark straight out of the gate, but also wise beyond its years in the knowledge that this is a seed from which a body of work will eventually grow.
Along with their Yiddish gangster repertoire, Orkestar Kriminal has absorbed the Rebetika Mortika hash den anthems of the 1930s Greek underground. They can also be found performing in Khmer, Spanish, Danish, Romani, Ladino, Russian, Vietnamese, Hebrew or whatever other tongue might attract them. So long as the tune is catchy and a little shady, they’ll give it their best shot! Festival-goers be warned; you may very well fall in love with these characters!
Murder Murder is a ‘bloodgrass’ band (bluegrass + outlaw country + exclusively murder ballads), hailing from the frozen forests of the Ontario Northland. Their tales of death and betrayal are brought to life by the kick of the suitcase, the saw of the fiddle, and the roll of the banjo. As devoted fans of bluegrass, traditional music, and folk music, they were drawn to the murky ethical themes of the murder ballad form and to its enduring nature. Oftentimes these ballads capture the essence and atmosphere of a dark, lawless and violent frontier. Northern Ontario, although never romanticized in the way that the Wild West or the far North during the gold rush era were, was once such a place with a wealth of stories and characters. The lack of mythology associated with Northern Ontario is troubling, and thus they felt it their responsibility to create their own.
Matt Foy & Little Sir Echo
Driven by 50’s and 60’s instrumental music Matt Foy & Little Sir Echo will take you on a cinematic journey through dust bowls, dive bars and speedways. Having played withcountless projects over the years with some of Sudbury’s best musicians, Matt Foy occasionally allows the spotlight to shine on him and his love of early guitar music. If Ennio Morricone, Link Wray, Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth and Daniele Luppi formed a band it might sound a little like Matt Foy & Little Sir Echo.
Kate Maki is a hardy country type of pioneer woman. Her guitar picking rhythm is like a drum, and she can belt out, even when she is quiet, like a storm. Her songs represent a real natural talent for writing tunes that feel like a friend you’ve never met, but that you’ve known forever. Born and raised in Sudbury, Maki has has received much critical acclaim for the six records she has released since quitting her day job as a grade school teacher in 2003. She has toured extensively in North America with folks like Giant Sand and the Great Lake Swimmers, her songs have been placed in films and TV shows including Weirdsville and Hard Rock Medical, and her voice can be heard on records by Howe Gelb and Matt Mays.
Maki’s most recent release, Head In The Sand, was recorded and mixed at home in Copper Cliff with her husband and audio scientist, Fred Squire. Despite small basement quarters, the couple managed to create a most compelling and expansive sounding record using a 70s eight track tape machine, an 80s mixing console, a few decent microphones, and a borrowed spring reverb unit. Friend and master timekeeper, Nathan Lawr, played drums on the majority of the record, steering the songs in new and engaging directions. Maki and Squire played the rest of the instruments themselves whenever they could afford the time between raising their two young children and Squire’s hectic university schedule. By keeping the arrangements sparse, and embracing a standard rock formation of guitars, bass, drums, and occasional organ or piano, they allowed Maki’s captivating vocals to become the focal point. Written mostly in 2009 during a tempestuous time for Maki, the songs examine prevailing matters of the human condition, including infidelity, defeat, loneliness, acceptance, and atonement.
Fred Squire has been active in the Canadian music community for over a decade, touring and recording with the likes of Shotgun & Jaybird, Daniel Romano, Julie Doiron, Mount Erie, and his wife, Kate Maki. He is a highly regarded singer and songwriter whose debut record, March 12, was long listed for the Polaris Prize in 2011. Hailing from Ajax, Ontario, Squire is currently living in Copper Cliff where he recorded his third and most recent record, Spooky Action at a Distance. Celebrated for his ability to achieve unthinkable results using ramshackle recording equipment, Squire maintains the ability to make the listener feel as though they are taking part in the recording experience, a sentiment that takes a beautiful shape and lingers, reverberating, long after. Performed, recorded, and mixed by Squire himself, and mastered by the revered John Golden (Sonic Youth, Lee Hazelwood),Spooky Action at a Distance sounds so incredible, it is hard to imagine that it was recorded in a tiny basement while Squire was also pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering and learning to be a father. Most of the songs were written ten years ago when Squire was living in Dawson City, Yukon. These older songs such as, “Spill Your Lungs” and “Bike Thief”, contemplate the ups and downs of a young man in and out of love. The record concludes with Squire’s most recent offerings, “Switch the Engineer” and “This Place”, which reflect his current state of matrimonial harmony. While the subject material of his songs may be taken from simple every day life, Squire is a master craftsman when it comes to his sharp and poetic word choice.
Sudbury’s guitar master and songwriter returns to NLFB. Paul Dunn moves effortlessly through blues, jazz, rock, folk and beyond.
Anique Granger & Mélanie Brulée
Mélanie is from Cornwall and lives in Toronto, Anique is from Saskatoon and lives in Montreal; one plays retro inspired indie rock, the other prairie inspired countryfolk; one croons and the other yodels; none of this has stopped them from touring together as a duo over the past few years. They have both released new albums 2015, and they have recently begun collaborating on new material. Although neither is a stranger to Sudbury audiences, this is their first time playing NLFB.
A. David MacKinnon
A. David MacKinnon is a Toronto based songwriter and producer with many connections to the Northern Otario scene, notably as a session player at Brian Dunn’s Cosmic Dave’s recording studio, and being the other half of local experimental rock band Night Terrors. From the late 90s till the late 00’s he was behind FemBots, a project that saw him play with Minotaurs’ Nathan Lawr. In the years since the last Fembots record David has mostly retired from the stage to focus on record production and composing for film.
Sheesham & Lotus & Son
These new kings of old time are, in a sense, the unofficial mascots of Northern Lights Festival Boréal. Sheesham and Lotus’ commitment to the preservation of music and tradition of the past is indelible. Their tunes are played on jawharps, gourd banjos and homemade instruments like the Contrabass HarmoniPhonium add depth and absurdity to their amazing sound, as they sing into their patented Sepiaphonic Monophone, an acoustical filter into which they project their voices in stupefying harmonies, while playing ragtime and blues in pleasing monophonic delivery. Sheesham and Lotus are an act that has it all, combining astounding musicianship and fearless grooves with a show that is dynamic and entertaining.
Brian Dunn is no stranger to the Northern Lights Festival Boréal stage, having played with various projects throughout the years. These days, you’re likely to find him behind the counter at Cosmic Dave’s Guitar Emporium or recording in that space once the shop closes up. With the abundance of musicians Dunn has collaborated with also at the Festival this year (including his dad!), expect to see him in various workshops.
Like a musical locomotive hurtling ’round the bend, Union Duke is a Toronto folk quintet that’s taking the world by storm – one captivating performance at a time. Bridging soulful indie folk with bluegrass and country, these city-slickin’ whipper-snappers unleash soaring vocal harmonies over heel-stomping beats, in a growing collection of irresistible songs that set hearts and dancefloors ablaze. Union Duke’s 2014 release Cash & Carry was recorded in a log cabin in the Ontario woods and features songs of love, loss, and a cheap shirt. On the heels of 2013’s Bandits & Bridges, these five energetic troubadours delivered their second self-produced record in as many years, and their runaway train shows no signs of slowing. Currently, they are working on their third studio album scheduled for release in Summer 2016.
Jennifer Holub’s music tells our stories: the tales of the ghostly north. After a six year hiatus from music, she has recently taken it up again and is preparing an album for release in June 2016. After spending her 20’s in smalltown Northern Ontario, Holub’s songwriting evokes the things that haunt us, but flavoured with a rich sound that makes the wraith palpable. Many of the songs and stories from Holub’s upcoming album stem from a place she doesn’t understand herself, and music is the way to slowly decipher the answer.
For most of his musical career Josh Turnbull has played “hired gun” to artists such as Faye Blais and Andrea Ramolo, and has recorded and produced some of these artists as well. He has been part of many groups including Young Mother and Saltcoats. Stylistically, his experience ranges from Canadian folk to German inspired “Kraut” rock.
In years of shadows Josh has been writing songs and performing them for a select few. He is now stepping out from behind the drums and taking front and centre. His music blends folk, jazz, blues, rock, gospel, and everything else he’s picked up along the way, which at times includes ALL the instruments! His latest endeavour ‘FieldTest’ is an album with musical partner Sara Ciantar, a project that allowed both singer/songwriters to come forward and be supported by one another. Now Josh is bringing forth his creations clouded only by his own crafted illusions and dreams. He navigates through different moods, inviting you into his world.
Direct and honest, North Bay’s Rose-Erin Stokes’ music tells stories of love lost and silver linings. Her debut EP is full of vulnerable lyrics that give the listener a window into this songstress’ heart. Her melodies range from ethereal pop and playful soul, to toe tapping folk, and leaves the listener wanting more from this talented young artist.
Hugh Jazz performs jazz standards in the gypsy style made famous by artists such as Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Their fun approach to a the style makes them a great fit for an outdoor stage, and you can be sure these talented guys will be participating in some super fun workshops.
Mandala is an up and coming Sudbury band having won many music competitions,including la Brunante, earning them a slot at the last Nuit sur l’étang and gaining them many fans and accolades.The band succeeds in anchoring themselves in contemporary rock with a youthful and fresh aesthetic. Their first EP was released in February of 2016.
The beauty, sorrow, the grit and the soul of delta and backwoods blues bleeds mysteriously and hauntingly from every word, note and song that Dwayne Trudeau produces. His slide guitar can sound like a full band, adding a technical complexity to this soulful blues base.
Fagroongala is a new quartet of accomplished musicians drawing from old traditions. In addition to using traditional Celtic instruments such as fiddle and guitar, they add classical instruments such as double bass and viola to many of their arrangements, creating a rich sound. In their performances, Irish and French-Canadian songs and fiddle tunes come alive.
Having played very early editions of the festival in the 70’s and 80’s, François Lemieux is back with new material. Recently retired from his career as a special education teacher, Lemieux has written a collection of songs with a message of tolerance and acceptance. He’s also recently been involved in community theatre educating people about these issues.
Martine Fortin – Meltdown Winner 2016
Martine is currently studying at Cambrian College while pursuing her musical career. Armed with a smooth voice and a disarming sincerity, Martine easily won over the judges at the annual Meltdown competition. Her music combines jazz, blues, soul, and rock with intimate and introspective lyrics, accompanied by moving piano melodies.
Collective Roots – Meltdown Winner 2016
Collective Roots is a recently formed group with a focus on French traditional & folkloric music. The 2016 Meltdown judges were very impressed with their historical repertoire and their beautiful harmonic vocals.
Mike Petersen’s Good Old Fashioned Punch & Judy Show
They’re all here – the loving wife, the teetering toddler, the crusty cop, the voracious crocodile, and of course, the mischievous Mr. Punch in all his trouble-making glory! Come celebrate one of the oldest puppet traditions on Earth, with Mike Petersen’s Good Old Fashioned Punch & Judy Show!
Cindy Cook is familiar to Canadian families as the longest running female host (20 years) of Canada’s most popular kids TV Show “Polka Dot Door” as well as the award winning series “Time to Read”. She is frequently joined on stage by some of her puppets including Book Worm, Spelling Bee, Owlie the Baby Owl, Baby Bear, Apoot the Baby Polar Bear and Easter Bunny. She has performed across North America and Asia to enthusiastic response. She is no stranger to the festival, and Northern Lights Festival Boréal is proud to help her reach new audiences with her time-tested formula for great children’s entertainment.
The Amazing René
For upwards of 25 years, The Amazing René has been performing and entertaining audiences of all ages at such venues as major theme parks, theatres, comedy clubs, festivals, resorts and on television. Look for him around the NLFB family area and be ready to be amazed!
Jeff Stewart & Community Drums
Jeff facilitates drum circles in his community and at music festivals such as the Northern Lights Festival, Sudbury Summerfest, Afro-Caribbean Festival, and more. He has also done drum circle workshop clinics for various community groups. Jeff facilitates “The Spirit of World Drumming Circles” with the community for music educators, drumming enthusiasts and within the healthcare system.
Northern All Stars Steel Pan
This collective of local musicians and hobbyists get together on a regular basis to share a common passion: the Caribbean steel pan drum.
Dale Pepin’s Story Socks
Dale is a past recipient of the Jackie Washington award for his dedication to the arts in our community. A lifelong educator, storyteller, and supporter of community theater, Dale has devoted his life to cultural development at the grassroots level. Storysocks is his storytelling hat for entertaining the kids.
Once a mainstay at NLFB, Chuck Roberts returns to the festival’s family area to entertain our younger audiences.
NLFB Arts Village
Check out artists in action and learn a bit about their work. Witness ‘stage painters’ creating works alongside musical performances. Art installations, community art projects, and beyond.