Dan Mangan + Blacksmith (Sunday)
Dan Mangan is a two-time JUNO award winning & two-time Polaris Music Prize listed musician and songwriter. Through many twists, turns and a good deal of fortune, Mangan’s primary project has come to be known as Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, recently releasing their fourth LP, Club Meds, to much critical acclaim. The new namesake is timely, as this album is indicative of a new beginning, of sorts.
Call it entering one’s thirties or taking a few years away from the road to sit and reflect. Or, perhaps, more than ever before, call it having something to say. “Blacksmith” is Kenton Loewen, Gordon Gardina, John Walsh (and often Jesse Zubot, JP carter and Tyson Naylor). Many of these musicians have played with Mangan for years, but there’s a reaffirmed cohesiveness or communal sensibility that merits the marquee amendment.
Club Meds is about sedation. Sedation can be chemical, but not exclusively so. There is a great vacation from actuality going on. Maybe there always has been. It seems like everybody else is already at the party and that life is somehow easier or more fun under the fog. But instead, it only makes people feel more alone, more dangerous, more desperate.
It’s okay, though. We’re all just particles.
Melbourne Ska Orchestra (Friday)
After the impact of last year’s performance reverberated for many months after the festival, it was great news to hear that this group loved Sudbury as much as we loved them and decided to tour Canada again during the same time, so we could bring them back.
Drawing on the vast amount of musical legends that have shaped the genre from the Jamaican movement through to UK two tone and the present day latino ska, MSO demonstrate a unique Australian vision with the exuberance and freewheeling colour of contemporary ska. The outfit have crafted their sound with unexpected arrangements and seductive harmonies, of powerful horns and foot-stomping drums. Each song is like a vignette from a ska-infused storybook, full of cinematic colour and characters bursting to life from every verse.
The mighty Melbourne Ska Orchestra continue their feat for world wide ska domination with a recent ARIA nomination for Best Live Act, an upcoming AWME showcase and plans to continue touring internationally.
Sarah Harmer (Saturday)
Environmental Activist, Songwriter, Sarah Harmer has been headlining festivals for many years. Harmer is a multiple Juno nominee with a Platinum and 2 Gold Records on her wall. Recently she has been working with PERL (Protecting Escarpment Rural Lands) while continuing to perform and write. She has been one of the great voices in Canadian music since 1987 with The Saddletramps and Weeping Tile and since 1999 as a solo artist. We look forward to hear Sarah again after it has been 10 years since she has played at Northern Lights Festival.
In a 2012 issue of Elle Magazine (Canada), Sarah fills us in on her international mission to Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala with Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Jody Williams and Rigoberta Menchu Tum. Throughout the 10-day mission, Sarah and team of delegates experienced first-hand testimonies about violence and human rights abuse against women.
Lee Harvey Osmond
“Acid folk” was born in an old garage off Clinton Avenue in Toronto, concocted by Tom Wilson from Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, a few Cowboy Junkies, and some Skydiggers. Tom Wilson (guitar and vocals) struck Canadian rock gold in the ‘90s as the leader of the much-loved Junkhouse, and then found a whole new audience as a crucial component of roots-rock super-group Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.
Allowing bass, hypnotic rhythms and a lot of groove into their songwriting circle, the artist collective Lee Harvey Osmond created a sound that would creep out of the Northern woods and across the Great Lakes into the South, the same way The Band did forty years before them.
Beautiful Scars is the third LHO album, and follows two albums, A Quiet Evil and The Folk Sinner which were previously longlisted for the Polaris Prize and nominated for a Juno.
VIDEO: ‘Blue Moon Drive’
Quique Escamilla was born and raised to a family of six in the warm, tropical southern lands of the state of Chiapas, Mexico. He started singing at the age of four at his family reunions. Today, Quique Escamilla is multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and producer living in Toronto. He breaks down language barriers through his powerful voice and passionate delivery while fusing traditional Mexican styles of music such as ranchera and huapango with modern sounds of rock, reggae, ska, pop, jazz, cumbia, bolero, and a variety of other Latin American rhythms. His lyrics carry powerful messages that are inspired by and support various social and political issues such as human and civil rights, immigration reform, global conservation, anti-racism, discrimination, anti-oppression and Indigenous rights. Recently his album 500 Years of Night won him World Music Album of the Year at the 2015 Juno Awards.
VIDEO: ‘Huapango Del Tequila‘
Canadian master of all things with strings returns to Northern Lights. Bluegrass, Folk and Celtic covers some of what JP does, but his music really does transcend any single designation. He crosses easily between styles and instruments. Guitar, Fiddle, Mandolin, Banjo are the main ones. He is also an accomplished piano player and tools with a few other instruments as well.
A prodigy from a young age, JP went to Nashville as a teenager and has had the opportunity to learn from the masters of the instruments and play several years at the Grand Ole Opry. He has lived in Nova Scotia for several years, picking up East Coast styles and adding yet another colour to an already incredible palette. His newest album ‘The Chance’ was released in spring 2015.
VIDEO: ‘Walk On Boy’
Five Alarm Funk
On stage Five Alarm Funk is an unstoppable orgy of energy. Nine musicians perform intricate and airtight arrangements with delirious dance moves and full-on head banging. Choreographed arm movements coincide with melodic climaxes, while the three percussionists create an absurd spectacle.
The band released Abandon Earth, the band’s fifth studio album, in June 2014 at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC. The concept album, describing the destruction of planet Earth by a giant robot, is the culmination of 10 years of relentless touring and the 9 musicians’ love for high octane, delirium-inducing dance music. Five Alarm Funk uses gruff funk vocals, psychedelic rock guitars, Balkan-inspired horns, intricate arrangements, and a few well-timed explosions to tell the tale of a technological behemoth rising from the centre of the Earth and unleashing a torrent of natural disasters and monsters on humanity.
Adonis Puentes & the Voice of Cuba Orchestra
Adonis Puentes was destined to be a music star. Sabor a Café, nominated as World Music Album Of The Year at 2014 Canadian Juno Awards, his latest CD and first collection of all self-composed original songs, fulfills the Cuban-Canadian singer’s destiny.
Adonis and his fraternal twin Alexis, now better known as Alex Cuba, were born in 1974 in Artemisa, Cuba. Their father, Valentin Puentes is a well-respected musician and teacher, and at six the twins were playing in a children’s guitar ensemble. Puentes is a great singer and an elegant composer and lyricist grounded and nourished by his Cuban roots and worldly experience. Sabor a Café is a modern, Cuban music masterpiece. Puentes is touring with the Voice of Cuba Orchestra.
VIDEO: ‘Tumbando Mangos’
Born in Montreal and raised in Montérégie, Fanny Bloom started playing the piano at a very young age. She was once 1/3 of electro pop outfit La patère rose, but released her first solo album in March 2012, entitled Apprentie guerrière. Effusive, the writing sounded angry at times, but remained sensual. The album won the Alternative Album of the Year award at the 2012 ADISQ Gala.
The next summer, Fanny Bloom won over a captivated audience at the opening of the Francofolies de Montréal. This last show marked the end of the Apprentie guerrière era and made way to a new creation phase that led to Pan, her second album, released in September 2014. With its catchy chorus and its brass flights, the first single, Piscine, was a radio hit in the summer of 2014. Pan marks a lighter turn for the artist. Without compromising the very substance of Fanny’s writing, it heavily features piano, her preferred instrument, and showcases pop and exotic arrangements.
Toronto’s folk/noir duo Scarlett Jane involves the marriage of the distinctive songs and beautifully haunting voices of Andrea Ramolo and Cindy Doire. Both Andrea and Cindy are road warriors. Andrea has two previous releases behind her, while Cindy has three — two of them in French, which has given her a following in both French Canada and Europe. They met several years ago at a tiny Toronto music venue, and shared a passion for prose, poetry, theatrics and songs in minor keys. They liked blues and country, old school soul and rock’n’roll. The blend of their voices stopped conversations; their musical sensibilities interweaved seemingly without effort. Soon, they began collaborating as songwriters, performing on each other’s shows and singing on each other’s solo albums.
The Bombadils first connected in Montreal, QC, over a shared curiosity surrounding the Celtic and bluegrass traditions. They were raised Canada-wide and trained in classical and jazz performance. Endearingly described by those closest to them as “cinematic folk,” The Bombadils bring music and high spirits to folk clubs, festivals, and forests, allowing their diverse influences to flow naturally through an array of instruments, including flute, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, upright bass, and harmonized singing.
For over five years, rising folk-stars The Bombadils have been enchanting audiences around the world with their unique fusion of traditional, world and progressive folk. Also described as “chamber folk,” the group of cinematic storytellers have intertwined their musical chops rooted in classical and jazz music (all trained at Montreal’s esteemed McGill University) around an approachable performance style that takes listeners on a journey through history and towards the future of Canadian folk.
Les Poules à Colin
Les Poules à Colin (translated as ‘Colin’s Chicks’) is made up of 5 young musicians with a love for the traditional music of Québec: Béatrix Méthé, Sarah Marchand, Éléonore Pitre, Marie et Colin Savoie-Levac. The group continues to prove their maturity as musicians, interpreting an existing body of music, while also creating original material. Though the music is very much traditional, the influences are rich and diverse, as is the musical background of each member (including classical, jazz, pop, rock, grunge and contemporary).
VIDEO: ‘Ti Mé’
Pistol George Warren
Pistol George Warren is a genre-bending, vintage-inspired, party-on-a-stage that has become known across the country for their contagious live show.
The band may be practically unclassifiable in genre, but Pistol George Warren’s performances have been described as “exuding joy, smiles, sunshine and hi-fives with every song. A must-see every time they’re in town,” (BlogTO, 2014). The members are long-time friends, and their on-stage charisma has attracted much acclaim from fans and media alike.
SONG: ‘Light Up Your Matches’
VIDEO: ‘Highschool Blues’,
House of David Gang
Throughout their career, House of David Gang has been known for their uplifting roots rock reggae sound, which pays homage to the classic 70’s & 80’s Jamaican sound, mixed with a modern rootsy Canadian feel. The band takes its name from The House of David, an afterhours spot on Queen Street West in Toronto that was a Rasta hotspot for reasoning, dancing and reggae music from the late 80s until the mid 90s. After a brief hiatus the band re-energized in 2004 with a revamped line-up, touring relentlessly in clubs & festivals, building a strong grassroots following across Canada.
Collaborating with over 20 musicians from Canada’s reggae community, and with the wisdom of 20 years of songwriting, performing and recording, House of David Gang recently emerged from bass player/producer Snappy Homefry’s Playhouse Studio, releasing their finest album to date Reggae Warrior on NuFunk.ca Records.
VIDEO: ‘Reggae Warrior (live)’
Reuben and the Dark
Calgary’s Reuben and the Dark is a collection of five multi-instrumentalists and vocalists led by Reuben Bullock. The group makes chilling, emotive folk and soul driven by dark, introspective lyrics that explore the duality of misery and joy. Boasting a rare chemistry between all members across western Canada, Reuben and the Dark has emerged organically from Canada’s stellar independent scene on the strength of often anthemic compositions that translate the language of emotion into song with haunting clarity. Their debut album is produced by the UK’s Chris Hayden (Florence & the Machine) and Canada’s Stephen Kozmeniuk (Madonna, Nicki Minaj, and The Game feat Kanye West) and is being mixed by Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Adele).
Dayv Poulin has been a dynamic and active figure in the franco-Ontarian music scene for 20 some years. In 2012, he launched his first solo album under the pseudonym “Le Paysagiste” and launched his follow up release Alter Ego in September 2014.
After a period of time packed with magical performance moments, Le Paysagiste decided to record a second album. Following a second visit to Contact Ontarois 2015, the project earned ‘le prix du Festival Franco-Ontarien’, ‘le prix Roseq’, and ‘le prix Granby-Europe’. The project was also nominated in 7 categories the Trille Or awards 2015: Top Album, Top Producer, Top Performance, and Male Artist of the Year.
Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project
Tying in directly with the programming theme, NLFB is thrilled to present Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project. Stone has been called ‘the Yo-Yo Ma of the banjo’, and will bring with him a team of equally skilled performers. Focusing on songs collected by folklorist and field recording pioneer Alan Lomax, this collaboration brings together some of North America’s most distinctive and creative roots musicians to revive, recycle and re-imagine traditional music. The repertoire includes Bahamian sea chanties, African-American acapella singing from the Georgia Sea Islands, ancient Appalachian ballads, fiddle tunes and work songs collected from both well-known musicians and everyday folk: sea captains, cowhands, fishermen, prisoners and homemakers.
VIDEO: ‘Lomax Project Documentary’
Guitarist/composer Jamie Dupuis was born in New Liskeard, ON, but is now based in Sudbury. Jamie recorded his first studio album Inspired by a Dream in 2011. After receiving an international scholarship through competition, he placed first out of 1000 competitors in the “Full Ride Scholarship 2011” at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California. He has since graduated with an Associates’ Degree from the program at Musicians Institute. Also a founder member of gypsy jazz ensemble Hugh Jazz, Dupuis has won 2nd place in an international guitar competition (Six String Theory) and 1st place in the country category. Jamie has established himself as a respected musician/teacher in Northern Ontario.
VIDEO: ‘Buster Bee’
Founded by Trinidadian/Canadian songwriter Drew Gonsalves, Kobo Town is named after the historic neighbourhood in Port-of-Spain where calypso was born amid the boastful, humorous and militant chants of roaming stick-fighters. In 2004, he put together Kobo Town with some fellow Trini expats in Toronto and some musicians from his first band, Outcry, a rock-reggae group with calypso and West Indian folk influences. Early 2007 saw the release of Kobo Town’s debut album Independence, which was nominated for an Indie award, a Canadian Folk Music Award, and an International Folk Alliance award. The newest album, Jumbie in the Jukebox is the fruit of a meandering musical odyssey that passed back and forth between studios, living rooms and front porches in Port-of-Spain, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and the small town of Benque Viejo in Belize.
VIDEO: ‘Jumbie in the Jukebox EPK’
Edouard is no stranger to the Northern Lights Festival, having played here with bands such as Matante Florence, Konflit Dramatik and Chaloupe, and featured as the 2003 solo artist NLFB Meltdown winner. Ed’s first full-length album, Pomme plastique, has received many great reviews since its release in March, 2015. Ed combines his many influences in folk, pop and rock to create upbeat music with catchy melodies.
VIDEO: ‘À Faire’
Night Terrors is the demented brainchild of Matthew Beech and David MacKinnon. Recorded over the course of the past several years, it is the missing link between the analog and the digital ages. Created within the womb of tape machines and brought to life through the internet, the project now seems to have a life of it’s own. It often challenges its creators, without hesitation, to step into new territory and shatter the mould of their previous conceptions of what a musical project can be. The monster will rear it’s head this summer to the rest of the world.
SONG: ‘What My Dreams Mean’
Alfie Smith is a true modern day blues man, blending hard-edged rock and roll, gospel, folk and jazz with pure primal blues to create his own unique sound. He is adept at many instruments including 7 string slide guitar, banjo, guitar, 12 string guitar and lap steel. Alfie is a deep, passionate, brooding baritone in the vocal tradition of the old blues shouters. He has released several albums, independently and through Busted Flat Records. He makes his triumphant return the fest in 2015.
Big Tobacco and the Pickers
Since 2008, Big Tobacco & the Pickers have been bringing their unique brand of traditional country to bar rooms, taverns, halls and festivals around Ontario. Their renditions of the hard hitting classics, along with traditional sounding original material, will make you and your friends want to dance all night, drink too much, and leave you wanting more. Their ongoing monthly residency at Toronto roots institution The Cameron House, has gained them a loyal following of country music fans. From the rich tones of the pedal steel, to the hot licks of the Fender Telecaster, Big Tobacco & the Pickers deliver a new brand of country music, true to old school tradition.
Mento and calypso music with a twist. Nicky Bomba (of Melbourne Ska Orchestra) has once again rallied his musical cohorts and produced a fresh sounding album that lifts off beautifully from Bustamento’s last highly acclaimed excursion. After spending the last 2 years performing around the globe, Bustamento have returned to musical shores with a great collection of songs capturing the international flavour of their intrepid travels. An exciting departure from the Carribbean based style of their ARIA nominated first album (Intrepid Adventures to the Lost Riddim islands), the new release (Intercontinental Journal 7) shows the band flexing its creative muscle.
Propelled by a steamroller of percussion and energized by jazz horns, Toronto’s DRUMHAND draws inspiration from the danceable circuitous rhythms of hot climates from Bahia, Brazil to Ghana, West Africa and from India to New Orleans. The group is becoming increasingly known for innovative orchestrations; uplifting and accessible artistry for audiences at festivals; school shows; theatres; clubs.
Ben Sures is a folk, roots and blues singer songwriter and guitar player. Recently, he was nominated in 4 categories of the 2014 Edmonton Music Awards for: Album of the year, Blues recording of the year, Male artist of the year and in the People’s choice category. His live show is captivating, he is a great entertainer, funny, smart, musical and a gifted guitar player. Ben has released seven albums, all critically acclaimed, the most recent ‘Son of Trouble’ is a new adventure making forays into African Blues and singing in French and Spanish in addition to English with a focus on his very old fashioned approach to the electric guitar.
Billy John & The Irish Wake
Sudbury’s favourite Irish inspired party band. Delivering raucous renditions of Irish folk tunes, popular songs from Ireland and Irish America, as well as a sprinkling of other material from around the world.
Duncan Cameron is a Celtic singer and multi-instrumentalist currently living in Sudbury, Ontario. He chose the fiddle as his first instrument, but now also plays mandolin, guitar, Irish bouzouki, tin whistle, harmonica, bodhrán and English concertina. Traditional Irish, English and French-Canadian groups have contributed much of Duncan’s repertoire, but classical, country, and other popular styles of music have also added to his creative approach. He has toured, recorded with, and composed music for many groups including The Pierre Schryer Band (Juno nominated in 2004), Fig For A Kiss (nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award in 2006) and The Irish Descendants. His solo performances and his solo CD, The Whistling Thief (2000) have also garnered attention. His strong vocals (in both French and English), intricate arrangements, and sense of humour truly transport the listener.
Sean Barrette mines his northern roots while deftly mixing country, bluegrass, rock, reggae, and pop influences that range from Steve Earle and Bob Marley, to John Prine and the Rolling Stones. His unique yet familiar acoustic-based sound garnered critical acclaim with his 2011 debut album, Live Through This, and 2013’s Signs.
As a member of The Puckhogs, Sean gained national exposure as co-writer of “For the Love of the Game”, placing runner up out of over 1000 entries in the national 2013 CBC Hockey Night in Canada Song Quest. He has attracted the attention of industry greats such as U.S. Producer/Songwriter Alan Glass (Earth Wind and Fire, Aretha Franklin, Maxi Priest), with whom he achieved airplay on 36 Canadian radio stations with a radio remix of “Cool Side of the Pillow”. Grammy Award-winning producer Malcolm Burn (Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan) remixed Signs in 2014, and calls Barrette “one of Canada’s best songwriters.”
Mimi was born in Sudbury, Ontario to Native Canadian/French Canadian parents when at a young age she became very interested in her native background, history and culture. Mimi’s songs are not what you’d expect from a performer in her 20s, but come from a place deep inside that truly reflects Mimi’s values and maturity. Like a four leaf clover, Halley’s Comet or a blue moon, there are things in this world that come along infrequently and bring us joy when they do. The music she makes is on one hand familiar yet totally original and unique. An old soul playing new music. She has recently recently released her debut album.
Music from most of the 20th century…songs about gambling, rambling, loving and losing. It’s all presented with a tongue in cheek and a big @$$ brass horn called the tuba, as well as guitar and percussion. Always fun for all ages.
Alexandra Lee & Pandora Topp
Two of Sudbury’s greatest musical/artistic talents team up on the Family Stage this year. Let them enchant you and your kids with a a captivating mix of cello, voice, song and storytelling. Lee is a cellist and member of Sudbury’s Juno nominated Silver Birch String Quartet while Topp is an educator, actress, and vocalist. Topp currently fronts Sudbury’s hottest party band Les Giselles and has contributed to numerous other projects, including a highly acclaimed tribute to Édith Piaf.
Charlie Kert – SkaterDude
Charlie Kert is an award winning (OAC, Factor) arts educator with over a decade of experience in children’s music.
As a music composer, Charlie has written and released three albums of children’s music: ROCKgarden (2008), Playhouse Earth (2004), and Little Fingers Music (2001), the music of which is featured in the play.
He wrote ROCKgarden Party! to inspire children to sing, dance and drum. He also likes to teach about science, literacy and create awareness about climate change.
Emily Andrews – Earth Angel
Emily Andrews (IMDb) is an actor and producer. She brings her extensive experience working with Young People’s Theatre, Toronto Youth Theatre, Kaleidoscope, and several theatres in London, England to ROCKgarden Party!, where she loves educating children of all ages into their creativity.
Jonah Hundert – Jack-in-the-Green
Jonah Hundert is an actor, producer and director. He has trained in Halifax, Poland and London and is proud to now be living and working in his hometown of Toronto.
Local master of traditional oral storytelling: celtic, norse and beyond. Interesting and engaging for all ages!
The Wild Geese
Spawned from celtic jam sessions in downtown Sudbury, The Wild Geese bring a colourful selection of traditional Irish jigs, reels, and folk songs.
Hello Holiday (Meltdown Winner – Band)
At 6+ months old, Hello Holiday have been pouring their hearts out on stage in promotion of their debut album Nightmares and Fairy Tales. Through driving rhythms, melodic soundscapes, unspoken/relatable subject matter, this dynamic quartet aims to give their audience a show filled with emotion, soul, and charisma.
Lisa Marie Naponse (2015 Meltdown Winner – Solo)
Lisa Marie’s music can be described as rhythm & blues meets folk and country. Surrounded by music and creativity, her mother and father played music, her sisters were pow wow dances, and crafts women. It’s no wonder she learned early in life the importance of imagination and self-expression through music, art and dance. She can captivate the audience with her down to earth nature and soulful voice. Through her music and lyrics, experience love and life of a warm hearted Anishinabe woman.
Northern Lights Writes: Spoken Word & Poetry
Each month, NLFB’s Executive Director Max Merrifield hosts spoken word nights in downtown Sudbury. Astounded by the diversity and quality of performance at these events, Merrifield decided to culminate the year long series in a workshop performance at NLFB. Local writers/performers will perform original pieces, with one-of-a-kind musical accompaniment only seen at the festival.
NLFB Arts Village
Myths & Mirrors Community Arts is back to coordinate the festival’s visual arts section. Check out artists in action and learn a bit about their work. Witness ‘stage painters’ creating works alongside musical performances.