Mikaela Davis-photo by Jill McCraken
The Winnipeg Folk Festival sets off its 42nd year this evening. The four day festival is renowned for it’s consistently strong lineup and boundlessly fun atmosphere. This year is notably folkier than the previous and features more local musicians. There are no massive names compared to past years but there are a sea of fresh, diverse and raw talent.Attached are my suggestions of who to check out this year…
Ryley Walker is a unique and viciously talented singer songwriter. He is a prodigious guitar player with a voice that resonates to the core. His wall of sound style of guitar playing combined with various elements of jazz instruments creates a complex sonic landscape that is easy and enjoyable to get lost it. His music resembles Bert Jansch, Van Morrison, and JJ Cale yet it’s something new all together. His music sounds like it could be from any era and I’m glad it’s from ours.
The truly distinctive and wildly gifted Ryan Adams headlines this year’s festival. Adams has been making music for two decades and the creator of 14 solid albums. His first album heartbreaker from 2000 is easily one of the most important folk and alternative country albums of our time. He is enigmatic to most, his songs are beautiful yet tortured lullabies and woven with deep and profound misery. However he is married to a bubble gum pop star and just covered the Taylor Swift album 1989 from front to back (which is somehow great). He isn’t really supposed to be “figured out” he is just meant to be heard. His performance will break your heart, make you laugh and everything in between.
Possessed by Paul James
Konrad Wert aka Possessed by Paul James is a one-man avalanche of talent and authenticity. I saw him at Pickathon a couple years ago and it is to this new of the best concerts I have witnessed. He plays various stringed instruments and sings with wild abandon, as if he is truly possessed. His songs are fun, wild and powerful void of cliché and cutting corners. He fully commits to being bizarre because he truly is, in all the right ways.
Aaron Livingston aka Son Little is a hypnotic and commanding rhythm and blues singer songwriter. He plays slide guitar while singing homemade sultry tunes that are unparalleled. He sings about social justice, romance and the complex human experience. He is signed with Anti-records, the son of a preacher and unlike anybody else in music right now; don’t miss it.
Mikaela Davis is the 24 year old prodigy who defies the rules of music. She is a hypnotic harp player and her voice is like a symphony of angels. We haven’t seen anything quite like her since Joanna Newsome, she is skilled beyond belief yet seems like a whimsical cartoon character. She grew up playing in grunge bands and refined her craft at the Crane School of Music in New York. Her music is gentle yet powerful she takes her harp to places beyond the realms of reality. Her music is charmingly indie yet infused with flawless classical elements. She said that the “harp can do anything”, she has redefined the use of the instrument.
There may be no classic legends this year but new one’s are brewing right before us.