A Celebration two decades in the making, R&B 20 promises to be the most spectacular festival to date. With an incredibly diverse 2012 line-up that crosses cultural boundaries and presents new forms of music while simultaneously embracing our roots (& blues!), R&B 20 is a musical feast with course after course of amazing performance. It’s a gorgeous selection sure to sate any listener’s appetite. Hungry for appetizers? Check out our pre-festival outreach, Routes & Blues, which offers even more variety for the bon vivant – 8 glorious days of music, food, and adventure, Aug. 9-16th. Bon Appetite!
Adham Shaikh & the Outworld Orkestra (BC)Adham Shaikh is a Juno nominated world fusion composer and electronic artist with 25 years experience rocking dance floors around the globe with his unique blend of world and electronic sounds. From his Indian roots he brings forth the fusion of worlds. From the DreamTree project (classical Indian ragas meet Dub) to the Eastern European and Middle Eastern sounds of the critically acclaimed L.P. Universal Frequencies, Adham’s multicultural blend of electronic dance music, dub, and hip hop seamlessly combine with a sonic sampler that includes Brazilian samba, Indian bhangra, Middle Eastern dervish music, Australian tribal trance, Balkan bangers and Ukrainian world grooves.Representing ancient musical influences and contemporary Electronica, his New World Fusionproject features the ethno techno stylings of the Outworld Orkestra which is comprised of Boris Sichon (Balalaika, , Tibetan horn, Russian flutes, Bagpipes etc…), Shine Edgar (didgeridoo), Ben Johnson (percussion, lute), and special guests as festival and location permit. The project fuses traditional instruments from around the globe with pulsing electronic beats, synthesizers, live looping, and a good measure of improvisation.Adham Shaikh Website

Alex Cuba (BC / Cuba)Singer-songwriter Alex*Cuba hails from Artemisa, Cuba (1 hour west of Havana) and resides in Smithers, B.C. (14 hours north of Vancouver). Musically, he lives everywhere in between. His trademark sugarcane-sweet melodies, pop-soul hooks and rock chords subtly subvert commonly held notions of what Cuban music is. Alex is on the vanguard, crafting a cross-cultural sound that mirrors his geographical journey.alexcuba.com

The Beaton Sisters (NS)Scions of an ancient Celtic line, Dawn and Margie Beaton’s first foray into the musical life began with step dancing lessons at the age of four – learned at their Grandmother’s knee. By age five they were integrating Celtic fiddle into their repertoire. Award winning performers, over the intervening years they have appeared at concerts, ceilidhs, and festivals, both internationally and at home in Cape Breton.With the regular addition of step dance during a performance and a contemporary approach towards traditional Gaelic music, the Beaton sisters put their distinctive brand on the music they play, whether it be a heart wrenching lament or an exhilarating reel. They are truly unforgettable.dawnandmargie.com
Bettye LaVette (USA)After 5 decades in the music business it is only within the last ten years that the legendary Bettye LaVette has been enjoying a success she deserved much sooner. With a voice like smoke wrapped in velvet and silk, she performs with an emotive power that reaches deep into the listener’s heart. The Lady is Authentic – she’s clearly been to the places she sings about.Bettye was born in Muskegon, Michigan and raised in Detroit. At 16 she recorded her first single, My Man – He’s a Lovin’ Man in 1962. She next hit the charts in 1965 with Let Me Down Easy, arguably one of the greatest soul recordings of all time. In 1969 Bettye had two Top 40 R&B hits and in 1972 recorded her first full length album, Child of the Seventies. The next ten years saw a string of top 40 R&B hits but like many artists in a notoriously exploitive era, the return for Bettye was paltry. In the eighties, disillusioned with the music industry, she took an extended hiatus from recording and performed in a 6 year run in the Tony Award winning Broadway revue, Bubbling Brown Sugar.In the 1990’s Child of the Seventies was rediscovered by Gilles Petard who licensed the album from Atlantic Records and re-released it as Souvenirs in 2000. Simultaneously, Let Me Down Easy-Live In Concert was released. Both albums sparked a renewed interest in LaVette and in 2003, the award winning album A Woman Like Me was released. Critically acclaimed, the album led to a 3 record deal and the release of 2005’s I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise, a critical and commercial success. Her 2007 album, The Scene of the Crime, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Since then, she has performed for the Kennedy Centre Honours and the Obama inaugural celebrations. She has shared the stage with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and appeared on David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brian, and Austin City Limits. In 2010, Bettye released Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook. The CD was yet another critical success and she received her second Grammy nomination. It’s been a long passage but the Lady has finally Arrived.www.BettyeLaVette.com
Blackie & the Rodeo Kings (ON)Blackie & the Rodeo Kings originally formed in 1996 when Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson came together to record what was supposed to be a one-off tribute album to the great Canadian songwriter Willie P. Bennett. At the time, all three members were deeply committed to burgeoning solo careers that they had no intentions of putting on hold (in fact all three members have played separately at Roots & Blues in the past). They had no plans to turn Blackie into an ongoing concern.Twelve years and a Juno Award later, while they still spend most of each year working on their individual projects, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings has organically evolved into one of the finest roots-oriented bands in North America. In the interim, they have released five CDs and gradually developed a feeling of brotherhood manifested in a sense of groove, timbral blend and melodic and rhythmic-play that is distinctive, mystical, energizing and evocative. The sum is indeed greater than the parts – and the parts are as good as they get. Blackie and the Rodeo Kings remain one of Canada’s greatest musical treasures.BlackieandtheRodeoKings.com
The Black Pioneer Heritage Singers (AB)Incorporating a wide variety of styles from field chants, rich spirituals, gospel standards, and rollicking call and response, the Black Pioneer Heritage Singers are blood descendants of slaves from the Deep South who helped to settle Alberta in the early 1900’s. With their spirit filled sound that is universal in its appeal yet seldom heard outside of the southern US, the Black Pioneer Heritage Singers give an authentic representation of these centuries-old styles of singing. They also bring to life the little known history of the slave descendents who settled Alberta starting in1905. The pain of bondage and the celebration of freedom are skillfully presented through tight harmonies, soaring vocals, hand rhythms and lush vocal dynamics.They have brought down the house in numerous benefit concerts, documentary appearances and revival services and of course, rocked the church back in 2009 at the 17th annual Roots and Blues Festival. The Black Pioneer Heritage Singers are Junetta Jamerson, Linda Campbell, Paul Gardener all on vocals with Reno Guimond (drums) and Dean Singh (bass). When it comes to authentic, home-grown soul and roots music, the Heritage Singers deliver like no other. Let the spirit move you – catch them at the Festival or for a very special gospel service, Festival Sunday at the First United Church at 10:30 am.B.P.H.S. Website
Bombino (Niger)Omara “Bombino” Moctar was born in Tidene, Niger, an encampment of nomadic Tuaregs. The Tuareg, known amongst themselves as the Kel Tamasheq, have long been recognized as the warriors, traders and travelers of the Sahara Desert. They are a people of grace and nobility as well as fighters of fierce reputation who for centuries have fought against colonialism and the imposition of strict Islamic rule. In recent times the Tuareg have battled state sanctioned marginalization and cultural assimilation.Although just thirty years old, Bombino’s life and travels have exposed him to the problems facing his people. Bombino draws on the Tuareg musical style know as “Ishoumar”, a term which has became synonymous with the rebel movement. He uses Ishoumar music in his mission to help the Tuareg community achieve equal rights and peace, and as well to maintain their rich cultural heritage and to promote education. He is an advocate for teaching children the Tuareg language of Tamasheq, the local Haoussa language as well as French and Arabic, all of which he speaks fluently. “We fought for our rights,” remarks Bombino, “But we have seen that guns are not the solution. We need to change our system. Our children must go to school and learn about their Tuareg identity.”www.cumbancha.com
Boogie Patrol (AB)Since 2007, Boogie Patrol has been captivating crowds, both old & new, bringing funk back to its roots & leading you to a place of good-lovin’. A Blues, Funk, Soul band from Edmonton, Alberta, these diverse musicians have branched out to play more of Western Canada after creating a serious buzz on the lips of Edmontonians in the know.Combining mind-bending guitar, keys & harmonica solos with a rhythm section that you can’t help but move to, Boogie Patrol consists of harmonica hound Rott’n Dan, belting out tunes alongside Japan ex-pat Yuji Ihara, who cranks out jaw-dropping guitar solos while keyboard player Sean Grieve tickles the ivories ’til they’re numb. Rounding out the sound is Nigel Gale on bass, bringing the rhythm that gets feet tapping and heads nodding, enticing even the most hesitant dancer to the dancefloor.BoogiePatrol.com
The Boom Booms (BC)The Boom Booms are a six-piece Latin-soul-funk-rock-reggae band, forged from friendships born on the school yards, soccer fields, cafe patios and eventually bars of East Vancouver. They make music that makes people want to dance – or “Get up and love somebody,” as lead singer and guitarist Aaron Nazrul calls it.Whether breaking into song and dance on the streets of Paris, storming stages with Congolese musicians in Brussels, playing to thousands at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival or serenading abuelitas in South America, the charming sextet is able to reach across cultural barriers and connect with people of all stripes, on levels equally rhythmic and emotional.theboombooms.com
Buckman Coe (BC)If he had a horse, he might be a Samurai. But instead of waving a katana around, it would be an ukelele or a guitar. And he’d be singing down-home Americana, sun-sweetened folk and soul-drenched blues.You might ask yourself, “Who is this cheerful Mongol horseman?” because rather than crushing skulls with his bare hands he’d be squeezing a black accordion and soothing your soul with a voice purer than the look in his eye. There have been comparisons with Jeff Buckley, Ben Harper and Genghis Khan. But Buckman is more than the sum of his influences, and the musician slash yoga instructor is as interested in the health of the global consciousness and respect for the planet as he is a bunch of people getting together to listen to live music and dance.buckmancoe.com
Cherine (Jamaica)Cherine’s infectious and passionate live performances helped place her on arena tours and renown festivals worldwide as both an opening and support act for alternative bands like Michael Franti & Spearhead, International rock star John Mayer, Counting Crows to name a few. She has also toured with, and is endorsed by legendary drummer Sly Dunbar ( Sly & Robbie) who hails her as “the real deal. A truly strong vocalist on hardcore riddims with the ability and potential to surpass reggae audiences to reach the masses.”cherine.com
Coco Montoya (USA)Mentored by legendary bluesman Albert Collins, Coco went on to become the guitarist for John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers for ten years before leading his own band. A self taught guitar slinger who plays with an emotional intensity few string benders possess, he plays left-handed and up side down in the style of Albert King and Jimi Hendrix.Averaging over 150 tour dates a year, Montoya continues to pack clubs and theaters around the world. He has played major festivals, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, The Chicago Blues Festival, The San Francisco Blues Festival and Canada’s International Jazz Festival. It’s no coincidence that publications from The Philadelphia Daily News to Blues Revue to Living Blues to The Village Voice all rank Coco among the best guitarists and singers on the blues scene. “Montoya is at the forefront of the contemporary blues world,” declared Guitar World. “He is one of the truly gifted blues artists of his generation,” said Living Blues. With DIRTY DEAL and continued non-stop touring, Coco Montoya continues to share his gift with his legion of admirers all over the world.Coco Montoya website
Cold Specks (ON) Describing her sound as ‘Doom Soul’, Cold Specks’ music is steeped in the musical traditions of the Deep South. Spx – the peculiar name is a pseudonym, invented to protect a devout and apparently disapproving family – cites the Lomax Field Recordings and James Carr as influences along with Bill Callahan and Tom Waits. She has already made critical waves in the U.K., with television performances on Later With Jools Holland and British media such as The Guardian, The Times, NME and more, weighing in on the recent U.K. release of her critically acclaimed single, Holland.Now having signed high-profile deals with Arts & Crafts and Mute Records for her debut album, she has begun to release her music here at home. Her voice is rough-edged and dark but still velvety, with fluid hints of gospel. It is reminiscent of the ‘spirit feel’ of Mahalia Jackson and the visceral tones of Sister Rosetta Tharpe.There’s something beautifully evocative about the music Cold Specks produces. It’s heart wrenching, with Al Spx’s rough hewn voice bringing to mind ivy-clad Louisiana cemeteries and epochs of Southern soul singers, as her music flourishes from the more traditionally indie music scene of her Toronto home. Her sparse arrangements and chaingang rhythms will stop you dead in your tracks.coldspecks.com

Cuff the Duke (ON)Alt-Country road-warriors, Cuff the Duke, blend traditional country and folk music with indie rock elements to synthesize a sound uniquely their own. Originally from Oshawa, Ontario, the Toronto based band has just released its fifth album, Morning Comeswhich has been nominated for the 2012 Juno Award for Adult Alternative Album of the Year.Billed as part one of a two part album, Morning Comes examines love, loss, and loneliness – classic country themes that the band handles with a new slant, creating a hybridized musical sensibility that innovatively portrays the bittersweet savour of heartbreak and recovery. Part lonesome cowboy / folk hero and part hipster, Cuff the Duke will leave you crying for more.www.cufftheduke.com

Declan O’Donovan (YK)Award-winning songwriter and singer/pianist Declan O’Donovan is launching his new solo career in 2012 with a new alt. roots/blues album and a cross-Canada tour. Dark and soulful, with occasional twists of wicked humour, Declan’s music crosses boundaries as easily he does, a born-and-raised Yukon boy who now lives part-time in Montreal and boasts dual citizenship with Ireland and Canada. Over the last two decades, Declan has performed with numerous bands, including the beloved Yukon-based alternative blues/rock group Scotch.He recently won the Blues Category in the Westcoast Songwriters International Songwriting Competition for Cheap Souvenir, featured on his new album. These days, he can be found working onstage and in the studio, collaborating with musicians in both Montreal and Whitehorse, or stealing the show with just a piano and his whiskey-edged voice.Declan O’Donovan website
Delhi 2 Dublin (BC)Delhi 2 Dublin continues to break the mold one album after another, busting genres as they go. It’s as if the band has been sent on a mission to further spread their sound across the planet and out into the galaxy. They describe the 2010-release of Planet Electric “…as the buzz of the world that they are plugging into some large socket to electrify the people, to charge up their energy”.delhi2dublin.com
Demetra (MB)Demetra is a songwriter, painter, filmmaker, yoga instructor and globetrotter. While based in Winnipeg, her muse has taken her and her art around the globe. Her paintings have been hung in Vienna and Barcelona. Her films have been screened in New York. And her music… well, that’s just now beginning.With her silken voice revealing a wild soul of the world, Demetra’s songs speak to broad landscapes, icy tundra, and the solitude of the wild. They are manifested in bone-chilling melodies, haunting arrangements and the warm blanket of lush reverb.Demetra website

Five Alarm Funk (BC)Get up off of that thang – we’ve got Five Alarm Funk back in the house! A horn powered – percussion fuelled – sonic and visual juggernaut, for more than six years the band has brought their relentless and unforgettable live show to clubs and major festivals across Canada and the United States.Five Alarm Funk on stage is an unstoppable celebration of pure energy. The 10 musicians perform intricate and airtight arrangements with delirious dance moves and full on headbanging action. Choreographed arm movements coincide with melodic climaxes while the 4 percussionists create a true spectacle. You won’t be able to sit still.fivealarmfunk.com
Floyd Lee Band (USA / Can)Whether playing in a juke joint in the middle of a Mississippi cotton field or performing in the middle of Times Square in NYC, the Floyd Lee Band delivers the real deal hard edged blues. Fronted by legendary Mississippi bluesman Floyd Lee, the band includes Canadian guitarist Joel Poluck and veteran bass player Brad Vickers. Together, they have topped blues radio charts around the world and have held such honours as winning the 2010 Living Blues Magazine Reader’s Choice Award for Blues DVD of the Year for their documentary film, Full Moon Lightnin’.A review by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette of their compilation cd, The Amogla Sessions, described it as a masterpiece and DJ Bill Wax of XM Radio’s Bluesville declared their 2001 debut disc, Mean Blues, to be the blues CD of the decade. The Floyd Lee Band has created its own sonic style without compromise, and with it they carry on the tradition of pure, raw blues.Floyd Lee Band Website
Hazmat Modine (USA)Hazmat Modine draws from the rich soil of American music of the 20’s and 30’s through to the 50’s and early 60’s, blending elements of early Blues, Hokum Jugband, Swing, Klezmer, New Orleans R & B, and Jamaican Rocksteady.The band is fronted by two harmonicas which use call and response, harmony, melody, and syncopated interweaving rhythms. Other instruments include tuba, guitar, percussion, claviola and Hawaiian steel guitar. The band’s sound reflects musical influences ranging from Avant-garde Jazz to Rockabilly and Western Swing to Middle-Eastern, African, and Hawaiian musical styles.Hazmat Modine has been touring internationally for the past six years in over 28 countries at venues such as the Berlin Jazz Festival, Pori and Tempari Festivals in Finland, Stockholm Jazz festival, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Sinnes Festival in Portugal, Womex in Spain, the Wings Festival in Moscow, The Vienna Jazz Festival, Killkenny Arts Festival in Ireland, Genting Highlands Festival in Malaysia, Trowbridge Festival in the UK, Chicago World Music Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival.In 2011 Hazmat Modine’s CD Cicadawon the coveted Charles Cros Grand Prize in France and was number one on the world music charts in Europe for two months. In 2008 the band was nominated for the BBC Radio 3 World music award, and was number 3 on the world music charts in Europe. The band’s music has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, and the band has appeared live on PRI’s The World, NPR’s Soundcheck with John Schaefer, and on Mountain Stage. and on numerous other radio shows including Fresh Air, All Things Considered, and Morning Edition. The Song Bahamut is currently featured in Wim Wenders new film “Pina”. The New CD “Cicada” was released in May 2011 and includes collaborations with the Gangbe Brass Band from Benin, Kronos Quartet, and Natalie Merchant.hazmatmodine.com
Hilary Grist (BC)Art-pop/torch-folk songstress Hilary Grist is on a musical roll. Her highly anticipated third album, Imaginings, sees her commanding alto travel seamlessly from captivating wonder to driving indie pop to carefree dixieland romp. The album’s emotional depth, rich detail and confessional beauty has inpired generous praise from press and critics. Released to a sold out crowd at the Cultch Theatre last September in Vancouver, the last year has found Hilary enchanting audiences on tour back and forth across Canada, making appearances at NXNE in Toronto, Edge of the World Festival in Haida Gwaii, Pop Okanagan, CBC Radio 2’s Canada Live, CBC’s Toque Sessionsand sharing the stage with artists like Danny Michel, Mother Mother, Hey Ocean, C.R. Avery and The Odds.A closet cartoon artist at heart, Hilary’s whimsical, hand-drawn music videos, E-Cards, and other inventive DIY visual creations, such as her 8 foot long cardboard piano for Tall Buildings, have captured vivid imaginations across the globe on YouTube.Hilary’s poignant, free spirited songs have been featured on TV shows like Degrassi (MuchMusic), Being Human (NBC), Endgame (CTV) and Go To Gal (CHEK TV). They’ve been adored on campus radio from coast to coast and have appeared on many CBC Radio programs like DNTO, North By Northwest, as well as Lana Gay’s ehList on CBC Radio 3. She will be releasing a new album this year.hilarygrist.com

Hollerado (ON) Hollerado is made up of four friends that grew up on the same street in tiny Manotick, Ontario. They’ve also become one of the most lovable groups on the planet thanks to insanely catchy and energetic guitar pop, boundless creativity, and a relentless DIY approach. Starting from the humblest beginnings as a moving company called Haulerado in 2006, charismatic lead singer/guitarist Menno Versteeg, lead guitarist Nixon Boyd, his brother and drummer Jake Boyd and bassist Dean Baxter have found countless colourful and improbable ways to bring their music to the world – for example – demos in plastic baggies and eventually a whole record in one (the band’s full-length debut Record In A Bag was released on Royal Mountain Records via Arts & Crafts in February, 2010).The band has released videos featuring Kids In The Hall alumni Dave Foley and Margot Kidder, of Lois Lane fame. The video for the song Americanarama – a ‘human 8 bit’ sensation, has gone viral with over 1 million hits on YouTube. Hollerado has toured with Canadian darlings, The Besnard Lakes and The Arkells. They won the $250,000 Big Money Shot contest from Ottawa’s Live 88.5 which paved the way for two tours in China and one in South America. They have performed at shows with some of the most critically lauded names in music including Weezer, The Black Lips, The Cribs, Andrew W.K., Titus Andronicus and Girl Talk. Hollerado’s songs combine melodic energy with an irreverent wit and wicked sense of irony. Their shows have been described as elementary school recess with beer and psychedelia at a piñata party in a country and western bar.hollerado.com

James ‘Super Chikan’ Johnson and the Fighting Cocks (USA)Award winning Delta Blues musician and folk artist, Super Chikan, received his first musical instrument in early childhood. The rudimentary instrument, a ‘diddley bow’, was a piece of wood with a length of baling wire strung end to end. Though basic in design, ‘Chikan Boy’ (as his friends dubbed him) learned to play and improvise on the diddley bow until buying his first guitar at age 13.In the years following Super Chikan continued to develop as a musician so that by early adulthood he was composing his own songs. Convinced by friends to record, he released his first album in 1997. In 2011 he was nominated for the Blues Music Awards BB King Entertainer of the Year. In addition to his work as a musician, he is also a celebrated American folk artist whose colourful pieces include musical instruments ingeniously crafted out of found material. He’s a national treasure.superchikan.com

Jayme Stone’s Room of Wonders (ON)Two-time Juno-winning banjoist Jayme Stone makes music inspired by folk traditions from around the world. His latest album, Room of Wonders, explores music from Norway, Sweden, Bulgaria, Brazil, Italy and North America. The repertoire includes a movement from Bach’s French Suite, a Moorish sword-fighting dance and Stone’s lush, edgy originals.Stone thrives on unexpected inspiration: Japanese poetry, Brazilian literature, instruments he found while traveling in remote Malian villages. He finds it with influences as diverse as Anouar Brahem, Bill Frisell, and Toumani Diabaté. His Juno Award-winning albums, most notably Africa to Appalachia, both defy and honor the banjo’s long role in the world’s music, turning historical connections into compelling music.jaymestone.com
Kelly Joe Phelps (USA)Delivering soulfulness and passion created through emotive vocals, visionary lyrics, and stellar guitar work, Kelly Joe Phelps speaks directly to your soul. He deems the folk music story as one continually being written, and its ultimate definition in fluid motion. “There’s still a lot of work for us musicians to do,” he considers, “and a lot more music to find. We have to keep our eyes and ears open, and keep moving forward, and continue to learn… That’s the beauty of spontaneity, even in the supposed confines of folk music. It allows a character, a note, or a chord some time to be alive, to look for themselves…if I’m doing my job well, that is.”kellyjoephelps.net
Kenthen ThomasAs a First Nations performer, Kenthen captivates audiences with his fascinating retellings of legends of the Shuswap, his family land for more than 10,000 years. This is where his late grandmother, respected and even legendary Secwepemc elder, the late Dr. Mary Thomas, taught him the traditional art of storytelling. Storytelling for the Shuswap people brought entertainment to the families during long winter nights. It was also a way to keep the history alive, tell important lessons, and share amusing anecdotes about all the creatures found on this land. These legends have been passed down through Kenthen’s family for generations and feature the animals, birds and fish that were once integral to the lives of the original residents of this region.A Roots and Blues Festival veteran (he last performed at the Festival in 2007), Kenthen Thomas’ past performances have also included stints with Secwepemc Native Theatre, Dreamweaver Theatre (Simon Fraser University), and Shuswap Theatre.
Kid Koala (QC) Kid Koala is a world-renowned scratch DJ, famous for his music as well as his visual art. In 1996, Kid Koala became the first North American artist signed to legendary UK label Ninja Tune. In the years that followed Kid Koala released a string of remixes and toured North America with fellow Ninja artists.In 2000, Ninja Tune released Kid Koala’s debut album Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which received international praise by the press for having defied expectation. The album featured a video game and a 32-page comic illustrated by Kid Koala himself. Following the release of the album Kid Koala toured extensively in North America and Europe opening for some of his favorite artists, including Radiohead and Bjork.While on the road, Kid Koala kept busy with pen to paper, illustrating a 350-page book called Nufonia Must Fall which was accompanied by a soundtrack that he composed on the piano. Shortly after the release of this book came the release of his second album, Some of My Best Friends are DJs. This album was supported by a cabaret-style tour known as The Short Attention Span Theatre, which featured 3 DJs on 8 turntables.2006 saw the release of the critically acclaimed LP Your Mom’s Favorite DJ with Ninja Tune and by 2009 Kid Koala had embarked on another journey, that of presenting a project called The Slew– live with the former rhythm section of Grammy Award-winning Australian rock band Wolfmother. Featuring drums, bass/keys and DJs working across six turntables, the set featured raw guitar cuts and heavy beats.In 2011, Kid Koala launched Space Cadet – a 132-page graphic novel that tells the charming story of an adventurous space cadet and her guardian robot, touching on the relationship between technology and isolation while celebrating the idea of connectivity through family. It was presented on a sold-out tour through Europe and continues to tour to a variety of venues such as the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Irondale in Brooklyn, New York. An artistic dynamo, Kid Koala continues to create and tour and lives in Montreal with his wife, baby daughter, and pet shrimp Amanda.kidkoala.com
Kirby Sewell BandFrom Calgary, the Kirby Sewell Band is a high energy, soul slinging R & B band, reaching out with modern interpretations. Known for their passionate live performances, the monster six-piece extravaganza is an Alt-Blues sensation, with melodic heart pulling stories from the depths of an old soul, they simultaneously breathe new musical life into a classic genre. Their arrangements are amped up, invigorating, thought provoking, and played against the grain.This Blues concoction can be heard on the band’s new CD Bought Myself A Hammer. Instead of going for a ‘sound’ the band likens their new album to an ‘iPod of the Blues’ because of its diverse range. The new CD pays homage to many styles, which all came from traditional Blues making its influence on North American popular music. Blues, Rock, Pop, Country, and Soul come together, woven into a musical collage, lyrically roaming through realms at times dark and brooding, and at others uplifting and playful.kirbysewellband.com
Krar Collective (Ethiopia)It is said that the Ethiopian lyre, the krar, is one of the last active descendents of an instrument exported by Semitic nomads to ancient Egypt and beyond over four thousand years ago. It is certain that it’s never before sounded quite like it does when Temesgen Taraken plugs it in, pumps it up and hammers out a hypnotic groove as if it were an ancient rock guitar. Four kebero tom drums kick in with their grooving lilt and Genet Assefa lets loose with powerful, soaring vocals, you may be looking twice to make sure this big sound is really being created by just three people.Playing traditional songs from different regions of Ethiopia, Krar Collective makes a direct connection to their Ethiopian roots while re-interpreting with a contemporary attitude that gets their audience participating in the party.Krar Collective Website
Markus James and The Wassonrai (USA / Mali)Roots Blues Traveler Markus James joins forces with four West African music masters to cook up what NPR Music calls “Rock with a West African twist”. Thundering West African percussion meets voodoo-trance North Mississippi-style guitar riffs, with vocals in English and Mali’s Bambara languages.While Markus James’ original Blues-based collaborations, recorded in Mali West Africa and in Mississippi, have received widespread critical acclaim, his live shows with the Wassonrai -West African artists based in Northern California -are uniquely wild affairs, only available at their club and Festival appearances, with some songs ranging to 20-30 minutes, in the spirit of the traditions they are based in.Markus James & the Wassonrai website
Mortal Coil (BC)Mortal Coil Performance Society is dedicated to creating imaginative theatre and spectacle for audiences young and old. Their artistic vision is grand and they bring a sense of magic and myth to their performing characters through the use of stilts, masks, and fantastic costuming. These stunning costumes and highly visual performances have thrilled festival audiences for over a decade. The festive, larger-than- life images bring a surreal magic and sense of the spectacular. Roots and Blues veterans, they’ve brought their magic to two previous festivals, amazing kids and grown-ups alike.mortalcoil.bc.ca
No Sinner“The outfit, led by smoky singer/songwriter Colleen Rennison, trot out the kind of backwoods rhythm & blues that would have roughneck bar patrons lobbing full bottles of MGD around as a compliment…”“… bluesy stomp ..gets your blood boiling…”- Gregory Adams, exclaim – December 2011
No Sinner Website
Peter Puffin’s Whale Tales (ON)Peter Lenton, aka Peter Puffin’s Whale Tales, has shared stages with David Suzuki, Stephen Lewis & Jane Goodall. His songwriting is informed by past lives as a biologist, video producer and teacher. A one year break from a full time gig as a curriculum specialist… has grown exponentially into a full time touring career as a whole-family concert performer, workshop facilitator and musical keynote speaker and songwriter.Peter is passionate about helping kids discover their own creativity and talents. He also inspires positive attitudes about peace-making, community building, bike helmet safety, reducing bullying, environmental stewardship… Peter’s concerts also celebrate storytelling, the value of true friendship, local & global citizenship and growing our sense of humour. His mischievous mix of storytelling, thrilling singing, and skillful guitar-playing, and especially the ever-present audience engagement, make concert experiences a refreshing celebration of the human spirit. Kids of all ages love it.puffin.ca
Raleigh (AB)Raleigh is a labour of love for Calgary based musicians Brock Geiger (of The Dudes and Dojo Workhorse), Matt Doherty (of Axis of Conversation and This City Defects), and Clea Anaïs (of The Consonant C and Dojo Workhorse).The three artists weave exquisitely bittersweet boy / girl duets through newstyle prog-folk. Clea’s cello, Geiger’s guitar and Doherty’s drums interface flawlessly and pull unexpectedly poignant beat memories from deep within the listener’s heart.With a sound that has been described as “…a more thoughtful, elegant indie…”, Raleigh’s debut LP, New Times in Black and White has taken the band on two cross Canada tours and has been lauded by critics nationwide.Raleigh website

Robert Randolph and the Family Band (USA)With their most recent work, We Walk This Road, brilliant multicultural American funk and soul group, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, explores the relationship between gospel, blues, and rock, playing everything from 1920’s blues up to modern-day songs by Prince.Trained as a steel guitarist in the House of God Church, frontman Robert Randolph, makes the instrument, also known as ‘Sacred Steel’, integral to the band’s music. With dynamic live shows that interactively use music and movement to pump up the people, the band is famous for its high voltage performances that leave audiences euphoric. In the past they have opened for the likes of Eric Clapton and the Dave Matthews band, appeared multiple times on David Letterman, and have since become Headliners in their own right. robertrandolph.net
Septeto Santiaguero (Cuba)With its mix of percussion, searing trumpet sounds, guitar, and solid vocal range, the Grammy nominated and Cuban born septet fuses African rhythms with structures and lyrical forms taken from European influences.Septeto Santiaguero Website
Serena Ryder (ON)Known for her powerful vocal range, Serena Ryder, who hails from the small town of Millbrook, Ontario, has logged some serious tour miles going across Canada multiple times, as well as the U.S. (including Bonnarroo, Lollapalooza, South by Southwest and Denver’s Mile High Music Festival), Australia and Europe. She has earned two Canadian GOLD records, three JUNO Awards (2008 New Artist of the Year, 2009 Adult Alternative Album of the Year, 2010 Video of the Year), a #1 holiday single for ‘Calling To Say’ and been part of Bravo! TV’s highfalutin ‘Live at the Rehearsal Hall’ series.On her late-2006 debut for EMI, If Your Memory Serves You Well, she covered some of Canada’s finest songwriters, including Leonard Cohen, as a way to learn from “these masters of story” and further develop her own songwriting skills. Ironically it was the plainspoken heartache of Ryder’s own, entirely self-penned ‘Weak in the Knees‘ that really propelled the record and even earned her a GOLD Single award. Her follow up record is it o.k, is at times palpably sad, vulnerable and even confused, but always strikingly real and as tough as nails where it counts. Her immense growth as a songwriter is evident throughout the album, especially as Ryder is able to bring optimism and energy even to the record’s darker moments. The accomplished result is the strength and new conviction evident in one of Canada’s – hell, the world’s – most intriguing newest songwriting voices.A Festival Favourite who last rocked the R&B mainstage in 2009, Serena Ryder is currently working on her much-anticipated new album to be released later this year. She will be bringing a fabulously original repertoire of brand new work to the Festival, along with her classics. This is going to be one helluva show…serenaryder.com

Shred Kelly (BC)Shred Kelly is a formulation of friends and foot stompin’ good times born in the East Kootenay’s of British Columbia. Hailing from the town of Fernie, the six-piece band is best known for mixing clawhammer banjo riffs that tear the fabric of space and time with a ghostly mandolin, high voltage guitars, fierce drums, and hauntingly sweet harmonies to produce a sound that has been properly coined “Stoke Folk”.Singing songs about powder days, tornado destruction, and a sincere distaste for work, these ski bums, are consistently turning doubters into sweaty folk rock believers on the dance floor. Shred Kelly were recent winners of the CBC Tracks on Tracks contest.http://www.shredkelly.com/
sHuFFle dEMoNs (BC / ON)What do you get when you cross 3 amazing saxophonists dressed in wacky clothes, a crazy dancing drummer and a killer upright bass player and have them sing songs about Buses, Roaches and Hockey, half the time playing among the audience? The Shuffle Demons, that’s what!!! They were a band that captured the imagination of a generation with their antics and amazing no holds barred playing that stopped traffic on a regular basis.The legend of the Shuffle Demons is well known to Canadians. Beginning in September 1984 with veteran street sax player Demon Richard Underhill pleasing the pedestrian multitudes at the corner of Yonge and Bloor in Toronto, the Shuffle Demons quickly evolved into an immensely popular street band. Drawing hordes of hipsters to their street gigs with their wild playing and exotic wardrobe, the Demons (Mike Murley, Stich Wynston, Jim Vivian, Dave Parker and Richard Underhill) next took their caustic collection of musical majesties and travesties inside, including a gig at the very first Roots and Blues back in 1992. And now, after a 20 year hiatus, they’re back!shuffledemons.com
STORIES on WHEELS (BC)STORIES on WHEELS is an original street theatre storytelling act for the whole family. Tales are brought to life by a high-energy comic performer, using beautifully illustrated picture cards displayed in a magnificent miniature wooden stage attached to the back of a vintage bicycle.Inspired by a traditional Japanese travelling storytelling show popular in the 1920s through 1950s, Kamishibai (literally paper theatre) combines the best of oral storytelling and narrative painting.Featuring gorgeous illustrations by local artists, as well as traditional picture cards from Japan, several short stories are told with music, dramatic action, and audience interaction. As well, the audience gets to hear an amusing and informative history of the art form. You’ve never been told a story this way, before!STORIES on WHEELS website
Taj Weekes & Adowa (St. Lucia / USA)Taj Weekes is an enigma… on the one hand deeply serious and intensely passionate about his worldviews and on the other hand a gentle and humble man with a quick and easy smile. Driven to inspire conscious thought and provoke discussion through his poignant poetry and lyrics, Weekes says, “I write from the heart and I speak about issues that move me. I believe that’s what really matters.” Born and raised on the island of St. Lucia, Weekes grew up the youngest of ten children in a family where music was ever present. Weekes grew up blissfully unaware of category or genre – to him, great music was, and still is, great music no matter what the style.Evolving as a musician and feeling confined by the borders of tiny St. Lucia, Weekes left home to fulfill his musical ambitions in North America. There he formed his band Taj Weekes and Adowa and label Jatta Records. Taj Weekes and Adowa unite a true social consciousness with an unforgettable reggae groove. Blending in elements of acoustic roots rock and afro-folk simplicity, the band’s vibrant sound defies genre and has garnered critical acclaim and a wide audience across the globe.tajweekes.com
Treble Spot Jams (BC)“Treble” is one of many zany characters from performer and music therapist Roxy Roth’s Clown Clan. This character is inspired by the creativity of students in her music studio and music therapy practice. It is these student souls who challenge her to experiment and explore the possibilities…beyond the typical methods of music learning and experiences.Roxy reckons that tying technology and music together, in our fast-paced high-tech society, might just be a key to re-igniting the community music traditions of our ancestors, traditions which nourished the community and the individual’s well-being. A time when EVERY BODY played for the joy of it and the process, not just the performance, was valued. Roxy believes this is a tradition we desperately need to become reacquainted with for the well-being of our society.Her character Treble is always getting into trouble with technology and tunes in tow… Colorful sights and colorful sounds created on the spot put the “i” back into YOUR “iTunes.”roxyfx.com
The Trews (NS / ON)Comprised of lead vocalist Colin MacDonald; guitarist John- Angus MacDonald; drummer Sean Dalton, and bassist Jack Syperek, the Trews’ strong musicianship has been built over years of working together with the original lineup. With four albums in seven years, two of them gold; 10 Top-10 singles, two of them No.1; 5 Juno nominations; multiple awards, for best single, video and live group; and close to 800 live shows under its belt, including support slots for the Rolling Stones, Robert Plant, Guns N’ Roses, Nickelback and KISS, the Trews keep pushing themselves in the studio and onstage, always ready to give an intuitive and intense rock ‘n’ roll show of songs that have killer hooks.Perennially recognized for this prodigious creative output but eventually facing utter burn out, the band slowed its pace in 2010, thanks to an invitation from Gord Sinclair. The Tragically Hip bassist offered the Trews a little shelter at the Hip’s fabled Bathouse Recording Studio, where they could cool their jets and make some demos. It sounded like a holiday to John-Angus MacDonald who says, “We were just looking to run away a little and we wanted to do something fun, organic, be a band again, all that stuff.”It worked. A couple months later and the Trews had a new album – Hope & Ruin. If the Trews were tired when they walked into the Bathouse, they were rejuvenated walking out, having found ‘hope in ruin’. This is an album where the Trews sound like they’re having a flat-out gas. As MacDonald puts it, “It was like our first record again. When you make your first record, you don’t know who the songwriter is. Those roles aren’t established yet. The band is just trying to be the best band they can be. And we were back there.” Reinvigorated, the Trews released the compilation in 2011 and are currently on a crazy-successful North American headlining tour for the Hope & Ruin album, which has just garnered the band’s second U.S. Indie Music Award nomination.thetrewsmusic.com

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