Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival announced the last pieces of the 2015 line-up today, and two months out in front of the major music event that is the only event of it’s kind in the Shuswap, Okanagan and North Thompson regions of B.C..
The newly announced artists add some regional depth to the programming as singer-songwriter James Lamb and spoken word artist Mapgie Ulysses have been making strong contributions to the scene in Nelson and the Kootenays for the past few years.
Devon Coyote will be taking to stages at the festival site on both the Saturday and Sunday, dispensing his energetic and melodic roots based rock sound with his trio which will be augmented by special guest, Okanagan harp master Sherman “Tank” Doucette. Coyote’s return to Salmon Arm comes only months after his strong performance on the Powder Blues bill for the Roots and Blues benefit in mid-March.
Coyote, Lamb and Magpie Ulysses are not the only younger artists to be added to the R&B line-up as Phoenix Arizona-based bluesman Tom Walbank, who is originally from England, will be making his first appearances in Canada during the Roots and Blues weekend. The singer, songwriter, guitarist and harp player will be ripping it up with his gritty, down at the bottom approach to dispensing the blues.
Rounding out the younger contingent is Alberta’s folk-rock band The Hearts who have won over large audiences at events like the prestigious Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Having just released a new album titled Equal Love, the Jeff Stuart led band has just come off strong showcases in Austin at SXSW and will also be returning to the Edmonton Folk Festival the week before Roots and Blues.
As the Roots and Blues “Celebration of 50 years of the Grateful Dead” gains momentum, the festival has officially added three acts that will play a substantial role in delivering tunes from the songbooks of Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and company.
Mark Karan of The Other Ones and Bob Weir’s Ratdog fame will be channeling the guitar playing of Garcia and delivering his wonderful interpretations of songs like Easy Wind from Workingman’s Dead at the electric Dead Celebration on the Sunday at the Salmon Arm Fair Grounds. Also on hand from the San Francisco Bay Area will be multi-instrumentalist Jason Crosby who has worked extensively with Phil Lesh and Friends, Weir in acoustic settings, and Crosby also been a member of Susan Tedeschi’s band and Robert Randolph’s Family Band thanks to his tasty organ, violin and guitar playing.
“The final ingredient for the Grateful Dead Celebration is the addition of western Canada’s longest running jam band, Edmonton’s Tacoy Ryde. They come armed with a ton of material from the Dead songbook and will also be doing reggae and Latin workshops and jam sessions. These guys have toured with everyone from Third World to Steel Pulse going back 35 years,” says Roots and Blues artistic director Peter North who has also lined up Colorado’s Brothers Keeper, the Cyril Neville led Royal Southern Brotherhood and the Slocan Ramblers to participate in the two celebrations of Grateful Dead songs.
The final addition to the festival line-up is renowned guitarist Wendell Ferguson who won Guitar Player of the Year seven times at the Canadian Country Music Awards. Through the years, Ferguson has backed The Dixie Chicks, Deanna Carter and The Arrogant Worms and recorded with Quartette, Murray McLauchlan, James Keelaghan, Bob Snider and Gordon Lightfoot. He’s also the funniest man you’re like to meet in the world of folk-roots music.
“Wendell was on his way to teaching at the Nimble Fingers camp in Sorrento so we had to grab him as he was headed that way,” says North who will be using Ferguson on a honky-tonk workshop with Prairie Oyster’s Russell deCarle on the Saturday and as an emcee on main stage Saturday night.