Strolling down Yellowknife’s streets these days, there is a palpable sense of hope in the air. Scarves are left at home, car engines no longer left running and the temperature sign at the YK Centre is finally displaying a positive result. As the snow melts and the sidewalks turn to cascading waterfalls, the mind begins to tentatively anticipate the glorious onset of the Northern summer. This can only mean one thing:
Celebrating its 35th Anniversary this year, Folk on the Rocks was founded back in 1980 by Yellowknife local and avid juggler Rod Russell. He left after three years to embark on a round-the-world trip, but Folk has been going strong ever since. In 2014, the iconic festival attracted 4,800 attendees over the July weekend and frequently pops up on travel blogs and worldwide festival calendars as a once-in-a-lifetime sub-arctic experience under the midnight sun.
Of course, for Yellowknifers, it is simply the most anticipated event of the year, and with good reason. We have just announced the first two installments of a stunning Line-up, with more to come!
The first four headliners this year pack a punch. Corb Lund, Dan Mangan, Tanya Tagaq and Shane Koyczan are leading names in their respective genres and superstars on both Canadian and International soil – that much cannot be denied.
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Born and raised in the wild, wild West (Alberta, that is), the acclaimed Alt-country singer has been a stalwart on the Canadian traditional music scene along with his excellently-named band, The Hurtin’ Albertans. Corb Lund is a thoroughbred country star with an impressive arsenal of awards won, including a JUNO and an astounding eleven Canadian Music Awards.
A veritable veteran on the Canadian Country music scene, Lund is getting ready to release his ninth studio album this year. With a back catalogue of music that provokes sing-alongs from crowds all across the continent, Corb Lund is the people’s favourite cowboy.
From tales of trucks getting stuck to an album written from the point of view of a horse, Lund is representin’ for the prairies and making sure his roots are never forgotten. And we love him for it.
Canadian folk singer-songwriter Dan Mangan & his ensemble Blacksmith will also headline Folk on the Rocks this year. The only artist in history to win six prestigious Bucky awards (not to mention several other accolades), Dan is a definite crowd-pleaser and long-time festival favourite.
Dan’s music has long bridged the gap expertly between indie, folk and pop with tuneful tracks that resonate seamlessly in the inner ear. With a new album just released this year (Club Meds – the first as ‘Dan Mangan and Blacksmith’), thumping melodies shine through a provocative style of song writing rife with titbits of social commentary such as “(It) takes a village to raise a fool…”
Tanya Tagaq is a 2014 Polaris Music Prize Winner and 2015 JUNO Award winning Inuit Throat Singer. A Nunavut native, Tanya gained international fame in 2004 after she joined Björk on various tours and featured on her album, Medulla. Round these parts, however, Tagaq has long been a familiar name on people’s lips. She first appeared at Folk on the Rocks way back in 1999 and has graced our stage three times since.
In a performance that is equal parts sensual and fierce, Tagaq uses traditional throat singing coupled with contemporary sounds to create a performance that has audiences reeling. Her fiercely unique sound has been described as ‘otherworldly’ and ‘primal’, but none of these adjectives do justice to the sheer brilliance of a Tanya Tagaq performance.
The phrase ‘voice of a generation’ is used very liberally in today’s world, with the moniker attributed to a slew of celebrities that yell their albeit well-intentioned opinions from the rooftops. Shane Koyczan takes his voice and transforms it into a one-man choir filled to the brim with every single molecule of human existence. His spoken word poetry is as influential as it is eloquent, as inspiring as it is humble.
Evocative and powerful, Shane’s work is gripping and current, dealing with subject matter such as bullying and climate change in a way that forces audiences to sit up, listen, but most of all, motivates them to ACT. His style is rhythmic and melodic, paired with emotive animations that capture his words perfectly. On stage he is the type of performer that commands standing ovations before the end of the first act. An extraordinary talent, this is one live performance that will be etched into audiences’ minds for a long time to come.
So there you have it. Four internationally acclaimed artists to whet your appetite for this July! Early Bird tickets go on sale this Thursday, April 23rd and are available to buy on Ticketfly until Thursday, May 14th. Be sure to get them here before they sell out!
For more info on this year’s festival and lineup, check out the Folk on the Rocks website.