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Calgary Folk Music Festival: July lineup of artists announced

Although the Calgary Folk Music Festival never really did stop during the pandemic, folks have been waiting three years for the return of the full festival experience.

So it was to more than a few happy cheers that festival organizers announced July’s full lineup of artists on Wednesday.

Performers for the 43rd Folk Fest include Squirrel Nut Zippers, Watchhouse, Josh Ritter, Cadence Weapon, and Spoon.

“We are so incredibly excited to announce it today—I think that it is the celebration of community in the full broad way that we’ve grown to love,” said Sara Leishman, executive director for the Calgary Folk Music Festival.

Returning this year is the full festival experience. Back at the two evening stages, five daytime stages, arts, crafts, and food vendors that have made up the beloved summer festival in past years.

Something for everyone

Kerry Clarke, the festival’s artistic director, said that this year would be featuring local Calgary artists, in addition to performers from across Canada and internationally.

“We always have groundbreaking icons and upstart songwriters and instrumentalists from near and far,” she said.

Listing off the genres that will be performed at the festival, she said that there would be, among others, blue-eyed soul, lo-fi roots, Nordic folk, ancient throat singing, post-industrial North African trance, Afro-pop funky bass, Indian Jazz, gospel, experimental folk, indie folk, psych rock, and surreal literary Gothic.

“And that’s just a taste of the genre crushing music that might become your summer soundtrack,” she said.

And on Friday afternoon, and on Saturday and Sunday artists will be doing collaborations the festival is calling in-the-round-mash-ups. There will also be comedy, improv, and insider music touring panels going on at the festival’s “Talk Tent.”

Some of the mainstage and twilight stage performers announced so far include:

Thursday, July 21

  • Xenia Franca
  • Devon Gilfillian
  • Squirrel Nut Zippers
  • Black Pumas
  • King Nannah
  • Gangstagrass
  • Ifriqiyya Electrique
  • DJ Shub presents War Club Live

Friday, July 22

  • Bette Smith
  • The Wood Brothers
  • Josh Ritter
  • Watchhouse
  • K’Nann
  • Josyara
  • Begonia
  • Manou Gallo
  • Cadence Weapon

Saturday, July 23

  • Tim Baker and All Hands
  • Kevin Morby
  • The Barr Brothers
  • Allison Russell
  • Spoon
  • Ashley Shadow
  • La Dame Blanche
  • The Besnard Lakes

Sunday, July 24

  • Mick Flannery and Susan O’Neill
  • Basia Bulat
  • Matt Andersen
  • Courtney Barnett

For more details, and a complete schedule of performers, see the Folk Music festival website at calgaryfolkfest.com.

Festival pre-sales indicate strong demand thus far

The festival opened pre-sales of festival tickets several weeks ago, and is opening up sales this Friday.

Leishman said that the demand for pre-sale tickets was the highest in the history of the Folk Fest, and they would be gauging continued interest from the regular sale on Friday.

“That will be sort of the true test of folks interest, but anecdotally we have so many people saying ‘oh my gosh, we’re so glad you’re back, I’ve been waiting for three calendar years for this,'” she said.

Festival organizers expect that the bulk of patrons will continue to be made up of Calgarians, but they are expecting a fair number of visitors from around Alberta and B.C. A 2017 report indicated that the festival generated more than $6 million in economic activity for the city, $6.6 million in economic activity for the province, and a general Alberta GDP increase of $4 million.

“We remain hopeful that we’ll be able to bring in those tourist dollars as well, certainly tourism is a part of our business,” said Leishman.

Ward 7 Councillor Terry Wong said that Calgarians are excited about the return of festivals to the city.

“People are coming out popping. Stampede’s going around the corner as well, Folk Festival right after that—people are excited,” he said.

He said that the upcoming festival season was a way to re-stimulate the economy, to re-engage with culture in the city and within communities, and be back outside enjoying the Folk Festival and everything else going on.

He said that he would be enjoying the festival himself come July.

“‘Are you there because you have an obligation as a councillor?’ No, I’m there because I’m part of the community more than anything else.”