By Jenn Watt
Published Aug. 6 2019
Folk music isn’t always played by a solo musician at the microphone strumming on a guitar; it can also include elements of hip hop funk blues and roots. The Haliburton County Folk Society’s concert series this year aims to deliver a well-rounded lineup of musicians with traditional folk sounds as well as ones geared to getting the audience on the dance floor.
“One of the things we’ve been aiming to do …we’re trying to broaden what people understand to be folk music” Sue Shikaze co-artistic director of the concert series said at the launch event at Canoe FM on Aug. 1.
This year’s series includes two solo performances a group and a duo as well as the annual Homemade Stew concert featuring local performers.
First up is Danny Michel a singer/songwriter/producer/filmmaker whose most recent album was recorded on a Russian icebreaker in the far north with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Michel toured with Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe and has been nominated for several Juno awards. He performs Friday Sept. 20 at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion as part of Hike Haliburton.
On Nov. 9 a folk festival favourite Irish Mythen will be at the Highland Hills United Church in Minden. Originally from Ireland and now residing in Prince Edward Island one of the artistic directors of the Mariposa Folk Festival said she was one of the top three most-requested musicians to return. “We are thrilled that she’ll be joining and I’m sure she’ll fill the church” Shikaze said.
Homemade Stew is planned for Feb. 1 and will be at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion.
The “multi-horn multi-drummer multi-singer brass/funk/dance beast” that is My Son the Hurricane will be taking over the Haliburton Legion on Saturday April 18. Room will be made for attendees to get out on the dance floor. “You cannot sit still listening to these guys play” said Shikaze adding later: “I think this will be a great way to say goodbye to winter and blow into the spring.”
The series wraps up with Big Little Lions on May 30 venue to be announced. The duo write songs long distance with Helen Austin living in British Columbia and Paul Otten in Ohio.
“They are described as a blissful marriage of new folk and sophisticated pop packed with emotion and tight harmonies. I think they’ll be really fun” she said.
Each year committee members scope out potential new artists to bring to Haliburton through music festivals and Folk Music Ontario which Barrie Martin describes as a “trade show for folk music.”
From the hundreds of musicians attending FMO members of the Haliburton committee each make their own list of their top 10 come together and work out the logistics of who to bring to the Highlands.
The folk society has been working to offer a broader range of experiences hoping to attract more people to the shows.
“The folk society made a very conscious effort a couple of years ago to increase diversity in our audience especially” said folk society president Thom Lambert. “In that vein we’ve increased the diversity of … both what we offer and where we offer it.”
In addition to broadening the definition of folk music that means the committee has also chosen different venues with some concerts in the sit-down format at the Pavilion and Minden church while also planning shows for the Legion which has more space for dancing and the curling club for licensed events.
The folk society also organizes the Home Routes concerts which take place at private residences in the county from October through May. They’re currently looking for hosts for this year. You need to have space for 30 people and be willing to host the musicians overnight and provide them with dinner and breakfast.
To buy individual tickets or a series pass for the 2019-2020 concert series go to haliburtonfolk.com. Danny Michel tickets ($25 for non-members $20 for members) are also available at Halco Electronics in Haliburton or On the Spot Variety in Minden.