Described as everything from indie-roots to chamber-folk, West My Friend has an acoustic blend of instruments and four-part harmonies that challenges the conventions of popular music to create a performance that is both engaging and innovative. Songs are created through a collaborative process: well-crafted and clever lyrics, acrobatic mandolin riffs, flawless bass lines, and richly textured accordion combine as every member brings forward their own ideas and experiences.
The wealth of musical experience and classical training in the group creates an interesting backdrop for their songwriting, allowing for levels of detail, intricacy, and counterpoint balanced with moments of simplicity. This sonically adventurous approach to music defines West My Friend as a key part of a growing movement of the new generation of grass-roots folk music taking place in Victoria, Vancouver and across British Columbia.The sound of Montreal band BELLFLOWER, led by singer-songwriter Em Pompa, is one that is rare, rich and powerful. Driven by the soul and ingenuity of eight elite musicians, it conveys a sense of soft vastness that absorbs the listener, of quiet strength born of an enduring union. While neither quite orchestral pop nor alternative folk, the ensemble’s music unfolds somewhere between the hybrid and aerial jazz of Cinematic Orchestra and the seductive complexity of Sufjan Stevens’ neo-pop. After releasing its first and surprising album The Lotus Factor in 2013, the band went on to perform at various festivals, notably at Vue sur la relève – where it received no less than 12 Coups de pouce prizes – and at the very select Mundial in 2015. Hot on the heels of this success, the band now presents The Season Spell, a strong second album to be released this spring. A Forest Of Arms is the sixth album from Tony Dekker’s Great Lake Swimmers and the follow up to 2012’s New Wild Everywhere. With a surging rhythm section, razor sharp violin, and flourishing banjo and guitars, Dekker and band mates have pushed their sound significantly, creating some of their most dynamic songs ever recorded. Those familiar with the decade-long output of Great Lake Swimmers will recognize the thematic threads of beauty in the natural world, environmental issues and explorations of close personal ties that hold us together. The familiar versus the strange theme is also running through this record, both in the instrumentation and in the songwriting (“Zero In The City”, “I Was A Wayward Pastel Bay”). Great Lake Swimmers consists of Tony Dekker on lead vocals and guitar, long time guitarist and banjo player Erik Arnesen, Miranda Mulholland on violin and backing vocals, Bret Higgins on upright bass and newcomer Joshua Van Tassel on drums. There are several special guest appearances on the album by Kevin Kane (Grapes Of Wrath) on 12-string electric guitar, as well as backing vocals on the song “A Bird Flew Inside The House.” Alex Cuba is a Latin Grammy/Juno winner, singer-songwriter who is not tied to tradition. His sugarcane-sweet melodies, pop-soul hooks and powerful guitar riffs, relinquish a conventional stereotype that exemplifies much of the Latin music landscape. Born Alexis Puentes in Artemisa, Cuba, was immersed in music at a very young age. Being in the family business since the early age of 4. This is when he joined his father (respected guitarist and teacher Valentin Puentes), and a group of 24 guitarists in a performance aired on Cuban national TV. In 1999, Alex moved to Vancouver, B.C where he recorded an album titled “Morumba Cubana” alongside his twin brother Adonis, as The Puentes Brothers. Alex then went on to record his solo debut album “Humo De Tobaco” in which earned him a Juno award for World Music Album of the Year in 2006. Alex is a multi award winning international musician. He resides in his hometown of Smithers with his family. Twin Kennedy is an identical twin country/roots duo from Victoria, BC. With Carli on guitar and vocals, and Julie on fiddle and vocals, these sisters have been described as “Nothing Short of Awesome!” (Cashbox Magazine). 2015 CCMA nominees and 9 time BC Country Music Award nominees, Carli & Julie Kennedy are known for their sibling harmonies and high energy show that blends their classical training with their country roots. They have toured extensively throughout Canada and the US, and recently returned with rave reviews from their Icelandic and Swedish debut. With a new album released in Spring of 2015 and produced by country superstar George Canyon, Twin Kennedy is a “Canadian country sensation!” The John Welsh Band’s music blends folk, surf rock, reggae and latin. Over the last 10 years John Welsh has been performing his eclectic style of music for audiences around BC and the greater Vancouver region. He got his start in the college house party scene playing songs everyone could sing along to. John draws influences from artists such as Ben Harper, Sublime, Sam Roberts and Joel Plaskett. His songs are often inspired by his travel experiences and blend elements of folk, surf rock, reggae and latin. Welsh has recorded and performed with various acts as the Welsh Brothers, Los Amigos and Rhythm & Cello. He has played hundreds of parties, shows and events throughout the greater Vancouver area sharing the stage with Tom Freund, Current Swell, Daniel Wesley and T. Nile. For over forty years now, Roy Forbes has been a prominent and critically acclaimed artist who has made enduring artistic contributions to the Canadian music scene as a performer, recording artist, songwriter, producer and broadcaster. From his solo recordings that began with the 1975 album Kid Full of Dreams to his collaborations in UHF, to his work hosting CKUA and CBC programs, Forbes has proven to be an inspired artist who has never lost touch with the magic of music. Roy’s most recent album, Strikin’ Matches LIVE! was released in late 2014. Melanie Dekker is a Canadian roots-pop sensation from Deep Cove, BC. Her world-class strumming and voice like chocolate earned the radio hits ‘I Said I’ & ‘Boomerang’. Her Dutch background has that no-hold-back fun attitude; she’s vulnerable, funny and powerful. Fans experience a sense of connection as she weaves between emotion and sensibilities. In 2013 “Distant Star” sold 13,000 copies and this ‘longing’ album is a part of an elaborate discography. The “Revealed” CD was produced by David Kershenbaum (Tracy Chapman, Joan Baez). Like these artists, Dekker has a special tangible flare. Since Filberg-2014 she offers her fans the ‘Lekker eh Live’ album, featuring legendary guitarist David Sinclair. Live, she intertwines fresh vivaciously expressed stories with memorable songs. Of special note: Dekker’s performed with Diana Krall, Faith Hill, Russell Peters, as well for President Bill Clinton. Her youtube videos include her plunge at the Vancouver’s Polar Bear Swim, the 2010 Olympics, her own Wisdom tooth removal, concerts in Afghanistan, and a romantic run-in with a mannequin. The Kerplunks are at the height of Canada’s children’s entertainment scene. Raising the bar higher at every show with a live 4-piece band, they bring high-energy performances, and an ever-growing following of fans! The Kerplunks are fronted by the dynamic female duo of Tina Jones (vocals, trumpet, trombone) and Dinah D (vocals, upright bass). They are joined by their talented male bandmates Aaron Cadwaladr (guitar, kazoo, vocals) and Phil Wipper (drums). The Kerplunks, like their little fans, are getting bigger every day! Dinah D and The Contraband Swingclub, a six-piece big-band style swing jazz band comprised of six excellent Vancouver Island musicians. They have shared stages with Ken Lavigne, Sue Medley, The Shuffle Demons, Phil Dwyer, and David Gogo. Big Little Lions is the ferocious folk-pop songwriting duo of Helen Austin and Paul Otten. With a sound that crosses somewhere between Mumford and Sons and Pomplamoose, between them they have had hundreds of TV/ad placements and many awards including a JUNO Award and a 2015 Canadian Folk Music Award for Ensemble of the Year. “The natural pairing of Austin and Otten is an indication that distance is just a number, one that can’t hold back real musical camaraderie. Big Little Lions’ A Little Frayed, A Little Torn is a jubilant collection of folk-pop songcraft.” If there was a World Music supergroup, this would be it. The BC World Music Collective brings together musicians from Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Africa, and London, who now make their home in this beautiful province. The collective is comprised of Adonis Puentes, Celso Machado, Tonye Aganaba, Kurai Blessing, Locarno and First Nations (Sto:lo/St’át’imc/Nlaka’pamux Territories) rapper, Ostwelve. Vancouver soul dynamo, Dawn Pemberton, performs soulful music for the masses. With her deep musical foundation rooted in tradition, she is a staple of the West Coast music scene. Award-winning artist Babe Gurr has a curious musical mind that makes her a hard one to label, with her unique blend of roots, blues, world and pop. But who would want to? This singer-songwriter and her polished band bring a crowd-pleasing vibe to every show they perform. With intelligent lyrics and memorable melodies superbly delivered in a warm, sultry voice. Babe is the total package. It all comes through loud and clear on her CDs and live stage show. Babe has headlined at numerous festivals and has played some of the most popular and prestigious concert halls across North America. Sway’ Starring Adam Lucas is a fun, classy and entertaining stage show featuring the music of Michael Buble’, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Van Morrison and more! This all-ages show has something for everyone and will keep you dancing, singing a-long and smiling all night! Adam Lucas grew up in Sydney Australia and started singing at the age of just 2 years old. His biggest musical influences as a child were Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., which was often playing on his family’s stereo. Adam came to Vancouver in 2012 to pursue his dream of becoming a successful Actor, Singer and Songwriter. Adam has a soulful and powerful voice that hits you in the heart. We are thrilled to have this multi-talented powerhouse as the lead in `Sway’. DMN&FRNZ was conceived as a unique jazz group that plays the gamut of composers including Duke Ellington but with a greater focus on more modern composers like Corea, Shorter and Tyner. The name of the group is derived from DonMikeNeil and augmented by fabulous FRNZ Dale Graham, vocals, Jay Havelaar, trumpet and Rick Husband, guitar. DMN was conceived by Don MacKay to be a bit unique. He brought together Neil Clark on drums and Mike Eddy on piano as a trio to play a gamut of styles, but especially to play some of the music not often played by trad bands. Playing the compositions of Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock as well as originals was a primary goal of the group.. The trio strives to keep exploring. To enhance the sound the trio is augmented by friends (FRNZ). The DMN&FRNZ plays a wide variety of styles including swing, gospel, bebop, blues and Latin jazz. Tatiana, Queen of Flower Fairies, loves to share stories of the world of fairy that is all around, if you just open your eyes to it… Tatiana visits the human world through In the Company of Fairies. Based in Vancouver, they provide magical and unforgettable fairy entertainment. companyoffairies.com Tatiana will be on site Friday and Saturday of the Festival visiting the children in the Enchanted Forest.