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This article was published 23/7/2015 (2490 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
If the forecast endures, attendees at the annual Brandon Folk, Music and Art Festival will be enjoying sweet sounds under sunny skies this weekend.
The festival is kicking off its 31st year with an eclectic opening night lineup that sets the tone for the rest of the event.
"The artists are really diverse and I think (they) represent a good cross-section of our community," said Shandra MacNeill, the festival’s artistic director. "As long as people like good music they’re going to have a great time."
The Friday night lineup includes local Latin group Son Latino Band, Winnipeg’s male a cappella singers the Riel Gentlemen’s Choir and Ottawa’s indigenous DJ crew and headliners A Tribe Called Red.
MacNeill hopes the diverse programming and nice weather will encourage lots of people to visit the Keystone Centre grounds — the festival was rained out last year and only 700 people attended over the course of the weekend.
Twenty-one musical acts will take the stage over the festival’s three days and MacNeill says there is a good crop of local talent on the docket.
Katie MacDonald is a recent graduate from the festival’s emerging artist program and she will be performing as a solo act for the first time this year.
"Not only is she technically a really great singer, but the tone and maturity of her voice ... is really something to see," said MacNeill. "Her talent really stands on par with anybody we’re bringing from across the country."
The Brandon Folk, Music and Art Festival has a knack for attracting popular headliners and this year is no different.
On Saturday night, husband and wife duo Digging Roots hits the main stage with their catchy brand of folk-rock pop. And on Sunday, 2014 Polaris Prize winner Tanya Tagaq promises to fascinate festivalgoers with her ethereal throat singing.
The fact that all of the headlining acts are indigenous artists was a happy accident, MacNeill says.
"I just think they’re some of the most exciting artists in Canada right now," she says.
The festival’s impressive lineup is only one part of its appeal, says Daniel Jordan, one-third of Winnipeg roots ensemble Red Moon Road.
"It’s always neat when you can create such an amazing folk festival atmosphere in the middle of a city," he says.
Red Moon Road is returning to the Brandon Folk Fest for the second time and Jordan — along with bandmates Sheena Rattai and Daniel Peloquin-Hopfner — is excited to share some new material with the crowd.
"We have a brand new CD being released in September and we’re going to be playing a bunch of new songs from that," said Jordan.
The band is playing in several Saturday afternoon workshops and they will be performing on the main stage Sunday night.
Shawn Hall, of blues band The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer, says workshops can be the most magical part of performing at folk festivals.
"If you’re really lucky both (groups) admire each other and then you have this romance in front of a group of strangers ... and it’s like a musical date," said Hall. "That’s the stuff that we carry with us throughout the rest of the year."
The two-piece band, made up of Hall on vocals and harmonica and Matthew Rogers on guitar and foot drum, performs its "primal, greasy and emotional" set on the main stage Sunday night.
The festival is incorporating the "art" part its mandate with an installation by local photographer John Scott and a young visual artists mentorship program led by Urban Shaman Gallery from Winnipeg.
Festivalgoers will notice a new six-piece food vendor village on the grounds this year.
"Now people can hang out for the entire day and evening and have their meals on site," said MacNeill.
Early bird weekend passes are available for $64 until the end of the day today, but tickets are available for $80 at the gate on Friday.
For more information and a complete concert schedule, visit brandonfolkfestival.ca.
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