Regina Folk Fest at its folk best for 2017
author: mac brock | a&c editor
The festival’s lineup sneak peek has some real winners.
Spring is right around the corner in Regina, which means a big pedestrian boost, the opening of Milky Way, and the announcement of the 2017 Regina Folk Festival lineup. The festival’s recent history has included everything from international stars like Vance Joy, KD Lang, and Sinead O’Connor (who later cancelled due to medical concerns) to local favourites Andy Shauf, Megan Nash, and Rah Rah.
In early March, RFF released the first look at their lineup for this coming summer. Here’s the Carillon’s preview of what to expect in Victoria Park in August.
TEGAN & SARA
This electric duo have been A-listers in the international alternative scene since the release of The Con almost a decade ago. Their rock-turned-dance career has always been ahead of the game, consistent, and thrilling.
If you like: Come on, you already like Tegan & Sara.
Go-to song: “Hell,” “I Was a Fool.”
Lights coming to Regina Folk Festival is the big dream of every mid-20-year-old back in their high school years. Her floaty hits like “Drive My Soul” were practically anthemic for teens in the late ‘00s. Lights (which is her legal name, by the way) is a hot ticket on the Canadian festival circuit this year, hinting at some big comeback plans for this Canadian artist.
If you like: Owl City, high-energy synth hits.
Go-to song: “Second Go.”
BUFFY STE. MARIE
It’s sacrilege to talk about Canadian music icons without a mention of Buffy Sainte-Marie. She’s won countless awards – including an Oscar in the mid ‘80s – and her legacy goes past her music into her advocacy and leadership. She’s collaborated with Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Tanya Tagaq, and countless Canadian acts that went on to become stars with her help. Her Polaris-winning 2015 album, Power in the Blood has her on the map as a rocking superstar, now in her 70s, 40 years after her debut.
If you like: Joan Jett, cultural legacy built on decades.
Go-to song: A Tribe Called Red’s remix of “Working for the Government.”
Begonia is not going to be a hidden gem for long. Her 2017 release, Lady in Mind, is a heavy-hitting total package on the same level as ANTI or Dangerous Woman. She goes from a seductive siren to a powerhouse at the drop of a dime and she is a surefire household name within the next couple years. She’s a little R&B, a little pop queen, and a lot of unforgettable hooks.
If you like: Lorde, power ballads fueled by kick drum and groove.
Go-to song: “Juniper,” or the entirety of Lady in Mind.
Jose Gonzalez’s rise to fame has been long in the making. His recent contributions to blockbuster film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty have been the first steps to his stardom, and his new release Vestiges & Claws will be his biggest. His full-bodied melodies are honest, unique, and born from years of thought and labour. Gonzalez balances folk, blues, and everything in between to set himself apart from any of his contemporaries.
If you like: Fleet Foxes, sweeping scores.
Go-to song: “Stay Alive.”
COEUR DE PIRATE
Everything sounds better with a French accent, particularly when it’s from a badass like Coeur de Pirate. Beatrice Martin’s silky smooth voice slices over funky arrangements to give you the attitude to face a long Monday, to get over a breakup, or to cry at the end of either. She’s versatile, powerful, and a voice you need to hear. Whether you’re a fluent French-speaker or not, her biggest francophone hits will move and shake you, and her Anglophone album Roses features some of her best work to date. Another not-to-miss project is her score for CBC’s Trauma, including covers of Bon Iver’s “Flume” and Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.”
If you like: Adele, folky funk with attitude.
Go-to song: “Adieu.”
CHOIR! CHOIR! CHOIR!
C!C!C! is not an artist, they’re a movement. They are not the performers, they’re the orchestrators. The performers: the audience. Choir! Choir! Choir! turns audiences into professionally arranged choirs, accompanied by Rufus Wainwright, Patti Smith, or headliners Tegan & Sara. They are community builders, they are leaders, and they are true collaborative artists.
If you like: To sing in the company of thousands of new friends.
Go-to song: “Hallelujah” accompanied by Rufus Wainwright and 15,000 strangers in a warehouse. YouTube it.
With Berglund at the reigns, Saskatchewan country music is getting cooler by the day. Berglund is making a name for himself across the world as a self-managed and refreshing new voice in the country scene. He takes the homestyle Saskatchewan feel and puts it on a worldwide pedestal to put our music culture on the map. He’s a star on the rise, and we’re lucky to be on the ride with him.
If you like: Johnny Cash, upbeat bluegrass tunes.
Go-to song: “Word’s Gettin’ Around.”
Listening to Saskatoon-based trio Ponteix, you’ll be surprised that you haven’t already heard them on your summer road trips and bonfire nights. No boundaries exist on these free-flowing synth-rock hits. Their singles are crafted with laser precision, yet feel as though they move and shift before you can notice. They’re setting the pace for the sound of summer 2017, and putting Saskatchewan on the indie-alt-rock map.
If you like: Alt-J, letting yourself slip into some rock solid melody.
Go-to song: “Chasing the Sun.”
Vox Sambou was a runaway hit at RFF 2015. His multilingual, politically charged shows ignite a crowd and are impossible to sit down to. He takes the line between hip-hop, reggae, and Latin genres and bends it as his will, creating a world-class performance that inspires movement physically and socially. His performance in Regina was unforgettable, and his presence is sure to only have grown.
If you like: Michael Franti, to dance your freaking face off.
Go-to song: “O Haiti.”
Do yourself a big favour and make a playlist of these ten artists. Make sure that they are stuck in your head (it won’t take long) before the festival August 10-13. It is the Carillon’s official standpoint that this is the best lineup the festival has seen in years, and you won’t want to miss it. See the rest of the lineup (with more secrets still to be announced) and get your tickets at reginafolkfestival.com.