10 Local Artists to Check Out at Festival du Voyageur
It should come as no surprise to Winnipeggers that this year’s Festival du Voyageur features an embarrassment of riches on its live stages. While high-profile touring acts like Justin Townes Earle are the ostensible headliners, the sheer quantity of top-tier Manitobans hitting Festival stages this week are the real draw for music fans willing to bear the cold.
Justin Towne Earles will headline the Voyageur Trading Post on Feb. 18.
Note: this is by no means a complete list. This sampling of 10 must-see acts could have easily been 20 or 30 names long, and doesn’t even include many of the enormously popular – and enormously talented – local artists (Royal Canoe, Begonia, Faouzia, Red Moon Road, etc.) who are guaranteed floor-fillers wherever they go.
… but here it is. A highly subjective list of 10 (among many) local artists that will be well worth the cost of admission at Festival du Voyageur 2018.
The breakout stars of Winnipeg’s revitalized rap scene, 3Peat’s E. GG, Dill the Giant, and Steve are as captivating onstage as they are on record. Their blend of unique vocal styles and backgrounds in three of Winnipeg’s cultural communities is something special, as is the way they infuse modern-day hip-hop with enough of a golden-age edge to appeal equally to old heads and to the youths.
See them: Saturday, Feb. 24 at Voyageur Trading Post
An instrumental jazz-fusion outfit, Apollo Suns’ intricate compositions shoot for the moon and end up in another galaxy. Fans of psychedelic fusion legends like the Mahavishnu Orchestra will have their brains pre-loaded to take this in, but even newcomers to the genre can dig their cosmic vibes. Just be prepared to have your face melted.
See them: Saturday, Feb. 17 at Investors Group Pembina Tent
Somehow, this iconic duo took a 15-year break and came back even stronger than they were in their ’90s heyday. Frequently described as a mod group, Duotang combines impossibly catchy hooks with raw, danceable power, all in a stripped-down package of drums and bass.
See them: Friday, Feb. 16 at La Prairie Tent
If you saw Leonard Sumner’s viral I Know You’re Sorry video, you know he’s a performer who will make you think. The Anishinaabe artist from Little Saskatchewan First Nation flawlessly combines folk and hip-hop, and delivers it all with a mix of righteous anger and thoughtful, introspective poetry.
See him: Sunday, Feb. 18 at Bell MTS Rivière-Rouge Tent
Micah Erenberg Band
The pride of Matlock, Manitoba, Micah Erenberg is known for endearing, slice-of-life vignettes and heartbreaking honesty in his songwriting. His eclectic sound touches on elements of country, folk, and rock, and he’s equally captivating as a solo act or ripping it up with the live band.
See them: Friday, Feb. 23 at Sugar Shack Caisse Financial Group
Blow-you-out-of-your-seat punk rock by two women who combine raw aggression with anthemic hooks. Their non-stop touring (both at home and internationally) has raised their profile considerably over the past few years, and it’s hard to think of a local act that is more deserving of their continued success.
See them: Sunday, Feb. 18 at La Prairie Tent
You don’t have to dig country music to get into what Quinton Blair is doing. With a well-earned reputation as your favourite songwriter’s favourite songwriter, Blair is an award-winning storyteller whose songs bring prairie stories to life. He’s also a consummate professional onstage and a must-see in any setting – from an intimate acoustic show to a full band barn-burner.
See him: Friday, Feb. 16 at Investors Group Pembina Tent
Grunge revivalists who bring unrelenting, raw power to their songs and (especially) their explosive stage show, the female-fronted Silence Kit combines the angst and aggression of the ’90s with earworm hooks, punk energy and alt/indie-rock sensibilities.
See them: Thursday, Feb. 22 at Sugar Shack Caisse Financial Group
Super Duty Tough Work
Live band hip-hop. A great MC + some of the city’s finest jazz/funk instrumentalists = a beast of an orchestra that will flip you on your head.
See them: Saturday, Feb. 24 at La Prairie Tent
Another guy who has earned all of his recent meteoric success, Juno winner William Prince has an unforgettably soulful voice and the songs to match. Prince’s blend of folk and country with a deep gospel influence has led him from Manitoba all the way to the Grammys, with awards and accolades piling up along the way.
See him: Monday, Feb. 19 at Bell MTS Rivière-Rouge Tent
Contributor: Sam Thompson is the host of Witchpolice Radio, a podcast that has featured interviews with local musicians since 2012. The show’s entire 260+ episode archive can be found at http://www.witchpolice.com, and archival episodes can be heard on Sundays at midnight on UMFM 101.5.