A Look At The Local Talent Performing At Winnipeg Folk Fest

With acts like Death Cab for Cutie, Kacey Musgraves, Jason Mraz, Half Moon Run, The Sheepdogs, K’NAAN, Alvvays, Charlotte Day Wilson, Kathleen Edwards and The Lone Bellow, this year’s Winnipeg Folk Fest lineup is up to its usual stellar standards.

But what truly sets Manitoba’s biggest music festival apart isn’t just the headliners. As always, this year’s lineup features a healthy dose of homegrown talent.


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From July 11 to 14, Birds Hill Provincial Park will host some of the finest artists from our own backyard. Here’s a look at the locals performing at the 46th edition of Winnipeg Folk Fest.


As Begonia, Alexa Dirks delivers florid, surprising pop that is tempered with sensitivity and wisdom. Dirks’ first solo debut EP, Lady in Mind, was well-received with chart-topping songs getting regular rotation on CBC. Noisey wrote that, “Begonia has one of Canada’s most extraordinary voices, and thankfully she uses it to obliterate the misery from this world one live performance at a time.” NPR wrote that Begonia is “the place where where synth-pop meets old soul and scrappy meets sexy.”

Castlemoon Theatre

Castlemoon Theatre creates new worlds through puppetry and makes their shows interactive in a big way, so each performance is a truly special experience for the kids and fun for the whole family.

Christine Fellows

Christine Fellows finds music in sounds we tend to take for granted: the voices of the people we love, the sounds of the spaces we move through as part of our daily lives. Alternately delicate and rousing, her songs shed light on characters that tend to be overlooked and isolated, those whose struggles and triumphs are difficult to quantify. Many of her characters are women, an intentional focus that Christine has continued through seven solo albums that highlight the vivid interior lives of pigeon-fanciers, shut-ins, runaways, and solitary travelers in wintery northlands. In November 2018, she released her seventh solo album, Roses on the Vine (Vivat Virtute).

Jesse Matas

While drafting his debut solo album, Tamarock, Jesse Matas spent more time in a canoe than in a studio. Over a week in December 2017, the album was recorded (mostly) live-off-the-floor in a small, warm studio in Winnipeg with some of the finest-natured humans in Canada. Tamarock is his first release since 2014, when his infamous band the Crooked Brothers’ released their third album Thank You, I’m Sorry. The album received nominations for CFMAs and WCMAs and was toured in 11 countries.

Lindy Vopnfjörd

Born into the Icelandic community in Manitoba, Lindy Vopnfjörd started his music career early. Singing traditional Icelandic songs with his family, both the cultural heritage and musician parents shaped this intuitive artist. By age four, Lindy was already pronouncing his “stand and care for the world” bent as an Icelandic-Canadian folk artist by singing cautionary songs against nuclear war. Traveling around by bus with his mom and dad and extended family, he developed an appreciation for performing as a form of sharing. Lindy has performed six albums’ worth of originals that have mesmerized, delighted and moved audiences at house parties and bars to embassies, theatre halls with Canada’s Whitehorse, and large festivals, such as Montreal’s Osheaga, Reykjavik Folk Festival, and Hillside Festival.

Living Hour

Everything about Winnipeg’s Living Hour has been expanding since their humble basement beginnings in 2015. What started with dreamy love songs inspired by the cinematic sky of their hometown has transformed into even more sprawling and expansive expressions on their latest effort, Softer Faces. What started as a quartet is now a quintet, though still led by the smoky, ethereal lead vocals of Sam Sarty (vocals, trombone, keyboard), who started singing in choirs at a young age. With her strong vocal backbone, musicians Gil Carroll (guitar), Adam Soloway (guitar, vocals), Alex Chochinov (drums, trumpet, organelle), and Brett Ticzon (bass, vocals) are able to shine. Three voices, guitar, trombone, brushed percussion, and boundless effects sees Living Hour pulling from many genres to create their own sonically diverse and unique vibe.


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Roman Clarke

Roman Clarke takes gospel harmony, modern R&B, and the charm of the 1970s and rolls it all into a flavour that is well-suited to his inherently nostalgic generation. The songs come across with the sort of oblivious cheekiness and optimistic energy that is unique to twenty-somethings. His particular shade of keyboard heavy, groove based pop, blends influences as diverse as Vulfpeck and D’Angelo. What he’s offering doesn’t surface often in the musical landscape of rural Manitoba, and tends to illicit comparisons to a similarly talented multi-instrumentalist prairie-born artist, Remy Shand. Not unlike Remy, Roman is a one person wrecking machine — writing, producing, and playing all of the instruments.


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I wanted to offer a little bit of a back story for the album cover I made. The album cover features a metal horse sculpture that is pieced together with random spare parts, scrap metal, and old tools. It was created by my dad, Cary Clarke, who is an incredible creative force. This horse sculpture is literally made of random pieces of metal that my dad had laying around his shop. He didn’t necessarily set out to make a beautiful piece of art, he just didn’t know what to do with all of these small, useless odds and ends. It is over five feet tall, and it lives outside in my parents garden. A bird made a nest in it’s chest cavity, and lays eggs there almost every year. My dad makes art when he doesn’t even mean to. It just comes out of him when the opportunity arises. That is an incredibly genuine way to express yourself, in my opinion, and I am proud to say that he has influenced how I create in a very profound way. I called the album SCORCHER after a motorcycle he made when I was a teenager. It is also made out of spare parts that were just lying around our yard: a couple old bicycles, a lawnmower with the blade missing, other odds and ends from broken pieces of machinery. It represents the same things the horse does, but SCORCHER is way cooler than METAL HORSE, so here is a picture of me, sitting on that cool ass bike! The album design is by @sketch.me.emily and the photo of the horse was taken by @visualsoulstudios

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Seanster and the Monsters

A child’s first concert is a magical time, and it’s with that in mind that Seanster and the Monsters aim to present a concert event that is fun and accessible for every member of the family. Drawing on years of experience performing for both children and adults, their live shows and their recordings are energetic, interactive and hilarious. Led by Sean Hogan, veteran children’s performer and honourable mention winner in the International Songwriting Competition, Seanster and the Monsters are a festival favourite across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Northwestern Ontario. With nominations for a Western Canadian Music Awards, an Independent Music Award, a win at the Parent’s Choice Awards, their 2014 debut full-length album, Yay! spans genres from folk to hip-hop, from rock to polka. Having been compared to “They Might be Giants meets The Muppets,” the Monsters mix comedy, melody, and groove to give families a shared experience that has something for everybody.


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Shanley Spence

Shanley Spence is a 26-year-old Nihithaw and Anishinaabe woman who was born and raised in Winnipeg, but a member of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation on her mother’s side and Lake St. Martin First Nation on her father’s. She began her hoop dancing career at the age of 13 and has performed at a variety of nationwide and international events. She has participated in multiple community organizations including mentorship and hoop dance instructing with the Sacred Seven Healthy Relationships Program, the City of Winnipeg, and the Manitoba Youth Centre. Her participation within her community has earned her a Top 40 Under 40 Manitoba Award, a Manitoba Aboriginal Youth Achievement Award for Artistic Performance, the community champion award for volunteerism, the Anita Neville Member of Parliament Award, second runner up for Miss Indian World 2017 and other recognition from her community.

Taylor Janzen

With deeply personal lyrics softly layered over a minimalistic and slow-building guitar riff, 19-year-old Winnipeg artist, Taylor Janzen’s Stations is an honest and raw effort that aims to break the silence about abuse. It’s a stunning first taste of her EP, Interpersonal.

“I wrote Stations in my room when I was 17 about the isolating and complicated feelings when one experiences psychological abuse from a loved one, regardless of the nature of their relationship. I think it was my attempt at breaking silence in a way that I previously didn’t think I could. I almost don’t really remember writing it because I kinda just emotionally puked it out, but decided early on it would be the perfect song to debut from the EP in hopes that someone may feel some solidarity through shared experience.”

Growing up, Taylor had a religious upbringing in a small town outside of Winnipeg, attending a small school up until graduation. Her family and friends and those around her never talked to one another about difficult things they were experiencing in life, and if they ever needed help, they turned to religion for answers.

Unable to talk through her issues in mental health, Taylor turned to songwriting as an outlet and, as a result, with each song on Interpersonal we’re granted an intimate and almost painstakingly brazen glimpse into the most heart wrenching pages of her diary. She writes candidly, musing that “the music that I write is very honest, so it speaks for itself.”

William Prince

Recently signed to Glassnote Records, William Prince is a JUNO Award-winning singer-songwriter whose music is full of emotionally-charged experiences that linger in memories. Raised on the Peguis First Nation of Manitoba, William has been honing his craft since the age of nine when he first picked up the guitar and piano. His biggest inspirations include Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Charley Pride, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and most significantly, his preacher and musician father.


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Happy birthday, Kris Kristofferson. #ThePilgrim #HappyBirthday #KrisKristofferson

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Local artists Andrina Turenne, Two Crows For Comfort and Olivia Lunny (as seen on CTV’s The Launch!) will also participate in various workshops throughout the festival.

For more information about Winnipeg Folk Fest and the complete lineup, visit winnipegfolkfestival.ca.

Banner photo: Jenn Kostesky

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