Winnipeg Folk Festival: A look at the Indigenous Talent

Thanks to its consistently stellar lineups, the Winnipeg Folk Festival has long been one of the ultimate summer music experiences in all of Canada. And with artists like A Tribe Called Red, Bahamas, Courtney Barnett, Donovan Woods, Passenger, The Strumbellas, Too Many Zooz and Sheryl Crow, the 2018 edition should be no different.

But what truly sets the festival apart isn’t so much the big names, but its rich history of musical storytelling. Through its curated collaborations and workshops, Winnipeg Folk Fest puts together a program that is culturally relevant, refreshingly diverse and flat-out entertaining. It also places a deliberate emphasis on Indigenous artists, both local and international.

Over the years, the festival has hosted sessions like Native North America: A Selection of Musical Trailblazers on Stage, which showcased a handful of Indigenous artists who were overlooked in the prime of their careers and went on to be featured on the 2014 release of Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock and Country 1966-1985.

Then there was last year, when the festival combined bone-rattling drum beats from DJ Shub and contemporary cello music from Cris Derksen with Native American hoop dancing – reminding us that technology and tradition are not mutually exclusive.

With workshops like Niigaan Inaabin (Looking Ahead)I Won’t Back Down and ᐊᐱᒋ ᑕ ᐅᓂᔑᔑᐣ ᐅᐁ· ᑕᔑᑫᐏᐣ, this year promises to be just as memorable.

Niigaan Inaabin, slated for the afternoon of July 6, features experimental Alberta outfit nêhiyawak, Australian treasure Archie Roach and local singer-songwriter Leonard Sumner. I Won’t Back Down (July 7), one of several workshops dedicated to the late Tom Petty, showcases Sumner alongside Las Cafeteras and Gordon Grdina’s Haram, while ᐊᐱᒋ ᑕ ᐅᓂᔑᔑᐣ ᐅᐁ· ᑕᔑᑫᐏᐣ (July 8) fuses the sounds of A Tribe Called Red, Las Cafeteras and nêhiyawak.

In addition to their workshop sets, A Tribe Called Red, Archie Roach, Leonard Sumner, Las Cafeteras and nêhiyawak will all have their own sets throughout the weekend.

The 2018 Winnipeg Folk Festival runs from July 5-8. For the full list of performers and schedules, visit Winnipeg Folk Fest online

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