NORM NELSON | Feb 05, 2009 – 1:49 PM The seventh annual Winterfolk music festival, which runs next weekend at four Danforth establishments between Broadview and Chester subway stops affords a great chance for local roots music fans to beat both the February blahs and the recession blues. About 100 artists will perform throughout the weekend, which runs Friday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday, Feb. 14, 2 p.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 15, 2 to 7 p.m. They'll perform on six stages in the four Danforth establishments – The Black Swan Tavern (two rooms), The Willow Restaurant (two rooms),Dora Keogh and Mambo Restaurant. The entire weekend is free except for the Saturday night show on the second floor of the Black Swan Tavern. And even that one will only cost $10 at the door and only $5 in advance. Keeping it free this year, given the economy, has been a challenge, conceded festival founder and director Brian Gladstone, who is very well known in the local roots scene, both as a noted folk fingerpicker and songwriter as well as a tireless promoter of the local roots scene. The usual government arts grants have dried up in the recession, leaving his non profit Association of Artists for A Better World, which runs Winterfolk, to pick up the slack.
Two fundraisers – held last month at Hugh's Room and another at Moonshine Cafe in December – have helped the cause. Patrons and supporters can also help with what Gladstone feels is an unobtrusive voluntary donation system. Instead of asking people for donations at every performance or having volunteers bug people for repeated requests for donations, people can just make a one-time contribution if it's within their means for a Winterfolk support button. Also down a bit at this point, said Gladstone, is the number of volunteers, something he also thought might be attributed to the recession. Anyone who wishes to help out with this event is more than encouraged to fill out the forms on the Winterfolk website. The Winterfolk website is a good one and easy to navigate.
To volunteer or to just peruse artists, schedules and locations, log on to www.abetterworld.ca The 100 or so performers, mostly local, who will appear at Winterfolk include a Who's Who of the local roots scene, so festival founder and director Brian Gladstone, was understandably hesitant to single out marquee names. He did let on, however, that one combination, which particularly excited him was Mose Scarlett with Tony Quarrington, "a bunch of veterans." At the other end of the spectrum, he said, "we've always sought emerging and new talent." "I'll give you an example. Serena Ryder (who received Juno nominations this week for best artist and alternative adult album) we had her in Winterfolk One. I hired her when she was 17. We've had a number of success stories." This year, he said, Winterfolk is excited to present "a young lady named Ariana Gillis…She's got the talent, she's got the stage energy, the charisma, she has all the pieces in place."