Jan 28 2003

Festival To Chase Off Winter Chill

   Jan 30, 2003

Festival to Chase Off Winter's Chill

First Winterfest debuts tomorrow Roster includes folksy who's-who

Copyright 2003 Toronto Star, All Rights Reserved.Jan 30, 2003 "When we did our last CD release concert at Hugh's Room a few months back, Brian Gladstone approached us with this idea about a giant acoustic music festival in downtown Toronto in the middle of winter," says local singer/songwriter Ember Swift."It sounded okay to me. I mean, there are so many roots artists playing in and around Toronto, but the work is scattered and you never really know in advance what's going on. "Besides, everyone's so busy hustling their own acts … you hardly ever get a chance to see other players, or share stages with them." Swift, with seven independent albums to her credit, including the recent Stiltwalking (available at www.emberswift.com), is no stranger to folk festivals. She's about to embark on her fourth tour of Australia in half as many years, playing at several large outdoor events in March and April, and is quickly winning hearts with her punk-tinged jazz-pop songs at festivals across North America. But like others in the folk community, she had doubts that Gladstone, a champion finger-picker and an earnest songwriter, could pull off a 100-act, three-day event in Toronto in January, when most performers are either on the road in warmer climes, or hibernating and woodshedding in preparation for the 100 or more acoustic music festivals that fill the Canadian summer. "He's a really persistent guy," Swift continues. "It looks as if he has pulled it off." In Brian Gladstone's world, there's no such thing as a missed opportunity. Winterfolk, the festival he has been planning for the past two years, kicks off tomorrow night at five clubs within walking distance of each other in the College and Spadina Aves. district- El Mocambo, Rancho Relaxo, The Comfort Zone, Oasis, The Silver Dollar- and will conclude Sunday with an all-day event at UofT's Convocation Hall. The roster is enormous, considering Winterfolk is a new starter on the festival agenda. More than 100 acts have signed on, most of them Canadian artists, most of them local- Swift, Ron Nigrini, Brent Titcomb, Bill Colgate, Bob Snider, Dennis O'Toole, Ian Tamblyn, Jory Nash, Marianne Girard, Melwood Cutlery, Norm Hacking, Terry Tufts among them- with a couple of veteran U.S. folk artists- Tom Rush and Josh White Jr. to round things out. "If no one's knocking, you've got to build a door," is one of many aphorisms that pepper Gladstone's conversation. "Unless you're part of that very close circle of people who make it onto the summer festival circuit every year, it's hard to find decent places to play in Toronto. "And if city folk want to see roots artists in a festival setting, they have to wait for the summer and drive way out into the country. Winterfolk is the first festival to bring so many artists together in one downtown neighbourhood at the time of year when people are going stir crazy." A designer of electrical transformers and sound reinforcement equipment by day- "the work has financed my music for 25 years," he says- Gladstone has recorded three albums since 1999 (check out www.backtothedirt.com). He's particularly proud of the fact that Winterfolk exists without government grants and tax dollar assistance of any kind, and that it's predominantly a celebration of homegrown talent. He expects the event will clear its financial obligations after 1,500 weekend passes are sold at $35 plus tax apiece. Day passes ($15 tomorrow and $20 Saturday and Sunday) are also available at the venues and through Ticketmaster (check local listings or www.winterfolk.com for the schedule). Children under 12 are admitted free, and there's an "all ages" permit at three venues- Comfort Zone, Convocation Hall and, until 9 p.m., Rancho Relaxo- which means no liquor, wine or beer will be sold. "We've had help from other festival organizers, particularly Northern Lights in Sudbury, and from the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals," Gladstone adds. "But basically this thing has come together one brick at a time. "You just keep moving your brush till the picture tells a story." TREVOR MILLS RELEASE Another story worthy of attention is the CD release party tomorrow at Hugh's Room for Trevor Mills's debut solo effort, Karaoke Cowboy. Trevor's the bass-playing, songwriting son of elder folk statesman Paul Mills. A fine picker- he's known in the trade as Curly Boy Stubbs- Paul now runs his own studio, The Millstream, where many fine roots and folk recordings have emerged in the past five years, including his son's. Expect tomorrow's gig to be a gathering of intergenerational folk music families- on stage and off.What: Winterfolk festival When: Tomorrow to Sun., Feb. 2 Where: Oasis, Rancho Relaxo, El Mocambo, Comfort Zone, The Silver Dollar, Convocation Hall Tickets: Weekend pass $35 plus tax @ 416-870-800

Festival to chase off winter's chill
First Winterfest debuts tomorrow Roster includes folksy who's-who
[Ontario Edition]
Toronto Star – Toronto, Ont.
Date: Jan 30, 2003
Start Page: K.03
Section: ENTERTAINMENT
Text Word Count: 814
 0 or at the door. Day passes $15 Friday, $20 Saturday and Sunday.   

[Illustration]
Caption: Singer/songwriter Ember Swift, who is winning hearts with her punk-tinged jazz-pop songs, performs at Winterfolk this week.
Ember Swift

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