More than 150 artists on seven stages
By NORM NELSON – Local music lovers are in for a treat over the upcoming Family Day holiday weekend as the annual Winterfolk music festival will once again take over the western end of the Danforth.
More than 150 artists are slated to perform on seven stages located in six different venues from Friday, February 18 right through to Monday, Feb. 21.
Venues include Black Swan Tavern (two stages), Mambo Lounge, Dora Keogh, Terri O's Sports Bar, Eastminster United Church and Danforth Baptist Church. Toronto Community News and The Mirror are an official sponsor.
With the festival run on a not-for-profit basis, volunteers and sponsors are also always welcome.
Best of all, the lion's share of it is free. There's only one paid segment at one of the venues on Saturday night, and even that one's a token $15 (and cheaper if you purchase tickets in advance).
Being a roots festival, you can expect a wide range of styles including folk, blues, jazz, rock, pop, world, and even a specific session entitled 'Put Some Afro in Your Roots'.
Not only does the festival tap into the city's own vibrant roots community (which is particularly well represented in the east Toronto neighbourhoods surrounding the Danforth) but also features a representation from throughout the province and the country.
Fans of the local music scene will have no problem recognizing a multitude of artists including the Porkbelly Futures, which have carried on after the untimely death of their leader Paul Quarrington, the Gary Kendall Band, Mose Scarlett, Hotcha, Eve Goldberg, Joanne Crabtree, the DoneFors and Tony Quarrington, just to name a few.
The festival is the brainchild of Brian Gladstone, himself a noted Toronto roots musician who will also perform at the festival.
His idea was to bring a roots festival, typically held in rural areas over the summer, to Toronto in the winter.
That way, Toronto music fans would get a chance to take in a music festival mere footsteps from a subway stop (Broadview or Chester), while Toronto musicians, who are normally busier in the warmer months on the festival circuit, would get a chance to perform in their home city during a traditional down time.
In keeping with the spirit of a typical roots festival, Winterfolk also provides some creative on-stage workshops led by the musicians. A few examples include the art of improvisation; blues songwriting; women with words; Irish song circle; and writing music for theatre.
It also shines the spotlight on the local music scene, promoting both well established musical institutions as well as up-and-coming musicians, through such presentations as:
* Toronto Fingerstyle Guitar: with host Dunstan Morey presenting artists from its bi-weekly open stage at Ten Feet Tall on the Danforth;
* Seneca College independent music program: with host and instructor John Switzer;
* Ukulele Speakeasy: with host Bob Cutler and members of the Corktown Ukulele Jam;
* Stouffville Artists Showcase: with host Jim Priebe;
* and Best of Ten Feet Tall Open Stage: with host Gary 17.
Check out the Winterfolk website at http://www.abetterworld.ca (click on winterfolk).