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Inaugural Calgary roots music festival launches

By Jason Herring, October 13 2015 —

A new festival is hitting the Calgary music scene as the Wide Cut Weekend roots festival launches at various downtown Calgary venues from Oct. 15–17.

The festival showcases roots music from artists across the province. According to the Wide Cut Weekend website, roots music is “music that lies at the ‘root’ of contemporary North American pop and rock” and encompasses genres like Americana, bluegrass, folk and country.

Artistic director Allison Brock hosted the popular Wide Cut Country radio show on Edmonton’s CKUA for over 15 years. She says she’s wanted to start a roots festival for a long time, but wasn’t able to get it running until now.

“We’ve been working on the festival for about a year and a half. We formalized the idea about a year ago at the Calgary Folk Fest in the green room,” Brock says. “Three friends accosted me when I went into the green room and said, ‘we wanna do a roots music festival and we want you to be the artistic director.’”

The inaugural festival focuses exclusively on talent found within the province, with acts like Crystal Plamondon, Tom Phillips and Scott
MacLeod headlining. Brock explains that the local focus allows the festival to showcase the province’s musical roots, but says there’s no shortage of talent on display.

“The vision was ultimately to showcase what amazing talent we have in this province,” Brock says. “And with our artists, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. It’s a pretty serious lineup.”

Tom Phillips is performing at Wide Cut Weekend. // Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips is performing at Wide Cut Weekend. // Tom Phillips

But as Brock turns her focus to future iterations of Wide Cut Weekend, she envisions the scope of the festival increasing.

“Ultimately, I think there’s a lot of room to grow — to increase venue size and to look outside the province to Western Canada, to national and international artists,” she says. “There’s even been ideas to have satellite communities having the festival at the same time as Calgary, in Lethbridge or Edmonton or Red Deer. There’s a lot of potential for growth out there and we’ve received such amazing feedback that we definitely want to keep it going.”

Aside from the artists themselves, Brock says a focus of the festival is highlighting venues in the city that stage roots music throughout the year. During the weekend, bands will play at Wine-Ohs, Ironwood Stage & Grill, Mikey’s Juke Joint, the Nite Owl and the #1 Legion.

The festival is also running a ‘bass bus’ that will operate throughout the weekend, driving between the venues and making it easy to move between concerts.

Wide Cut Weekend begins at Wine-Ohs on Oct. 15, where festival performers will play throughout the evening. If you’re not already a fan of roots music, Brock says the weekend is the best place to familiarize yourself with the scene.

“If you’re not aware of what the roots music scene is like in Alberta, you can come to any venue on either night and you’re going to get a really good taste,” she says.

Wide Cut Weekend runs from Oct. 15–17 in five downtown Calgary venues. Festival passes are $49 online or from Heritage Posters and Music. Individual day passes are $25 for Friday and $30 for Saturday.

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