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Calgary Folk Fest launches new winter music festival

By Jarrett Edmund, February 9 2016 —

The community of Inglewood will soon have one more festival to add to its impressive repertoire. The inaugural Block Heater Festival is making its way to the newly dubbed Music Mile on 9 Ave. SE from Feb. 12–14. Debbie Salmonson, executive director of both Block Heater and the Calgary Folk Music Festival, is thrilled.

“We’re launching what we’re calling a ‘winter music extravaganza’ over three days at three separate venues in the beautiful community of Inglewood,” Salmonson says.

Twenty national and international artists are playing at the Ironwood Stage and Grill, Lantern Church and Festival Hall. Unlike Folk Fest’s main festival, music is spread among different indoor venues — much more fitting for the winter weather.

“This is different than our summer festival,” Salmonson says. “It’s much smaller, but may grow through the years.”

Salmonson thinks the festival will retain much of the flavour that has characterized Calgary Folk Fest over its 36-year existence. In addition to being accessible for all ages, a few other Folk Fest staples are present.

“We have collaborative workshops on Saturday, which are more of a festival tradition. Artists from different bands all play together on one stage,” Salmonson says. “And several local
merchants are providing festival goers with a pass for 10 per cent off at their restaurants and stores, so we’re hoping people will wander around.”

Among the headliners taking the stage during Block Heater are Halifax folk songwriter Jenn Grant, Australian roots guitarist Jeff Lang and West Coast alt-country mainstay Elliott Brood.

As the National Music Centre on 9 Ave. SE nears completion, Salmonson feels a cohesive musical community is taking shape in Calgary.

“The music scene is quite wonderful and dynamic. There are many great Calgarian and Albertan musicians. I think it’s wonderful that unique venues are opening up to having [live] music.”

According to Salmonson, the reception for Block Heater has already been overwhelming.

“In hindsight we should’ve added a couple more venues and expanded, given its popularity,” she says.

Tickets for Block Heater are nearly sold out, but Salmonson says the festival will be back next year.

“This is our inaugural year, so we’ll be interested in feedback from people. And who knows? Next year it might expand a bit.”

For more information on Block Heater Festival, visit calgaryfolkfest.com.

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