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Miranda Krogstad

Don’t miss these artists at the 2016 Calgary Folk Music Festival

July 21, 2016 —

The Calgary Folk Music Festival — known for its hippie vibes and diverse folk lineup — will fill the Calgary summer air with tunes from July 21–24.

With 69 artists hailing from 15 countries, artistic director Kerry Clarke says the festival has a lot in store.

“We have a lot of diversity in the musical styles and genres that we book and there’s lots of music for all kinds of different tastes,” Clarke says.

Local and international artists will take the stage over the four-day festival to cram as many creative and collaborative grooves as possible into Calgarian ears.

“We are always trying to evolve the festival in every way, including the lineup. I think it stacks up well,” Clarke says. “We have a good thing going.”

With so many artists playing during the festival, we decided to share our favourites to help decide where to park your picnic blanket. Here are four artists the Gauntlet recommends you check out at this year’s Calgary Folk Music Festival.



When: Friday, July 22 at 4:30 p.m. and 8:55 p.m.

Where: Stage 4 and Mainstage

Courtesy Whitehorse

Courtesy Whitehorse

I first saw Whitehorse at Folk Fest back in 2014 and was thrilled to see their name on the roster again this year.

The husband-wife duo is a staple of Canadian music circuits and has made an impact particularly in the folk scene with their stunning harmonies and use of loop pedals.

Layering vocals with soft keys, guitar, drums and other creative sounds, you would never guess that the full and smooth instrumentals could come from just two musicians.

Their songs perfectly reflect the laid-back and spectacular vibe of Folk Fest itself.

Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland are not to be missed, as they are a band that reminds me of the festival’s charm and why it’s worth returning each year.

Miranda Krogstad


Courtesy Man Alive!

Courtesy Man Alive!

Bonnie Prince Billy + Bitching Bajas:

When: Saturday, July 23 at 1:50 p.m. and 7:35 p.m. and Sunday July 24 at 11:25 a.m.

Where: Stage 6, Mainstage and Stage 4

Will Oldham’s output under the moniker Bonnie Prince Billy is nothing short of prolific since he began using the name in 1998.

His blend of alt-country and Americana produced some of contemporary folk’s most affecting and sad music, like on the classic album I See a Darkness.

But Oldham’s performance at this year’s Folk Fest will take on a more uplifting tone, as he collaborates with Bitching Bajas, a band focused on creating droning ambient landscapes from sound.

Their collaborative album was full of enrapturing jams, propped up by Oldham repeating hollow mantras like “your hard work is going to pay off” over and over. It’s a strange combination, but one that seems perfect for a meditative and compelling set.

Jason Herring





José González:

When: Saturday, July 23 at 10:20 p.m.

Courtesy Malin Johansson

Courtesy Malin Johansson

Where: Mainstage

I’ve listened to José González for well over a year without realizing it. His cover of “Heartbeats” always stuck out as one of my favourite tracks on a random Apple Music playlist in my morning rotation, but I never took the time to notice who was singing it. After realizing who the artist was and delving further into his discography, I found song after song I know from somewhere or other but never could put a name to. Now that I have that name, I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to experience those calming earworms live.

The Swedish-born González headlines Saturday, taking the mainstage at 10:20 p.m. After three jam-packed days of Folk Fest, González’s mellow and delicate melodies will be the perfect soundtrack for a glorious night under the stars. I look forward to stretching out on a soft blanket and letting González’s calm tunes encompass my senses.

Melanie Woods


Emilie & Ogden:

Courtesy Melissa Gamache

Courtesy Melissa Gamache

When: Saturday, July 23 at 10:30 a.m., 12:55 p.m. and 2:20 p.m.

Where: Stage 1

Emilie & Ogden is the kind of indie folk to curl up and listen to on a rainy day, making it the perfect act to catch in between high-energy sets at this year’s Folk Fest.

The act derives its name from Montreal-based vocalist Emilie Kahn and her accompanying harp, ‘Ogden.’

The serendipity of the act’s name matches the whim of their sound. Kahn’s jazzy vocals pair well with the sleepy notes of her harp, which, like its personified name, has a unique quality. Together, the two produce the kind of low-key melodies you might listen to before bed.

Emilie & Ogden’s chill vibes makes it an ideal transitory set at Folk Fest. You might catch yourself daydreaming while wrapped up in the pair’s romantic lyricism — but that’s all part of the charm.

Emilie Medland-Marchen


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