American indie star Lucy Dacus, acclaimed Winnipeg singer-songwriter William Prince, old-time country and blues performer Amythyst Kiah, gospel-folk duo Birds of Chicago and Calgary’s Copperhead are among the artists who will offer exclusive online performances as part of The Calgary Folk Music Festival’s CFMF at Home lineup.
The program, which will run July 23 to 26, will feature 18 performers from around the world. Of those, 12 were already booked for the annual folk festival, which was to run the same weekend at Prince’s Island Park but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So while viewers may mostly be watching from their own home, performances will be beamed in from around the globe. Electronica-folk act Mexican Institute of Sound is coming from Mexico; roots collective Lakou Mizik will be performing in Haiti and Afro-Brazilian jazz and R&B artist Xenia Franca is based in Bahia. CFMF At Home will be operating at a significantly lower budget than the actual festival, which means this year’s highly anticipated headliners The National, among others, were financially out-of-reach for the event. But artistic director Kerry Clarke says the lineup reflects the festival’s usual depth and diversity.
“What I’m excited about is that it’s in line with what we always offer with programming,” says Clarke. “We always have local artists and artists from across Canada and around the world. It’s like the festival. It’s a mixed bag, you’ll get three different artists in each little section and you’re getting a variety from around the world.”
As with the festival’s six-week Virtually Live program, which presented exclusive online concerts from two performers every Thursday, the performances will be streamed on a Zoom-like platform. Viewers will be required to purchase pay-what-you-can tickets, with the suggested amount being $10 to $15, Clarke says.
The festival is also encouraging “grassroots gatherings” around the city and beyond to view the weekend’s concerts. Fans are encouraged to safely hold gatherings with friends and family and decorate their backyards and neighbourhoods in typical folk-fest fashion with tarps. CKUA and CJSW Radio will be broadcasting archival and current CFMF music, interviews and concerts.
Other acts scheduled for CFMF at Home include Toronto blues-jazz singer-songwriter Angelique Francis, Montreal R&B singer Bobby Bazini, Lethbridge-based roots-country singer Corb Lund, Edmonton cow-punk icons Jr. Gone Wild, Montreal cabaret-pop outfit Patrick Watson, Vancouver indie duo Lightning Dust, Kootenay roots duo Moontricks, Montreal-based Haitian Afrobeat performer Vox Sambou, East Coast folkies Villages and Tataskweyak Cree hip-hop artist Sebastian Gaskin.
Thanks to the Virtually Live concert series and other online initiatives, the folk festival has become well-versed in offering digital events. Clarke says the idea is to make the weekend as close to the folk fest experience as possible using technology. She said part of the success of Virtually Live was due to its communal and experiential nature.
“You can see people watching, people can interact with each other, you can interact with the artists,” she says. “We have the ability with the platform to open it up and see everyone clap. You could see people watching in living rooms and in backyards and kids and pets. It was so cool.”
For the full lineup, schedules and pay-what-you-can tickets, visit calgaryfolkfest.com