EDGE YK FOTR Final web (PDF)

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folk on
rocks g the
FOTR 2013 | FREE


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Official folk
on the rocks
on page 13


special issue

Laurie Sarkadi


Photo Editor

Pat Kane

Front EDGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5


Janet Pacey

Ad Design

Erin Mohr


Jeremy Bird


Brent Reaney


Dave Brosha
Norm Glowach
Pat Kane
Doug Liddle
Francois Rossouw
Laurie Sarkadi

Official Folk on the Rocks Festival Program. . . . . . . 13
Yellowknife's Music Scene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
A Brief History of Folk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
A Love Letter to FOTR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Heart Beat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54

This FOTR edition of Edge YK is available at:
Black Knight Pub

Originals by T-Bo

Coyote’s Steakhouse and Bar

Overlander Sports

Dancing Moose Cafe


Down to Earth Gallery

Smokehouse Cafe

The Fieldhouse

The Wildcat Cafe

Gallery of the Midnight Sun

Weaver & Devore

Gourmet Cup

Yellowknife Airport


Yellowknife Co-op

The Multiplex

Northern Images

as well as many other businesses
And online at edgeyk.ca,
and at the Festival!


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Cover photo
by Francois Rossouw
from Folk on the Rocks

Work in Progress: Godson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

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All rights reserved.
ISSN 1927-7016 (Print)
ISSN 1927-7024 (Online)

EDGE YK Folk Factoids. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

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front edge

Rockin’ with Folks Matters
My oldest son, just home from college, spotted his autographed Liquid Eyez CD in an old shoebox. Ecstatic, he
popped it into our aging Technics player and started rapping ‘Bounce’ with Yellowknife’s Godson. “Yah,” he
smiled, head bobbing. “Old School.”
All three sons grew up with Godson’s hip hop, which came to life in thrilling, main-stage performances at Folk on
the Rocks. It doesn’t get much better than that, dancing in the sand with throngs of people to songs about where
you live, X1A, then taking in the spectacle of international and southern imports playing folk, calypso, rock, punk…
such is the diversity of the festival. For children especially, live music exposes them to the magic of performance,
and the possibility that one day, they too might take to the stage.
Folk on the Rocks has nurtured northern talent for 33 years – Juno-award-winning Leela Gilday of Yellowknife was
just eight the first time she sang at the festival, accompanied by her iconic musical father Bill – but it also exposes
musicians from around the world to the thunderous beats of Dene drummers, the cool vibe of Digawolf singing in
his Tlicho language, the trancey, guttural chants of Inuit throatsingers. These performances are the backbone of a
festival renowned for its great music, spectacular lakeside setting, and 300 of the friendliest volunteers you’ll ever
But don’t take my word for it. Vancouver rocker Doug Liddle’s poignant “Love Letter to Folk on the Rocks” (see
page 51), which he wrote after performing with Swank in 2009, proves the festival is one potent experience. For
a glimpse into what’s happening the other 362 days of the year, I canvassed city musicians to get their take on
Yellowknife’s music scene, and Pat Kane will catch you up on the festival’s history. Most importantly, this special
edition of EDGE YK includes the festival’s program.
We’re counting on you to pack this issue along with your sunscreen and blanket when you head to Long Lake for
the music. Represent, Yellowknife!

Laurie Sarkadi

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If you have questions on sex
or relationships, we can help.



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Got Questions?
We’ve got answers.

English and French Immersion
Kindergarten registrations are being
accepted at École St. Joseph and
Weledeh Catholic School for 2013-2014

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EDGE YK Folk Factoids
In the mid-1980’s, the Children’s
Area had its own beer garden The Root Beer Garden.
The first FOTR was supposed to
launch in 1979, but was delayed a
year to get finances and plans in
order. Several promotional jacket
buttons were made for a festival
that never happened. Some
Yellowknifers still claim to have
them stashed away.

Last year was FOTR’s most
successful year for ticket
sales, with more than 5,600

FOTR was originally inspired
by, and based on, the nowdefunct Farrago Folk Festival
in Faro, Yukon.
The FOTR site is
administered by the City
of Yellowknife but is the
traditional land of the
Yellowknives Dene First

Food vendors ran
out of food on the
opening day in
No cameras or recorders of any
kind were allowed on FOTR
property in 1994 with the exception
of CBC Winnipeg and Television
Northern Communications (TVNC).

In 2010, Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor
of Blue Rodeo were the first and only
musicians to request a Green Room
(preparation area) as part of their
contract. FOTR staff erected a tee-pee
behind Mainstage for the duo. Rumour
has it, they kicked out Buffy SainteMarie when it was discovered she was
using it to prepare for her own sets, as
well. Again, just a rumour.

Early FOTR festivals had a women’s
festival area (and concert) that
showcased female musicians,
performers, artists and theatre
workshops, as well as an exhibit
called “herstory” that featured
women’s achievements in the North.
The iconic FOTR owl, the official
emblem, was designed by Paulatuk
artist Abraham Anghik Ruben, and
was on the cover of the 1980 festival
program. Since then, the owl has
appeared in Folk merchandise sporadically.
It was excluded from the festival in 1981, 1985, 1987
and 1988. Four different versions of the owl have
been used throughout FOTR history.

In 1982, organizers had a
No-Beer Garden, which
lasted only one festival.


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The Mainstage was designed
and built in 1998 for $90,000.

photo FOTR/Pablo Saravanja

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In 1989, a group of
skydivers surprised
the crowd by
parachuting over
the FOTR site.

Like our FB page for
promos and the latest styles

0004-699 NWT FILM CoMMIssIoN - HaLF page Hz. - 7.1” x 4.7784” - 4 CoLour - MU1


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For more inFormation about FunDinG anD otHer SuPPort ProGramS For nWt FiLmmaKerS
contact tHe oFFice oF tHe nWt FiLm commiSSion.
e. nWtFiLm@Gov.nt.ca | P. 867.920.8793


Photos CoURtEsY oF PAt KANE Photo


work in progress

Aaron “Godson” Hernandez



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Aaron “Godson” Hernandez has been a
fixture on Yellowknife’s music scene for 18
years, dropping beats and profanity-free
lyrics that touch on the unique highs and
lows of northern living. Rapping messages
about drinking and driving and other social
issues, Godson has been elevated from
hip hop artist to northern youth mentor
and ambassador, earning the Queen’s
Diamond Jubilee Medal this year. With 10
CD releases, TV appearances on Canadian
Idol and Dragon’s Den, and guaranteed
packed dance floors wherever he goes,
Godson shares his unique perspective on
Yellowknife’s musical community through an
email with EDGE YK.

photo Dave Brosha, courtesy Godson

A chat with YK’s homegrown hip-hop master

Edge YK: For a city its size, how do you rank
Yellowknife's live music scene?

Is it possible to make a living strictly with music in

Godson: For a city our size, the amount of talent is tremendous.
Yellowknife thrives in having great bands and artists from every type
of genre. As for as the actual "live" scene, we go through our ups
and downs.
Our summers are filled with endless opportunity to catch great live
bands and shows. There's never a dull moment. It seems during
our winter months, the pace slows down and you don't get too
many live events on the go. There are however a lot of jam nights
at bars and coffee houses to fill your cravings. Other than that, you
don't see a whole lot of live events or concerts like we used to have
years ago. It's not a fault of the artists or the establishments. I think
it's just the part of a cycle we go through, and I'm sure we are on
the upswing once again.

What does Yellowknife do well?
Godson: The great thing about our city music landscape is we are
all in this together. You see a certain bond out there between all
of us. We seem to have a certain respect for each other. It's not a
competition. We all know in order for our music scene to survive
we have to help each other out. Now with Music NWT established,
it's giving more opportunities and guidance for a lot of new artists.

What is it lacking?
Godson: Where I find we are lacking is the decline of "big name"
concerts in our city. I know it seems odd that I say that, being a local
artist, but having the big names up here gives huge opportunities
for local bands to open up for them or play alongside them and
learn from them. It creates excitement both for the artists and
concertgoers. It's a great way to get your name out there to ones
who may not have been able to see you in the first place. These
concerts are heavily attended by us YK’ers because it's a big event
and because of that, your name becomes established too. I got
my big break in town by opening up for Great Big Sea when they
came up, which exposed a whole new audience to my music.

Do you still have your recording studio and
Godson: I have a studio that I carry around with me all the time.
We've gotten to the point where all you need is a computer and a
microphone. I do a lot of workshops in the northern communities,
teaching the kids how to write and perform hip hop in a positive
way. I bring my "studio" with me and they all get a chance to
record too!

Godson: Yes and no. I'll word it this way; you can make a living out
of music "based" in Yellowknife, but to do it all in Yellowknife, I'm
gonna say no. Let me tell ya, I took the leap almost two years ago to
do music full time and I did it for a year. It was great, it was fun and
financially I got by, however, most of the gigs took place outside of
Yellowknife. I'm sure any other established touring Yellowknifer can
tell you the same thing.
There's only so many times you can perform in Yellowknife before
you water yourself down to the local audience. This is why I may
only perform once or twice a year here in my hometown. But I only
say this because I've been performing here for about 18 years. For
newer artists, I say play, play, play! Get your name out there.

What are you working on musically these days?
Godson: Musically, I'm starting to work on a new album. It's been
three years since my last so I hope to put out album number 11 later
this year. I've always had ideas floating around my head as to what
kind of approach I will have this time around. But I'll leave that as a
secret for now ;)

What would you say has been the highlight of your
musical career to date?
Godson: There have been so many. Each topping the last. But
by far the biggest highlight was receiving the Queen Elizabeth ll
Diamond Jubilee Medal this year. I got to fly to Ottawa to receive
this medal from the Governor General. Really put a stamp on the 18
years of hard work I put into this.

What are your thoughts on the importance of
having Folk on the Rocks in Yellowknife?
Godson: Folk on The Rocks is such a staple to our music scene. It
gives our city its own identity, which we can be proud of. It also lets
our musical community collaborate with some of the best from the
south. It really is the best thing about our music scene. I've been
involved in many aspects of it. As a performer, as an MC and even
as part of the selections committee.

Godson DJ’s every other Saturday night at Sam’s Monkey Tree in
Frame Lake. You can sample his music and videos at his website

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starts on page 13
EDGE YK returns
on page 34



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Your CBC.
Your North.
Your hosts.

Randy Henderson,

Rassi Nashalik,


CBC North

at 8 ET

at 7:30 ET

(5 PT / 6 MT)

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(4:30 PT / 5:30 MT)


Adult (19+): $80/day, $105/wknd
Youth (8-18)/Senior (60+): $48/day, $60/wknd

Gate tickets (July 20 - 21)

Adult (19+): $90/day, $120/wknd
Youth (8-18)/Senior (60+): $55/day, $70/wknd
(All prices include GST and handling fee)

Tickets available at

Fiddles & Stix, 5018-52nd St., Yellowknife
And online at folkontherocks.com

Rock the Folks
July 19

separate charges apply

Warm the Rocks
July 20
taking place at the festival

Festival Weekend
July 20-21


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Advance tickets (May 13 - July 19)

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Proud sponsor
of Folk on the Rocks
and proud of our
serious Yellowknife service

over 90% more! Now that’s convenient!




Complimentary Seat Selection
Sit where you like – at no additional charge.
We don’t think you should pay extra
to be comfortable!

Hungry? Hot meals or snacks are served on all
seriously northern hospitality.

Two Free Pieces
of Checked Luggage
Other airlines charge for a second bag –
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Reservations 1.800.661.1505 • canadiannorth.com

Canadian North



We offer more Yellowknife/Edmonton



More Scheduled Flights


Hello Folkers,

There are a few other people that we need to thank.
Pearl Rachinsky, Festival Coordinator, has both the left
brain capacity to manage performer accommodation
and travel, and the right brain ability to create this
year’s wonderful graphics. Keith MacNeill, Artistic
Coordinator, keeps our arts edge well managed and has

Welcome to the 2013 season of
Yellowknife’s Folks on the Rocks.
Our Government knows how important arts and
culture are to our society and our economy, and we
are proud to support this lively summer festival
taking place under the midnight sun. The approach
of Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017 is a great
opportunity to celebrate everything that makes this
country remarkable, including this unique outdoor
festival, which draws talent from the Northwest
Territories, Nunavut and around the world.
On behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and
the Government of Canada, I would like to
thank everyone who has worked so hard to
make this year’s Folks on the Rocks a success.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Folk on
the Rocks 2013. Have a fantastic weekend.
Thanks for coming.

Penny Ruvinsky
Executive Director
(Thanks Dan for herding cats)

Dan Round
(Thanks Penny for gluing it together)

Bienvenue au festival
Folks on the Rocks de Yellowknife 2013.
Notre gouvernement sait que les arts et la
culture sont importants pour notre société et notre
économie. Nous sommes fiers d’investir dans ce
dynamique festival d’été sous les étoiles. À l’approche
du 150e anniversaire du Canada, en 2017, le moment
est bien choisi pour célébrer tout ce qui fait du Canada
un pays remarquable, dont ce festival en plein air, qui
attire des artistes des Territoires du Nord-Ouest, du
Nunavut et d’ailleurs dans le monde.
Au nom du premier ministre Stephen Harper et du
gouvernement du Canada, je remercie tous ceux et
celles qui ont travaillé avec ardeur pour que le Folks
on the Rocks de cette année soit un succès.
The Honourable James Moore / L’honorable

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The Board of Directors of Folk on the Rocks works
throughout the year to brainstorm and develop the policy
and long term vision that helps create a solid, balanced
framework within which to thrive. As the festival gets
closer, the members of the board also act as team
captains for many of our volunteer areas. Thanks to Sarah
Elsasser, Byron Dolan, Breanna Bray, Caitlin McGurk,
David Wasylciw, Ashley Larmand, Michael Gannon,
William Greenland, and past directors Robert Andrews,
Michelle LeTourneau and Karen Lajoie.

a whole hearted enthusiasm thats provides a gentle male
presence in an almost totally female workplace (thanks to
all the MacNeill women for helping him hone those skills).
Courtney Holmes, Volunteer Coordinator extraordinaire,
managed to get all the volunteers in the same place, on
the same weekend, with the same intention of having a
great festival. Her quirky, thoughtful demeanor reminds
us, time and again, that nothing is worth losing your cool

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Welcome to the 33rd Folk on the Rocks Music Festival
and thank you all for your support. We could not do this
without you.

Proud supporters of the
2013 Folk on the Rocks!
Where the


Free SuperStart® breakfast • 100% Smoke-free • Free Wi-Fi
Fitness room • Business centre • In-room microwave/fridge, coffee
& hair dryer • Children 17 & under stay free w/adult • Pet friendly

TEL 873-8324

Super 8 Yellowknife

308 Old Airport Road • Yellowknife, NWT X1A 3G3
(867) 669-8888
Destination Super
SUPER8.COM | 1.800.800.8000 |


All Super 8 hotels are independently
owned and operated.

Make a Connection.

Proudly Connecting Our Community.

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Encore Sponsor of Folk on the Rocks 2013

Borderless Art Movement, Yellowknife, NT
Storytelling preserves history, passes on knowledge, and celebrates us and the world in which
we live. B.A.M! has a collaborative approach to storytelling using paint, music, movement,
and spoken word to tell northern stories in a spontaneous and dynamic format. This year,
B.A.M! is stoked to introduce their newest paint throwing, music jamming, heart thumping,
improvisational arctic adventure.

Digawolf, Yellowknife, NT
Digawolf, a passionate guitarist originally from Behchoko (Rae-Edzo), NT, plays and sings with
great respect for the land, the Tlicho culture and the elders. His dynamic, ethereal, emotional
music is inspired from the earth and the conflicts that arise from the evolution of his native
culture. Every song takes you on a ride across the Northern landscapes and into the hearts of its

Erebus & Terror, Yellowknife, NT
With their NWT roots, Erebus & Terror brew an upbeat and urgent sound with ballads seen
through the eyes of the northern young and hungry. After years of Snow Castle shows and
outdoor adventures under the midnight sun, E&T has a new spin on the evolution of northern


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Proud supporter of Folk on the Rocks
and musicians up North

Genticorum, Montreal, QC
The huge sound emanating from this trio features intricate fiddle and astute melodies, backed by
guitar, electric bass, and rich resonant three-part vocal harmony. Genticorm brings the music and
the audience together with their Quebec traditional music and celtic sound.

George Leach, Sta'atl'imx Nation, Lillioet, BC
This bright star of the Sta’atl’imx Nation from Lillioet, B.C., has earned his artistic integrity. His
debut album, Just Where I’m At (2000), garnered international recognition, establishing him as
a respected singer, songwriter, guitarist and performer, winning Best Male Artist and Best Rock
Album at the 2000 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. George’s passionate stage presence and
connection to the audience is unwaveringly sincere.

Grapes of Wrath, Kelowna, BC
Platinum-selling Canadian folk-rock trio The Grapes of Wrath return to Folk on the Rocks with
their new release “High Road”. High Road is the first album in 22 years to feature all three of the
band’s original members Kevin Kane, Tom Hooper and Chris Hooper.


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Groove‘n a Bucket, Yellowknife, NT
This unlikely gaggle of groovy super-space ‘gags’ters’ is here to take you on a journey of don’t
-look-down-in-case-you-get-dizzy sky-rocketing hi-jinx, loosen-your-pants belly poppin’ giggle
fests, and fasten-your-seat-belts extrrrrreme fun. With backgrounds in music, art, dance, improv,
theatre, and shennaniganistry, this trio proudly wields for you in their imaginary tutus and
trousseaus, all the colours of the rainbow and just maybe a pot of golden jellybeans too.

Gus and Pogo, Yellowknife, NT
Over the years you’ve likely seen Frosty Children’s Theatre on the snowy stages of the Snow
Castle with Oddy the Hare, The Ptarmigans, Bug Off and Gus and Pogo go to the Vet. This year
the Troupe performs Gus and Pogo go to the Vet at Folk on the Rocks. Find out how Gus, with the
help of his feline friend Pogo, conquers his fears!

Hayden, Toronto, ON
Having spent nearly two decades creating uniquely affecting music defined by deep personal
sentiment and attracting listeners across musical genres, Hayden now signs to Arts and Crafts for
the release of his seventh full-length record, Us Alone.


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We look forward to seeing you at
the Festival to enjoy the music and
share our message of Solidarity.
PSAC North continues to be a proud
sponsor of Folk on the Rocks
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See what local events are happening.
Take the opportunity to showcase
your event!

Refreshingly Loc

Why book a room, when you can rent a suite for the same price??

• Conveniently located in downtown
• 2 meeting rooms available to accomondate
meetings from 2-25 people
• Complimentary Wi-Fi and high speed internet
• Complimentary breakfast
Join Coast Rewards.
Earn points or Aeroplan miles!




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Hey Ocean, Vancouver, BC
Hey Ocean may be the quintessential West Coast band. Their roots, name and many of their lyrics
hark back to the Pacific shores they call home. However, over the last 6 years they have earned a
reputation as much more than just ambassadors of the Pacific Northwest. In the spirit of classic
pop, Hey Ocean! is refreshingly musical with compelling lyrics, beautiful harmonies and superb
musicianship at the front and center. www.loveheyocean.com/

Ilannaat, Rankin Inlet, NU
"Ilannaat", an Inuktitut term describing good friends, is a new throat-singing duet with an old
soul. Kathleen Merritt and Kerri Tattuinee are indeed good friends, who grew up together in the
tiny Arctic community of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Since the age of seven, they have been inspired
to learn the art and ancient practice of Inuit women’s throat-singing.

Jaffa Road, Toronto, ON
JUNO nominated (2010, 2013) Jaffa Road is an acclaimed Toronto based world music group made
up of some of Canada’s most exciting and innovative interpreters of inter-cultural music. Their
music creates a unique sonic landscape that takes listeners on a journey that is at once ancient
and modern, acoustic and electronic, sacred and secular.

Greetings Folk on the Rocks!
The Department of Education, Culture and Employment celebrates the
talents of all artists and performers participating in this year’s festival.
Congratulations to the dedicated organizers and volunteers for their
efforts in providing an exciting venue to showcase the arts.
The Support to Northern
Performers program assists
NWT performing artists,
festival and events.

The NWT Arts Council supports artistic
projects from writing and visual arts to
storytelling, film, dance, music, theatre
and festivals.


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Take time to meet and get to know the talented artists in your community

Thursday, July 18
12:00 noon
FREE CONCERT in Civic Plaza featuring: The Sweet Lowdown

Friday, July 19
6:00 p.m. Civic Plaza (by donation) 8:00 p.m. Top Knight
Ilannaat ($15 at the door)
Gus and Pogo Go to the Vet
Louie Goose
The Kerplunks
Yes Nice
BAM! The Trade-offs
The Medicine Hat
Erebus & Terror

Saturday, July 20
1:00 Rock the Folks

Jaffa Road
Hey Ocean!
Common Threads: Natasha Duchene,
Kelly Clark, and The Sweet Lowdown


The Kerplunks
Gus & Pogo, Groove’n a Bucket, Yellowknives Dene
3:00 Nelson Tagoona and Ilannaat


Yellowknives Dene Drummers;
Dene Hand Games; Ilannaat
Stoop Jam: The Crooked Brothers and Genticorum

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Natasha Duchene
The Medicine Hat
Owls by Nature
Erebus & Terror
Yes Nice with B.A.M!
George Leach



4:00 Opening welcome: Yellowknives Dene Drummers
4:20 The Medicine Hat
5:25 Heart Strings: A Collaboration featuring Nelson
Tagoona, The Crooked Brothers, Aviva Chernick, Aaron
Lightstone, Paul Cressman, Carmen Braden, and Travis
6:30 Genticorum
7:30 Digawolf
8:30 Grapes of Wrath
9:45 The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer
11:00 Hey Ocean!

Sunday, July 21

Kiss My Riffs: The Trade-offs, George Leach,
Digawolf, and The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer
3:00 B.A.M!


Gospel Hour with The Sweet Lowdown and
The Crooked Brothers
2:00 Yes Nice
3:00 Grapes of Wrath


Hey Ocean!
Groove’n a Bucket; Ilannaat; Gus & Pogo
The Kerplunks


Rhythm Throwdown: Paul Cressman,
Nelson Tagoona, Ilannaat
2:00 Jaffa Road
3:00 Dene Hand Games; Ilannaat


Poor Choices
Louie Goose
Kelly Clare
The Trade-offs
The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer
Grapes of Wrath


Owls by Nature
Jaffa Road
Sweet Lowdown
Crooked Brothers
George Leach
Closing with Yellowknives Dene Drummers


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Building stronger
At BMO Bank of Montreal®, we take pride in
our local communities. That’s why, each year,
through various sponsorships and community
involvement we are committed to providing
our support.
BMO Bank of Montreal is proud to support
Folk on the Rocks and to be a Standing
Ovation Sponsor.


Registered trade-marks of Bank of Montreal.

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Making beautiful
music festivals
Developed by
A proud sponsor since 2011

Kelly Clark, Yellowknife, NT
The powerful voice of Kelly Clark brings a bit of Nashville to the North, with a classic rock edge.
Her sound has been compared to Sheryl Crow, Martina McBride and Sass Jordon. Kelly's engaging
stage presence draws audiences in with her vast repertoire of radio hits and her own originals.

Loren McGinnis, Yellowknife, NT
One of Yellowknife’s earliest risers, Loren is the host of The Trailbreaker on CBC North Radio. He
also does comedy. He’s a creator, writer and performer on the TV and web series Knife Knews and
Knife Life. Loren is a returning Folk on the Rocks emcee. He emceed at the 2011 festival when
Fred Penner lit his guitar on fire and played until it was a pile of ashes. Did that really happen?

Louie Goose, Inuvik, NT


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Louie Goose, born on the west coast of Victoria Island, moved to Aklavik in the mid 1950s. Louie
began playing guitar at age 10, accompanying local fiddlers and singers before he hit adolescence.
He formed his first band at 16 with friends from the Grollier Hall Catholic Residential School and
is credited with introducing live music to much of the region. A regional manager for CBC Inuvik
in the 70s and 80s, Louie’s listeners helped develop his stage persona which has captivated his
audiences for almost 45 years.

Natasha Duchene, Yellowknife, NT
Pianist, composer, adventurer and dreamer Natasha Duchene entrances audiences from the
abandoned ruins at the Salton Sea to the icy waters in Canada’s north, sharing the stage with
both folk and jazz musicians alike. Natasha fuses electroacoustic and instrumental composition
with traditional songwriting and jazz to create a style that is compelling, mysterious, and very

Nelson Tagoona, Baker Lake, NU
Beatboxer/guitarist, duet throatbox pioneer, solo throatbox inventor and multi-talented musician
- these are the many hats of Nelson Tagoona from Baker Lake, NU. Nelson brings an undeniable
and totally inspiring surge of positive energy to the stage, switching up between his own form of
beat-boxing ('throatboxing') and riffing on his electric guitar. He takes musical traditions/ forms
and embraces them on a new and refreshing level. www.facebook.com/NelsonTagoona

Owls by Nature, Edmonton, AB
Described as “Whiskey-fueled folk rock anthems”, Owls By Nature’s tunes have been living up
to their reputation. With incredible live shows filled with frenetic energy, the band has a on an
innovative stance when it comes to rock’n’roll.

Paul Cressman, Yellowknife, NT
For the last decade Paul Cressman has played with various bands from coast to coast.
After moving north in 2007, Paul began branching out on his own. Combining beatboxing,
instrumentation, digital effects, looping technology and slam style poetry, Paul creates slowly
evolving musical landscapes with beats for your soul, music for your spirit and words for your
mind. (PS. Paul’s the one with the glasses in the photo).

Poor Choices, Yellowknife, NT
Poor Choices are a guitar-driven psychedelic country rock band forged out of a leaky wood stove
in a floating palace on Yellowknife's Houseboat Bay. Two singer songsters added bass, drums and
a generator to form an upbeat two steppin' Northern skiffle back beat. When the choices get
poor, the fun gets rich.

The Crooked Brothers, Winnipeg, MB

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Jesse Matas, Darwin Baker and Matt Foster - three are songwriters and multi-instrumentalists on
banjos, mandolins, dobro, guitar and harmonicas bring seemingly limitless musical arrangements
and vocals to our stages. The Crooked Brothers three distinct styles and touches create a
refreshing sense that they will never write the same song twice. They ring scraps of railway iron
like bells. They whistle through their teeth. They sing and shout. Whatever they're up to, this is a
seriously good time!


The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer, Vancouver, BC
The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer stir up a lot more than just violent nautical imagery. Armed
with a sack of harmonicas, a mess of foot percussion and a road-worn Telecaster, Shawn “The
Harpoonist” Hall and Matthew “The Axe Murderer” Rogers kick out raw and primal blues. These
guys will knock your socks off. www.harpoonistaxemurderer.com

The Kerplunks, Nanaimo, BC
The Kerplunks, award winning children’s entertainers, bring high-energy, colourful performances
to the stage - and outfits that match! These folks are committed to educating children through
musical creativity. When they start playing, the kids are soon dancing and following along with
the actions. Even parents can’t resist getting up out of their seats!

The Medicine Hat, Guelph/Toronto, ON
The Medicine Hat is the sound of falling in love: magical, uncompromising, and a bit ridiculous.
Born in a cold basement after folk songstress Nabi Loney and her boyfriend Tyler Bersche realized
that they had written enough songs about each other to make a record, The Medicine Hat
became the soundtrack to the first of hopefully many love stories.



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Music Deserves
Hand-Crafted Beer

on stage...
Music is like food
for our souls. It lifts
us up, enriches our
communities, and
connects us all.

Sponsor of the
Cultural Stage at
Folk on the Rocks
July 18-21, 2013

Snap Lake Mine | Gahcho Kué Project

New Construction & Renovations | Design Build
Fire Alarms | Communication Systems | Lighting Systems | HVAC Controls
Motor Control Systems | Security & Door Access Systems
Preventative Maintenance
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ph: 867.669.7749 f: 867.669.7748


The Sweet Lowdown, Victoria, BC
The Sweet Lowdown is an acoustic roots trio from Victoria B.C. Drawn together by mutual
passion for old-time groove, hard driving bluegrass, sweet harmonies and well-wrought songs,
The Sweet Lowdown (Amanda Blied – guitar, Shanti Bremer – banjo and Miriam Sonstenes –
fiddle) blend original song-writing with old time roots music to create a sound that is both unique
and timeless.

The Trade Offs, Iqaluit, NU
The Trade-offs, a quartet of ambitious musicians from Iqaluit, Nunavut, reflect the fact that the
Canadian Arctic has always been a place where ancient and modern ideas are fused. These guys
craft a vintage sound inspired by the blues, jazz, funk and soul recordings produced by both Stax
and Motown Records. Creating music that is immediately familiar with their brand of “Arctic
Soul,” The Trade-offs are leading a new generation of northern artists determined to be heard.

Travis Mercredi, Yellowknife, NT
Travis Mercredi, an NWT Metis sound designer and guitarist, resides in Yellowknife. He works
in audio production for film, television, radio, theatre, musical production and location sound.
He is a well know member of both Erebus & Terror, and Sinister Oculus. A lover of both quiet
minimalism and decadent noise he strives for an eclectic middle ground between the two but is
always willing to veer either way if inspiration calls.

Yes Nice, Edmonton, AB
Redefining home through colour and spirit, Yes Nice is a band that captivates audiences through
their charismatic energy and enticing harmonies. Lyrically and musically, Yes Nice stretches
boundaries with dynamic songwriting that stands out in the Canadian indie musical landscape.

The Yellowknives Dene Drummers, Yellowknife, NT


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The Yellowknives Dene Drummers are a group of traditional drummers who are representative of
the Yellowknife Dene Region of the Northwest Territories. The drummers share the spirit of the
Dene drum and bless the festival with their performances. Expression of thanks through dance is
part of the celebration and everyone is welcome to partake in this ceremony of life.

Spring auction and dance a huge success!
Thanks so much to the businesses and patrons (you know who you are) who
made the Auction/Dance 2013 a huge success. We raised almost $10,000 at
the event - all of which goes back into the infrastructure of the festival site.
Yellowknife - you rock!
Canadian North Airlines
Alianait Festival, Iqaluit
Blachford Lake Lodge
Buffalo Airwear
Calgary Folk Fest Tickets
Collective Soul Space/Sundog
Dave Brosha
Fiddles and Stix
Fit 2 the T
Flowers North
For Women Only
Fran Hurcomb

Just Fitness
Nicole Garbutt Makeup
Old Town Glassworks
Pat Kane
Rosalind Mercredi
Saeid Mushtagh
Salmon Arm Festival
Sarah’s Hot n’Ready
Top of the World Travel
Western Artic Moving Pictures
William Greenland

Ensemble, célébrons la culture
Let’s celebrate French culture

Produits de l’érable
Maple Syrup
sociocommu nautaires
Community Events
Musique et festivals
Music and Festivals
Arts et culture
Art and Culture

T 867. 873 .3292

C afcy@franco-nord.com

W www.afcy.info

5016, 48 e rue, C.P. 1586 , Yellowknife NT, X1A 2P2, Canada

Look for our big volunteer thank-you signs around the
festival grounds.

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Canadian Heritage
City of Yellowknive
GNU Culture, Language, Education and Youth
GNWT Arts Council
GNWT Education, Culture and Employment
GNWT: Industry, Tourism and Investment
GNWT: Municipal and Corporate Affairs
Service Canada

Huntingdon Capital Corp
Millennium Technologies
Northern News Services
Nova Court Hotel
Pido Productions
Radio Taiga
Socan Foundation
TAIT Communitcations

Canadian North Airlines
CBC North
Big Rock Breweries
Coast Fraser Towers
DT Electric
SSI Micro Ltd.

Association Franco-Culturelle de Yk.
BMO Bank of Montreal
CJCD Mix 100
De Beers Canada
Explorer Hotel
Northern Journal
Polar Tech
PSAC North
Super 8 Yellowknife
The Yellowknife Inn

Corothers Home Hardware Building Center
Danmax Communication Ltd.
Dynamic Services
Home Building Centre
Manitoulin Transport
Molly Maid
North Slave Correction Centre
Pick’s Steam
Pido Productions
Spark - The Branding Shop
St. John Ambulance
Yellowknife Beverages

Avery Cooper
Bartle and Gibson
Black Knight Pub
Bromley & Sons Ltd.
Ecology North
Jack Antonio

Javaroma Gourmet Coffee & Tea
Kavanaugh Bros. Ltd.
MainStreet Donair and Falafel
Northern Arts & Cultural Centre
Northern Frontier Visitors Centre
Northland Utilities
Nunasi Corporation
The Racquet Club

Adam Dental Clinic
Boston Pizza
Bullock’s Bistro
Canadian Tire
Creative Basics
Fire Prevention Services
Fire Prevention Services Ltd.
Food Rescue NWT
Hertz Rent-a-Car
KopyKat North
Mike & Mark’s Restaurant
National Rental Car
Northbest Distributors Ltd.
Northern Fancy Meats
Pioneer Supply House
Quality furniture
Reddi Mart
Shoppers Drug Mart
Superior Propane
The Cellar Bar and Grill
Weaver and Devore Trading Ltd
Yellowknife Downtown Liquor Store
Yk Buzz


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Extra Airtime
Great for a
cell phone contract.

Not so great
for business flyers.

Yellowknife to Edmonton
Canadian North gets you there faster.
With other airlines switching to prop service, flying Canadian North’s
jet service cuts nearly half an hour off your flight time.

We make the most of the short time we have together.

Reservations 1.800.661.1505 • canadiannorth.com

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We’re proud to provide free in-flight meals as well as complimentary
seat selection and two pieces of checked luggage at no extra charge.

photo Pat Kane

back to
edge yk

Yellowknife’s Music Scene
An Evolution of City and Sound

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On any given school night, when he could have been studying,
15-year-old Pat Braden would be found in one of Yellowknife’s
smoky bars instead, laying down the backbeat to some Top 40
AC/DC or Hank Williams covers. In the mid-70s, almost every
establishment had a house band — either local or flown from
the south — and bass players like Braden were in big demand.
For Yellowknifers, stepping out on a Friday night meant a
cornucopia of 11 live bands to choose from.

by Laurie Sarkadi

and another upstairs for dancing. If swing was your scene,
the Explorer Hotel’s cabaret room could accommodate 300
people and an 18-piece Big Band flown from Los Angeles,
while the Hoist Room and Cantina featured jazz.


“I was revolving in and out of one of these places,” recalls the
laid-back Braden, now 51 and widely revered as a musical elder
in the capital. “I was just playing music like crazy.” In summers,
downtown streets were blocked off and bands played outdoor

Packed dance floors swayed to A-circuit groups playing at
the Rec Hall, Gold Range, Gallery, Elks Club and Legion – the
latter three hosting two bands, one downstairs for listening

I’ve never known Yellowknife to have a shortage of musicians
— creativity and artistry seem to percolate from the bedrock
— but it’s hard to reconcile today’s somewhat fickle live music


The Yellowknife band
“Enterprise” before a
performance upstairs
at the Elks Hall, circa
1985. From left to right:
Peter Cullen, Sue Leon,
Jim Curry, Tom Hudson,
Norman Glowach, Pat
Braden, James Milligan.

photo submitted by
Norm Glowach

Then in the ‘80s, something shifted.
Bartenders started to turn on stereos instead. DJs realized they
could charge less than bands, and the Anik Satellite brought
cable television into people’s homes. The internet, with its
limitless entertainment possibilities, and the demolition of
large music venues like The Gallery and the Rec Hall, further

“Now it’s mostly on weekends, mostly one night, and it’s still
fun,” says Braden. “It’s not bad or worse, it’s just different.”
While it’s unlikely the city will ever be able to crank it up to 11
again, there’s an astonishing volume of talent in a broad array
of musical genres finding new platforms for performance,
including Javaroma Jams, Tyler Shea’s Folk Fridays at the
Mackenzie Lounge, Fuego, Diamante, the ice stage at the
Snowcastle and the beer barge afloat Great Slave Lake. In
addition to Folk on the Rocks — voted among Canada’s Top
10 music festivals by CBC Radio 3 — dedicated volunteers
with the support of a revitalized Music NWT have rallied to
add eight different festivals throughout the year: Cabin Fever,
Pride, Solstice, Longjohn Jamboree, Old Town Ramble & Ride
and Snowking among them.
Susan Shantora is a singer with degrees in voice performance,



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The ‘70s were a boom time for Yellowknife, a hardscrabble
mining town still adjusting to the gentrification and growth
that came with morphing into a government centre in 1967.
There was no satellite or cable, so television consisted of
stale hockey games and episodes of Bonanza flown up from
Toronto. Socializing with live music at the clubs was where it
was at.

changed the way people socialize and consume live music.

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scene with a time when Franklin Avenue tore a page from
New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. Some historical context is

Grey Gritt
photo Dave Brosha, courtesy Grey Gritt

music education and classical training. She’s also a board
member and performer with COSY — Classics On Stage
Yellowknife — a 35-member classical music group with regular
concerts that fill the niche for people hankering for Brahms,
Telleman or opera arias.
“We get about 100-150 people at concerts,” she says. “For
Yellowknife, that’s great.”
Shantora teaches music in three schools, where she sees tons
of kids with big talents, “but my personal soap box is we as a
community aren’t doing enough to support the youth so they
can realize their potential, whether they want to sing pop, or
play guitar in clubs, whatever.”
In 2007, she started the spring Yellowknife Music Festival,
where people from out of town come and evaluate students
and teachers and share their knowledge through workshops
and performances. It’s one way young piano players and other
classical musicians can work their way into larger festivals and
choirs across the country. And she’s using Skype to give lessons
to kids in outlying communities.
Yellowknife’s isolation from the rest of Canada’s music scene is
the proverbial double-edged sword. The disconnect can be
great for the creative process, especially surrounded with such
natural beauty, but there’s little chance of being discovered by
a top promoter or producer, or landing in a major recording
studio – although thankfully, veteran musicians Norm Glowach,
and later, Norbert Poitras, have provided countless northern
artists with quality studio recordings over the years; and now
Stephen Richardson and David Dowe have added Double D
Rockstar Studios to the mix.
Still, being a medium-sized fish in a small pond can have its
advantages too.
Take talented young singer-songwriters Dana Sipos and Grey
Gritt, Folk on the Rocks alumni who drifted to Yellowknife and
quickly established themselves as bright lights on the northern
musical landscape, each expanding their artistry through
a myriad of collaborations and friendships. In short order,
both also found national platforms for their poetic lyrics and
bluesy folk through the CBC – Sipos through its Songquest
competition, and Gritt through a performance for the Truth
North Concert Series, opening for bluesman Paul Reddick.
“It is a land of opportunity in many ways,” says Gritt. “The only
difficulty I see is how to transfer that to elsewhere.”
Travis Mercredi, guitar player for Yellowknife’s six-piece Indie
rockers Erebus and Terror, agrees.

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“You can look to the North as a place that’s a respite to the
rest of the world, you can come into yourself,” he says, “but
it’s definitely not a good place to make a professional living off
If I had to think of one band that defines the potential of
Yellowknife’s music scene it would be Erebus and Terror, longtime Yellowknife lads who’ve gone through several musical
transformations since high school (Mandeville Drive, Greasy
Twigs, Esker, Giant Con) but never seem to lose their youthful,
good-time vibe, or their ability to pack a venue with hipsters
continued on page 39


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*We now offer our 2 hour workshops everyday.
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Erebus and Terror perform
at the Snowcastle.

photo Brent Reaney

continued from page 36

aching to dance to their self-described “shipwreck rock”
originals. Yet even with that following, the band — named after
two ill-fated ships from the Franklin expedition — like so many
others, purposefully limits engagements. In a city of less than
20,000, you don’t want to wear out your welcome.

turning. You’ll see him working at the refurbished Wildcat Cafe
this summer, where a new 46-person deck will accommodate
veteran songsters such as Tracey Riley and Jim Taylor. A new
restaurant soon to open called The Cellar is rumoured to be
musician-friendly — same for the newly renovated Elks Club.

“Generally music is supported by large social scenes,” says
Mercredi. “There’s not a lot of socializing. The venues are as
supportive as they can be, but because of the cost of running
a business in this town the venues aren’t willing to absorb that
much risk.”

Palmer says his experience booking live acts is that the city is
“too” social.

photo Pat Kane


“Who would have thought you could do this for a living, and
it’s thanks to the North,” says lead singer Karen Single-Novak,
the only non-Hungarian in the group. They have their own
recording equipment and release original tracks that play on
CKLB radio (another place to hear live musicians every Friday
morning), which boosts their revenue stream. Single-Novak
and her husband — the band’s guitar player — recently got an
apartment, but for years they lived with their young son at the
Gold Range Hotel, free accommodations being part of the
band’s contract.
She says the ‘Range’s’ notorious history as a rough ’n tumble
place is just that, history.
“I’ve seen more fights in High Level,” she says. “I love the Gold
Range. It’s not the prettiest place, but it’s the feeling you get
when you’re there. It’s very special, very unique.”



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Old Town musician Ryan McCord.

Ahh, the anomalous Welder’s Daughter. Here’s a band that
left one of Canada’s hottest music scenes — Vancouver — to
tour their Top 40 hard rock across the country. They landed
in Yellowknife for a gig at the Gold Range Hotel 10 years ago,
having just added country songs to their setlist, and, except
for their extended gigs at Inuvik’s Trapper’s Lounge, have
never left. Ranked Canada’s number one working club band
by Canadian music agents, with 341 shows in 2012, the move
appears to have paid off.

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Flint Palmer used to manage Twist, a small lounge that’s actively
sought to make its mark as a live music destination, hosting
jams, bands and solo acts. Like so many people I spoke to,
Palmer, who also DJ’ed for 25 years, says the city’s music scene
ebbs and flows. He’d categorize the current status as a low,
with both music groups and venues dropping off (Le Frolic
Bistro/Bar being the latest casualty), but says the tides are

“It’s tough because Yellowknife being such a diverse
community, there’s sometimes 15 different events —fundraisers,
music — the same night. You have to be aware of what’s going
on in town, what’s happening at the Top Knight, or whether
Welder’s Daughter is in town.”

In May, a public
Dene drum dance
to celebrate spring
was held at Somba
K’e Park.
photo Laurie Sarkadi

The bar has seen a sort of revival in recent years, not in decor —
its ragged ambience, completely devoid of pretence, has not
changed much since the heydays of the ‘70s — but in clientele.
Late-night hordes of young people are coming to sync with the
energy of a live dance band. It’s a beautiful sight, all the mixing
of cultures and ages, a melting pot of booties with varying
degrees of two-stepping prowess, shaking it out on a wellstomped hardwood floor.
If DJs can be blamed in part for the downturn of live
performances like that, they certainly get credit for the other
side of the equation – getting people to dance. Sam’s Monkey
Tree attracts a steady weekend crowd, where Yellowknife’s hip
hop ambassador, Godson, DJs every other Saturday night. The
Raven too has managed to stay afloat with a mix of live bands
and DJs.
But another kind of DJ’d electronics, bass music, is attracting
a growing following. Dustin Philippon, a.k.a. Pronoia, is
a 26-year-old graduate of Pacific Audio Visual Institute
in Vancouver, where he sunk his teeth into an exploding
electronic music scene. He learned to throw his own bass
shows around town — using midi controllers and drum
machines — “with the goal to make girls dance.”
He succeeded. Pronoia was packing After 8 Billiards Club
with his bi-weekly, multi-media productions last summer when
college and university students are home and restless. Now
he's busy organizing Yellowknife’s first electronic music festival
July 27th at the Multiplex with Chad (Cynergii) Hinchey and
southern acts.
With a name like Pronoia, the opposite of paranoia, chances
are he’ll succeed with that, as well.

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“I was told it means that everybody is out to do you good —
that a person could just give you something that could change
your life — and I thought, I’d like something like that to happen
to me, and it just kind of stuck,” he says.
Now that I know the meaning of pronoia, I can declare
Yellowknife’s music scene “pronoid.” What we lack in the finer
features of music industry commerce, we more than make
up for in sharing and generosity. Old Town seems to be at
the heart of the matter. Cheap rent aside, collaborative music
thrives amongst houseboaters and shack dwellers.

“A shack jam has a real down-home kind of atmosphere — it's
crowded, hot and loud, and can inspire some great music,”
says Ryan McCord, an Old Town fixture in the Dawgwoods,
Back Bay Scratchers and most recently, Old Town Mondays.
He’d taken music lessons as a kid, then kind of put it aside until
he moved to Yellowknife in 2003 and experienced his first
stage performance at a jam at Lucille’s (formerly The Cave),
in the old Gallery building. Living in Old Town afforded him
ample opportunities to learn from other musicians, so he did.
I can relate. My own story is almost identical. About the same
time 10 years ago, I learned guitar and started singing thanks to
friends like Wade Carpenter, who frequently hosted house jams
where more seasoned musicians didn’t mind newbie singers
like me croaking — or choking on guitar. Leela Gilday invited
me to be part of a singer-songwriter spotlight at Lucille’s, then
owned by Tracey Riley, where I made my terrifying debut.
I’m in a band now with real players, musicians who share
their talents with several other singer-songwriters, everyone
backing up everyone else’s hopes and dreams. I don’t have
musical aspirations that could be inhibited by Yellowknife, since
opportunities I could never have imagined have miraculously
come to pass – including performing at Folk on the Rocks.
My most regular gig is pub night at Avens Seniors Centre once
a month, where I desperately try to channel Hank Williams.
They recently held a volunteer appreciation dinner where I got
to sit amongst a who’s who of Yellowknife’s musical royalty,
people whose ancestral roots in the North dig back thousands
of years; who have the heartbeat of Dene drumming in their
DNA – Paul Andrew, Joseph Nayelly, John Tees, George
Tuccaro, William Greenland, Lee Mandeville…some got up to
perform some country tunes with bass player Bobbi Bouvier,
who last I remembered had been stricken by a mysterious
illness that put her in a wheelchair.
Musicians held fundraisers to show support for her at the
Gold Range. It must have been tough. But there she was now,
walking, standing, singing, smiling; through some inexplicable
twist of fate, she got better. When “everyone is out to do you
good,” as Pronoia says, anything is possible. Music can be like
that. Especially in Yellowknife.


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We’re FOLKS, and We rOCK
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128-281 Edge Mag


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A Brief History of

We’ve all been there, to that very
Canadian place that has left an
impression on our collective memory:
a lake, a sunset, a guitar and a song.
Those ingredients make up the staple
diet for anyone looking to escape
to nature, but for Yellowknifers, that
escape is in our own backyard.

The Long, Sandy Road
to Success
Compiled by Pat Kane
using FOTR archives

This year marks the 33rd anniversary
of Folk on the Rocks, a celebration
of music and arts from across the
circumpolar North and around the
world. It is truly an international party
with a regional flavor all its own. It has
grown to become one of Canada’s
premier summer festivals and, if
you are a Yellowknifer, it is “the best
weekend of the year.”

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Here, we present A Brief History of
Folk on the Rocks.

The first site map in 1980.



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But creating and sustaining a festival
this large, this diverse and this popular
was no easy task. Like most good ideas
it started on a lake, near the rocks, with
a sunset in the background, a guitar
in hand, and the need to sing a few

1980: Folk on the Rocks is Born
Fifteen-hundred people make their way to Long Lake for the inaugural Folk on
the Rocks festival. Co-organizer Ted Wesley jams alongside performers Utah
Phillips, Ken Bloom and John Allen Cameron, entertaining audiences for three
days over the summer solstice weekend. The first FOTR is a huge success.

1981-1983: Expansion
Holding true to the festival mandate of promoting and supporting Northern
talent, 16 performers from the area return in support of that goal in ‘81. Side
stages are built to expand the Long Lake venue. Other artists, including
carvers, moccasin makers, printmakers and painters are invited to be part of the
festival – their work displayed in a 45-foot trailer for public viewing.
In 1982, a touring version of FOTR called Folk on the Road takes shape and
plays in Whati and Fort Smith. For the main festival in Yellowknife however, Ann
Peters joins the organizing team and helps expand the festival even further;
a children’s stage is built and a fence is put up around the venue. In keeping
FOTR family-friendly, a near-beer garden is introduced. It doesn’t last very long.
The following year, an idea for a theme is implemented. “The Circle” is chosen
as the 1983 theme as a tribute to First Nations, Metis and Inuit cultures across
the NWT. The igloo, teepee and drum are the symbols. Folk on the Road
travels to Fort Smith, Fort Providence and Fort Simpson.

1984-1988: Crossroads
As Folk grows in popularity, so do expectations. In ’84, the organizing team
adds international performances by musicians from Central and South America
and a headliner, Juno winner Murray McLaughlin. Poor weather forces the first
cancelation of a major act just minutes before McLaughlin is set to perform. The
sun and McLaughlin return for the Sunday show.
Finances are tight the following year and the festival carries a large amount of
debt. Faced with a tough decision, festival President Rosemary Cairns, decides
that the show must go on. Folk is limited to only two days for the first year since
it began.
1986 sees more problems: Expo ’86 draws many of the NWT musicians to
Vancouver so they are not able to attend Folk. The festival is limited to a oneday Summer Solstice event at Petitot Park, Sir John Franklin High School and
Northern Arts and Cultural Centre.
The future of Folk on the Rocks remains uncertain until the organizers take two
big gambles. Keeping in line with the rest of Canada’s summer festival circuit,
Folk is rescheduled to mid-July and some high-profile (and high-priced) acts
like Spirit of the West, are invited to Yellowknife. The gambles pay off, the
crowds come in droves and ticket sales pay for nearly half of the $65,000
budget. Folk on the Rocks recovers from a near-death experience. Or does it?
The next year, in 1988, poor publicity and poor weather hamper the weekend.
Barely 600 people purchase tickets, and once again, the festival is on the
verge of collapse.

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Getting Back on the Horse
Organizers of the 1989 festival know that audiences expect more. Marketing
is now a priority, and so is the quality and variety of performers. Through ’89
and ’90, more events are held, including Warm the Rocks, and new cultural
musicians are brought in: Japanese Drummers, Eastern European and Jewish
continued on page 47



Submit your favourite shots from 2013 for
a chance to win awesome prizes!

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In the heart of
Old Town

5005 Bryson Drive
(867) 873-8064



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NWT’s largest gallery ∏ Fine art ∏ Northern souvenirs
Northern apparel and outerwear ∏ Infant and children’s wear
NWT diamonds ∏ Dawn Oman merchandise and artwork

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continued from page 44

Growing Pains, Fresh Start
Rain and poor weather hamper the festival through the
mid-to-late 1990s. The society, now officially Folk on the
Rocks (previously called the Society for the Encouragement
of Northern Talent, or SENT) deals with washed-out stages
in 1995 and is forced to move indoors at the arena. With the
weather always a looming threat, organizers secure funding to
build The Mainstage. Architect Simon Taylor is hired to build
the amphitheater-style stage and with the help of the North
Slave Correctional Centre and volunteers, co-founder Rod
Russell’s small, modest stage is removed and replaced in the
spring of 1998.

In keeping with the mandate of fostering and promoting
northern talent, the first Warm the Rocks night is incorporated
into the festival, giving less-experienced performers the chance
to play at Mainstage. Great weather and an impressive lineup
bring nearly 3,800 people through the gates in 1999.
Heading into the new millennium, archival projects come
to the forefront and the preservation of 20 years of FOTR
memories, photographs, videos and volunteer contributions
are commemorated in an ongoing museum project.
The society also looks to the future in 2003, as it becomes part
of the International Folk Alliance. Improved connectivity and
networking with other festivals in Canada lead to the exchange
of ideas in making FOTR a respected event on the national

summer festival circuit. In these years, Inuit throatsinger Tanya
Tagaq makes her first appearance, punk group Gob attracts a
younger audience than in previous years, and The Tragically
Hip’s Gord Downie plays to a raucous crowd, solidifying FOTR
as a truly Canadian festival.

On a Roll
The festival builds on the idea of attracting a younger, more
diverse and environmentally friendly crowd. In 2005, CBC
showcases FOTR as a unique Canadian event featuring music
from across the circumpolar regions. The idea of celebrating
the North and Northern artists starts to pay off.
The following year, volunteers and local organizations chip in
with their own ideas to make FOTR a “green” festival: recycling
bins, re-using plates and cutlery, recycled toilet paper and



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Following a successful 10th anniversary, FOTR continues to
bring in eclectic and traditional acts, which in turn, help pay off
the heavy debt accumulated through the mid-1980s. Acts from
Halifax, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver jam alongside bands
and traditional acts from Canada’s north, including Innu from
Northern Quebec and Labrador. Festival-goers come in droves,
eager to hear a lineup with so much diversity. The festival is
now finding its footing, until heavy rain in 1993 nearly washes
out the event. A mere 650 people purchase tickets, and once
again, FOTR falls into debt.

Coming of Age

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traditional performers wow the crowd. Folk is now more than
just folk music. Jeff Pitre of Pido Productions provides the
festival sound, a relationship that continues to this day.

The new energy, interest and
improvements to all aspects of the festival
create resurgence in community spirit.
FOTR is not just something to wait for;
it’s something to be a part of. Some 300
volunteers make the festival happen, and
2008 sees new records for crowds as
nearly 3,300 people pack the site, only to
be outdone the following year with 5,100
The multicultural fusion of music from
northerners, at least one major headline
act and performers from other countries
seems to be the magic formula for drawing
audiences. In the late 2000s acts like Sam
Roberts, Sarah Harmer, Plants and Animals,
Elliott Brood, The Sadies and Great Lake
Swimmers set new expectations for quality music
at what is quickly becoming one of Canada’s
premier summer music festivals.

Going Strong
The 30th Anniversary of Folk on the Rocks brings
in an all-star lineup. Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jim Cuddy,
Greg Keelor, Tanya Tagaq, Leela Gilday, and a slew
of other nationally recognized acts join founder
Ted Wesley at the 2010 festival. FOTR has another
huge moment in the spotlight as it is named one of
Canada’s Top 10 summer music festivals by CBC.
The national broadcaster’s own Grant Lawrence
hosts the mega celebration.
Now on the national scale, FOTR continues
inviting big-name acts and incorporates even
more opportunities for up-and-coming northern
artists through new collaborative workshops.
Family-friendly acts mix with socially charged
performances. Merchandise, art, local goods
and a “green” approach add to the feeling of
community involvement. A new attendance record
of 5,600 music lovers passing through the FOTR
site is set in 2012.
It is now a larger, better-produced festival than it’s
ever been, but still remains at its core a weekend
celebration of music by a lake, on the rocks.

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Images from the 1990 festival program.


Come on down the hill
To Old Town August 2–4
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Visit oldtown y k.com for the full event schedule

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Take in the arts, culture and live music spread
across Yellowknife’s historic neighbourhood

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Call For Delivery
Mon-Sat: 10:30am-10:00pm
Sunday: 11:00pm-8:00pm

4919 48th St. | ph. 873-2777

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