Mariposa 2019: from Indigenous hip-hop, to indie rockers, to a Pondercast
As usual, the lineup for the 2019 edition of the Mariposa Folk Festival is a diverse mix of everything from classic rock to pure country, Indigenous hip-hop to indie rock, bluegrass to Colombian dance music, and ‘80s-style synth-pop to an up-to-the-minute Pondercast. And some folk music, of course.
Snotty Nose Rez Kids are an absolute must-see. Where their self-titled debut album reclaimed and celebrated all facets of their Indigenous Haisla culture (from long hair, broken-down cars, and meals of fish ‘n’ rice, to the prevalence of pipelines and suicides), and The Average Savage extended that vibe, their current album, Trapline, finds them really coming into their own – more solid and self-assured than ever. “Lost Tribe” describes what true reconciliation might look like, “Boujee Natives” turns the capitalist insult into an educationalcompliment, and “I Can’t Remember My Name” deals with the loss of cultural identity under colonization. It’s a testament to SNRK’s inclusive, intersectional vision that they deploy “Son of a Matriarch” to share their considerable power with female rap trio (and fellow Mariposa 2019 performers) The Sorority, for a patriarchy-smashing anthem. In fact, SNRK are playing right before the Sorority’s slot on Saturday, July 6 (9:45 p.m. at the Mariposa Pub Stage), and sharing a workshop stage with them on Sunday, July 7 (It’s All in the Delivery, 12:20 p.m., Bohemian Embassy Stage). Watch for sparks to fly there.
And don’t miss The Sorority’s own set of conscious Black feminist rap either, on Saturday, July 6 (10:55 p.m. at the Mariposa Pub Stage). These three MCs offer bold, progressive hip-hop, and CBC Arts says that they “bring the spirit of womanhood to life with their music… [and] solidarity amongst women to a historically male-dominated arena.”
Having dubbed themselves “pilgrims of funk, soul ‘n’ roll,” The Julian Taylor Band is a consistently impressive live act, straddling the worlds of rock, classic rock ‘n’ roll, blues, R&B, soul, and funk like nobody since the heyday of Prince and Lenny Kravitz. A true music fan, Taylor’s sound is a culmination of every musical genre that’s touched him throughout his life. His songs were strong enough to get him signed to a publishing deal when he was still in high school, and he turned 19 years old while playing onstage at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. The JTB will blow you away with great songs, mad musical skills, and Taylor’s incredibly charismatic performance. Catch them on Saturday, July 6 (5:50 p.m., on the Mainstage).
Interestingly, Taylor, who recently received his Indigenous status card, and Tom Wilson, who recently discovered his Indigenous parentage, recently made history together as the first two people of Mohawk heritage to simultaneously reach the CBC Music Top 20 at the same time. Wilson’s LeE HARVeY OsMOND project is self-described as a “psychedelic folk collective that challenges boundaries and trancends genres – sometimes dark, sometimes elated, sometimes rocking and always captivating.” Their new album, appropriately titled Mohawk, offers a mellow but percolating sound, and a sly, laconic vocal delivery – not unlike the best work of J.J. Cale, or early‘70s Eric Clapton. They’ll be playing on Saturday, July 6 (6:00 p.m., on the Mainstage).
Southern Ontario-based, critically-acclaimed, indie-pop/rock guys – many of whom have worked together before in various capacities – are well represented at Mariposa 2019, with solo sets and plenty of workshops from Jim Bryson, Hawksley Workman, Jeremy Fisher, and Danny Michel. All four of these outstanding, unique singer-songwriters are playing what promises to be a packed-house of a workshop together, Hockey Cards in the Spokes, on Sunday, July 7 (1:30 p.m. at the Mariposa Pub Stage).
Terra Lightfoot is every inch the indie-rocker that those guys are, and more. In her young career, she’s already posted several CBC Music Top 20 hits, recorded an album with a full orchestra, and struck a blow for gender parity by co-headlining the all-female Longest Road Show tour of Southern Ontario, alongside musical colleagues Lindi Ortega and Begonia, with special marquee and local guests. Her songs boast rich lyrics, knockout riffs, singular guitar wizardry, and a soaring, soulful voice for a cumulative effect of great emotional resonance. Playing Saturday July 6(6:55 p.m. on the Mainstage).
Led by sisters Liv and Anita Cazzola, The Lifers are an art-folk/rock collective from Guelph, influenced by the likes of Feist, Dan Mangan, and The Staves. Whether it’s the sisters’ voices blending in a poignant duet, or the whole six-piece band thundering out a high-octave dance number, they are as impressive as they are original. They’re playing twice on Saturday, July 6 (1:00 p.m. on the Downtown Stage, 4:05 p.m. on the Village Stage).
Ralph (Raffa Weyman) creates songs that blend ‘80s synth-pop, disco, and soul. They’re also catchy, smart, edgy, and evocative, with an emphasis on lyrics and storytelling, often about the push and pull of romantic relationships. In just over a year, she’s picked up more than 20 million streams on Spotify and created a dedicated following across North America. (Friday, July 5, 8:00 p.m. on the Mainstage)
Boogát? draws inspiration from hip-hop, Colombian dance music, and punk rock, merging them into something compelling and greatly entertaining. Boogát, of Paraguayan and Mexican descent, won the 2016 Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year. (Friday, July 5, 9:45 p.m. at the Mariposa Pub Stage)
The Confabulation is musical eclecticism writ large. Led by bassist David Woodhead, it’s a fun-ride through jazz, folk and world music, with the occasional visit to the classical. Made up of some of Canada’s top musical innovators, The Confabulation features oddball time signatures, quirky chord changes and genre-bending compositions that are sure to surprise and delight. (Sunday July 7, 12 p.m., at the Ruth Stage)
Birds of Chicago, an Americana band with a passion for rock ‘n’ roll and a unique take on blues, has been gathering an ever-growing following across North America since its formation in 2012. Led by singer-songwriters Allison Russell and JT Nero, the band mixes moments of soulful introspection with wild, rocking abandon. (Friday, July 5, 5:00 p.m. on the Mainstage)
Colter Wall plays pure, old-school, well-written country music. He has a baritone like a pair of cowboy boots crunching on gravel, a virtuoso style of finger-picking the guitar, and the knack for telling a story that grabs your attention and captures your heart. The Saskatchewan native sings mesmerizing songs of love, heartbreak, whisky, and nights that are far too long. (Sunday, July 7, 7:50 p.m. on the Mainstage)
Join Laurie Brown for a live performance of her CBC podcast Pondercast with music by Joshua Van Tassel. Laurie has spent a lifetime in music (MuchMusic, CBC-TV, The Signal on CBC Radio 2), and at Mariposa, she’ll turn the spotlight on you – the audience – and ponder what makes us music fans in this special live performance.
And if you still want to just plain get your folk on, you can catch veteran acoustic-music acts and frequent performers at Mariposa – and mainstays on the summer folk festival circuit – Digging Roots and Martin Sexton. Digging Roots, the husband-and-wife duo of Raven Kanatakta and ShoShona Kish, blends folk-rock, pop, blues, and hip-hop to rising effect. Formed in 2004, they’ve since earned multiple awards and critical acclaim, along with collaborations with the likes of Tanya Tagaq, DJ Bear Witness of A Tribe Called Red, and Kinnie Starr. (Sunday, July 7, 5:50 p.m. on the Mainstage.
Martin Sexton is a singer-songwriter with a folk-rock sensibility and a voice full of soul. The New York Times describes him as a performer who “jumps beyond standard fare on the strength of his voice … [and whose] unpretentious heartiness helps him focus on every soul singer’s goal: to amplify the sound of the ordinary heart.” (Saturday, July 6, 7;50 p.m. on the Mainstage)
Truly, there’s something for everyone at the 2019 Mariposa Folk Festival – so keep your ears (and your mind) wide open. And happy listening!