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Six shows you don’t want to miss at Vancouver’s Rogue Folk Club next month

Vancouver’s Rogue Folk Club kicked off 2020 in style by featuring massively popular acts David Francey and Fred Eaglesmith in January.  Now Steve Edge and company are following that up with six – count ’em, six! – amazing shows in February.  I don’t know how any roots fan in Vancouver manages to get by without a Parcel O’ Rogues season pass.  I can’t imagine trying to choose between these shows.

Information and tickets for all of them, by the way, is available at roguefolk.bc.ca

Andrew Collins and Annie Lou – Feb. 2 at Mel Lehan Hall, St. James Community Square

Andrew Collins exists at the epicentre of Canada’s burgeoning acoustic roots music scene, having co-founded seriously noteworthy Canadian bands like the Creaking Tree String Quartet, the Foggy Hogtown Boys and, more recently, his namesake trio. This prolific, robust performer – comfortable on mandolin, fiddle, guitar, mandola and mandocello – composes, produces, arranges, writes and teaches across multiple genres, including a popular collision of folk, jazz, bluegrass, Celtic, and classical. He’s earned five Juno nominations and seven Canadian Folk Music Awards for his various ensembles. His trio’s latest release is a new double album, grafting 11 vocal cuts (tongues) to 11 instrumentals (grooves) to create their cleverly monikered double album, Tongue & Groove.

Annie Lou combines a deft melodic temperament with skill and verve on banjo and guitar. Songwriter Anne Louise Genest shines a keen eye and a warm heart on our lives and times, mapping a lively path through moments in which we can laugh, cry, and connect. A childhood in the heart of downtown Toronto didn’t stop this city gal from finding her country voice – her ballads, tunes, and songs are painted with a palette of old-time folk and bluegrass, and her vocal warmth is evocative of the sweet plaintive tones of the McGarrigles blended with the raw emotion of Hazel Dickens. (That’s Annie Lou in the photo above, by the way. Photo by Jen Squires.)

Loudon Wainwright III – Feb. 6 at Mel Lehan Hall, St. James Community Square

Born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Loudon Wainwright III came to fame when Dead Skunk became a Top 20 hit in 1972. He had studied acting at Carnegie-Mellon University but dropped out to partake in the Summer of Love in San Francisco. He wrote his first song in 1968 (Edgar, about a lobsterman in Rhode Island). His songs have since been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, his son, Rufus Wainwright, and Mose Allison, among others. 2018 brought Years in the Making, a compilation of 45 years of off-beaten tracks into over two hours of rare and unissued Loudoniana – along with a few brand new songs for good measure. It’s a two-CD audiobiography, full of orphaned album cuts, live recordings, radio appearances, home demos, and more.

Jim Byrnes Band – Feb. 14 at Mel Lehan Hall, St. James Community Square (a fundraiser for the Rogue)

We all know Jim Byrnes. Singer. Songwriter. Actor. Radio host. Voiceover guy. All round Vancouver personality. He’s one of those colourful characters that makes our city a little more fun to live in. He cares about the arts, and he cares about the Rogue Folk Club. That’s why he’s bringing his great band this Valentine’s Day to perform a benefit concert. Jim was born in St. Louis, Missouri – blues country. He grew up on the city’s north side. One of the neighbourhood bars had Ike and Tina Turner as the house band. By age 13, he was singing and playing blues guitar. Jim moved to Vancouver, BC in the mid-70s after years of drifting, working odd jobs and playing music. In 1981, he put together a band that became a staple of the local music scene. In 1986, the Jim Byrnes Band played 300 nights. The pattern was set, and he hasn’t slowed down yet. Jim is one of Canada’s best-loved musical icons. He has the ability to charm audiences beyond their wildest dreams. Listen and be taken away!

Roy Forbes – Feb. 21 at Mel Lehan Hall, St. James Community Square

Roy Forbes is one of Canada’s best-known and best-loved songwriters and performing artists. He’s been at it for almost fifty years and has picked up some tokens of appreciation from his peers. There is a street named after him in his hometown of Dawson Creek in northern B.C. and a star on Vancouver’s Granville Street where the names of the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame members are enshrined. Afflicted with poor vision all his life, Roy was blinded by an accident in 2015. He may have lost his sight but not his vision. Roy has adapted to his new reality, returning to touring and performing and recording and all the other things he does so well. He is now among the blind seers who populate history from Homer, who gave us the Odyssey, to Blind Willie Johnson and Roland Kirk, Ray Charles and Doc Watson and others who gave us some of the world’s best music. Now Roy is serving up his latest album, something like his 11th solo effort. 

Jayme Stone – Feb. 24 at Mel Lehan Hall, St. James Community Square

As a young banjoist, Jayme Stone was obsessed with learning from both traditional players and modern masters. He quickly assimilated his endless fascinations—from learning an Ali Farka Touré song to playing free-improvised music. He was interested in the “heart and guts” of what he heard—the warmth and grit of folk songs, the camaraderie and risk in jazz, the dynamics of chamber music, the cyclical rhythms of West Africa—but no one genre felt quite like his own. He might’ve forever remained a listener were he not compelled to make the music he heard in his head. His many collaborators have included Margaret Glaspy, Moira Smiley, Tim O’Brien, Bruce Molsky, Julian Lage, Dom Flemons, Bassekou Kouyate and more. Guided by his own aesthetic compass, he has made an album every two or three years—albums like Africa to Appalachia, the Lomax Project, and most recently, Folklife.

J.P. Cormier and Daniel Lapp – Feb. 27 at Mel Lehan Hall, St. James Community Square (the Driven Bow Fiddle Festival)

Before he was out of his teens, J.P. Cormier was a sideman for bands and artists of many different genres in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and all across the deep south. In the mid-90s, he reentered the musical scene of his beloved East Coast and the Island called Cape Breton. He exploded onto the trad music scene there as a fiddler, performing some of the most difficult music ever produced by legends like Winston Fitzgerald and Angus Chisholm with a facility that stunned onlookers. Then in 1997, he released an album called Another Morning, this as a songwriter and a lead singer. It inspired, 25 years ago, some of the biggest names in the business today – people like Dave Gunning, Matt Andersen, David Myles, and Joel Plaskett, all of which will tell you, that record changed things. The Canadian industry thought so too, and it received a Juno nomination and won an ECMA. And that was just the beginning. Thirty-six years later, after stepping on stage as professional union musician for the first time at the tender age of 13, JP is still going, and frighteningly, still getting better.

Born in Prince George, Daniel Lapp was the youngest son in a family where music was a natural part of life. He has become one of the best-known and most influential fiddlers in British Columbia, if not in all of Canada. He has performed with symphony orchestras and at global events like the 1994 Commonwealth Games in VictoriaEXPO 2000 in Germany and the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games opening ceremonies. He’s played on over 100 albums, working and touring with artists including Spirit of the West, Rickie Lee Jones, Barney Bentall, Mae Moore, Beth Orton and Kathryn Tickell. As a fiddler, jazz trumpeter and singer/composer, Daniel performs regularly with his band Lappelectro, a west coast-based jazz electronica quartet, and in Bowfire, an ensemble of eleven diverse fiddlers. One of his latest projects is Polkastra, directing a bunch of brilliant New York classical musicians who have decided they want to play the polka.

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