Home Feature Bev Kreller previews this weekend’s Mariposa Folk Festival

Bev Kreller previews this weekend’s Mariposa Folk Festival

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Mariposa 2022 is almost here, back live again after three years, and there’s so much I’m looking forward to seeing. Here are just a few examples…

I’ve seen my Kitchener-Waterloo homegirl Alysha Brilla play live several times over the past few years, and her show never disappoints. Her self-described “Indian, reggae, and global roots fusion” is an intoxicating combination, and she’s a complete natural onstage. Alysha maintains that music is medicine that can heal us, and her engaging performances make it hard to argue the point. Just back from her first official show in the U.K., with a new album, Circle, set to drop later this summer and excellent bassist/percussionist sideman Sammy Duke by her side, I can’t wait to hear her new songs and re-connect with my favourite older ones.

Marla and David Celia have been mostly touring and working in Europe for the past few years – including a few recent dates in Germany opening for renowned actor (and part-time singer-songwriter) Kiefer Sutherland. Between their shifted home base and the pandemic, I’ve missed their old Friday evening residency at the Cameron House in Toronto, and I’m looking forward to seeing them on the larger stages of Mariposa. The duo’s twin vocals are perfectly aligned, their sophisticated melodies are gloriously Beatlesque, and their current album, Indistinct Chatter, gently takes on the death throes of late-stage capitalism from a personal perspective.

I saw Allison Russell play at the 2022 JUNO Songwriters Circle presented by SOCAN at Massey Hall, and her performance of only a few songs there was riveting. She digs down into deep wellsprings of emotion, exorcising the demons of her childhood abuse at the hands of her family, transcending her pain through the catharsis of song – as she does on her breakthrough album, Outside Child. I’m expecting more of the same, and who knows what else, during her full mainstage set.

Singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer Jason Wilber spent 24 years as the touring guitarist for the late, great John Prine, so he’s played stages from Austin City Limits to the Grand Ole Opry, and collaborated with Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss. No doubt his experience at Prine’s side for most of his adult life has taught him some lessons about songcraft and stagecraft. I’ve seen him shine as Prine’s sideman, but I have no idea what he’ll bring as an artist in his own right, so it should be some kind of discovery to find out.

I’ve never seen a live performance by the legendary Mavis Staples. But from her early Staples Singers hits like “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself” to her appearance singing “The Weight” with The Band in The Last Waltz and her more recent solo work with Ben Harper and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, her rich, soulful voice and clarion call to love and justice have always been a pleasure to hear. She’s still kicking at the age of almost 80, and I’m so pleased to finally be able to see her live and in person.

Aysanabee, an Oji-Cree singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, is the first signing to Ishkode Records – the new Indigenous-owned-and-operated label founded and run by Amanda Rheaume and Digging Roots’ Shoshona Kish. He’s an emerging artist currently working on his debut full-length album, so I’m not sure what he’ll sound like, but my curiosity is piqued to find out.

I could go on and on, with so much great music on the schedule, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Watch this space for my reviews, after each day of the festival. Mariposa, here we come!

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