Vancouver’s Rogue Folk Club has an all-star month of shows lined up for February that includes two Juno winners, three Juno nominees and a recipient of the highest honour for traditional arts in the U.S. Hopefully you’ve got some spare cash this month because you might have trouble trying to choose between these shows.
For more information, visit http://www.roguefolk.bc.ca or call 604.736-3022.
James Keelaghan – Feb. 11 at Mel Lehan Hall at St. James
The winner of this year’s Penguin Eggs / Roots Music Canada critic’s poll, Juno and Canadian Folk Music Award winner James Keelaghan has created a repertoire of incalculable importance over the span of nearly 40 years. It’s a unique body of work, either inspired by or drawn from the folk tradition. Songs like “Small Rebellions” (highlighting the 1931 slaughter of peaceful striking miners in Bienfait, SK); “Hillcrest Mine” (a prelude to the worst coal mining disaster in Canadian history); “Kiri’s Piano” (a triumph over adversity amidst the shameful, racist treatment of Japanese-Canadians during WW II); and “Cold Missouri Waters” (a harrowing portrait of the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire in the mountains of Montana) are part of the Canadian folk cannon.
Rahim AlHaj – Feb. 17 at Mel Lehan Hall at St. James
Rahim AlHaj, virtuoso oud musician and composer, was born in Baghdad, Iraq and began playing the oud (the grandfather of all stringed instruments) at age nine. Early on, it was evident that he had a remarkable talent for playing it. Rahim studied under the renowned Munir Bashir, considered by many to be the greatest oud player ever, and Salim Abdul Kareem, at the Institute of Music in Baghdad. Rahim won various awards at the conservatory and graduated in 1990 with a diploma in composition. He holds a degree in Arabic Literature from Mustunsariya University in Baghdad.
In 1991, after the first Gulf War, Rahim was forced to leave Iraq due to his activism against the Saddam Hussein regime and began his life in Jordan and Syria. He moved to the U.S. in 2000 as a political refugee and has resided in Albuquerque, NM ever since. In 2015 Rahim was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor for traditional arts in the USA.
The Small Glories – Feb. 24 at Mel Lehan Hall at St. James
Roots powerhouse duo The Small Glories is Cara Luft and JD Edwards, a musical tour-de-force partnership planted on the Canadian Prairies. Thrown together purely by accident for an anniversary show at Winnipeg’s venerable West End Cultural Centre, The Small Glories could almost make you believe in fate.
With a stage banter striking a unique balance between slapstick and sermon, these veteran singer-songwriters have a way of making time disappear, rooms shrink, and audiences feel as though they are right there on the stage with the band. It’s not uncommon for listeners to find themselves laughing, dancing, crying, or caught up in a good ol’ fashioned sing-along. Their material is welcoming in terms of subject, folk-pop melody and instrumentation — songs of love, loss, and environment, delivered with soaring, interwoven vocals on various combinations of stomping clawhammer banjo, guitar and harmonica.
The McDades – Feb. 26 at Mel Lehan Hall at St. James
Punching through the walls of tradition, The McDades’ Celtic-rooted music fuses the spontaneity of jazz improvisation and infectious global rhythms. The Juno Award winners’ cutting edge sound is the perfect complement to their fiery performances.
At the heart of the group are siblings Shannon, Solon and Jeremiah, who grew up playing Canadian folk music alongside their parents and among artists from around the world, a unique upbringing that led to a love and respect for all music. Their ground-breaking compositions and innovative arrangements are characterized by stunning virtuosity and a near-telepathic interaction on stage. With vocal harmonies that can only come from a family, and an obvious love for each other and their music, The McDades’ sound is immersed in the spirit of improvisation. Combining original tunes and unique interpretations of traditional songs, their performances feature both energetic instrumentals and moving vocals performed in English and French.