You might think that the Rogue Folk Club would have its hands full hosting the Canadian Folk Music Awards at the end of the month, that perhaps they wouldn’t have time to host a full month of concerts on top of that.
But you’d be wrong.
The Rogue is a mighty club with a mighty community that surrounds it, and the only problem fans ever have with this club is trying to decide which shows to go see.
And this month is no exception. From a harmony vocal group that will knock your socks off to a guy that emulates Ali Farka Toure on guitar, an iconic Nashville songwriter, a pair of Canadian favourites and an exciting emerging Canadian duo.
For more information on these shows, visit roguefolk.bc.ca or call 604.736.3022.
Windborne – March 12 at Mel Lehan Hall at St. James
With a 20-year background studying polyphonic music from around the world, Lauren Breunig, Jeremy Carter-Gordon, Lynn Rowan, and Will Rowan share a vibrant energy onstage with a blending of voices that can only come from decades of friendship and dedicated practice. The ensemble shifts effortlessly between drastically different styles of music, drawing their audience along on a journey that spans continents and centuries, illuminating and expanding on the profound power and variation of the human voice. But there’s another, crucial dimension to Windborne that also guides and roots their artistry. They are adherents to folk music’s longtime alliance with social activism, labor and civil rights, and other movements that champion the oppressed, the poor, and the disenfranchised. Their latest project, Of Hard Times & Harmony, explores themes of social consciousness and showcases the depth of emotion their voices can evoke.
Derek Gripper – March 19 at Mel Lehan Hall at St. James
Derek Gripper’s solo guitar concert is a conversation between African traditions and western composition—most notably, the music of Toumani Diabate, J.S. Bach and Arvo Pärt. Derek is known for his groundbreaking technique for evoking the west African kora on the guitar. He’s performed at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Royal Albert Hall and many other esteemed venues. His painstaking, note-for-note transcriptions of the complex compositions of Toumani Diabaté allowed him to discover a way of playing them on six-string guitar. The result appears on his ninth album, One Night on Earth. The album created an unprecedented meeting point between the written tradition of western classical music and the oral tradition of the West African griots. Critical acclaim was quick to follow. Classical guitar legend John Williams said he thought it was “absolutely impossible until I heard Derek Gripper do it.” Toumani Diabaté himself asked for confirmation that it was indeed just one person playing one guitar. Both invited Derek to collaborate with them.
Dave Gunning and J.P. Cormier – March 23 at Mel Lehan Hall at St. James
Dave Gunning is best defined as a master craftsman. Over the course of 23 years and 11 earlier albums, the Nova Scotian folk singer-songwriter has diligently sharpened his skills, developing into a poetic storyteller and emotionally convincing singer with few equals.
Along with richly-deserved peer respect, Dave Gunning has earned a shelf-full of music industry honours. That tally currently stands at eight East Coast Music Awards and two Canadian Folk Music Awards, plus a 2012 Juno Award nomination in the Roots & Traditional Solo Album of the Year category for his album … a tribute to John Allan Cameron, a compelling homage to another of Dave’s Maritime musical heroes.
As for J.P. Cormier, he was working as a sideman by the time he was in his teens and was working with Stompin’ Tom Connors by the early ’90s. He went to Nashville, played mandolin and banjo in a Grammy nominated bluegrass gospel band and performed on the Opry and television shows with Waylon Jennings. In 1997, he released an album called Another Morning that showcased his skill as a singer-songwriter, earning him a Juno nomination and an ECMA. Sixteen albums followed, winning 12 more ECMA’s, another Juno nomination, a Canadian Folk Music Award and five Music Nova Scotia Awards. Each album was a snapshot of another thing that he can do. There are fiddle, mandolin, banjo and guitar albums, tribute records, songwriting collections, a purely astounding spectrum of talent and musical vision. Of all the things he is, foremost he is an entertainer. One of the best. After you’ve seen what he does, we’re certain you will think so too.
Mary Gauthier – March 26 at Mel Lehan Hall at St. James
Mary’s eleventh album, the first in over eight years consisting of all her own songs, is called Dark Enough to See the Stars. It follows the profound antidote to trauma, Rifles & Rosary Beads, her 2018 collaborative work with wounded Iraq war veterans. It garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album, as well as a nomination for Album of the Year from the Americana Music Association. Publication of her first book, the illuminating Saved by a Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting, in 2021 brought her more praise. Brandi Carlile has said, “Mary’s songwriting speaks to the tender aspects of our humanness. We need her voice in times like these more than we ever have.” The Associated Press called her “One of the best songwriters of her generation.” Mary’s songs have been recorded by dozens of artists, including Jimmy Buffett, Dolly Parton, Boy George, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Bettye Lavette, Mike Farris, Kathy Mattea, Bobby Bare, Amy Helm and Candi Staton and have appeared extensively in film and television, most recently on HBO TV’s Yellowstone.
Mama’s Broke – March 28 at Mel Lehan Hall at St. James
Mama’s Broke is a powerful folk duo that deliver a compelling performance with heart and raw energy. Although highly influenced by their Canadian roots, Lisa and Amy are based out of nowhere and everywhere. Their two strong voices blend to create haunting harmonies, while they artfully juggle fiddle, banjo, guitar and mandolin and incorporate traditional dance and foot percussion into their performance. Their original – and often dark – compositions push the boundaries of tradition and the constraints of genre. Drawing from old-time, Quebecois, blues, punk, Celtic, Balkan and doom metal, they create a soundscape that is both familiar and new. Since forming the band in 2014, Mama’s Broke has been gaining momentum fast, having already completed two European, and several Canadian and U.S. tours. They have performed in a wide range of venues, from circus shows in New Orleans, to pirate ships in Amsterdam to concert halls in Ireland, to theatres in Brooklyn. In this way, they stay true to the transient nature of folklore, as they travel the world sharing and collecting song.