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5 artists Pat Chessell can’t wait to see at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival

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In the coming weeks, my wife Alexandra and I will be attending the Edmonton Folk Music Festival this weekend, where we will be covering the event for Roots Music Canada.

We went last year and were impressed with various aspects of the festival, from its programming to its accessibility.

This year’s lineup is equally impressive, and we are excited about checking out some of the acts.

Ashley MacIsaac has been one of my favorite artists since my teenage years. I distinctly remember the constant rotation of his song “Sleepy Maggie” (recorded with Mary Jane Lamond) on Much Music when it was released. Growing up in a household where we frequently listened to traditional Irish folk bands like the Clancy Brothers and the Irish Rovers, Ashley’s modern approach to Celtic music showed me how traditional and contemporary sounds can creatively fuse together.

I first heard Julian Taylor on the CBC several years ago and have been following his career ever since. His song “Seeds” has become an anthem for me, with its powerful message: “They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were Seeds.” The Globe and Mail described Julian as “a unique and important voice on the Canadian roots-and-folk scene.” If you want to preview some other songs, I recommend checking out “100 Proof,” “Back Again,” and “Just a Little Bit.”

James Keelaghan has been a well-known figure on the Canadian folk circuit for years. Recently, he has collaborated on some great tunes with another favorite act of mine, The Small Glories. Once you become familiar with James’ music, you’ll understand why he’s received numerous Junos and Canadian Folk Music Awards. A quote from bluesman Eric Bibb on his website perfectly sums up James: [He] reminded me of the best of the best of another time – Liam Clancy, Tom Paxton, etcetera.”

A couple of years ago, while listening to Steve Edge’s “The Edge on Folk” radio show in Vancouver, I heard a song called “La Vie,” and I immediately thought to myself, “Who is this? I need to find out who this singer is.” That singer was Irish Mythen. Irish, originally from Ireland and now residing in Prince Edward Island, captivated me with her music. After a few listens, you’ll understand why she has earned recognition from Music PEI, the East Coast Music
Association, Folk Alliance International, SOCAN, and more.

Maria Dunn is a name frequently mentioned by my songwriting friends. Not only has Maria recorded great renditions of her own material, but her songs have also been covered by artists like Niamh Parsons, Evans and Doherty, Bob Bossin, The Outside Track, and others. Her latest album won the 2022 Juno for Traditional Roots Album of the Year.

As with last year, there are plenty of acts on the bill that you won’t want to miss. Stay tuned for our daily recaps of the festival. And if you’re there, please say hi!

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