Folk Alliance, the professional organization of the folk music industry, has chosen the frigid city of Montreal to host its international conference this year. Why here, as opposed to some lovely more southern clime? It’s the 50th anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Give Peace a Chance bed-in. This week, artists from all around the world will gather here, representing over 35 different countries. This means 180 jury-selected, touring musicians will perform on full-production stages, though there are private showcases if you know the right industry folks. Also, get ready for Lobby jams, where all kinds of artists can just step up and play together.
Aware of increased global recognition for Indigenous peoples, Inuk throat singer from Nunavut, Tanya Tagaq is the keynote speaker as well as the recipient of the International Folk Music Awards’ People’s Voice Award. Also, the artist in residence chosen this year is a husband and wife duo — Twin Flames, which consists of Jaaji and Inuk Mohawk from Nunavik and Chelsey June an Algonquin Cree Métis from Ottawa. They have been commissioned to create an original piece that speaks to the importance of language in conjunction with the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Montreal locals are well represented at the conference, and some are surprising choices. Hawksley Workman is there — he’s not so much of a surprise. Pierre Kwenders who seems to appear at many festivals in the city, has one of the showcases. Beyries’ voice and piano will leave you breathless . Keep an eye out for Gypsy jazzsters Christine Tassan et les Imposteures. If blues is your thing, watch for Jordan Officer. Nomadic Massive, with its sprawling 10-piece hip hop band is performing. Also Vox Sambou, who is more often knowing for his Haitian inspired dance music. There is certainly some Quebec traditional trad, such as Les Poules a Colin. Keep an eye out for performers from the Rest of Canada too, singers like like Matt Mays, Abigail Lapell, (she won the Canadian Folk Music Award for Contemporary Album of the Year in 2017), Mo Kenney, and the Good Lovelies.
The festival has many events. One highlight is the Indigenous Music Industry summit where artists, knowledge keepers, community builders, and allies can meet to discuss issues facing the Indigenous music community.
Another highlight is the International Folk Music Awards, which will be held on Wednesday night. Nominees for artist of the year are Dom Flemons, I’m With Her, Jeremy Dutcher, Wallis Bird, and William Prince. Nominees for album of the year are Dust Dance by Tri-Continental, El Mal Querer by Rosalia, Rifles and Rosary Beads by Mary Gauthier, Secularia by Eliza Gilkyson, and TIR The HIghland Life and Lore by Brian O’ hEadhra and Fiona Mackenzie.
For those who want to relieve John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s bed-in, now’s the chance to go to the spot where the two penned and recorded Give Peace a Chance. There will be a live-streaming performance with many folk people delivering from their beds on Saturday February 16th at 9:30 a.m. For details, you can find out more HERE.
The International Folk Alliance Conference takes place at the Fairmount Queen Elizabeth Hotel on February 13-17. Information can be obtained HERE.