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The Bluegrass, Old-Time, & Grassicana Side of Edmonton Folk Music Festival, 2023

Donald Teplyske  |  May 26, 2023

The Edmonton Folk Music Festival lineup always delivers, and while their definition of folk music is a bit more liberal than mine, I've never come away from this meticulously organized festival disappointed. Yes, sometimes the crowd 'gets' to me, but almost always the diverse music presented more than makes up for my failures as a social creature.

This summer, among headliners like Fleet Foxes, Ben Harper, Feist, and Gregory Alan Isakov are several artists I am personally excited to experience live including Margo Price, Valerie June, and Vieux Farka Touré. There are many Canadian artists I can't wait to hear including Aysanabee, Tami Neilson (Oh, my!), Julian Taylor, and Alberta (and Fervor Coulee) favourites Maria Dunn, AV & Inner City, Crystal Shawanda, and Mariel Buckley.

Among the artists mentioned so far is a wide variety sure to please almost all lovers of roots 'n such. But one may notice a distinct lack of old-timey and bluegrass music. Well, I've been saving that for last because this year Edmonton Folk Music Festival has outdone itself on this front, the reason I am unusually excited to attend this iteration of the vastly popular, river valley fest.

The 'biggest' featured name from 'our kind of music' is likely Old Crow Medicine Show, whom I am certain will give a crowd-pleasing performance. I'm much more excited to have the chance to see and hear Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway, a simply incredible band on the leading edge of contemporary bluegrass. Another favourite will be Greensky Bluegrass, the long-running, jam-influenced group of the 'grassicana variety.

I've quite enjoyed the music of Bella White—a former Albertan—these last few years, and while she isn't bluegrass, there is no mistaking the Appalachian influence within her southern-steeped, original music.

It is going to be exciting to hear the personable Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves presenting their old-time sounds, and tradition-blurring banjoist Jake Blount is certain to impress. Additionally, Nora Brown, Nick Shoulders, and Watchhouse (once known as Mandolin Orange) are of interest to those whose tastes bend my direction.

The Edmonton Folk Music Festival occurs August 10-13 in Edmonton, Alberta with tickets going on sale June 3.

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