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7 Standouts at the 2023 Regina Folk Festival

7 Standouts at the 2023 Regina Folk Festival

· 10 min. read

The 2023 Folk Festival is about to begin! At 52 years young, the Regina Folk Festival is the longest-running Western folk festival. However, if you haven’t heard the news (and you probably haven’t because of the Canadian news blackout on social media), the Folk Festival is having a tough time this year. Finances are tight, volunteers are few and between, and while the passion is there, the logistics are making it harder and harder to make ends meet.

So, to help drum up interest, I created a Spotify playlist with all the performing artists and their top three trending songs. I then listened to them all, on repeat, ad nauseam, for a week, to identify my absolute favorites. That makes 78 songs, over 4 and a half hours a day, every day. Although it was a little obsessive, it gave me a taste of what to expect, and it made me wish I had gotten tickets for all three days instead of just two.

So, while I encourage you to listen to the playlist (and go to the festival!), I can save you a few hours and tell you some of my personal standouts.

1. Celeigh Cardinal - Friday, August 11th at 7:05pm

When I first heard Cardinal’s “The Devil is a Blue-Eyed Man”, I thought she sounded just like Megan Nash. The depths of her vocals were similar to Nash’s, and her emotion and storytelling were nearly identical. You can feel her vehemence the moment she starts singing. However, it was “Wrong Love” that really got my attention. I had to stop the song and make sure it wasn’t a new Dua Lipa hit. There’s a world of difference between those two artists, so to compare Cardinal to both of them, you know it’s going to be an excellent performance.

Celeigh Cardinal photo by Levi Manchak

2. TOVA - Friday, August 11th - Tweener Set

I was surprised to see TOVA was performing at the folk festival. When I think folk music, I think of acoustic guitars and sad childhood memories. Most of Friday’s set is just like that… except TOVA. TOVA comes in hard, with screaming guitars, heavy bass lines, and booming drums. “You Look Better as Demons” is a hard rock song similar to Shinedown’s “Sound of Madness”. Their song “OBLIVION” starts off with the lyrics “Bring out your f*cking dead”, so you know this artist is unlike anything else performing this weekend. Having TOVA at the Regina Folk Festival will be a shock for any unsuspecting guests coming opening night.

TOVA

3. The Weather Station - Saturday, August 12th at 9:25pm

The Weather Station surprised me. When I first started listening to them, I was expecting something upbeat, especially since Saturday has some hard-hitting bangers. However, instead, I was met by the slow, flowing, reminiscent voice of Tamara Lindeman. It was such a surprise that I had thought my partner had switched the playlist on me, as I could have sworn it was pulled right from Joni Mitchell’s 1971 Blue album. It was an absolute delight to hear a modern voice echo such an iconic Canadian singer. “Thirty” is a great song for the artist, but you can really hear the ghost of Mitchell in “Robber”.

The Weather Station by Brandon Artis

4. Jaywood - Saturday, August 12th at 7:05pm

Apparently, Jaywood is a pretty big artist, but I’m sorry to say, I’ve never heard of his stuff before. If you’re familiar with JVKE, it’s a similar style of singing, complemented by power cords and drums. “What You Do to Me” is a great song to add to your summer road trip playlist, or jam out to with a cup of hot chocolate in the fall. It’s a fun, upbeat song with a fantastic riff that will keep you humming long after the song ended. I actually had a very hard time putting only three songs of his on the playlist, and my playlist originally had four songs. To “say less”, as the kids say, I am a new fan.

JayWood

5. Nick Faye - Saturday, August 12th - Tweener Set

I’ve known of Nick for several years now, but I didn’t really listen to his music until one cold December day in 2020. It was a Friday night, and I was settling in for the night while the world was descending into chaos. That night, I got a ping on my phone that Nick Faye had gone live on Instagram, and I decided to see what he was up to. I tuned in and saw him with a guitar, alone in a room, playing to whoever was listening. I listened to him for his whole hour-long set, transfixed by his voice, his guitar, and the feeling of connection and peace we shared in a very turbulent time. All of his songs are fantastic, including “Costco Magazine”, “Calm Your Mind”, “Make it Right”, and many others. I hope one day Nick will be a main act at the folk festival because his music is a spectacle.

Nick Faye by Andrew Parry

6. Abigail Lapell - Sunday, August 13th at 6:00pm

Lapell is another very popular singer I’ve never heard of, which is pretty embarrassing, as she has a quarter million monthly listeners on Spotify. Her style of singing reminds me of a mix between The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young”, and a hint of anything off She and Him’s Volume 2. Lapell’s emotion in “Down By The Water” is breathtaking, but her hits “Diamond Girl” and “Gonne be Leaving” are equally as emotional and captivating. This is a perfect way to start the final day of the festival.

Abigail Lapell

7. People of the Sun - Sunday, August 13th - Tweener Set

If you’re coming on Sunday, we all know it’s to see The Strumbellas. You don’t have to hide that. But, the band you’ll be talking about when the night is over will be People of the Sun. They’re a lesser-known band, but they make up for it by being a powerhouse. The song “Applause” crashes in with a strong bass and rapid-fire lyrics within the opening seconds and carries through to a “Cliff’s of Dover”-like guitar riff. This is an up-and-coming artist who collaborated in their 2020 self-titled album with Regina Transit Authority (not like, the public transit system…) and defined themselves as a group that will be making waves for years to come.

People of the Sun

See all the artists on the 2023 Regina Folk Festival website.

While music is the primary reason for the festival, there is plenty more going on too, from workshops, parades (of creepy crawlies – ewwww!), children’s areas (12 and under are free), free screenings provided by our friends over at the Regina Public Libary, beer gardens supplied by Rebellion and Pile o’ Bones, artist talks, and the After Dark with T + A Vintage after party.

Regina Folk Festival Map

If this sounds up your alley, you can get tickets on their website, either for individual days or for a weekend pass. Whatever day you go, and whatever show you listen to, it’s going to be absolutely fantastic… and your money and time are going towards keeping this incredible festival alive.

Who are you most excited to see perform at the 2023 Regina Folk Festival? Let me know in the comments below. Nick Faye is up on my list, but so are TOVA and People of the Sun.

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7 Standouts at the 2023 Regina Folk Festival7 Standouts at the 2023 Regina Folk Festival

Categories: Canada, Regina, Saskatchewan

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