Five Acts Not To Miss At Folk On The Rocks
Folk on the Rocks is special. Whether it’s the lake, the feral children, the sweet scent of bug spray or the music, there’s just something about Folk.
I was a newly-minted Northern transplant my first year, barely two weeks after moving from Ontario. I went and rocked out to Joel Plaskett and A Tribe Called Red and was on my way to the gates, having exhausted the single acquaintance I knew, when Elaine Anselmi (formerly of Up Here fame) stopped me. After the usual exchange of my-friend-sort-of-knows-you-you’re-new-and-look-scared biographical details (including excitedly asking me what crafts I did because, you know, winter is coming), she literally strong-armed me into her group of friends on their way to main stage for the final show. I stayed till the very end and somewhere under the fading midnight sun, dancing in the giant drum dance that closes the festival every year, it felt like the North could be home. That’s Yellowknife, and that’s Folk: you might not be a local when you arrive, but by the time you leave, someone will have grabbed you, anointed you in Folk dirt and made you part of the community—whether you want it or not.
But if you’re new, or confused, or some mixture of the two, what do you see? Well, you could check out our helpful festival guide for getting the most out of Folk and other Northern summer music festivals, follow along to Folk's 2019 Spotify playlist, or keep reading when we give you the short list of our top five performers not to miss in this year’s line up!
The Don’t Miss: Wintersleep
Wintersleep is a headliner for a reason. The East Coast indie rockers have been making music since 2001 and all that experience shows: they’ve opened for big names like Paul McCartney, they’ve won Junos, and you’ve definitely heard their song “Weighty Ghost” if you liked acoustic twang circa 2008 (it also appeared in the film One Week). But despite all that, they still have a down-to-earth flair that’s going to get real muddy at Folk. Their blend of chill rock will be just what’s needed after a day in the sun in the beer garden or a dip in the lake. If you don’t know them yet, you’re going to want to be able to say you saw-them-when!
The Local Celebrity: Leela Gilday
We’re big fans of Leela Gilday (who isn’t though?). She grew up in Yellowknife and moved back in 2009 after stints in the south. The North never forgot her either, so expect the crowd at her stages to be packed. Her stuff is powerful—from the lyrics to the rhythms to the vocals that reach in and scoop your soul out like a melon baller. Get there early and maybe try to make plans to see her more than once. Or, failing that, you can totally say hi when you see her wandering around the festival.
The One To Dance To: Alex Cuba
Brush up on your dance steps because Alex Cuba is bringing a little bit of Cuba to Yellowknife (which we need, have you seen the weather?). He’s got two Junos and a Latin Grammy to his name and has held on to his roots in Cuba, which means if you speak Spanish you’re in for a treat. Even if you don’t though, now is the time to learn to move those hips. Check him out in the beer garden, that may help.
The One That Slaps: Snotty Nose Rez Kids
Is there a better place for the next big thing in Indigenous hip hop than Folk on the Rocks? Snotty Nose Rez Kids got our attention with “Skoden” and have kept right on trucking, bringing track after track that refuse to be ignored. Warning: they get political. They are not for the faint of heart. Just listen to “The Warriors” and see if you still feel the same way about the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
The Antidote To Too Much Time In The Beer Garden: La Force
Picture it: you’ve been having a Very Good Time and then suddenly… you’re not. You’ve got a couple options—you can leave (boo), you can go make a pit stop at the Sub Arctic Safety Squad’s Sanctuary for a nap and a cookie, or you can seek out La Force. Otherwise known as Ariel Engle, she’s performed with Broken Social Scene and is bringing her buttery smooth vocal stylings to Yellowknife. And when we say buttery we mean buttery—no margarine, yes-I-can-believe-it’s-butter smoothness. Even on her more up-tempo tracks, there’s a calming quality to her music that’s a nice little antidote for too much fun in the sun.