Rosalyn Dennett, MJ Dandeneau, guest host Joanne Rodriguez, Allison De Groot and Vanessa Kuzina (Anna Lazowski/CBC)
I think we all need a mentor in every stage of our career. The program was really instrumental in instilling that excitement, that creativity, the confidence that you as a performer need.
—Vanessa Kuzina, musician
For the four members of Oh My Darling, playing the main stage of the Winnipeg Folk Festival was a dream come true.
Winnipeg's favourite old time country quartet kicked off the 40th anniversary of Folk Fest on Wednesday evening and they are keeping busy on various stages every day of the festival.
Our virtual photo album of the 40th Winnipeg Folk Festival
Each of the performers has a different experience with the festival. Fiddler Rosalyn Dennett says she was eight months in the womb when she first attended the festival, and she's gone every year since.
Bass player MJ Dandeneau has never actually attended the festival, she has only performed. (Being from St. Boniface, Festival du Voyageur is her big music event.) Her first performance at Folk Fest was actually playing on the main stage with Ellen Thorne.
Guitarist and vocalist Vanessa Kuzina first attended the festival as a teenager when she was just starting to write songs. "Since then it's been a mainstay in my life," she says.
Banjo player Allison De Groot says her love of old time music came from hearing a lot of performers at the festival. "I saw The Mammals, The Duhks from Winnipeg, Bruce Molsky and Dirk Powell, so the Winnipeg Folk Festival has always been really great in bringing in traditional acts of old time music. It's been pretty exciting to be in Winnipeg and to get to experience that music here."
Kuzina got a big leg up when she participated in the Young Performers Program where young musicians have the opportunity to work with professional mentors. "The Young Performers Program is an amazing, amazing program," she says.
"I remember being so excited when I was selected to be a young performer. I was really nervous but one of the best parts was immediately becoming a part of a community.
"You're put with other artists from Winnipeg and elsewhere that are all in the same place you are and then you have this mentor coaching you and helping you with every step of what you need to get on that festival stage, whether it's how to prepare musically, mentally, emotionally, what gear you need to have ready, all that kind of stuff is so important.
"I think we all need a mentor in every stage of our career. The program was really instrumental in instilling that excitement, that creativity, the confidence that you as a performer need. It reinforces that you really are in the right place with your dream and that you have the support of this community around you and that people that are performing professionally are believing in you as well."
This year Kuzina and De Groot are sharing their knowledge as they themselves take on the roles of being musical mentors.
Catch On My Darling on SCENE on Air with guest host Joanne Rodriguez. The show airs every Saturday from 5 - 6 p.m. on CBC Radio One, 89.3 FM/990 AM/97.9 FM in Brandon.
Manitoba Musicians always shine at the Winnipeg Folk Festival