Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2014: 5 hidden gems

This weekend's Vancouver Folk Music Festival has big names, like Joan Baez, and Canadian favourites, like Great Lake Swimmers. But the three-day musical love-in at Jericho Beach Park is all about discovering artists you've never heard of — who blow your Birkenstocks off.

Annual festival is all about discovering artists you've never heard of

Mary Lambert plays the main stage on Sunday night. (Vancouver Folk Music Festival )

The 37th Vancouver Folk Music Festival has big names like Joan Baez and Canadian favourites, like the Great Lake Swimmers. But the three-day festival at Jericho Beach Park is all about discovering the artists you've never heard of who can blow your Birkenstocks off.

Here are some of picks for the 2014 festival, which begins today, from CBC's The Early Edition:

Mary Lambert

You may not have heard her name, but if you've turned on the radio in the last couple of years, you've probably heard her voice.

Mary is responsible for the soulful, haunting chorus of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's ode to marriage equality Same Love.

Mary, a Christian lesbian from Everett, Washington, was given three hours to write her part. The Grammy-winning ballad became Mary's ticket from unemployed barista to performing alongside Madonna.

Noura Mint Seymali

Noura Mint Seymali, at right, plays the main stage on Saturday night. (Vancouver Folk Music Festival)

Noura's music is a cross-section of Arab and African influences — just like her home country, Mauritania — with a dash of the blues.

She comes from a family of musical heavyweights and launched her career at age 13. Her grandmother, Dimi Mint Abba, is credited with bringing Mauritanian music to the world; her father, Seymali Ould Mouhamed, was the first to apply written notation to his country's folk music.

Leonard Sumner

Leonard is the next big thing in the Aboriginal Canadian blues scene — and he has a pointed message for the rest of this country.

"They say this land is their own... dig up my ancestors' bones... but they can't silence my song," Sumner sings in They Say.

The Anishinaabe MC from Winnipeg takes inspiration from traditions of First Nations resistance music, and mixes it with a healthy dose of rap and hip-hop.

Langhorne Slim & the Law

You can catch Langhorne Slim and the Law on stage 6 on Saturday afternoon and stages 3 and 5 on Sunday. (Vancouver Folk Music Festival)

This is the band that the young folk fest volunteers are going wild for.

The quartet hails from Tennessee and plays a raw, foot-stomping blend of punk, folk and rock.

But the band also has a sweet side, on display in Song for Sid, an ode to Slim's late grandfather. The dust will no doubt start flying on the dance floor as soon as they hit the stage.

The Como Mamas

No folk fest would be complete without a spine-tingling gospel experience: The Como Mamas will take you higher.

Ester Mae Smith and sisters Angela Taylor and Dee Daniels have been singing together since they were kids. Back in 2006, Daptone records headed to tiny Como, Mississippi, to record singers at the local church.

They discovered more talent than they bargained for, and have now released an album featuring the trio.

The 2014 Vancouver Folk Music Festival is July 18-20 at Jericho Beach Park.


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