Bonnie Raitt is one of the performers Chris Frayer is most excited about this year at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

"I've been trying to get her for years and years, so it was fantastic that it finally happened," said the festival artistic director.

"She hasn't been to the festival since the late 80s. She's just such a class act and I think it's just going to make for such a great opening tonight."

Bonnie Raitt is daughter of the great musician John Raitt. And that familial connection links the performers on the opening night main stage. 

Sarah Lee Guthrie is Arlo Guthrie's daughter and Woody Guthrie's granddaughter and Amy Helm is Levon Helm's daughter.

The Bros. Landreth, who launch the festivities, are sons of veteran Winnipeg songwriter and sideman Wally Landreth. The band even plans to invite Dad on stage to help sing a song.

The Bros. Landreth are thrilled to be the opening act of the festival. While Joey and Dave have been making music with different bands for years, they didn't come together as a band until last year. Their first CD was released this past September and Frayer was quick to snatch them up for this prime spot.

"I think they've just had such a great year. It's nice to see them come into their own. They totally deserve to be there," he said.

Joan Baez is another coup at this year's festival. The classic folk singer has never performed here before.

While singers like Baez represent the classic folk tradition, the festival programming is actually very wide ranging. Frayer defends his decision to broaden the music to include other genres.

"Change is inevitable with an organization that is as old and historic as the festival. We live in an environment where organizations need to be nimble and they need to be responding to trends in the music business," he said.

"It's also my job to help evolve the folk music genre and sometimes that means taking artistic risks on things that are different. Hopefully it moves us in a direction that keeps the festival very exciting, relevant and ground-breaking."

The Winnipeg Folk Festival runs July 9 - 13 at Bird's Hill Park.