Folk on the Rocks 2021 lineup is here — and it's flush with northern talent

The Folk on the Rocks Festival returns with a lineup packed with northern talent and a wide diversity of musicians from the territories and beyond.

'So excited and so pleased … to be planning a festival for our community,' say organizers

Folk on the Rocks returns this year after the pandemic forced live music into hiatus. (Madeline Lapointe/CBC)

Yellowknife's biggest music festival is forging ahead this year, with a lineup that spans genre from Arctic metal to South Indian trap music and yes, even a burlesque show.

It's the first time Folk on the Rocks can return to live music after the pandemic forced organizers to cancel in-person entertainment last summer. 

"We're so excited and so pleased … to show the lineup today and to be planning a festival for our community," said Carly McFadden, the executive and artistic director for Folk on the Rocks.

The festival, which runs from July 16 to 18, is "super northern and we're really proud of it," said McFadden. 

At first, the festival rolled over its lineup from 2020, but as the year progressed, Folk organizers realized "bringing that many people up would be a little bit too much of a challenge."

They kept bands like Partner and Caleigh Cardinal, who they booked last year. 

The southern artists will isolate together in a large rented home, said McFadden, and during that time, the artists will work on a collaboration together. 

McFadden said response to the festival has been "overwhelmingly positive" and that ticket sales are coming along. 

'Working' is Cartel Madras' 1st single since the Calgary duo's 2019 EP, The Age of Goonda. (Cartel Madras/Facebook)

Headliners include Cartel Madras, a Calgary duo composed of sisters Bhagya Ramesh and Priya Ramesh who make what they describe as Goonda Rap, which traverses trap, punk, house music and South Indian aesthetics.

Their namesake means "the powerful juxtaposition of a Western term aimed at ghettoizing other cultures and the English colonial name foisted on Chennai, India; 2. A queer, female, Desi act igniting a revolution because they're sick of this b*******."

They've been described in Vogue as "Tamil Pulp Fiction-meets-MIA" with "brown girl anthems." 

The Iqaluit band, The Jerry Cans, will headline the festival.

There will be performances by Leela Gilday, a Dene-Canadian singer and songwriter born and raised in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and Celeigh Cardinal, an R&B soul artist from Edmonton.

Dylan Jones, who goes by the stage name Crook the Kid, will take the stage at FOTR this year. (Submitted by Dylan Jones)

Fort Good Hope rapper Crook the Kid (also known as Dylan Jones) will perform, as will Kid Gali, who is Yellowknifer Bryan Tuyishime, on northern indie label One North Recordings

Attendees can catch the fierce fiddling of Wesley Hardisty, the country crooning "Baby Brian" Weadick and teen garage rockers Quantum Haze.

Yellowknife writer Laurie Sarkadi will perform live. She dropped her album Middle World right as the pandemic cancelled many live events. 

The folks at Absurd Turd Media, which put on a number of online comedy shows during COVID-19, will have a chance to try out their material on a live audience with a performance titled Big Folkin Laughs.

McFadden said on Friday evening, they'll hold Glam on the Rocks, a small burlesque show. (This one is a 19+ event!)

The festival also has artists coming from all over the territories — Abe Drennan, a folk artist from Inuvik and folk-country artist Joey O'Neil from the Yukon, who has shared the stage with the likes of Julie Doiron. 

As always, the Yellowknives Dene Drummers will open and close the festival, with festival goers, tired from a full weekend of music, drum dancing up the sandy hill at the main stage. 

For the full lineup, visit the Folk on the Rocks website.


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