The Dead South's Eliza Doyle celebrates Ness Creek festival roots

Eliza Doyle grew up going to Ness Creek and has graced the stage countless times in a variety of bands and solo shows.

Banjo player who grew up attending the Ness Creek Music Festival with her parents now plays its main stage

“I grew up playing [Ness Creek Music Festival] and coming to this festival with my parents as a kid,” says Eliza Doyle, the banjo player in The Dead South. (Submitted by Eliza Doyle)

Eliza Doyle grew up going to the Ness Creek Music Festival and has graced its stage countless times across a variety of bands and solo shows.

Now, however, the banjo player is one of the main acts with her Juno Award-winning band The Dead South.

Her first band to play at Ness Creek was the Cracker Cats and she's also played with the Heartstrings and the Hard Ramblers, among others.

"I've played it a lot, but never in a band with this much national, international recognition," Doyle told The Afternoon Edition.

The Dead South won a Juno Award for best Traditional Roots Album in 2018 for their album Illusion and Doubt. (Paquin Entertainment)

The Dead South will be touring Germany and Denmark later this summer, Canada and the U.S. in the fall, and the United Kingdom next spring.

Doyle said she was excited they could fit Ness Creek in. 

"When you're on the road all the time, you always think about your home and your family and your community, so when I found out we had the opportunity to play at this festival, it was really special to kind of bring it back around."

The Ness Creek Music festival kicked off Thursday at the Ness Creek Site, 20 kilometres northeast of Big River on land bordering the west side of Prince Albert National Park.

The Ness Creek Music Festival has been running since 1991. (Nathan Jones/Ness Creek Music Festival/Facebook)

The annual festival has been running for nearly 30 years and features daytime activities in addition to music acts. 

"It's basically a big family camping outing with amazing music in the forest and so many things to do during the day," Doyle said. "It's a really amazing community."

One of Doyle's favourite acts is Crooked Creek, a bluegrass folk band that formed in the 1970s and opens the festival every year.

"Thursday, main stage, 8 p.m., you always know you're going to see Crooked Creek," Doyle said. "You know when that band hits the stage, it's game on."

About the Author

Ashleigh Mattern is a web writer and reporter with CBC Saskatoon, CBC Saskatchewan, and CBC North; and an associate producer with Saskatoon Morning. She has been working as a journalist since 2007 and joined CBC in 2017. Email:

With files from The Afternoon Edition