The 25th Mission Folk Music Festival is little more than a week away, and this year promises an even larger contingent of international musicians and singers than ever before.
The festival has once again organized the music into various genres, such as World Encounters, Words & Song, Hot Lick & Fast Feats, A Congress of Celts, Aboriginal Voices, and a special Scandinavian experience with Across the Kategatt.
Festival organizer Francis Xavier says the Scandinavian component of the festival this year is “loaded.”
“We have some of the best musicians from that part of the world,” he said, pointing to Sweden’s Lyy and the Epic Swedish All-Stars, and Denmark’s Himmerland and Habedekuk.
The latter band consists of nine members playing music variously described as having a mix of polka, salsa, and jazz. But saxaphone player Rasmus Henriksen says at its heart it’s party music meant to get people up and dancing.
“The whole idea with the band is to take these tunes that were made 150 years ago and have been perfected in dances throughout so many years to do just that. To make the best party ever,” he said from his home in Copenhagen.
Habedekuk won Album of the Year, while fiddler Kristian Brugge received Folk Artist of the Year at the 2011 Danish Folk Music Awards.
Although it’s the band’s first visit to Canada, Henriksen said, “It doesn’t really matter where you come from, you can all relate to it, and you can all have a good time to it.”
Habadekuk is heavily influenced by the Quebec band La bottine souriante, a popular recurring act at the Mission Folk Festival. Although they won’t be returning this year, Xavier said he was pleased to get such a similar sound with Habadekuk. “They’re a very lively, boisterous band, a lot of fun,” he said.
International superstar Buffy Sainte-Marie is returning to the folk festival again. The aboriginal artist virtually invented the role of Native North American activist pop star.
She is accompanied by Rasmus Lyberth from Greenland in the Aboriginal Voices genre. Lyberth sings in the Greenlandic language, sharing Arctic culture and song.
In the Celtic category, Ireland’s The Teetotalers and Colum Sands feature fiddles, guitars and flutes. Shooglenifty and Mairi Campbell represent the Scottish contingent.
In World Encounters there are numerous groups, including the famed Renato Borghetti and Artur Bonilla from Brazil, Talavya from India, and Minor Empire from Turkey.
A new addition this year is the Argentinian band Los Pinguos, who moved to the City of Angels in early 2001 and carved out a name for themselves playing a variety of sounds and flavours from South and Latin America, playing flamenco, reggae, bolero, cumbia, and meringue.
The band — consisting of Adrian “Coco” Buono, José Agote, Juan Manzur, Juan Manuel Leguizamón, and Santiago Lee — has been playing together since 1999.
“Jose [Agote] is a great writer and that’s something that stands out from the rest of the Spanish bands. It’s not easy to sound good in Spanish when you sing, and the lyrics we have are all really good, like poetry,” said Coco.
“Los Pinguos has really made a name for themselves. I love the music,” said Xavier, adding there’s great flair and passion in their melodies.
For more information about the 25th annual Mission Folk Festival, including ticket information, accommodation, special events, and contact numbers, visit www.missionfolkmusicfestival.ca.
A music camp hosted by the Sabir Sisters’ Music School is a festival partner. Check website for details.