Rhinestones & Birkenstocks: A recap of this year’s Canadian Folk Music Awards


Hosts for the evening gala, Shelagh Rogers and Benoit Bourque. Credit: Graham Lindsey.

The 9th Annual Canadian Folk Music Awards were in town to celebrate the diversity of Canadian folk music and to give praise to musicians and groups who continue to exemplify greatness in talent and expertise.

The nominees for the Canadian Folk Music Awards were announced this September, with over 70 artists in almost 20 categories, hailing from most of Canada’s provinces, including two territories. Recognizable names include the Good Lovelies, The Sweet Lowdown, and Ian Sherwood.

Jaron Freeman-Fox & The Opposite of Everything and his song “JFF goes to AA”.  The group won awards for Pushing the Boundaries and Instrumental Group of the Year.

Events ran from Friday, November 8 with performances by Helen Austin, The Log Drivers, The Sweet Lowdown, Alexis Normand, Ken Whiteley, and Lenka Litchenberg at the Calgary Folk Club.

The University of Calgary hosted the Saturday, November 9 Host It! workshop, a session for tips and tricks on how to host folk music events for business ventures, community events, and birthday parties. Professionals about the business were on-hand to offer sound advice on both pros and cons, and how to book musicians for every purpose. Topics of discussion included scheduling, booking tips, where to find musicians, how to ask the right questions, and more. Panelists included a few songs to leave the crowd with a taste of the kind of potential that awaits a folk music event.

Hear It!, the follow-up workshop, integrated lessons and stories for musicians interested in seeking radio play for their music. Questions and answers were presented for topics such as, how do I get started?, and, what is the secret to creating radio the people want to listen to? Overall, it was a great workshop for anyone who was curious about the radio business and how musicians can get started in making a name for themselves.

The Calgary Folk Club late that night hosted a few folk musicians and groups for a wonderful, half-hour experience. The Nickelodeon Music Club also hosted a series of musicians and groups for a half-hour extravaganza, giving listeners a sample of their talent, and, for new listeners, some insight into why they are considered so great in their field. To round out the triangular series of events for the night, Saturday Night Special hosted a half-hour music sampler of musicians, as well.

Sunday, November 10 saw the live CKUA Broadcast of the Folk Routes LIVE, SOCAN Songwriters Circle from 10 am to 12 o’clock noon at the Ironwood Stage & Grill. CKUA Sunday morning programmer Tom Coxworth hosted the event, as he introduced CFMA nominees as part of the songwriters’ circle. Justin Rutledge, Maria Dunn, Stephen Fearing, and Diem Lafortune were part of the circle sponsored by SOCAN, while Fish Creek Concerts out of Calgary supported the broadcast.

After the broadcast, ReFolkUs was next, “an upbeat & timely multimedia presentation” dedicated to the teaching of economic development within a community. With a reminder that folk music festivals function as businesses and community-building projects, ReFolkUs informed attendees that a folk music festival bridges the gap between economic development and community outreach event. The session, lead by Michael B. MacDonald, Assistant Professor at Grant MacEwan University and Adjunct Professor at University of Alberta, gave importance to asking how and why it is important for organizers to be clear of their objectives when organizing a festival.

The National Music Centre gave tours for a discounted price during the afternoon for the public to experience the vast collection of artifacts dating back centuries.

The final event for the CMFA’s included the Gala and Reception at the University of Calgary. In both English and French, the awards ceremony included performances by Lorne Elliott, Oh My Darling, The Fretless, Amelia Curran, James Keelaghan & Oscar Lopez, and Christina Smith with Jean Hewson. Highlighting the bilingual capacity of the event, one of CBC’s most recognizable voices, Shelagh Rogers, alongside Benoit Bourque were the official hosts, speaking in English and French respectively.


Beloved Canadian children’s songwriter Lorne Elliott. Credit: Graham Lindsey.

A list of the winners:

Children’s Album of the Year  – Always Be A Unicorn by Helen Austin

Instrumental Group of the Year – Jaron Freeman-Fox & The Opposite of Everything for Jaron Freeman-Fox & The Opposite of Everything

Vocal Group of the Year – Good Lovelies for Live at Revolution

Producer of the Year – David Travers-Smith for These Wilder Things by Ruth Moody and for Jaron Freeman-Fox and The Opposite of Everything

Instrumental Solo Artist of the Year – Chrissy Crowley for Last Night’s Fun

Solo Artist of the Year – Lynn Miles for Downpour

Ensemble of the Year – Good Lovelies for Live at Revolution

Contemporary Singer of the Year – Ian Sherwood for Live At The Hive

Pushing the Boundaries – Jaron Freeman-Fox and The Opposite of Everythingfor Jaron Freeman-Fox and The Opposite of Everything

French Songwriter of the Year – Dany Placard for Démon vert

Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year – Nancy Mike of The Jerry Cans for Nunavuttitut

World Solo Artist of the Year – Jorge Miguel for Flamenco Guitar

English Songwriter of the Year – David Francey for So Say We All

Young Performer of the Year – Kierah for Stonemason’s Daughter

Traditional Singer of the Year – Pharis Romero for Long Gone Out West Blues

New/Emerging Artist of the Year – Mo Kenney for Mo Kenney

World Group Artists of the Year – Jaffa Road for Where The Light Gets In

Traditional Album of the Year – Seinn by Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac

Contemporary Album – Valleyheart by Justin Rutledge

Additional special awards for this year:

Unsung Hero Award – Mitch Podolak

Innovator of the Year – Daniel Lapp


Mitch Podolak awarded this year’s Unsung Hero Award. Credit: Ian Jones.

For more information on the CFMA, check out their website at folkawards.ca.

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