The top 5 folk bands to watch in Toronto
There's long history of folk music in Toronto, including back to Yorkville in the 60's, the Riverboat Cafe, and early appearances by Silvia & Ian Tyson, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young. Today Toronto has open stages, the Tranzac, Free Times Cafe, Dakota Tavern, and draws musicians reflecting folk genres from around the world. While the Toronto folk scene is diverse and difficult to pin down (DIY folk song-writer / touring artist Angela Saini and retro-folk-80's cover band McFlies are both honourable mentions) here are five folk bands definitely worth the watch in Toronto.
Captain Dirt and The Skirt
The duo of Lyndell Montgomery (Captain Dirt) and Kristin Sweetland (The Skirt) demonstrate their multi-instrumental adeptness as part of the new collaboration Captain Dirt and The Skirt. their new album showcases their years of touring in an instrumental album of ever-changing stories. Live, they bring vocal and visual storytelling to their performances.
Sarah Burton Band
She's been called Canada's answer to Lucinda Williams. With multiple national tours under her belt, she's played NXNE, CMW, Winterfolk, and Alberta's North Country Fair. Her single "Then Run Away" was called Best Folk Song in Toronto Exclusive magazine (2009). Burton regularly plays with Luke Stackhouse, Jay Swinnerton, and a rotating cast of special guests. For those looking to get a more Americana Sarah Burton, she can be heard as part of the Ole Fashioned (powerpop fans check out Hot Peach).
Blue Sky Miners
This five-piece is a reminder of that Canada is not as big as we often imagine it, with friends from different coasts reuniting in Toronto. Their songs show off their regional experiences as well as coast to coast. Humber96.9 named them band of the month in March 2014, and they're fresh from playing CMW (Canadian Music Week) in May 2014.
The Boxcar Boys
Incorporating music from North American folk, Dixieland, Gypsy and European Klezmer, the boxcar boys bring a unique blend of genres and instrumentation with John Williams (Clarinet), Rob Teehan (Sousaphone), Karl Silveira (Trombone), Ronen Segall (Accordion), and Laura Bates (Violin). Whether onstage or busking, they manage to put humour and fun in every performance.
Graydon James And The Young Novelists
The Young Novelists continue to build a name for themselves with their penchant for story in every song, and folk-rock that's often dance worthy. They continue to develop a following as part of international folk festival showcases, house concerts, intimate Graydon and Laura duo performances, and beard etiquette. In addition to a Galaxie Rising Star award, three album releases, Graydon recently published a novel "The Mall of Small Frustrations".
Writing by Ryan Ayukawa, photo of Captain Dirt and The Skirt from Facebook.