Stanfest 2019

Next generation takes helm as artistic director

This year’s event a mix of festival favourites and fresh faces

By Helen Murphy    

CANSO – Chris Greencorn stepped into his father Troy Greencorn’s shoes last fall as artistic director at Canso’s famous Stan Rogers Folks Festival. It’s a comfortable fit for the younger Greencorn, who grew up in Stanfest and is now pursuing a masters degree in ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto.

He says this year’s festival, running July 25 to 28, is “still very much a Stanfest lineup,” in terms of core focus on east coast music and singer-songwriters. But the new artistic director did “steer it a lot younger,” he said during an interview with The Journal Friday.

Greencorn brings many new faces to this year’s line up, reflecting the festival’s “original vibrancy of discovering new artists and new ways of thinking about folk music,” he says.

Among the new acts Greencorn says he’s excited about is headliner Jeremy Dutcher, a member of the Tobique First Nation in N.B., who recently released an album of rearrangements of traditional Maliseet songs.

“It’s really an outstanding project,” says Greencorn. “He has brought back to life and reinterpreted this music.”

Other acts he highlights include 25-year-old Montrealer Kaia Kater, a performer getting rave reviews for her old-time banjo-picking skills and songwriting abilities.

He’s also pumped about bringing Lula Wiles, a trio from New England, to Stanfest 2019.

“They take the classic American folk song and turn it on its head,” he says.

In addition to Dutcher, 2019 headliners include Suzanne Vega and Donovan Woods & The Opposition.

This year’s roster also shines a spotlight on artists from Manitoba, including The Small Glories, Joey Landreth, and Madeleine Roger. Additionally, PEI-based classical ensemble Atlantic String Machine will be featured in the weekend’s programming.

Long-time Stanfest favourites are returning, including Bruce Guthrie, Dave Gunning, J.P. Cormier, Rose Cousins and Cape Breton’s Còig.

“There’ll be plenty of alumni,” says Greencorn.

The army of volunteers that keeps Stanfest going is taking shape in fine form this year, he adds. “The retention is superb.”

Many board members, crew heads and others among the 450 volunteers have been with Stanfest for 15 or more of the festival’s 23 years.