At the folk fest, jazz is ‘in’

How many artists dropped the J-word in their blurbs

2022 Vancouver Folk Music Festival poster
Fritz Media contributed the poster for the 2022 Vancouver Folk Music Festival.

The word 'jazz' in folk festival artist blurbs

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival announced 36 artists from their 2022 lineup yesterday; the festival will take place from Friday, July 15th to Sunday, July 17th.

Of those 36 artists, 5 of them included the word jazz in their promotional blurbs.

And I'll tell you who they are. But first, here's why I found that interesting...

One thing that gives you a jump-start as an artist is your first concise press quote.

When I co-founded my band (who are releasing their second album and playing tomorrow night) in 2016, the quote was (emphasis mine for you here), "This is a hot example of Celtic music and jazz fused together by superb musicians."

With the band, I took that energy to the Vancouver folk fest  – as well as other national festivals – and every little venue this province had to offer us.

We kept using the quote even after our music shed its jazz influence and became more folk-rock.

But as far as I recall, we were the only band at any given festival who had the J-word in our bio and blurbs.

Debbi Salmonsen – who is the director of the Vancouver folk fest – said in a press release that I just got, "This year our 'folk music' definition has really spread its wings into many roots genres." She exhorts us to welcome all the music traditions that are fit for the stage, including jazz.

Maybe, in just this one aspect, our often backward-looking and retrospective band was ahead of its time.

The 5 artists who used 'jazz' in their bio

  • Robben Ford (USA). Frankly, I think of this legend first for being on-stage at the Vancouver jazz festival's Miles Davis – Wynton Marsalis founding myth gig.
Robben Ford - "Bound for Glory"
  • Russell DeCarle (Ontario). Not hearing the "obvious touches of jazz" from the blurb here at all.
Russell DeCarle live
  • SINNOI (South Korea). Very cool, love it!
SINNOI - "Simbangkok"
  • Witch Prophet (Ontario). Also very cool, the sum of a multi-decade crossover lineage from hip-hop and The Low End Theory to Lauryn Hill to neo-soul to retro-soul.

As an addendum, Christine Tassan et les Imposteures (Québec) also made this lineup after getting a jazz Juno nomination this year – but they didn't drop the word in their blurb.

Not everyone who referenced jazz really backed it up. That said, if I have anything left in the tank after this year's jazzfest, SINNOI and Witch Prophet will be two artists drawing me to Jericho Beach Park in July.

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