‘Harmony’ headliners to heat up stage

Heather Latter

Organizers are expecting the performers to “heat up” the stage during the second-annual “Harmony of Nations” Music Festival, which runs July 17-18 under the tent at the Sorting Gap Marina.
“Things are coming together,” enthused organizer Jamie Petrin, noting ticket sales are moving along.
“But people should get their tickets soon—they are not going to want to miss it,” she stressed.
A celebration of Canadian, American, First Nation, and Métis cultures, the festival incorporates a combination of workshops and concerts, and is focused on building positive relationships between the many groups within Rainy River District.
Petrin noted all the performers bring a wide array of talent but said the “headlining” acts are sure to be a big draw.
“Headliner and Cape Breton musician Ashley MacIsaac is well-known for his red-hot violin skills,” she remarked.
He has had international success and notoriety from an early age, and grew up under the spotlight as one of the most dynamic fiddlers from Cape Breton, N.S.
“MacIsaac constantly pushed the traditional styles of Celtic music as he grew up and incorporated rock, pop, and everything imaginable in between,” Petrin said.
MacIsaac performed during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver to a worldwide audience, as well as with artists such as Phillip Glass and The Chieftains.
He also played with The White Stripes, appeared on The Conan O’Brien Show and The Today Show, and has been a spotlight at international festivals, theatres, and halls all over the world.
MacIsaac even has been featured on Bravo’s celebrity series “Star Portraits” and CBC’s acclaimed series “Life & Times,” and just finished performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
He will be taking to the stage here July 18 at 9:15 p.m.
Another headliner, Tom Wilson, will be performing with his band, LeE HARVeY OsMOND.
“Tom, a Mohawk mixed with French and Irish, is a three-time Juno Award-winner from Hamilton, Ont.,” Petrin noted.
“He has written for Billy Ray Cyrus, Murray McLauchlin, Colin James, [and] Mavis Staples, as well as television and motion pictures.”
His current project, LeE HARVeY OsMOND, is a collaborative effort with former members of the Cowboy Junkies and the Skydiggers.
Rik Emmett, well-known for more than a dozen platinum albums from his band “Triumph,” is the final headliner this year.
“He has also produced 19 more [albums] as a non-platinum indie, ranging from rock to blues to jazz to folk to classical,” Petrin said.
She noted international notoriety earned Emmett entry into three Canadian Halls of Fame, as well as star on the Walk of Fame in his hometown of Mississauga.
He also picked up a few “Best Guitarist” awards in various style categories from different organizations along the way.
As a music educator, Emmett remains humbly proud of his long-standing inclusion on the heavily-respected Humber College faculty, where he’s taught Songwriting, Music Business, and Directed Studies.
He’s also been artistic director of the Songstudio Songwriting Workshop every summer for the past 11 years.
Emmett will take to the stage July 17 at 7:45 p.m., followed by Wilson at 9:15 p.m.
Joining these musicians on the main stage will be Nick Sherman from Sioux Lookout and the Greenbank Trio from Thunder Bay.
Fresh off a performance on the world stage at the Pan Am Games in Toronto, “Harmony of Nations” will be their next stop.
Award-winning blues performer Sunday Wilde, from Atikokan, will be joining the stage just off a very successful tour through B.C.
She has won numerous blues awards, including having a #1 hit on SiriusXM Radio BB King’s Bluesville.
Meanwhile, Brent Newman, from London, England, has been writing and recording music for nearly 20 years.
Born in Saskatchewan and then spending his childhood here on Rainy Lake, Newman brings a unique perspective and style to the festival.
Rounding out the main stage performances are the Métis Fiddlers Quartet and the percussion group JunKtion.
Raised in Winnipeg and classically-trained (each member is a gifted and award-winning artist in his and her own right), the Métis Fiddlers Quartet have developed quite a following.
Full of energy and creativity, they have honoured their Métis roots (including a shared ancestry with Louis Riel) by creating fresh interpretations of traditional tunes.
Classically-trained percussionist Julie Strom has joined up with jazz drummer Allison Miller to form JunKtion.
They both have performed all over the world.
Local performers Bob Olson (Bergland), Ira Johnson (originally from Seine River First Nation), Kings of None (Fort Frances), Ethan Armit (Dryden), Jamie Labrador (Thunder Bay), Ryan Van Belleghem (Kenora), and The Wild Horses (Naicatchwenin First Nation) also will be performing on the main stage between acts.
With concerts scheduled for the evenings, the daytime hours are filled with workshops at the Fort Frances Public Library and Technology Centre.
They include workshops on Pow Wow 101, songwriting tips and tricks, history of blues music, percussion tips and tricks, traditional storytelling, make your own dream catcher, and fun with three-part harmony.
There also will be an instrument jam, as well as sessions on clogging, jigging and singing, youth empowerment, reflections on the music industry, and how to get published.
The schedule, performer bios, workshop summaries, and tickets can be found at www.harmonyofnations.ca
Tickets cost $35 for one day and $60 for a two-day pass.
Workshops are free to ticket-holders.
“It will be a great two days of fun, food, and music,” Petrin enthused.