How to break Canada: Festival & touring discussion.
From PEI to Toronto, Thunder Bay to Winnipeg, through the Prairies via Saskatoon to Calgary and down to Vancouver; the Canadian Landscape is as beautiful as it is vast. Touring across a country that is approximately 41 times bigger than the UK and only half the population can be a daunting prospect for any musician. However, there is a great capacity for music with consistently high standards of creation and business infrastructure. We ask some of the Canadian live industry experts about the access points and opportunities to perform in Canada as well as interrogating the realities and strategy of focusing on the Canadian market.
Neil Pearson, Moderator
Kerry Clarke, Artistic Director Calgary Folk Festival
Bob Jensen, Jensen Music International
Cara Luft, artist The Small Glories
Neil is an artist manager, and artist-development specialist working in the UK and internationally, and works in a management role with John Smith, Della Mae, and Rachel Baiman. Over the past 3 years, he has worked freelance with Rose Cousins on her UK strategy and development, and with Starfish Entertainment on the same for their roster. In the past 9 years, he has worked on a range of UK and Canadian artist partnerships that have toured both the UK and Canada. In addition to this, he is also project manager for the large scale commission 'The Lost Words:Spell Songs', and programs the UK room at Folk Alliance.
Bob Jensen, Jensen Music International
Bob Jensen is a veteran of the Canadian folk music scene, having worked as a performer, recording artist, record label owner, record distributor, publicist, manager and agent for more than 30 years. He was also a founding member of the Jasper Heritage Folk Festival. JMI was built from scratch into one of the most respected folk agencies in the world, working with legends such as Bruce Cockburn, Pete Seeger, The Chieftains, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, The Rankin Sisters, Jerry Jeff Walker, Fairport Convention, Archie Fisher, Johnny Clegg, Sylvia Tyson and former Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, to name but a few. The agency has also represented The Amazing Kreskin and fabled Hollywood veteran, Mickey Rooney. JMI’s mandate is to seek out the finest roots performers from Canada and around the world. Their roster has included a
Juno award winning singer-songwriter-musician extraordinaire Cara Luft is that rare artist steeped in folk and traditional roots music almost from birth, yet willing to alter the fabric, stretch the boundaries and fearlessly bend genres and styles. A founding member of Canadian folk super-group The Wailin' Jennys and the brainchild/bandleader of Winnipeg's powerhouse duo The Small Glories, Luft deserves her solid reputation as one of Canada’s finest live performers whose engaging, down-home style comes wrapped in a delicious sense of humour. To quote the roots magazine No Depression, “Luft has a rich tradition in folk music – it’s safe to assume that she knows her stuff – and upon listening it becomes quite clear that she is indeed a formidable songwriter and performer... [The] lovely Ms. Luft sets the bar for the talented few who’ll follow in her footsteps.” Cara has a spirit that drives her to connect with people, and for this she is loved everywhere she goes. She’s the real deal, there’s nothing pretentious about her. And that sense of honesty, integrity, personality and spontaneity permeates both her music and her live shows. “Long may she reign!” (Lonesome Highway)
Kerry entered the independent music world through community radio 35 years ago. She’s the artistic director of the 42 year ‘post-folk’ Calgary Folk Music Festival at Prince’s Island Park each July (70 artists on 8 stages) plus programs February’s Block Heater indoor festival (38 artists on 5 stages) and an off-season concert series at Festival Hall and other venues. She’s on several non-profit arts boards, has served on AFA, Sask Arts Council and Canada Council juries, is a proud and active member of WRAD (the Canadian western festivals collective), a co-founder of Rwanda’s KigaliUp festival, and hosts weekly radio programs on CKUA and CJSW. She’s on the 2021 WOMEX jury that curates the official showcase and conference artist program.