The 16th season of the Folk Night at the Registry series is notable for the talent that’s been lined up. It also marks a return to a full schedule for the first time since before the pandemic.
Both developments give organizer Jack Cole something to smile about.
“There’s a whole lineup of six regular concerts and one special one on the Roots Weekend – that’s our normal full load. There’s a little more star power this year than we usually have, which is kind of cool,” he said.
The series kicks off September 16 with the UK duo Winter Wilson, followed by The Ennis Sisters on October 21 and Windborne November 25 to wrap up the calendar year.
The series continues February 10 with a concert by Ian Tamblyn. On April 6, Tom Chapin takes the stage, with Mark Rust rounding out the Roots Weekend with his show April 7. Dala wraps up the season with a performance on May 4.
Cole notes that lining up the season was both easier in light of the easing of pandemic restrictions and artists’ eagerness to get back on the road, and more difficult in terms of higher costs associated with touring.
Still, he’s happy with the mix, which features three first-time appearances at the Folk Night series, including Winter Wilson, Windborne and Tom Chapin.
The UK duo kicking off the series sorta fell into his lap, Winter Wilson contacting him as they were lining up shows in Canada.
“They had been on my list of people I would like to have – sort of a bucket list – for quite a few years since I first heard of them and heard some of their music. I knew that they were very popular over there. I’ve had a couple of people from the UK in the past, and it’s always worked out well,” said Cole.
“They’re a husband and wife duo, and their harmonies are great. They play a variety of instruments, and he is one of the highest regarded songwriters in the UK these days. Kip Winter and Dave Wilson are their names.
“So when they contacted me, I sort of jumped at that.”
Next up in the series are The Ennis Sisters. The Newfoundland-based trio of Maureen, Karen and Teresa are known for their harmonies and their powerful, often humourous, storytelling. They’ve captivated audiences worldwide, and the October 21 show has garnered ticket requests from far and wide, says Cole, noting that concert is almost sold out.
For the third in the series, another first-time act is in the mix. Hailing from New England, Windborne draws on deep roots in polyphonic music, often bringing old songs into the present. Lauren Breunig, Jeremy Carter-Gordon, Lynn Rowan and Will Rowan draw on various genres spanning centuries. They take to the stage at The Registry Theatre on November 25.
The series resumes in 2024 with an appearance by Ian Tamblyn, he of dozens of albums to go along with 14 plays and some 100 soundtracks. The multi-instrumentalist also has a long list of accolades that includes English Songwriter of the Year by the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
His show was first disrupted by the pandemic, rescheduled a few times before finally being set now for February 10, says Cole.
The Roots Weekend shows start April 6 with a first-time appearance by Tom Chapin, a folk singer in the classic sense of the word. His has been a career spanning decades, a couple of dozen albums, Grammys, Emmys and Peabodys. In the spring, his single ‘Pretty Planet’ was number one on the folk radio charts. If the name sounds familiar, he’s the brother of the late Harry Chapin, and you can probably expect a song or two from that direction.
The following day marks the return of Mark Rust, who’ll make the short hop from upstate New York to tell stories both through song and his interactions with the audience. He’ll be accompanying himself on guitar, piano, banjo, fiddle, mountain and hammered dulcimer.
The series wraps up May 4 with Dala, the duo of Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine who’ve been friends since meeting in their high school music class. They have since released six albums and toured extensively across North America, performing at The New Orleans Jazz Festival, The Edmonton Folk Festival, California’s Strawberry Festival, and Mariposa. Juno nominees and winners of the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year, they were the only Canadian act invited to play at the 50th Newport Folk Festival in 2009.
Retaining practices in place since the pandemic, Folk Night shows will see chairs in the theatre configured for more space – effectively eliminating about 20 or so seats from the ticket pool in the doing, says Cole, who notes they’ve continued to acquire new equipment to better livestream each of the concerts for those still wary of venturing out, or simply sparing themselves the travel in the case of the widespread fan base.
“All seven shows are being live streamed. This is to try and make back the money that we’re losing by cutting down on people in the theatre. It’s a really good show. We’ve purchased two cameras now, so there were three cameras in total, all pan-tilt-zoom, so that you can really get good looks at the performers,” he explained.
“We do a separate audio mix just for the live stream so that we rebalanced the instruments because the instrument balance in the theatre is quite different from what you would want to have for your home theatre. We’ve got mics in the audience now to pick up some of them singing along and such.”
The streaming coverage also includes some bonus content, typically an interview with the performers.
For tickets and more information about the upcoming season, visit www.folknight.ca.