By Brendan Miller on January 23, 2024.
Suzie Vinnick, winner of 11 Maple Blues Awards, a Canadian Folk Music Award and three Juno nominations, kicked off the Tongue on the Post Folk Music Festival with a performance at Mauro’s Italian Cafe & Bar on Monday evening.
Tongue on the Post is known as Western Canada’s first winter folk music festival and is celebrating its 18th year with live performances from award-winning and nominated artists over the following six days.
Folk artists accustomed to playing summer gigs decided to start the festival nearly two decades ago during the winter when they had less working coming in.
“It was also a time when musicians were really struggling to try and find work in the winter as there was no winter music festivals. And so it was a great opportunity for everyone,” says Robert Pape, executive director of the Medicine Hat Folk Music Club and festival organizer.
Since its beginnings, Tongue on the Post has grown into a unique festival that celebrates community, tradition and folk music, and features a lineup of established and up-and-coming artists.
Tonight the festival moves to Medalta’s Historic Clay District for three evenings of unique performances inside its brick beehive kiln.
“One of the gems is using an actual brick kiln … it’s very cool, unique sounding and intimate. It’s a magical show,” explains Pape. “It’s one of the unique things about our festival. Artists don’t always get this opportunity, it’s not something you find in many other places in the world.”
The kiln shows can hold an audience of up to 70 people and will host duo Flint and Feathered tonight, who headlined for the festival when it was live-streamed during the pandemic and will now be live on stage.
On Wednesday the festival welcomes up-and-comer Ryan Langlois, who is described to have a Bruce Springsteen sound.
The kiln series concludes Thursday evening with a performance by Berk Jodoin, an Indigenous folk musician from Saskatchewan.
The weekend kicks off with a free singer, songwriter night on Friday showcasing local musicians who are given the stage in an effort to promote homegrown talent.
Saturday will feature several live performances at Medalta with eight hours of shows on three separate stages.
The jam-packed schedule features artists including Noeline Hofamn, Morgan Klaiber, Denver Venoit, Ron A McNeil, Andrew Scott, Time Isberg and Julia Vos, as well as other performances throughout the day.
“So for 30 bucks you get eight hours of music, you’re just not going to get a bigger bang for your buck than what we’ve managed to put together this year,” says Pape.
This year the festival is hosting a Sunday matinee starting at 2 p.m. for its three headlining acts, including The Backyard Betties from Calgary, multi-award-winning John Wort Hannam and Dream Heavy to close out the festival.
“We have an amazing community of music, musicians and music lovers alike,” adds Pape. “We look forward to everybody coming out every year and supporting everything that we work hard to put together, and celebrating these phenomenal Canadian musicians.”
Performers will also be selling their music and merchandise during their performances. Organizers say its a great way to support local artists and keep independent music alive.
“Buy some merch; these musicians, you know, survive of off selling their wares and sharing their goods and we want to really support each other and have a great time,” says Pape.
Tickets and multi-event passes can be purchased online at eventbrite.ca.