Performers 2012

Renato Borghetti & Artur Bonilla (Brasil)
An accordion virtuoso with the attitude of a flamenco dancer, Renato Borghetti is a superstar among the new folk musicians from the Rio Grande do Sul region in Southern Brazil. The charismatic gaucho has adapted and modernized many of the native sounds of the Argentinian pampa with central European, Italian and French elements. “Borghettinho,” as his fans like to call him, is known for his live shows – unforgettable events that offer a sparkling and elegant mix of traditional forms such as milonga, chacacera and chamamé with elements of jazz, tango and chamber music, adapting each of those forms to his unique style of accordion playing. Performing with Borghetti is acoustic guitar master Artur Bonilla.

Mairi Campbell (Scotland)
“Campbell’s voice can stop the clock…there is a pervading sense of renewal and even transcendence…”– Jim Gilchrist, The Scotsman.

Prepare to get lost in the evocative music of Mairi Campbell. From songs that tell of a mother keenly awaiting her son’s return from Iraq, a partner offering support to her lover or an exquisitely rendered tune for her own mother, Mairi offers something memorable and meaningful to every listener. This award-winning singer/songwriter combines her distinctive vocals and skilled fiddle playing to deliver live performances that have been described as “magical.” One of her fans says, “Mairi is an exceptionally gifted woman, she sings from her soul and touches mine…”

Epic Swedish All Stars (Sweden)
Info coming soon!

Jacky Essombe (BC / Cameroon)
“I dance because of the way it makes me feel. I do not perform to impress, but to touch people, at their core. To inspire them. To share the beauty of life, of Africa. To connect with people at a deeper level.”

A passionate ambassador of the African culture, Jacky Essombe’s enthusiasm for her heritage inspired her to become a professional dancer, dance teacher, storyteller and speaker. Originally from Cameroon, Jacky grew up in Paris and now as a Vancouver resident, uses dance to share the traditions, history and culture of Africa and the wisdom of her ancestors. In performance she is electrifying, and she invites you to open your heart and feel the joyful spirit of Africa with her.

David Francey (QC)
This Scottish-born carpenter-turned-singer-songwriter has tapped into the Canadian psyche as if he was a Canuck born and bred. David Francey has been hailed as “the likeliest candidate for all-Canadian folk singer” by The Ottawa Citizen simply because he embodies the qualities Canadians most admire in a troubadour folk-poet: his straightforward songs tell honest stories of real people and real places, his keen sense of humour sees interesting twists in the everyday, and he champions things that matter. Like other greats before him, those with a rare poetic insight, he takes life and sets it to music. It doesn’t hurt that his voice is like rich warm honey, either! This multiple award-winning artist, who includes Junos, Canadian Folk Music and SOCAN Awards and a John Lennon Songwriting win among his other accomplishments, is a Mission favourite. It’s fitting that he is gracing our stage this year to help us celebrate our 25th!

The Fretless (BC)
They call their music “rad trad.” It’s a simple yet unique combination: they meld the worlds of Celtic, Folk and Chamber music into an amazing sound all their own. The four players of The Fretless are virtuoso young instrumentalists from various parts of North America. They are Ivonne Hernandez (violin, viola, step dancing and vocals) from Victoria, Trent Freeman (violin, viola and feet) from Vancouver, Karrnnel Sawitsky (violin and viola) from Saskatoon and Eric Wright (cello) from LA. A Celtic band with a twist, these are folk musicians who know the traditions and styles, but who also happen to have extensive technical training and chamber music experience. Combining the traditional look of a string quartet with the exciting tunes, arrangements and step dancing of the Celtic traditions, The Fretless is a lethal supergroup and a force with which to be reckoned!

Eliza Gilkyson (US)
A politically minded, poetically gifted singer-songwriter, Eliza Gilkyson has become one of the most respected musicians in folk and Americana music circles. The daughter of legendary songwriter Terry Gilkyson, Eliza grew up in Los Angeles knowing that her life would revolve around music. There are few singers who, like Eliza, have been able to combine a socially conscious message with the same quality of musicality. She merges strong songwriting with commanding vocals to create music that melds appeal with emotional and intellectual impact. The New York Times says, “With a knowing eye on the past, Eliza Gilkyson is making folk music for the 21st Century, and it’s a delightful thing to hear.”

Matt Gordon & Guests (US)
Join this dancer, fiddler, harmonica, hambone player and carpenter as he and his friends cook up a bit of music and dance magic!




Habadekuk (Denmark)
“This Danish instrumental group is one of a very select few worldwide who approach the brilliance, boisterousness, breadth of appeal and sheer bonhomie of the famous Quebec band La Bottine Souriante.”

Hang on to your hats and get ready for a band that’s become synonymous with a high-energy wall of amazing sounds and pure panache. Denmark sends us this nine-member outfit that melds old Danish dance melodies with salsa, jazz and all manner of folk influences. Habadekuk brings a sparkling horn section of trombone, trumpet and sax, adds fiddle, accordion, guitar, piano and finishes it off with some infectious rhythms. From lively polkas and reels to hopsas and funky waltzes, this young and lively band will have you up and dancing…in fact it will be hard to keep still!

At the 2011 Danish Folk Music Awards their debut album Hopsadaddy won Album of the Year and Fiddler Kristian Bugge was named Folk Artist of the Year at the same occasion. They’ve also won NORD ’09, the Nordic championships in folk music.

Himmerland (Denmark)
Himmerland is the area between Mariager Fjord and Limfjorden in the north of Jutland, the main peninsula of Denmark. Himmerland is also a Danish band whose members met in that place a number of times over the past 10- 15 years. Their music is inspired by the cultures and background of the five extraordinary members who came together there – each bringing their own musical backgrounds and influences. Jazz and world sounds combine with traditional Danish folk, with Polish and Ghanaian influences. The band has been a hit at venues and festivals around Denmark, in the Faroe Islands, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria. Now they bring their unique and wonderful North Sea sound to Mission!

Shane Howard (Australia)
“Shane Howard bridges the land between poet and song-writer; between prophet and singer; even between white fellas and indigenous artists.” – Jamie McKew, Festival Director, Port Fairy Folk Festival

Born and raised by the banks of the Merri River in the unremarkable coastal town of Dennington, South West Victoria, Australia – the heartland of Irish Famine migration – Shane Howard has gone on to be one of Australia’s foremost songwriters and storytellers. He was the founding member of legendary Australian band, Goanna, whose single Solid Rock was the first commercial song to use didjeridu, and whose powerful lyrics and music were a velvet sledgehammer to the injustice that Aboriginal Australia had endured since colonization in 1788. Solid Rock topped the charts in 1982–83 and has grown to become an iconic Australian song. Howard has remained generous with his time and support of numerous Aboriginal, environmental and human rights campaigns across Australia. He continues to tour the world and perform, write and produce – and it’s a thrill to be saying “G’Day, How ya goin’ mate” as we welcome him to Mission in his own language!

H’Sao (QC / Chad)
Caleb, Mossbass, Israel and Taroum Rimtobaye first sang together in church, where their pastor father named the family group Hirondelle (swallow) in reference to that fearless bird who seeks to fly above the highest peaks. In 1994, they were invited to perform at a festival in N’djamena, the capital of Chad. There, the group’s stunning harmonics and remarkable stage presence garnered them wide attention. By 1995, childhood friends and brothers Charles and Service Ledjebgue joined the group – and H’Sao (the swallow of tradition) was born.

Now Montreal-based, H’Sao draws musical inspiration from their Chadian homeland, its melodies and dances along with a love of gospel, soul, jazz and pop. Singing in French, Arabic and English, H’Sao blends all these styles with a joyous appreciation of African rhythms. They are poly-instrumentalists and dancers, but it’s their voices, their stunning harmonies that capture your heart.

Andy Leftwich Trio (US)
Every so often, a musician steps into the spotlight with an outstanding display of talent and passion that makes people sit up and say “wow!”  Andy Leftwich did just that. By the time he was a teenager, Andy had become proficient on the fiddle, mandolin and guitar, and was entering competitions across the country on all three instruments. By the age of fifteen, he’d turned pro. Within a couple years, he was playing with the renowned Ricky Skaggs’ band Kentucky Thunder. Skaggs is effusive in his praise of Andy: “…Andy is one of the best.  He amazes me with every new lick he delivers.” Andy’s instrumental virtuosity has bluegrass roots, but his musical influences run wide and deep. Come get caught in his glorious musical web.

Rasmus Lyberth (Greenland)
You don’t have to understand the Greenlandic language to understand and appreciate Greenland’s most popular artist. Rasmus Lyberth’s voice opens up that Arctic land and culture, the history and the myth for everyone to hear and appreciate. It has been said that “When Rasmus sings, it gives you an almost supernatural feeling inside. Something spiritual and transcendental happens, and it feels like meeting a Shaman. He goes his own musical way.” Rasmus has been called the “King of Greenland” and Greenland’s unofficial ambassador. Whatever his title, the singer, musician and actor is introducing people’s hearts to his culture and a new and amazing soundscape.

Lyy (Sweden)
“This is straight-forward Swedish folk music with some jazzy overtones, lightbodied, leaving the Nordic melancholy behind. The impression is of a mid summer’s night, full of vitality and joie de vivre.” – Tom Keller, FolkWorld 2011

Lyy was founded in 2006, and since then this five-member band has created beautiful music in the rich place where lyrical sounds and melody bring stories to life. Their repertoire consists of Swedish traditional music along with original self-penned material performed on nyckelharpa (keyed fiddle), fiddle, guitar and percussion all centered around charismatic singer Emma Björling’s crystal clear voice. From medieval ballads that send delightful shivers down the spine to lilting humour to dance tunes and hymns – you’ll learn to love Swedish folk music from the very first note this brilliant young band plays.

Minor Empire (Canada / Turkey)
While they’re Toronto-based, the band Minor Empire’s sound reaches into the heart of Istanbul and brings it back here for us to enjoy. Their electrifying new sound has exploded onto the Canadian world music scene with a style that is simultaneously contemporary and traditional, adventurous yet accessible – more a collision and confluence of Turkish and Western music elements than a fusion. Based on traditional Turkish folk tunes, their music is given new, contemporary and adventurous life by guitarist/composer/producer Ozan Boz and vocalist Ozgu Ozman. Exclaim Magazine’s David Dacks called the music “a slinky, dub-y Turkish soup of knotty rhythms,” while The Whole Note reviewer Tiina Kiik called them “a smart band creating intriguing sounds and melodies set to a backdrop of funky beats.” We just know this delicious music will captivate the Mission audience in a heartbeat.

Pacific Curls (New Zealand)
Combining fiddle, ukulele, Maori traditional instruments, cajons and other musical implements with lyrics in Maori, Rotuman and English, Pacific Curls is no ordinary trio. They bring together the traditions of the Pacific and a world music aesthetic that has no home except planet earth. The Curls’ music could be described as “Pacific percussion meets Portuguese/Hawaiian ukulele meets Peruvian cajon meets fiddle meets”…well… you get the picture. The original songs they perform focus on issues that concern Pacific Islanders specifically – the rising sea level for instance – as well as general issues related to the environment, women and trying to be a good person in a difficult time. Their music finds a place where Celtic, Maori and Pacific music crosses over, incorporating Pacific primal myths as well as Scottish mysticism, and pioneering a fusion sound that beautifully embraces their varied musical roots.

Los Pinguos (Argentina)
From cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, Argentina, the five members of Los Pinguos (roughly meaning “The Penguins”) arrived in LA at the end of the 1990s armed with their dreams and a mixture of hot Latin rhythms performed with Spanish guitars, Cuban tres, Peruvian cajón (box-drum), bass, potent harmonies and a vivacious and infectious sound. Their goal: to claim a legion of new fans. They began by winning Ed McMahon’s “The Next Big Star” competition in 2001 and going on to tour and record, participating in the award-winning documentary Playing For Change along the way. If you can stop dancing to them long enough, you’ll hear a little salsa, cumbia, samba and maybe a bit of flamenco and even a bit of reggae in their music as well. It’s a fabulous mix that’s been described as a “hot Argentinean folk groove.”

Buffy Sainte-Marie (SK / US)
One of the most important voices of the last four decades, Buffy Sainte-Marie is an artist of remarkable accomplishment both on and off the stage. She has captured the hearts of millions with her compelling songs of love and despair, of peace and the struggle against oppression. Until It’s Time For You To Go, Universal Soldier, Country Girl, and Piney Wood Hills are some of the songs that she penned and performed, and that artists all over the world have covered. Her Academy Award for the title song Up Where We Belong from the 1982 film “An Officer and a Gentleman” was a ground-breaking win among many other firsts and pioneering career achievements. Ms. Sainte-Marie has been a leading advocate for justice for native peoples of the world. We welcome back to the festival this singular artist whose contribution to Canada and the world spans genres, continents and generations.

Colum Sands (Ireland)
“Songs for the times that you dream of, and the times when you wish you could dream…” Colum Sands is a singer-songwriter from County Down who travels the world at a much slower rate than his songs, finding them already carried there by the likes of Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, Roy Bailey and others. A member of the internationally- renowned Sands Family, Colum first established his reputation as a songwriter with his first solo album, Unapproved Road in 1981. Since then, he has performed in over thirty countries around the world, confirming the universal appeal for the songs and stories with which he observes the minute and often humorous details of life.

Shooglenifty (Scotland)
They have a reputation as one of the most exciting live acts on the UK folk scene. Well – extend that geography a bit wider. We’re thrilled to present Scottish super-group Shooglenifty, or “The Shoogs,” as they are affectionately known to their many fans in Mission and beyond. This six-piece Celtic band performs instrumental music at, pretty much, the speed of light. Their sound marries traditionally-based tunes – primarily Scottish in style, but featuring a wealth of other world music flavours – with the rhythmic energy, inventiveness and sophistication of contemporary dance music. Such a description, though, hardly begins to capture the dazzling sound and intoxicating grooves that are Shooglenifty’s hallmarks. The band’s own none-too earnest attempts at capsule descriptions include “hypno-folkedelic ambient trance” and “acid croft.”

Tālavya (India)
Tālavya is both 1. A Sanskrit word meaning taal (metre) and laya (tempo) and 2. Pandit Divyang Vakil’s contemporary classical tabla ensemble. Pick “all of the above”. The globe-trotting percussion ensemble Talavya (formerly Tabla Ecstasy) brings Indian hand-drum tabla to the center stage, distilling its age-old spirit and practice into a high-energy, highly accessible evening that reveals the instrument’s true joys. With music composed by maestro Pandit Divyang Vakil, the Tālavya quartet moves between rousing peaks and smooth meditative passages, expressing the various emotions of tabla. Played with the passion and power of a rock drum solo along with the sophistication and subtlety of a classical passage, Tālavya is contemporary in feel while full of the richness and resonance of classical tabla.

Martin Hayes (fiddle), John Doyle (guitar) & Kevin Crawford (flute) – The Teetotalers (Ireland)

John Doyle is one of the most influential and important musicians in Irish music today. He was a founding member of Irish American super-group Solas in the 1990s and recently served as band leader for the Joan Baez band. As a guitarist, he is unparalleled for his harmonic and rhythmic genius. Ireland-born and Seattle-based Martin Hayes is a masterful musician known for his soulful playing of the slow, lyrical Clare style of fiddling. Hayes comes from one of Ireland’s most important musical families, and is a six-time winner of the All-Ireland fiddle championship, Born in Birmingham, England to parents from Miltown Malbay, County Clare, flute and whistle player Kevin Crawford moved to Co. Clare in 1989, and soon became a pivotal member of the effervescent session trail in the Banner county. The innovative flute player joined the instrumental quintet Lúnasa in January 1997 and they’ve been making musical history together ever since. Now, this super-trio joins forces as The Teetotallers! More than a few cuppas will be raised in toast to this band, we thinks!

The April Verch Band (ON)
“The world is this amazing puzzle that we can’t fully understand – and music is the joy that pulls it all together,” says April Verch.

When this internationally renowned Canadian fiddler, singer, songwriter and step dancer gets on a stage, she doesn’t just perform music, she exudes it. A rare mix of brilliant technique, passion for performing, deep soul and a reverence for tradition, April Verch’s goal is to touch the lives of her audience at any given moment. She was born to traditional music in the Ottawa Valley, a foot-stomping, open-minded fusion of Irish, Scottish, French, German, and Polish influences sprinkled with tangy spices of American country music. She was a local star at four, and became the first woman in history to win both of Canada’s most prestigious fiddle championships, the Grand Masters and Canadian Open. When Canada hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, she was asked to represent her country’s music at the opening ceremonies. This musical superstar can play any kind of roots music as though it was her native tongue. Come enjoy a musical language lesson at the festival!