From the outskirts to the centre, Blue Rodeo has been the beating heart of the roots-rock scene since the 80s, and has shaped the soundtrack of perfect summer nights for nearly three decades. In fact, we couldn’t even imagine this music festival without our friends on the bill, it just wouldn’t be right without them. With 12 records that include an unbelievable number of iconic hits to their name, as well as an impressive 7 Junos on the shelf, the band has set the standard for excellence and longevity – “Blue Rodeo still crank it for all it’s worth,” said the Edmonton Journal on their last visit to town. The classic contrast in styles of frontmen Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor has fostered a rare creative partnership that grows more fertile with age. Now, in 2012, the band will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Blue RodeoSunday 8:45 PM
- Randy Newman
Randy NewmanSaturday 8:45 PM
Ask a songwriter who is on their list of influences and you’ll hear the name Randy Newman – an artist for whom the Oscar category Best Original Song seems specifically created. Known for his sharp, sardonic eye and melodic ear, Newman crafts stories, characters and opinions that set the modern standard for songwriting and lyricism. While his work is often covered, Newman’s voice leaves an unmistakable stamp on all his work, whether it be a song about corruption in New Orleans in 1927 or a toy cowboy come to life. Nominated an unbelievable twenty times for Academy Awards (he’s won three), Newman is also a three-time Emmy and five-time Grammy award winner. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002, and as a Disney Legend in 2007 for his work scoring animated movies, including Toy Story and Monsters, Inc.
- Gillian Welch
Gillian WelchThursday 8:45 PM
Coal-blackened ghosts haunt the music of Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Gillian Welch, who keeps the spirit of America’s musical beginnings alive with her backwoods blend of Appalachian, bluegrass and gospel influences. The New Yorker describes her style as “at once innovative and obliquely reminiscent of past rural forms,” – her sparse, dark style is as much modern mood as it is Smoky Mountain muse. With partner David Rawlings, Welch has released five critically acclaimed albums, as well as contributing to the landmark soundtrack Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? Her most recent album, The Harrow & The Harvest, was her first in eight years, and signaled the return of an artist who has helped shape a newfound appreciation for old time traditions in mainstream music. History loves matches made in musical heaven, and together, Welch and Rawlings have already made a lasting contribution to the roots community.
- ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO & THE SENSITIVE BOYS
ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO & THE SENSITIVE BOYSFriday 7:00 PM
Named Artist of the Decade by No Depression Magazine in the 90s, underground sensation Austin punk and roots rocker Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys joins the inaugural Interstellar Rodeo lineup. Escovedo’s music has found fans in music’s mainstream, and when he fell ill, the number of marquee acts that stepped forward to help with medical bills attests to Escovedo’s reputation in the artist world, including Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, The Jayhawks and John Cale. This true blue, blue-jean clad musician has played on many of our favourite bills, including regular showings at Austin’s “granddaddy” Continental Club. Escovedo’s most recent album, Street Songs of Love, won praise from all corners. Described by Paste Magazine as a “low key legend”, Escovedo has a new record, Big Station, scheduled for release on June 5 ’12.
- Hawksley Workman
Hawksley WorkmanSaturday 4:00 PM
Delivered from the mythic Muskoka wilderness, Hawksley arrived on the scene over a decade ago with a fearlessness rooted in an undeniable vocal panache. This Juno Award winning wild card has already cemented his place as an emblem of Canadian culture here and abroad. From the compelling opening yodel found on his debut album, For Him and the Girls, to this very day, Hawksley roams like a rogue force, bouncing from pop tunes to country jangles, from anthemic rockers to hip-hop dance beats to gut-wrenching ballads, making his notably excellent performances as unpredictable as they are dramatic and exuberant. We know him well and we give the Six Shooter pinky swear that Hawksley’s live show, complete with Mr. Lonely by his side, is simply incomparable.
- Whitehorse (Featuring Luke Doucet & Melissa McClelland)
Whitehorse (Featuring Luke Doucet & Melissa McClelland)Sunday 7:00 PM
Six Shooter Records’ Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet tie the musical knot with the debut of their new band, Whitehorse, marrying their talent and chemistry on stage as a smoldering duo. Gutsy and resolute in their pursuits of sound and substance, Luke and Melissa’s fusion of the personal and professional brings to mind the road-tested romance of Johnny and June. Whitehorse is the culmination of years of honing solo skills as singer-songwriters. Luke and Melissa have worked side by side for nearly a decade, contributing to one another’s records, touring and performing together, unknowingly yet instinctively moving towards the day when each would entrust their life and work to the other. More than the sum of considerable talents, Whitehorse showcases the rarity of true give and take in partnership, uniting falcon with songbird to dramatic effort. We get goosebumps when they take the stage.
WagonsSaturday 5:20 PM
We’d travel to the other side of the world to see this band, but luckily, this time Wagons are coming to us. Six Shooter Records is the proud Canadian home for this rowdy band of Australian outlaw countrymen, who are led by fireball frontman and showman extraordinaire Henry Wagons. They made their North American debut in 2011 with Rumble, Shake and Tumble, an album perfectly described as “poppy, soulful cow-punk…as clever as it is swaggerific.” (Now Magazine) In fact, the words rumble, shake and tumble effectively capture Wagons’ raucous style, a mix of rock ’n’ roll, country, cabaret, psychedelia and soul. The band’s live shows balance just on the edge of total and majestic chaos.
- The Sojourners
The SojournersFriday 12:30 PM
Formed as an improvised backing group, there is nothing accidental about The Sojourners’ success. With three original members who grew up singing in churches in three different states, and a fourth picked up along the way, the Sojourners both make authentic gospel music and make good on their name. It’s not just for Sundays – the Sojourners’ approach is self-described as equally at home in a road-house as in a revival tent, an unbuttoned mix of doo wop, R&B, country and blues. Comprised of Marcus Mosely, Will Sanders and Khari McClelland, The Sojourners have released two records made with Canadian roots kingpin Steve Dawson. We first heard them at the Western Canadian Music Awards last year in Whitehorse, YT and we were blown away by their performance. You will be too.
- Shakura S’Aida
Shakura S’AidaSaturday 2:00 PM
The word vocalist does little to express the versatility and potency of Shakura S’Aida’s talent. Known primarily as a blues singer-songwriter, the global adventurer worked in world music, jazz and backing vocal gigs before embarking on a blues belting solo career that has brought acclaim and awards. “Shakura’s voice just might be the sound of the blues in the 21st Century,” writes one critic (PopMatters). In 2011, Shakura won both the Maples Blues Award for Vocalist of the Year and the Indie Award for Best Blues Artist, and she’s also earned multiple Juno nominations. We are big fans of this impressive woman (we’ve even been on a date with her!) and her performances are thrilling each and every time.
- Richard Buckner
Richard BucknerSunday 3:00 PM
Six Shooter’s fondness for cult icon Richard Buckner is more than just fandom – his record The Hill was one of the first albums in our catalogue (and he’s even lived in Edmonton!). We go way back. Buckner is an original pioneer – since his debut record Bloom in 1994, his albums have been major influences on the resurgence of traditional folk, roots and country movements in music today. Buckner’s poetic lyricism is expressed in many ways, from the simplicity of acoustic troubadour styles to more experimental avant-garde forms, and Pitchfork calls him “one of the most intriguing songwriters working”. We are excited to present him at the inaugural Interstellar Rodeo. In August, 2011 Buckner released the long-awaited new record Our Blood on Merge Records.
- The Beauties
The BeautiesSaturday 3:00 PM
Called “Toronto’s Velvet Undergound,” by ‘Wild Thing’ gambler/songwriter Chip Taylor himself, The Beauties’ brand of working man bourbon blues fuses the musical legacies of Nashville with New York, New Jersey with new wave. The band was crowned Toronto’s Best Roots Band, but their infamously raucous live show attests that The Beauties don’t rest on their honky tonk laurels. They’ve shared stages with Broken Social Scene and Alejandro Escovedo, Drive-By Truckers and Jim Cuddy. The band has also backed up such noteworthy songwriters as Ron Sexsmith and Serena Ryder, and their talent and versatility makes them the musical backbone of choice for artists across Canada. Six Shooter is proud to be a home for The Beauties – it’s no coincidence that The Beauties have been on stage for some of our favourite shows of the past few years.
- Michael Rault
Michael RaultFriday 6:00 PM
Edmonton’s own Michael Rault crashes, booms and bangs with blatant talent and a brash appetite for musical exploration. From the family tree (his dad is local blues man extraordinaire Lionel Rault) to indie EPs to his recent solo work, Rault has moved in punk, rock, blues and roots circles since an early age. The latest incarnation of this western wunderkind reveals a traditional rootsier bent, which Rault twists into new shapes with the help of unexpected instrumentation, ranging from unique minimalism to thick soundscapes. We’re proud of all things YEG, so what better way to launch a festival than by showing off such a great homegrown talent.
- Carolina Chocolate Drops
Carolina Chocolate DropsSunday 4:00 PM
Picture Nashville’s historic Ryman Theatre, filled to capacity for the 2010 Americana Music Awards. The Carolina Chocolate Drops take the stage, perform just one song, one incredible, stop-you-in-your-tracks amazing song, and get a standing ovation. They’ve been on our mind ever since. This Grammy-winning jug-band energetically fuses virtuosity with history, reinvigorating traditional old-time fiddle and banjo music from the Carolinas, and showcasing the central role African-Americans played in the history of popular music. Don’t be mistaken – The Carolina Chocolate Drops are not simply recreating music from the 20s and 30s, they put a truly modern and truly unrivaled stamp on all the music they make. Their live shows have been described as “end-to-end displays of excellence (New York Times) and their new album, Leaving Eden, is out on Nonesuch Records.
- Jenn Grant
Jenn GrantSunday 2:00 PM
Click your ruby shoes three times and imagine a modern day Judy Garland, an artist with a technicolour voice and mischievous spirit. Jenn Grant’s voice is widely recognized as one of the most mellifluous, melodious and melodic out there, and Six Shooter Records is proud to have released two beautiful records by this talented east coast nightingale. “She’s one of the best singers in the world right now,” says frequent collaborator Buck 65. We’re not the only fans – Jenn has also performed for Royal newlyweds William and Kate, a fitting audience for songs from the Juno-nominated album Honeymoon Punch.
- Jason Plumb and the Willing
Jason Plumb and the WillingThursday 12:30 PM
The best thing about launching a festival is having all our friends right there with us. We’ve worked with Jason Plumb, the flagship artist on SoccerMom Records and we’re proud to have him on the Interstellar Rodeo stage. This roughrider has been in the music business for a long time, formerly as frontman to 90s stars and Juno winners band The Waltons, and brings Saskatchewan Pride to every thing he does. With his band, The Willing, Jason Plumb plays country rock with a prairie heart. Jason along with each and every member of The Willing will release a new album at the same time this year on SoccerMom.
- Cadence Weapon
Cadence WeaponSaturday 4:00 PM
Polaris prize contender, pioneering rapper and rainmaker in Canada’s impressive hip-hop arsenal, Cadence Weapon is a perfect fit for the Interstellar Rodeo. YEG born-and-raised, Rollie Pemberton aka Cadence Weapon is a force to be reckoned with, known for his unique hybrid of psychedelic soul, old school rap, IDM and mutant disco. Cadence Weapon returns with a new record this spring, a highly anticipated follow-up to the much-acclaimed Afterparty Babies (Anti-/Epitaph). The rapper has also recently completed a turn as Edmonton’s Poet Laureate. We are so pleased that this hometown champion will be a part of this year’s Interstellar Rodeo.
- Randy Newman