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Mentorship program aims to give local musicians boost of confidence

“I’m so happy that we got the grant to be able to do this. People are looking for live music and because it’s outside we will be able to host this."

CANMORE – The essence of the Canmore Folk Music Festival will be on full display in September.

Despite the popular music festival being cancelled or being held virtually for a second year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers are bringing back live music to Canmore.

“I’m so happy that we got the grant to be able to do this. People are looking for live music and because it’s outside we will be able to host this,” said Sue Panning, festival artistic director.

The Canmore Folk Fest Mentorship Concert, which is being held in tandem with artsPlace’s Canmore Festival of Art & Creativity on Saturday, Sept. 18, will feature five local musicians and their mentors who are five established touring artists.

The mentorship program was the brainchild of Panning, and officially kicks off this week. It was a sort of evolution of the festival’s artist development fund.

Panning said the program was designed for artists who want to take the next step to become touring artists, something that can be difficult to break into, especially in today’s music industry.

“It’s really important to engage our locals and help where we can. The music industry is really changing – it's harder and harder to make a living at being an artist, especially at the emerging end. It's an opportunity for our locals to gain an experience to further their careers as artists,” said Panning.

Local Bow Valley singer/songwriter Lori Reid is a musician looking to take the next step and is thrilled to be a part of the program.

“I am hoping this program will provide me with the tools to have the confidence to know that I can take care of myself, out there on the road,” said Reid. “I can tour but I don’t really know how to do everything myself and still perform.”

Reid will be paired with Julian Taylor Solo, a roots-oriented folk and soul musician based in Toronto, who was recently named the Solo Artist of the Year at this year’s Canadian Folk Music Awards.

“One of the most important things an artist can do is to share their experiences and whatever knowledge has come to pass with others,” said Taylor.

“It’s definitely a fruitful endeavour to be a part of. Anytime I have taught anything – even guitar lessons – I’ve learned a lot myself, so I am really looking forward to mentoring Lori and learning from the other mentors as well.”

Reid said she has been hesitant to tour because she does not have the knowledge to keep all the parts of a tour running smoothly while giving the best performance. Mentors and mentees will explore topics such as “music business 101,” “stage craft” and “getting the best sound from the sound tech.”

“I would never go walking down a hiking trail that was really foreign to me without a guide. Certainly I would want to peer off and go in my own direction – those are personal experiences – but for your first few steps you need someone to help you through,” said Taylor, who has toured as a musician for more than 25 years.

Reid is “stoked” to have the chance to work with Taylor, despite having not heard about him beforehand.

“He's this really super cool musician and he wasn’t on my radar but he should have been. For whatever reason our paths haven’t crossed but I believe it's a really natural joy that I will get to work with him. I feel like Julian will understand where I am coming from,” said Reid.

The free four-hour concert will feature a 25-minute set by each mentor and each mentee will perform two original songs along with a third song in collaboration with their mentor.

As for the song Reid will collaborate with Taylor, she is unsure at this point. She admitted she would love to co-write a song with her mentor. More than anything, she is excited for the chance to work with the well-established singer/songwriter.

“I am really interested to see where he sees my strengths and even where he sees my vulnerability. Having looked into Julian’s repertoire I get the sense that artists like him are really open to collaboration, and really that’s what music is all about,” said Reid.

Taylor said he is excited for the opportunity to play in Canmore, as he has only driven through the mountain town on one occasion many years ago.

“I’m excited to come to Canmore, it’s so beautiful and majestic. I’m excited to get out of the big city.”

Other local artists included in the mentorship program include The Cave Arcade, Seth Anderson, Mari Rosehill and Scott Diehl, while mentors in the program include Steve Dawson and the Henhouse Allstars, Dawn Pemberton, Ndidi O and Tera Lightfoot.

Following the mentorship program, the five local mentees will have the opportunity to be openers for touring musicians that will be performing at artsPlace as part of a Canmore Folk Festival concert series in November to April next year.

Evan Buhler

About the Author: Evan Buhler

Evan Buhler is an award-winning photojournalist and reporter who joined the Outlook in 2019. A native of Calgary, he previously worked in Salmon Arm, B.C.
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