Sask. music festivals hit pause on winter

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author:  quinn bell | a&c writer


 Where the parties at.  / Jeremy Davis

Chilling to some cool jams.

It’s still winter – January. Nights are still longer than days. Has the sun left us? It’s still chilly. Frigid. I don’t want to move and neither does my car. Everyone is back at work and school; the excitement is wearing off. We’re back to relying on our daily coffee to function. A bleak image of an equally bleak situation, maybe. There is hope. Cue: Winterruption. 

Winterruption is a music festival designed explicitly for this time of year. A truly Saskatchewan event, the festival is exactly what it sounds like: a (welcome) interruption of winter. It is meant to thaw us out a little, warm up our hearts and give us a reason to leave the house and dance. In Regina, the festival is part of the Folk Fest Concert Series. There will be six shows throughout this week, Wednesday through Sunday, hosted at the Artesian, The Exchange, and Revival Music Room. 

Regina Folk Fest is sticking to what it knows best. That is, it has placed many complementary artists on one stage, creating expertly curated line-ups for every show. These will be artists that are similar in either style, story, or medium, and yet never so similar as to be redundant.  

On Jan. 24  the Artesian will see a wild poetry night of smooth-talkers Shane Koyczan, Zoey Roy, Veracity, and Jolissa Simon. On the 25th you can see Terra Lightfoot, Ndidi O, and Ellen Froese share an evening of inspired roots-rock and folk at the Exchange. Or, check out an inspiring and eclectic night of hip-hop, poetry, dance, and more at Revival, put on by the women of Begonia, Natural Sympathies, Eekwol, and T-Rhyme, on the 26th. 

Alas, in order to fit so much talent on one stage, each concert is at least $30 (or much more if you pay at the door). If you’re a young adult in university who spends their earnings on coffee, you’ll likely have to pick what show you want to see. 

Now if you’ll be in Saskatoon for their Winterruption (they had the name first, by the way), it’s a different story. A handful of the shows up there this week will be a lot cheaper than in the capital. I’d sure love to be able to hit up more than one show and not be out eighty bucks. This time around, it seems Saskatoon has us beat. Sometimes, I really wish I lived there. 

For one thing, all the bigger names gracing our Regina venues this week are also headed up to Saskatoon the next day! Hawksley Workman, Shane Koyczan, and Begonia will all be playing in S’toon. Royal Wood, too, is playing a special VIP show with a meet and greet and a Q&A. Saskatoon is also lucky enough to have a performance by Tanya Tagaq this week – it might almost be worth the drive up to go and see. 

Toontown will also be hosting a much wider variety of events as part of their winter festival. YQR may have had an impressive poetry night, but there’s more up north. Winterruption Saskatoon will also be showing off the comedy duo We Aint Terrorists, outdoor Indigenous storytelling sessions, poetry jams, a live performance of a film soundtrack (followed by another Q&A session), a live podcast, and multiple drag performances by Bob the Drag Queen. As their slogan says, Winterruption in Saskatoon promises “hot hot hot hot hot hot hot fun!” 

I won’t abandon the Queen CIty just yet, however. The price point may be a sticky issue for some, but I’ve been reminded of all the free summer stages hosted by the Regina Folk Fest every year. That is a lot of free music — a lot of GOOD free music — put on for our delight every summer. That’s pretty special! Obviously student pricing for Winterruption would be the ideal, but it’s at least much easier to consider going when I know I don’t pay in the summer. 

Whether or not you end up hitting up a paid concert this week, consider the one free show: RFF on Ice. It’s the 50th anniversary of Regina Folk Fest, and to celebrate there is going to be a skating party downtown complete with curated music and friendly, helpful people. Happening in Victoria Park, the heart of RFF, it’s the ideal venue to celebrate one of our city’s top annual music events. You can borrow skates from Regina Downtown BID, warm up in their skate shack, and sip some hot chocolate from Knox Metropolitan down the road. Show starts at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

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