2024 Winnipeg Folk Festival Preview

July means fans of folk, bluegrass, indie rock, country, & hip-hop will again flock to Birds Hill Park near Winnipeg

Filed under: Festivals

The 2024 Winnipeg Folk Festival is upon us! The beloved fest's 49th edition will see thousands setting up their hammocks and tarps in Birds Hill Provincial Park, just outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba, on July 11–14.

After an abnormally chilly fest last year, it looks like the sizzling weather familiar to any seasoned folkie is back with a vengeance. The weekend might be a scorcher, but it will also be packed with an abundance of outstanding music, food, art, and community. So grab your hats, water, and every other possible form of sun and heat protection, because this is one you won't want to miss.

But first, before you walk through those gates, check out a list of some must-see artists below. There are, of course, so many other acts I'm eager to see -- here is my humble offer of just a few that ignited my excitement. I'm delighted to compile this list and nerd out about music once again with Showbiz Monkeys, who have been covering WFF since 2009, capturing it in photo, video, interviews, and writing every year.

Enjoy Showbiz Monkeys' look back at last year's Winnipeg Folk Festival, soundtracked by Mackenzie Wojick's performance of his song "Montreal" with the Young Performers Program. Happy Folk Fest!

Inn Echo

Saturday, July 13 – 11:00 AM (Big Bluestem)

As a big fan of trad music, I was thrilled to see Inn Echo on the lineup this year. The eastern Canadian band came across my Spotify as recommended listening a couple years ago, and it quickly made its way onto my playlists. The three musicians came together in Prince Edward Island from across Canada and the United States and have made their mark composing their own tunes and approaching traditional jigs, reels, and melodies through a modern lens. Their workshop with Miscellany of Folk, Polky, and Shooglenifty is the workshop I'm mostly highly anticipating, not least for the dancing. Dancing is one of my favourite things about WFF. Where else can all generations dance together as freely and without judgement?? Outside and in the daylight?? It's a rare and precious chance, I'd say.

Leith Ross

Saturday, July 13 – 4:30 PM (Green Ash)

If you have not had the chance to hear Leith Ross perform live around the Manitoba music scene, I must implore you to move them right to the top of your list. Their voice is exquisite, delivering the clearest tone with a feathery light touch -- along with lyrics that will tear out your heart and stomp on it. Okay okay maybe I'm getting dramatic. The singer-songwriter's deeply personal approach has clearly captivated audiences, though. Moving from Ottawa to Winnipeg, Ross' career skyrocketed during the pandemic, particularly in online listenership. They are just as brilliant performing live, and don't worry -- they'll bandage up your heart before the set is through.

Orville Peck

Sunday, July 14 – 9:00 PM (Main Stage)

Noah Cyrus

Sunday, July 14 – 7:30 PM (Main Stage)

Winnipeg Folk Fest is having its Hollywood moment! Orville Peck and Noah Cyrus are two major names in pop culture, and they'll be gracing the main stage with back-to-back sets.

Even if you don't know Peck's name, you would likely recognize him by his iconic fringed eye mask, which he never appears in public without. He's made a name for himself with his deep, velvety vocals and his identity as an openly gay musician in the country genre -- something that's still relatively rare. He's been a guest judge on RuPaul's drag race and recently released a song/single with legend Willie Nelson.

Cyrus is indeed a sibling of superstar Miley Cyrus -- but as the youngest of three sisters myself, that's where I'll stop the comparisons. She's a musician and actor who started in the industry as a teenager and has made a graceful transition from what some might call more generic pop music to a soulful folk and country sound.

But guess what makes these performances all the more exciting? Peck and Cyrus are best friends and they released a song together only two months ago. When they perform it together (which has only happened live a handful of times), it's electric. Will Winnipeg be the first in Canada to hear this live duet?

New Dangerfield

Saturday, July 13 – 2:45 PM (Bur Oak)

Well this really seems to be the year of collaborations, doesn't it? In addition to Peck and Cyrus' partnership, Madeleine Roger will be performing with The Fretless, and Dirtwire has recorded tracks with both Moontricks and Gone Gone Beyond, who are all joining forces for a workshop.

In 2023, three solo artists who will each perform their own concerts at the fest formed a supergroup called New Dangerfield. Their goal is to revive and liberate the disappearing Black string band tradition. Comprised of banjoist Tray Wellington, vocalist Kaia Kater, fiddler Jake Blount, and bassist Nelson Williams, the group digs into old-time music in a combination of talent that must be near explosive.

Joy Oladokun

Friday, July 12 - 9:00 PM (Main Stage)

Joy Oladokun is awesome. She is a Black, queer, first-generation child of Nigerian immigrants, and these identities directly inform her music making. Her songs delve into her experience of living in America as a Black person and being a queer person who was raised in the church. They call out and bring in, providing comfort to so many people who struggle and thrive and everything in between. This folk-but-also-every-genre artist has been taking off in the last couple years, featuring collaborations with artists like Noah Kahan and performances at the White House. Just one thing I love about Oladokun's music is the creative beats and instrumentation that keep even the slowest songs interesting.


Sunday, July 14 – 3:00 PM (Big Bluestem)

When WFF releases their annual lineup, I've started jumping to the very bottom (after a quick scan of the full thing, of course) and started my listening there. It is so often the performances and workshops by lesser-known groups that end up being the most memorable for me. This year's research led me to Polky, a Polish folk band from Ontario led by numerous multi-talented female musicians (Polky translates to "Polish women"). Their songs explore topics like immigration to Canada, Toronto's multiculturalism, and their Polish roots. Fans of past WFF performers DakhaBrakha (2017) and Balaklava Blues (2023) should definitely check out this group's similar, but perhaps sunnier and uplifting, sound.

Others to not miss:

  • Killer Mike (Friday, July 12 – 10:15 PM – Big Blue @ Night)
  • Bonny Light Horseman (Saturday, July 13 – 7:30 PM – Main Stage)
  • Medicine Singers (Saturday, July 13 – 1:00 PM – Snowberry Field)
  • Grace Potter (Saturday, July 13 – 9:00 PM – Main Stage)
  • Noah Reid (Friday, July 12 – 4:15 PM – Snowberry Field)

Tags: Winnipeg Folk Festival, Inn Echo, Leith Ross, Orville Peck, Noah Cyrus, New Dangerfield, Joy Oladokun, Polky

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