ATHABASCA – The Heartwood Folk Club is getting ready to kickstart its fall season with the upcoming Sept. 29 Tina Hartt concert, the first of four shows slated for the next three months.
Club music director Charlie DeShane said that the four acts cover a variety of musical tastes but are all acts he’s either seen or worked with before and can uphold the quality that audience members expect.
“We’ve been looking for exceptional musicianship, presence, and character, and we’re excited to showcase that,” said DeShane in a Sept. 5 interview. “We really want people to come out and see some of the acts that are less well known.”
Hartt, a Montreal native who’s now based out of Calgary, will be the first act to grace the Nancy Appleby Theatre. DeShane first saw her through Alberta Showcase 2022, a weekend-long event that aims to bring local talent in touch with presenters and promoters.
“I was really impressed by Hartt and Jake Vaadeland, and I’ve spent the time since trying to get them up here,” said DeShane. Vaadeland will take the stage with the Sturgeon River Boys Nov. 2.
After Hartt’s show comes Ray Bonneville Oct. 14, a Hull, Que. native whose recruitment was a joint effort between Heartwood and the New Moon Folk Club in Edmonton.
“They called and said they were bringing Ray in, and asked if we would be interested in having him out at around the same time,” said DeShane.
Crystal Plamondon, a local talent from the hamlet her grandfather founded, was recruited by a previous act who said he had really enjoyed the atmosphere. She’ll be in town Nov. 17 to wrap up the season.
“Calvin [Vollrath], told her what a great time he had playing here when they were at a different festival, and Plamondon and I go way back,” said DeShane, who’s been involved in the music scene for most of his life. “It’s her first time playing for the folk club, but we’ve known each other since the ’90s, so she called me and said she wants to come and bring the whole town of Plamondon with her.”
Despite the name, the folk club has been trying to branch out into different tastes as the town’s demographics change.
“Hartt has more of a French folk feel, but she’s more leaning towards jazz. Bonneville is definitely in that folk genre a bit but has more of a blues edge. Jake Vaadeland is some bluegrass mixed with ’50s rockabilly, but his focus is still on that storytelling and song writing you see in folk,” said DeShane. “It’s all music for the people. We want to keep these ideas in place, just with different flavours around them.”
Tickets for the performances are available at Value Drug Mart, Whispering Hills Fuel, or Athabasca Health Foods. Advance tickets are $30, door tickets are $35, and a season ticket for all four shows costs $100.
“It’s live music, that’s the biggest thing,” said DeShane, when asked why people should come out to see the show. “I think any of these shows that we’re bringing are just phenomenal musicians who are doing what they love to do.”