Music is the heartbeat of the Canadiana Fest.
“We wanted to share iconic music of Canada, the sounds that resonate and instantly take you to the homeland” says Channon Mondoux, Event Creative
“Gordon Lightfoot captured the imagination of generations of people around the world, but Orillia, Ontario, Canada was his true home. “ Mike Fornes, who portrays Gordon Lightfoot onstage with the Gordon Lightfoot Tribute Band, says “These songs are heart-wrenching at times, romantic beyond measure, and sorrowful at the loss of a love. Other songs tell tales of the sea, a walk in the woods, or they celebrate Canada.”
Mr Lightfoot died on May 1, 2023 after a long illness that forced the cancellation of his 2023 tour. He approved of the music of the Gordon Lightfoot Tribute Band and the carrying on of his musical tradition.
The Gibson B-45 12-string and Martin D-18 guitars that Mr. Fornes uses in concert are identical to the ones played by Gordon Lightfoot on stage (not to mention his Gibson is made right here in Kalamazoo!). “There is a distinctive sound from Lightfoot’s guitars that are instantly recognizable in his recordings,” Fornes added. “These tones bring us a little closer to recreating his signature songs. It’s an honor to be able to perform these songs on stage.” The band’s stage set, lighting effects, instrumentation, clothing and mannerisms are identical to those presented by Gordon Lightfoot, live in concert. This remarkable program pays tribute to the artist’s legacy of music, songwriting and history as a performer.
Toronto native and jazz saxophonist and twice Juno Award nominated (Canadian version of the Grammy) Andrew Rathbun is widely esteemed as one of the most creative and accomplished saxophonists, composers and bandleaders of his generation. He is also an associate professor of saxophone and jazz studies at Kalamazoo’s own Western Michigan University! Mr. Rathbun states “As a proud Canadian, it’s a real honor to get to present some of my music from my new recording “The Speed of Time” on Steeplechase records, due out in early September. It’s always fun to play with the amazing musicians that I’ll be appearing with, including Matthew Fries, piano, Carlo De Rosa, bass and Keith Hall, drums. Some of my past projects have a distinctly Canadian angle: “Atwood Suites” was a jazz orchestra project that set the text of famed Canadian author and poet Margaret Atwood to music, and “The Idea of North” is a project inspired by one of Canada’s musical titans, Glenn Gould.” We are excited to host him at the festival in October.
The Henpecked Dawgs bring to life the early Canadiana sound of the French and Celtic Canadian population. A local quartet, Charlie Holleman, Richard Koontz, Leigh Fryling and Jenni Leckrone play everything from guitars, ukuleles, bagpipes, and the bodhran drum to mandolins, spoons, bones, tin whistles, small pipes, and flutes. Their stunning four part vocal harmonies will delight your ears and bring you to your feet. While the whole band enjoys classics like ‘Farewell to Nova Scotia’ and ‘Red River Valley’, they are also thrilled to play Canadian music by the always hilarious “The Arrogant Worms”. They are excited to play for you!
Tom Sawyer, A Tribute to Rush hails from Chicagoland. They are a power trio that emphasizes the progressive rock era from 1974-1981. These are the sounds that created the bedrock for Rush’s iconic 40+ year career. They will play all the greatest hits and deeper album cuts from RUSH through MOVING PICTURES plus all the greatest hits of their later eras. If you want to hear what Canada’s own Rush sounded like in their prime, come check out Tom Sawyer.
Tony Mok, who handles vocals, bass, keys, synth pedals, and samples, says “I love being included in this event because we always have tried to represent RUSH in an authentic way. They are smart, kind, funny, humble, and very dedicated musicians and I feel like they represent some of the best aspects of the Canadian people.”
Brent Johnson plays electric and acoustic guitars and synth pedals for the band, and notes “I am very happy to be part of Canadiana Fest and feel very honored to be representing one of the best Canadian exports ever – RUSH!” We concur!
Scott Lang manages all things percussive, and is looking forward to coming to Kalamazoo. He says “I am beyond excited to get out there and play this incredible Canadian music for you all! Neil Peart was a huge influence on me and will live in my heart forever!”
The Canadiana Fest Team is working to create an event that everyone will enjoy from young families who want to learn about Canada to those who just love to party with our music and food. We have volunteers from both sides of the border, several young people bringing their energy and fresh approach on the planning team as well as veteran chefs, brewery owners, business folk and many community partners without whom we could not put on an event of this magnitude. We know that you will get a world class experience and we welcome our friends and neighbors from Canada to come be celebrated in a joyful event.