Four ferocious players, masterful composition, and a genre-bending sound — Juno award-winning The Fretless is a Canadian quartet that has firmly taken its place on the map to a progressive form of “trad”.A supergroup of celebrated solo artists, The Fretless has been creating a singular and signature sound that dares to expand the idea of what a string music quartet can be — transforming fiddle tunes and folk melodies into intricate, beautiful, high-energy arrangements that have quickly gained a dedicated following and accolades from around the world. Within what appears to be a simple and classical construct — two fiddles, a viola, and a cello — The Fretless has created a sound that is distinctly rich, multi-layered, and uniquely percussive. This tonal quality is pushing traditional music to new heights, producing a completely fresh approach to Folk music.The Fretless is Trent Freeman (Fiddle/Viola), Karrnnel Sawitsky (Fiddle/Viola), Ben Plotnick (Fiddle/Viola), and Eric Wright (Cello).
The Kane Sisters
From North Connemara, Liz and Yvonne Kane, known as The Kane Sisters, are much respected musicians and educators. Born in Letterfrack, they were educated in Kylemore Abbey School. They were taught music by the great Sligo musician and music teacher, Mary Finn and by their grandfather, Jimmy Mullen. From a young age, they have been very influenced by the traditional music of Sligo and East Galway, in particular the music of the master composer and fiddle player Paddy Fahey.Liz and Yvonne first came to national and international prominence during the three year period in which they toured with accordion player, Sharon Shannon as members of her band, The Woodchoppers. They travelled all over the world with her band and are featured artists on Sharon’s album ‘The Diamond Mountain Sessions’. At that time, a Hot Press review by Siobhan Long confirmed ‘...while 'Fire in their Bellies' (with Liz and Yvonne Kane) is ensemble playing at its best and most naked.'Following this period of touring with Sharon Shannon, they decided to embark musically on their own and they recorded their first album in 2002 entitled ‘The Well Tempered Bow’. The Kane Sisters toured Ireland and the United States following the release of their first album and they followed up with a second album ‘Under the Diamond’ in 2004 and third album in 2010 called ‘Side by side’. In 2022 they released their fourth album ‘In Memory of Paddy Fahey’ featuring 15 of his compositions as well as newly written tunes from both Liz and Yvonne.
Shelly Campbell & Allan Dewar
Cape Breton, NS, Canada
Born and raised on West Bay Road, Inverness County, Shelly Campbell has been playing traditional Cape Breton music for more than 30 years. Her playing is powerful, lively and graceful, deeply-rooted in the traditions she grew up listening to. She was influenced by local fiddlers Stephanie Wills, Theresa MacLellan, Gertie Coffin, and Alex Francis MacKay among others. Shelly plays at many local concerts, pubs, and festivals and is a popular player for dances. Although she usually stays close to home, Shelly has taught and played throughout the Maritimes as well as in Ontario, Ireland, Scotland, and Denmark. She also has an avid interest in the Gaelic language and its preservation on Cape Breton and continues to work on her own fluency. She sits on the board of the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre and has helped to develop the Féis Cape Breton program through the Centre. Shelly is currently teaching Junior High School math and science as well as Gaelic language grades 4-9.Growing up in Halifax and Antigonish, Allan Dewar picked up the music at home. There was no formal training of any sort, but many folks would drop by the house for tunes. Allan learned by ear and he attended every concert, dance and house party he could. For many years he toured with several well-known Cape Breton artists but these days, Allan mostly accompanies local fiddlers at dances, concerts and ceilidhs.
Frank Evans & Ben Plotnick
Frank Evans fell in love with banjo at age 10 and quickly developed a passion for Old Time Appalachian music. In 2010 Evans joined the bluegrass outfit the Slocan Ramblers, and in 2011 Evans became the first banjo player to attend Humber College of Music where he studied Jazz. Currently Evans tours extensively year round throughout the world and has played at Rockygrass, Merlefest, and Jacobs Ladder Festival in Isreal. He has taught at the Rockygrass Academy, Nimble Fingers Bluegrass Camp and has played, recorded and taught alongside Old Crow Medicine Show, Natalie MacMaster, Tony Trischka, Peter Rowan, John Reischman and Ken Whiteley. Ben Plotnick has established himself over the last decade as one of North America’s elite fiddle players. With a variety of acts, he has performed across 4 continents. He has recorded on more than a hundred albums as a session musician, performed at arenas and festivals across the continent with country, folk, Americana and bluegrass bands, and produced 6 records for himself or other collaborative projects. On their duo album Madison Archives, Frank Evans (Banjo) and Ben Plotnick (Fiddle) tested their own capacity for instrumental improvisation, technique, home recording, and sanity. However, the triumphant outcome is an extremely ambitious yet completely effortless sounding collection of original tunes.
Richard Forest & Les Quatres Coins
Richard Forest, from Montreal, has consistently thrilled and delighted audiences with the irresistible, inspiring and joyful music of Quebec. Having cut his teeth in the days of Quebec nationalism, he hasn’t stopped inspiring pride with music that expresses the rich emotive and joyful history of Quebec.Richard is well known for his compositions and highly sought after for dances. His tunes are often mistakenly labeled ‘traditional’ and can often be heard in sessions. Four are published in the Portland collections in league with the Irish, Scottish and Old time tunes that have endured hundreds of years and are still regularly played at dances.Les Quatre Coins is a high-energy, New England-style contra dance band with members hailing from Quebec, Ontario, and Newfoundland. Rooted in and connected to their own traditions, Richard Forest, James Stephens, Greg Brown, and Emily Addison are all exceptional players of regional dance music, who have come together to offer a unique musical blend. Renowned for their compositions which are favorites for both dancers and players alike, this band offers an experience that you will not want to miss!
Marie-Jeanne Brousseau (accordion), Courtney Drew (fiddle), and Alanna Jenish (guitar) are “Triptik.”With a diverse range of Québécois, Irish and Canadian folk influence, the music speaks for itself in its originality. These three young professionals each contribute a unique musical background, and the combined effect is fresh and captivating in its energy and depth. Hailing from the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Marie-Jeanne Brousseau and Courtney Drew are long-time musical collaborators. Alanna Jenish, from Peterborough, ON contributes her own rhythmic style of guitar accompaniment. New to the scene, Triptik are excited to bring their music to Gatineau Hills as their festival debut.
Schryer O'Gorman Trio
The Schryer O’Gorman Trio features, Julie Schryer (Pierre Schryer Band, Brian Pickell Band), on piano, Pat O’Gorman (Na Cabarfeidh, Rare Air, Morgaine Le Fay, Brian Pickell Band), on bagpipes, Irish flute and tin whistle, and their adult child, award-winning fiddler Áine Schryer O’Gorman. As a trio, Julie, Pat and Áine play tunes from a wide range of traditions, including Canadian Old-Time, Irish, Scottish, French-Canadian, and original compositions, with an impressive technique and a strong and spirited rhythm.
Paul & Melika Lemelin
Two-time Canadian Grand Master Fiddling Champion Paul Lemelin has been playing the fiddle since the age of 4, and has been competing since the age of 8. At home, Paul works as a Mechanical Design Techonologist for Vale Exploration. He enjoys teaching the fiddle, guitar, mandolin and piano as well as being a father of 3 boys and one daughter. Paul has won many competitions including first place in the Open category in Sturgeon Falls, Chelmsford, Richmond and three wins in Pembroke, Ontario. The highlight of Paul's career came in 2014 when he won the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Competition, followed immediately by a win in Pembroke, a feat only achieved 3 times before. Melika Lemelin is a self-taught pianist from Quebec. She learned to play at the age of 15, alongside Quebec's legendary Yvon Cuillerier. Since moving to Ontario in August 2000, she quickly became one of Ontario's most sought out house pianists and remains active in the fiddle contest scene. In 2010 and 2012, Melika won 3rd place in the accompaniment category at the Grand Masters Fiddling Championship in Nashville, TN. In her spare time, Melika enjoys spending time with her 4 children, playing softball, and taking rides on her motorcyle, alongside her husband, Paul.
Jane & Kyle
Canadian fiddle champions Jane Cory and Kyle Burghout have each been performing for over a decade, and have played to audiences across Canada, the USA, and Europe. With many accolades to their credit—Jane a Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Champion, and Kyle a North American Irish Fiddle Champion—they join forces to create innovative arrangements filled with lush twin fiddle harmonies. Both growing up in areas with rich fiddling traditions—Jane in Manitoba and Kyle in the Ottawa Valley—their music features a blend of the traditional tunes they grew up playing and contemporary tunes written by fiddlers from across Canada and beyond, including many compositions of their own.
Eli Howard was first introduced to Irish traditional music at age five, when his school teacher began running tin whistle lessons at his elementary school. Eli quickly developed an obsession with traditional music which, since then, has led him to live in Ireland for an extended period, attend and teach at the AlgomaTrad music camp for countless summers, as well as various other enriching musical experiences. Throughout the years Eli has had the privilege to study with a number of incredible tin whistle players and flautists, including Loretto Reid, Karen Light, Pat O'Gorman, John Skelton, Joannie Madden, John Kelly, and Mary Bergin. Eli can be regularly found playing at local pub sessions wherever he is located.
The Fiddleheads Adult Group, led by James Stephens, meets at Earl’s Hall in Wakefield every Monday evening, and is looking forward to sharing some of the tunes they've been working on this fall!
Lineup is subject to changes. Last updated September 20, 2023.