About 40 musical acts with connections to 10 different countries will be at Jericho Beach Park this weekend for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Here are three talented performers with intriguing back stories.
Bassy, a Cameroon-born singer-songwriter, played the Vancouver Folk Music Festival back in 2017. That was before the release of his historically informed and pioneering album 1958, which came out less than two years later. Bassy dedicated it to Ruben Um Nyobé and other largely forgotten heroes of Cameroon’s independence movement.
The video for one haunting track, “Ngwa”, opens with a Cameroonian burying a firearm on top of a steep cliff. He’s later hunted down by colonial forces. It represents the fate of Nyobé, a Cameroonian nationalist who was killed by the French army in 1958. His name was banned from being mentioned in the country until the 1990s.
Watch the music video for Blick Bassy’s “Ngwa”.
According to South African director Tebogo Malope, “The narrative of this heroic leader Ruben Um Nyobe is one that resonates throughout the continent. A continent still grappling with the legacy of colonialism and the attempts to redress the consequences thereof. The visual approach of the video seeks to be a meditation on our leadership as a continent, what could have been if some hadn’t been massacred, what is? Because of the might of imperial Europe, What should be? And what hope do we have moving forward?”
Bassy writes songs in Bassa, which is his native language. His first album, Akö was released in 2015. The first 15 seconds of one of the tracks, “Kiki”, was used to advertise Apple’s iPhone6. Here’s another unusual fact: Blassy was one of 21 children in his family.
Buryat and Mongolian music fused with folk, pop, and jazz are all part of the equation with Namgar. The band’s frontwoman, Namgar Lhasaranova, has been performing for more than four decades, bringing forth singing traditions from where the borders of China, Russia, and Mongolia come together.
Lyrics are written in the Buryat language.
Watch Namgar perform “Boori deeguur”.
In the Youtube Interview below, Namgar explains that the Buryats are Indigenous people from Siberia going back to the origins of Mongolia. She’s from the small steppe village of Kunkur in the Trans-Bailkal Territory.
“I like that the Buryat people are open, compassionate, and keep the traditions of their ancestors,” Namgar says. “They also have a desire for study, education, and knowledge of the world, and a reverent attitude to parents, nature, and religion.”
She points out that Buryat songs “delight with their versatility, diversity, and beauty”. In some respects, they reflect the nature of the homeland, which includes “pointed mountain ranges, forest expanses, waterfalls, lakes, and endless steppes”.
A respected songwriter and self-described former wild child, Burt has recorded three full-length studio albums with Oh Boy Records. His most recent, Traffic Fiction, will be released on October 6.
Check out Tré Burt’s new single, “Santiago”.
Last month, Glide magazine noted that Traffic Fiction “interweaves bits of recorded conversations with his late grandfather” at three different points. Among the topics discussed are Stevie Wonder and the challenges of Burt’s chosen career.
Burt’s grandfather, Tommy, suffered from early onset-dementia before he died early this year. According to Burt’s bio, the soul animating the album is the music shared between grandfather and grandson.
One of Burt’s early hits was “Real You” from his 2018 Caught It from the Rye album. One thing that sets him apart is that he’s been known to incorporate distortion while playing the acoustic guitar.
Burt grew in Sacramento with his mom. His dad lived in the Bay Area. As a result, he would often travel back and forth between Oakland and the California capital city.
The Vancouver Folk Music Festival takes place at Jericho Beach Park from July 14 to 16. For more information and tickets, visit the website. Follow Pancouver on Twitter @PancouverMedia and on Instagram @PancouverMedia.