Ya, I know, what is this doing on my website, right? I get it. But here’s the thing: I love music. I’m passionate about it. I listen to music all day as I work. Although my tastes are fairly broad – I love folk, blues, Americana, roots, bluegrass, and (real) country – I’m always drawn to local artists as well as artists you just don’t hear on the radio. Unless, of course, you listen to CKUA,, which is far and away the best radio station for music lovers that I know of.

So, long story short, I love going to live gigs and discovering new talent. So if you’re tired of listening to the over-produced, annoying, over-hyped, under-whelming garbage that is rampant on commercial radio…you owe it to yourself to check out the following artists:

Sam Baker – His stuff is all good (roots, Americana)

Ray Bonneville – “Goin’ By Feel” is his best (acoustic blues)

Wailin’ Jennys – These gals have pipes! Awesome harmonies and Jeremy Penner, my second cousin, plays fiddle for them. Check out “Firecracker” or “Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House”

The Steel Wheels – Heard these guys at the Canmore Folk Festival last year. Lead singer, Trent Wagler, has a rough, heavy-metal like voice but the band does alt-country and bluegrass with the best of them. “Red Wing” is probably their best album.

Lynn Miles – Great Canadian singer/songwriter. Nice chops. “Fall for Beauty” is terrific.

Abigail Washburn – This gal plays a mean clawhammer banjo. (And she can sing). “Song of the Travelling Daughter” is simply stunning.

Ralph Stanley – That warbling, old-time, mountain-man voice gets me every time! A legend in his own time, Ralph is my go-to-guy when I need a traditional bluegrass fix. His gospel stuff is sweet.

The Avett Brothers – These guys play a weird punk, bluegrass, country mix but it works. Saw them at Calgary Folk Festival last year. “I and Love and You” is the place to start. It was produced by Rick Rubin, so you know it’s gonna be good!

Kevin Welch – His work with Kieran Kane and Fats Kaplin is fantastic!

John Prine – If this guy can’t make you smile you’re dead. One of my favs.

Solomon Burke – One of the best bluesmen in the business. “Nashville” recording is a gem.

Old Crow Medicine Show – Self-titled album is old-time, foot-stomping party music at its finest.

Zoe Muth & the Lost High Rollers – One of my favourite “new” country bands. Love her voice. If you love pedal steel, wicked mandolin, and classic honky tonk licks, this is for you.

Carrie Rodriguez – One of my favourite voices in music. Her work with Chip Taylor and Ben Kyle is worth checking out.

Buddy Miller – Buddy is one of my heroes. Check out his work with his wife, Julie. “Written in Chalk” is eclectic country folk with Buddy’s famous guitar licks and spine-tingling harmonies with wife Julie and Emmylou Harris.

The Deep Dark Woods – Country, folk, and bluegrass with a weird, 70s, psychedelic twist. Crazy-cool lyrics throughout.

David Francy – Celtic, country, and folk rolled into one. Love it.

Mumford & Sons – “Sigh No More” was one of my favourite albums of 2010. Just listen to it.