the shady grove festival is one of canada’s best bluegrass music festivals. it has been running annually for about 30 years and has continues to deliver on top notch entertainment and an unrivalled community for jamming. the next festival is scheduled for july 15-17th 2022.
over the years, much of the talent has come from alberta and other known canadian bluegrass bands, but many of the bands were high profile groups from usa; the likes of “the special consensus”, “dry branch fire squad”, “bluegrass etc.”, ”chris and sally jones”, “lost highway” and “jeff scroggins and colorado”. the quality and presentation of talent has always been top notch, and the volunteers make it run smooth as silk.
the shady grove bluegrass festival moved to the rodeo grounds in sundre, alberta in 2020. the new venue offers excellent dry camping. you can expect to set up and jam with your friends in the same shady grove tradition as always.
in addition, because we are in the town of sundre, those who want to attend but not camp have access to excellent hotels and motel very near the festival grounds.
there will be an open mic, workshops, and great performances. there will also be a saloon, beer gardens, food trucks, and performances by some of the best bluegrass groups from western canada.
there will be workshops and facilitated jams, so expect to get some sore fingers by the end of the weekend. see our website for ticket details and the latest information.
access to the many amenities sundre has to offer is a great bonus, and part of a perfect getaway, with great golf and over 4000 camping sites in the area. for those that want a little time away from the festival sundre has restaurants, a historic village, and some wonderful paths and hiking trails close to the festival site.
Mando maestro Andrew Collins finds himself – through no actual fault of his own – at the epicentre of Canada’s burgeoning acoustic/roots music scene. He didn’t invent it – but he's certainly been a contributor, having co-founded seriously noteworthy Canadian bands like the Creaking Tree String Quartet, the Foggy Hogtown Boys and, more recently, his namesake Trio. That’s not to mention the fact that this prolific, robust performer – comfortable on mandolin, fiddle, guitar, mandola and mandocello – composes, produces, arranges, writes and teaches across multiple genres, including a popular collision of folk, jazz, bluegrass, celtic, and classical.
As Collins gathers up innumerable JUNO nominations (5) and Canadian Folk Music Awards (7) won by his various ensembles, he’s zeroing in on the work he does with Trio-mates: fellow string guru Mike Mezzatesta, whose versatility shines through on guitar, mandolin, fiddle and mandola, and in-the-pocket James McEleney holding it down on the bass, mandocello and vocals. Showcasing a dizzying number of styles and instruments on stage, Collins and Co. appear to live by the old adage, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”, likely keeping them just ahead of his grasp. Bending and blending genres, these musical shape shifters land somewhere between the re-imagined worlds of Béla Fleck and Newgrass invader, David Grisman.
The Blue Canyon Boys are equal parts purists and innovators when it comes to Bluegrass: they stay true to the form’s roots while constantly reimagining their relationship to tradition. The result is a toe-tapping mix of haunting standards, genre-bending arrangements, and catchy original numbers—all built on the bedrock of their collective bluegrass mastery. Ever since founding members Jason Hicks and Gary Dark launched the Blue Canyon Boys in 2006, the Blue Canyon Boys have raised the bar for bluegrass bands. They bring it all: seamless brother-duet style, crisp instrumentation, unvarnished lyrics and subversive humor. After winning first place 2008 Telluride Bluegrass festival band contest, the Blue Canyon Boys went off at full tilt, taking the bluegrass circuit by storm, performing in illustrious venues across the country as well as internationally. Their distinctive sound, honed from over a decade of performing together, moves easily from instrumental wizardry to playful ribbing. Ultimately and repeatedly, they hit a high note—the rare confluence of harmony that leaves the soul ajar. The seasoned quartet features Gary Dark on mandolin, Jason Hicks on guitar, Drew Garrett on bass, and Chris Roszell on banjo. Their latest album, aptly titled “7”, is perhaps their most polished and poignant yet. Classic bluegrass, clean and raw, blends effortlessly with the band’s homegrown compositions, then peppered with a judicious cover or two, such as the band’s riveting take on Warren Zevon’s “Carmelita”. Whether calling on their old timey musical roots or reconnoitering the future, the band’s musical prowess never wavers. This is high lonesome sound at its best: a driving pulse that weaves through harmonies and fierce rhythms, always with the reminder that as long as the music plays we are never quite alone
At a time when most people feel constantly distracted by technology and barraged by the news, authenticity and straightforward honesty are paramount. There’s something about the music of The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys that cuts right through the noise of the world and speaks plainly to the soul. Formed in the Smoky Mountains, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys are at once exactly what you would expect and not at all what you would expect from a tattooed East Tennessee Bluegrass outfit. No strangers to hard work, the boys are as much at home riding in their restored Eagle tour bus as they are crawling underneath to fix it when it needs maintenance. But they take pride in being ambassadors of their genre, and the group has brought their music from rural bluegrass festival stages to the rock clubs of Europe, and even the GRAMMY Red Carpet, with stunning results. “I think to a certain extent everyone is just craving music that they can feel, and any music that feels real will reach any audience” says CJ Lewandowski, the groups founder, “We want to put bluegrass right where it’s least expected”. Perhaps this mindset is why the group earned the title of Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2018 IBMA Awards.
In 2014, Lewandowski was working at Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in Sevierville, TN when the band first formed. The distillery employed musicians to play for visitors seven days a week, and Lewandowski, who primarily plays Mandolin and sings, was occasionally hired to fill in when the entertainment didn’t show. Eventually, the distillery approached him about forming a band for a full time slot, so he reached out to long time music friends Jereme Brown, who plays banjo for the group, and Josh Rinkel, who plays guitar. “Jereme was doing a lot of welding work at that time, and Josh was running a sign company”, says Lewandowski, “I think we were all ready to do something new, something with our music but we didn’t know when or how”. Bassist Jasper Lorentzen happened to be working in the tasting room at the distillery, and he turned out to be the perfect addition to the band. The four friends played multiple times a week for a year and half, honing their band sound, meanwhile word was spreading about their music. “The first gig we played out of town was a festival in Alberta, Canada, and a week later we went on a two week tour of Europe, it was crazy”, says Lewandowski. In 2020, the finishing touch, the cherry on top if you will, was added to the quartet. Laura Orshaw, a seasoned fiddle player and singer joined the Boys after contributing her talents to the Sound Biscuit Productions’ full Gospel album, “God’s Love is So Divine” and “Toils, Tears, & Trouble.” On the addition C.J. exclaims “after 5 1/2 together as a four piece, we needed that perfect fit that would not only fit us on stage and recording, but a personality that would add to the band and be a part of the family we have created. Laura was that person and we can’t think of anyone else that fits our music and our family better than her. The show has benefitted so much from Laura and the chemistry we have between the now 5 of us.”
Material for the group’s freshman Rounder Records album “Toil, Tears & Teouble,” was a combination of original songs and old numbers that honor the group’s mentors and bluegrass heroes. “We love to dig up old songs that haven’t been heard in years and bring them back into the spotlight”, explains Lewandowski. In fact, two of those gems on the Rounder album, “Next Train South” and “Hickory, Walnut & Pine,” were nominated for IBMA Song of the Year along with “Next Train South” taking the trophy for SPBGMA same category in 2020. The momentum of “Toil, Tears & Trouble” has continued to grow with the band’s first GRAMMY Nomination for Best Bluegrass Album.
The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys passion for bluegrass is as clear as it is contagious. With a heavy touring schedule across the United States and Europe and recent Grammy Nomination with Rounder Records, the Boys are well on their way to becoming the quintessential bluegrass band of their generation. Despite all of their recent success, they maintain a humble perspective. “Bluegrass has left such a mark on us that we feel like we owe something back to the music”, says Lewandowski. “We want to do something for the music to show our appreciation… There’s no telling what could have happened to us, what we would have become if we hadn’t found this music. It’s gotten us through a lot, the good and the bad. When I think about all of the damn medications that I didn’t have to take because I had music to turn to. We didn’t have to go to the doctor and pay for something to make us feel better, because we had this music, so we really want to honor it by bringing it out of the shadows and onto new stages and wider audiences. Because we know that if we can bring Bluegrass to new folks, those folks will come with us and support the bluegrass community.”
“Loved having the guys in studio… great live performance…they’re the real deal” ! - Charlie Mattos producer/cohost Coffee, Country & Cody
Crooked Path is a 5-piece band that enjoys blending the sweet sounds of three (3) and four (4) part harmonies with traditional bluegrass instruments. The band is composed of; Al LaMonaca, ripping up the Banjo, and Boh Woodward, rock-solid on the upright Bass; both seasoned musicians who have been active in the bluegrass scene for many years, Amber-Lynn Yourk, our newest member, adds her own distinctive flavour on the Mandolin, Maureen Woodward brings her steady rhythm on the Guitar and last, but not least, one of the most sought after musicians in the area, Cédric Blary on the Clarinet.
The Special Consensus is a bluegrass band that has achieved a contemporary sound in their four decades of performing, making their music a modern classic. The band is led by Greg Cahill, banjo player and recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), and includes Greg Blake (guitar), Dan Eubanks (bass) and Michael Prewitt (mandolin). Special Consensus has received six awards from the IBMA and two Grammy nominations. They are four talented vocalists and instrumentalists who follow their creative desires without straying too far from their bluegrass roots. “Rivers and Roads” (Compass Records) was nominated for the 2018 Best Bluegrass Album GRAMMY award and received 2018 IBMA awards for Album of the Year and Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year (“Squirrel Hunters”). “Chicago Barn Dance” (Compass Records) 2020 celebrates the 45th band anniversary and the connection of country and bluegrass music to Chicago from the time of the WLS “National Barn Dance” - precursor to the Grand Ole Opry. The title song “Chicago Barn Dance” received the 2020 IBMA Song of the Year Award.
Story House is made up of four musicians who have been active in the Pacific Northwest bluegrass scene for a good long time. The members of Story House have played everything from folky singer-songwriter stuff to rock and roll, jazz, country and twin-fiddle Bill Monroe style bluegrass. The band features many original songs and tunes, mixed with covers of great songs both old and new. Though all four members of the band sing, Jake & Maiken’s arresting duet singing is the cornerstone of the band’s vocal sound.
Maiken de Villiers plays double bass with a smooth and steady groove. Her sweet singing and powerful songwriting have won her fans from BC to Hawaii. Maiken contributes many strong original songs to the repertoire. She is also renowned for her beautiful hand-knitted socks.
Jake de Villiers plays lead & rhythm guitar. He solos in his own style and his propulsive rhythm guitar keeps the band ticking along. Jake does most of the arranging for the band. An instrument repairman, Jake’s never met a guitar he didn’t like.
Tim Eccles picks the five-string banjo. His originality keeps the band moving, no matter what the tempo or time signature. He also contributes many fine originals to the band.
Pete Goodall plays mandolin with the band. He has an uncanny ability to find the heart of a song and embrace it with his tasteful playing. The newest member of the band, he’s also the funniest. Story House believes in the emotional power inherent in a great song
With roots in rural Saskatchewan and Australia, this Saskatoon-based quartet brings youthful, hard-driving energy to traditional bluegrass, also taking influence from Celtic, classic country, and Canadiana. Showcasing hot banjo, mandolin and guitar picking, tight three-part harmonies, and a mixed bag of folk instruments, The Local Group plays music of astronomical proportions.
GoAskEarl is a bluegrass group led by bluegrass veteran Brad Lindberg, songwriter, banjo and guitar picker. Along with Keith Uyeno on bass, Bruce Leinan on fiddle and mandolin, Jack Loree on guitar, resonator guitar, mandolin, and Carolin Mcbrien, songwriter and guitar player.
These musicians bring a variety of bluegrass music with all members of the band taking on lead and harmony vocals.
Original songs combined with well-known traditional and modern bluegrass, with a few “twists”, make this band interesting, entertaining, fun, and always full of surprises.
All the players have many years under their belts as professional musicians in various bands of many different genres.
The love of bluegrass has brought them all together to form a very eclectic mix of old and new bluegrass.
Based out of Calgary, GoAskEarl has been playing at festivals, parties and concerts, both public and private for many years.
Back Porch Swing Bio We’re a hint of swing, a drop of country, a slice of folk, and a splash of bluegrass. Some original songs, some songs from others loved by many. We’re Back Porch Swing, touring since 2003. If you haven’t heard us yet we’ve been looking for you. Come on over to the porch, we’ll make you feel right at home! -Jim, Penny, Cam, and Kevin
A Calgary-born musician and a mainstay of the Calgary bluegrass scene for decades. Al has been playing guitar, banjo and dobro in bluegrass bands, duos and trios; Stray Dawgs, Rock Bottom, Hothouse Bluegrass Band (opened for Alison Krauss in Calgary) and Wheatland County (kicked off the very first Edmonton Folk Festival in 1978) to name a few.
Having played the violin since he was seven years old and making music his focus ever since he started playing classical music but switched to the fiddle style learning Celtic, folk, old-tyme, and bluegrass before entering post-secondary to pursue jazz performance there.
In 2012 he and Ben Plotnick were awarded the 10k20 grant from Rawlco radio and their bluegrass duo recorded the self-titled CD Rye & Fairy Tales, to much acclaim.
Erik Smistad is a Calgary-based multi-instrumentalist, an active song writer, arranger, session musician, performer and music teacher since 2010. Erik is known for his ability to play any style of music, but he is especially active in the bluegrass, progressive rock, soul and alternative rock genres.