Iconic Canadian country rockers Blue Rodeo, folk-pop songstress Serena Ryder, eclectic indie rockers the Arkells, American soul powerhouse Charles Bradley and Vancouver folk troubadour Dan Mangan will headline the 2014 edition of Riverfest Elora, Friday, August 22 and Saturday, August 23 2014. Elora’s annual celebration of music, food, community and art returns to the picturesque Bissell Park and extends to two days for its sixth year.
This year’s line-up will include a Saturday night headline performance from Blue Rodeo, one of the premier groups in Canadian music history. Over the past three decades, the band has sold more than four million records, won countless Juno awards and earned a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. In 2012, they were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The band’s most recent release, 2013’s In Our Nature, has received accolades nationwide and sat atop the Canadian Billboard chart.
Six-time Juno winner Serena Ryder will also play the festival’s Saturday night. Ryder’s distinct blend of folk, pop and rock music has earned her the admiration of fans, peers and critics alike. Her breakthrough 2012 album, Harmony, which includes the infectious tunes “Stompa” and “What I Wouldn’t Do”, went platinum and received major airplay on radio stations in Canada and the United States. This past March, she co-hosted the Juno Awards in Winnipeg and picked up two awards for Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year.
Friday night includes a headlining performance from Hamilton’s the Arkells. The band has grown to become one of the most venerable indie-rock acts on the Canadian music scene; in 2011, CBC Radio 3 awarded them “Best Live Act”, they won the Juno for New Group of the Year in 2010 and they’ve toured alongside musical icons like the Tragically Hip, Them Crooked Vultures and Metric. Their most recent record, 2011’s Michigan Left, earned them the coveted Group of the Year award at the 2012 Junos.
Also joining the Riverfest Friday night line-up is American soulman Charles Bradley. After years of struggle and heartbreak, Bradley has gone from James Brown impersonator to the “Screaming Eagle of Soul”. The sixty-five-year-old released his debut album three years ago to critical acclaim. He’s since appeared in the best-of lists of the Rolling Stone and SPIN and released his second album, 2013’s Victim of Love. His incredible against-all-odds battle with poverty, unemployment and illness is chronicled in the 2012 documentary Soul of America. Bradley brings his legendary live show to Elora, complete with his 10-piece band, the Extraordinaires.
Rounding out the headliners is Vancouver folk-rock storyteller Dan Mangan. Mangan’s most recent release, 2011’s Oh Fortune, earned him two Juno Awards for New Artist of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year. His albums have also been shortlisted for the coveted Polaris Music Prize. After a touring hiatus, Mangan returns to the stage for a few select dates in 2014, alongside his newly-named backing band, Blacksmith. Mangan will perform at the festival on Saturday night.
Many other musicians will perform on both days of the festival. Friday also includes six-piece bluegrass band, The Strumbellas, Australian singer-guitarist Kim Churchill and legendary Canadian reggae band Messenjah, along with a star-studded festival jam session.
Rounding out Saturday’s line-up is alt-country trio Elliott BROOD, Montreal synth-pop band Young Galaxy, country-folk supergroup Quartette, hook-heavy indie rockers Odd Years, global fusion band Eccodek, folk singer-songwriter Jadea Kelly and local rock band Snack!.
Riverfest Elora is an all-ages licensed event. Wine, beer and food will be available for sale, provided by local restaurants and shops. Local art will be available to purchase from vendors in Artisans Alley. Lawn chairs and blankets are highly encouraged.
Weekend passes for Riverfest Elora are $75, $40 for Friday night and $60 for Saturday. Children under 14 are free with a paid guardian. Passes are now available for purchase online and at The Shepherd’s Pub (Elora), The Fergus General Store (Fergus) and The Cornerstone (Guelph).
Festival gates open at 5PM on Friday and 2PM on Saturday, with music kicking off at 5:30PM and 2:30PM respectively. The festival will take place rain or shine.
Riverfest Elora is the town’s annual celebration of community and music. The festival was founded by Elora artist Marilyn Koop in 2009. Koop passed away in 2012 and the festival continues in her memory. For the latest updates, become a fan of Riverfest on Facebook and Twitter.