Block Heater Melts The Winter Blues Away

Calgary Folk Music Festival presents homegrown and international talent with free and pay-what-you-can live stream concerts until February 20.

Breaking that cabin fever is Calgary Folk Fest’s sixth annual Block Heater festival, warming up the -30 temperatures with a talent-packed musical lineup running nightly until Saturday, February 20.

Two digital stages set the scene for virtual jamming: the pay-what-you-can ATB Mainstage is ticketed and hosted on Zoom, while the free Festival Hall stage is hosted on Facebook and YouTube. Tune in on the final day for Black Art: A Conversation, a dive into black diasporic art, creativity and activism, and for a special mural unveiling ceremony in honour of the late Amy Willier, a beloved Cree artist, advocate for Indigenous cultures and owner of Inglewood’s Moonstone Creations Native Gallery at Festival Hall.

Here are five not-to-be-missed (from the comfort of your own snow fort) gigs. With a lineup that’s 23 artists strong, it’s sure to keep Folk Festers satisfied until sunny July.

Block Heater Festival (Presented by Calgary Folk Music Festival)
Feb. 16–20 / Virtual Concerts

Valerie posing

Valerie June

Sat. Feb. 20 @ 8:20pm
ATB Mainstage (pay-what-you-can)


Tennessee-born and Brooklyn-based June effortlessly weaves a tapestry of blues, country, roots and soul so charmingly tinged with Southern twang she won the applause of Bob Dylan himself. With new album The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers slated for a March release, fingers crossed she’ll regale listeners with unreleased tracks.

Saint Sister posing

Saint Sister

Fri. Feb. 19 @ 7:40pm
ATB Mainstage (pay-what-you-can)


Coming at Calgary live from Ireland, duo Morgan MacIntyre and Gemma Doherty reign supreme over the “atmosfolk” genre with their saccharine sopranos and electronic currents—their haunting pas de deux even earned them The Irish Times’ title of “Best Irish Act” in 2016.

Anachnid headshot


Thurs. Feb. 18 @ 8:20pm
ATB Mainstage (pay-what-you-can)


This Oji-Cree and Mi’kmaq dream weaver whirs up atmospheric electro beats until listeners are trapped in her mystical web. The best bet? Relax into her hypnotic voice and let the ethereal trance wash over you.

Cris Derksen posing with instrument

Cris Derksen

Fri. Feb. 19 @ 7:00pm
ATB Mainstage (pay-what-you-can)


Turns out, the cello is not all classical compositions and concertos: Derksen commands the electric cello like it’s nobody’s business. Rocking out on her carbon-fibre, the half-Cree and half-Mennonite avant-garde musician crafts undeniably unique melodies fit for Pow wows, Hip Hop and everything in between.

Lucette headshot


Thurs. Feb. 18 @ 8:00pm
Festival Hall @ Facebook/YouTube (free)


Though the Edmonton-based artist paints classic country genre images of never-ending prairies and lonely hotel rooms with her honeyed vocals, listen closer and be seduced by her dark, gothic-folk sensibilities.

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