Roots and Blues gets new artistic director

Peter North has been named the new artistic director of the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival. - Photo submitted
Peter North has been named the new artistic director of the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival.
— image credit: Photo submitted

Edmonton’s Peter North is set to take over the helm of the Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival.

North is replacing the festival’s former artistic director Hugo Rampen, and has been involved with the Edmonton music scene as a journalist in print, radio and television and as a promoter of live music for the past 30 years.

“I spoke to so many musicians who had played the festival and all had high praise,” North told The Salmon Arm Observer recently. “A couple of friends who are artistic directors emailed or phoned to say ‘this is the job for you, you’re the guy.’”

North says he intends to continue Rampen’s innovative programming of workshops that have featured musicians new to playing with each other on the same stage.

“I very much like collaboration - it can produce some spectacular musical alchemy,” said North. “It can be a high point because it’s a one-time thing, you’ll never be able to hear it again.”

A columnist for 22 years with major newspapers, including a decade where he covered folk, blues, bluegrass, and country music for The Edmonton Journal, North’s pieces have also appeared in many national and regional magazines.

He has written the liner notes for more than three dozen albums including Herb Ellis and Duke Robillard’s More Conversations in Swing Guitar, Prairie Oyster’s Greatest Hits, and the recent Grammy nominated world/blues disc Slide To Freedom from Doug Cox and Salil Bhatt.

His work in television has been extensive and included a six-year run co-producing the weekly and nationally broadcast roots music show, Country Beat on CBC.

He has 12 years of experience with Canada’s oldest listener-supported radio station, CKUA, which has 17 transmitters across Alberta and is heard online across the world.

He has hosted the popular program, Dead Ends & Detours for a number of years and has contributed a series of discussions with those in the music world in the program, Points North.

North’s work has been recognized nationally. He was named Music Journalist of the Year in 1996 at the annual Canadian Music Industry Awards, and Media Person of the Year six years in a row, awarded by the Western Canadian Music Association.

After years of booking artists in concert and club venues around Edmonton, he continues to stay active on that front. He annually organizes the acoustic blues series Front Porch Roots Revue.

Most recently, North and Holger Petersen were executive producers on an album project titled The Gift: A Tribute to Ian Tyson that, thanks to outstanding performances of Tyson material from the likes of Chris Hillman, Corb Lund, Jennifer Warnes and The McDades, received critical acclaim across the continent.

The 22nd annual Roots and Blues Festival, Aug. 15 to 17 at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds, has already announced a few performers, including The Sheepdogs, The  Stone Foxes, Shad, Little Miss Higgins, Bill Durst, Doc MacLean and others. More information and early bird passes are available at www.rootsandblues.ca.


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