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All headliners this year are Canadian

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

The 2017 Mariposa Folk Festival promises one of the best lineups in recent memory. More than that, it might be in consideration for one of its best lineups ever.

“I think this year’s lineup can stand with any lineup we’ve ever had,” said Mike Hill, artistic director for the festival.

What helps is the festival’s focus on attracting a younger audience with its announced headliners, which include Barenaked Ladies, The New Pornographers and Whitehorse. During Hill’s tenure as artistic director, the festival has always sought to bring in contemporary musicians, but this year, those musicians are names more familiar to the next generation of Mariposa supporters and organizers.

“I’m always trying to bring in all the different sub-genres – blues, bluegrass and so on,” Hill explained. “I talk to so many people who spend the entire weekend by the beer tent. They said, ‘We need people that we recognize in the beer tent.’ They all tend to be people in their 20s and their 30s.”

Last year, the beer tent hosted some of the most memorable performances of the weekend, including Shred Kelly, Stef Paquette and the Dirty Dishes. This year promises to be no different, with Great Lake Swimmers, Scenic Route to Alaska, and Reuben and the Dark all showcasing their talents in the pub area.

Those three bands are also great acts to bridge the gap between generations, being favourites of younger crowds and favourites of those of Hill’s vintage. They’ll help move tickets to fill up Tudhope Park, as will recently announced addition Ruth B.

“Ruth B is really big with high-school kids,” Hill said. “We’re hoping that really young crowd will come in and see her.”

Ruth B joins Barenaked Ladies in headlining the main stage on the first night of the festival, July 7. Also on the big stage that night are Irish Mythen, Steve Poltz, The Young’uns and Madison Violet.

The Saturday-night lineup is one for the books with The New Pornographers closing out an incredible evening of music, preceded by Matt Andersen, Whitehorse, Connie Kaldor, De Temps Antan and Kleztory.

The festival closes Sunday with a different take on the final day. Headliner Bruce Cockburn will be in the middle of the main-stage bill to allow for more of the out-of-town patrons to make it out of cottage country at a reasonable hour, Hill explained. Opening the main stage before Cockburn will be Suzie Vinnick and Russell deCarle. Great Lake Swimmers will take to the stage after Cockburn, before the tribute to The Band and The Last Waltz closes out the weekend.

This is Hill’s final year as artistic director.

The budget for artists at Mariposa this year is about twice what last year’s budget was. Hill credited some generous government grants for making that possible, reflected in the all-Canadian lineup of headliners.

Programming at the festival’s other stages is set to be released in June. The festival features one new stage this year: the 150 Stage.

“It’s going to be all Canadian stuff,” Hill said.

Other performers slated for Mariposa for this year include Anne Lindsay, Coco Love Alcorn and the Lonesome Ace String Band. Local acts include Ronnie Douglas, Lance Anderson and Danny Webster. For a complete list of performers and ticket information, visit 

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