How Folk’s travelling musicians joined forces in isolation

Last modified: July 15, 2021 at 11:33am

Three of Folk on the Rocks’ headlining 2021 acts isolated together on arriving in the NWT, spending the time devising a musical collaboration that culminated in a free show this week.

Cartel Madras, Partner, and Celeigh Cardinal performed at Yellowknife’s Somba K’e Park on Tuesday night. The show was dubbed Emerging Wildly, a play on the title of the territory’s pandemic recovery plan, Emerging Wisely.

The groups’ six performers all came from outside the NWT to play at Yellowknife’s Folk on the Rocks. Almost all other acts at this year’s festival are homegrown, given the complexities of booking non-NWT acts with many pandemic restrictions still in place across Canada.


For most of the artists involved, Tuesday’s show was the first time they had played to a live audience since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We discovered we have such overlapping tastes and knowledge that let us get to know each other musically,” said Josée Caron, who forms Partner with Lucy Niles.

“We got to talk in the house about the types of music we all love and we would talk about it all day,” said Niles. “We had so much fun together and the whole time was just a bomb experience.”

Caron said the house came with a drum kit, bass, amplifiers, keyboard, guitars, and microphones for the artists to use, with a designated “jam room.”


Cardinal, who entered the house with bandmate Brennan Cameron, said the experience for her was “initially very uncomfortable” but the artists quickly got to know one another, coming together “in a beautiful stew for our collaboration song.”

“It was a bit of a learning curve,” she said. “Even though the three groups are so very, very different, there were a lot of beautiful things that were very similar.

“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I don’t even know when I’ll see these two groups again … this is a very rare thing.”

Sisters Eboshi and Contra – who make up Cartel Madras – said the experience was “super eye-opening and very different.”

“We tend to typically work with producers and rappers only, so this is kind-of going back a little bit to years ago when we used to sing more … it’s nice to open up a bit,” Contra said.

“It’s great to expand your horizons musically and creatively,” said Eboshi.”It’s good to challenge yourself and do something not like what you’re used to.”

All three groups will perform individually at Folk on the Rocks this weekend.