Toronto’s blues & roots fest moves online with free sets by Sue Foley, Shari Ulrich, Lucy Kaplansky, Jack de Keyzer Band, Suzie Vinnick, Ori Dagan and plenty more. By Darryl Sterdan

Sue Foley

Sue Foley does Winterfolk XX

It’s official: To celebrate its landmark 20th year presenting the finest sounds around, Toronto’s Winterfolk Blues and Roots Festival has added award-winning guitarist and singer-songwriter Sue Foley to this year’s online event, taking place Feb. 18-20.

Sue Foley Fresh off the release of her latest album, 2021’s Pinky’s Blues, Canadian-born, Texas-based blues singer-guitarist Sue Foley will close out the three-night event, rounding out a highly acclaimed roster that includes the best and award-winning musicians across blues, rock, jazz, folk, roots, and much more.

Registration to watch the expansive list of 18+ concerts is free, and optional donations collected to assist with festival expenses, the main one being remuneration for artists.

Friday, Feb. 18

Jack de Keyzer

Jack de Keyzer Band back for Winterfolk XX

Announcer: Jeanne Beker
7:00 p.m. — Josh Ritchie
7:30 p.m. — Taylor Abrahamse
8:00 p.m. — Lynn Miles
8:30 p.m. — Joey O’Neil
9:00 p.m. — Lucy Kaplansky

9:30 p.m. — Jack de Keyzer

Saturday, Feb. 19
Announcer: Brian Gladstone
7:00 p.m. — Ori Dagan
7:30 p.m. — Ken Whiteley & Belua Band
8:00 p.m. — Mean Mary
8:30 p.m. — Julian Taylor
9:00 p.m. — Robert Priest
9:30 p.m. — Shari Ulrich

Sunday, Feb. 20
Announcer: Laura Fernandez
7:00 p.m. — Graham Lindsey
7:30 p.m. — David Storey Band
8:00 p.m. — Rob Lutes
8:30 p.m. — Suzie Vinnick
9:00 p.m. — Donne Roberts Band
9:30 p.m. — Sue Foley

Shari Ulrich

Shari Ulrich

When a festival has been running for 20 consecutive years — in the middle of Canadian winters, no less — rest assured organizers have seen it all. Last year, director Brian Gladstone and his team added ‘pivoting to online due to a pandemic’ to that list and, in 2022, those conditions have continued. When they started planning for this year’s fête, venues in Ontario were operating at full capacity; in the wake of Omicron’s rapid spread, that lowered to 50%, before recently dropping off altogether.

“We had to temporarily pause planning until things stabilized, and have since confirmed Winterfolk will not be live in-person for the second year now,” Gladstone shares. “In celebrating our 20th anniversary, we set out to make this the festival’s biggest and best Winterfolk ever — and still plan to do so with everyone safely tuning in online, locally and beyond. This year’s virtual celebration is once again affirming what we in Toronto have long-recognized: this city has an unwavering commitment to musical excellence and, especially in times like these, an equally great commitment to our communities.”

Register online for free access HERE and follow the festival at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.