Eight performed but only three made the cut.
Musical prowess, stage presence and the ability to connect with the audience were among the factors that determined the selection of the three acts chosen to be part of the 2018 Mariposa Folk Festival (MFF) lineup.
“Being selected for the festival is one of the biggest achievements,” said Mathew Fantini of the Toronto-based band, The Free Label. “We might be the black sheep among other great artists. It’s a really big honour.”
The funk, Motown and R&B sound brought by the band isn’t a typical MFF flavour, but it’s a way to stretch the audience’s taste, said Liz Scott, Mariposa’s artistic director.
“We look for all kinds of things,” she said of the judging procedure that determined the selection from the festival showcase auditions held Sunday at the Best Western Plus Mariposa Inn & Conference Centre.
“We're looking at if they're a good fit for Mariposa and ready to be on our stages. Does it look like they're having fun up there? Does the audience like them? Do they have good musical ability and presence? Are they going to put on a good show and are they meaningful to us?” she added.
Putting on a good show is what it’s all about with The Free Label, which comprises young graduates from different Toronto music schools. Their music is high energy and has a focus on engaging the audience.
“We have a natural element of performance with our dancing,” said Josh Daniel, lead singer, adding they’ve been at other festivals, such as Youth Day Downtown Toronto and the Vaughan Pizza Fest. “We’re hoping if we dance, they (audience) dance.”
More than 100 artists sent in entries to be a part of the festival’s lineup.
“It's about the same as we've had in the past years,” said Scott. “Our preliminary judges had to go through these entries to shortlist the eight performing today.”
Over the years, the MFF stage has proven to be a springboard for up and coming artists.
“The ones that come to mind right now are Dala and Old Man Luedecke, from out east,” said Scott. “Both of them have gone on to pretty big careers and decent followings in Canada.”
You never know what this first chance to perform on the MFF stage could lead to for those selected, she added.
Despite having added a new flavour to the lineup, Scott said, the festival is still sticking to its folk roots.
Gail Foy, of Barrie, agreed with Scott.
“It’s held the original sounds it started with,” said Foy, “but it has evolved into a more eclectic sound.
“That first band we heard,” she added, referring to The Free Label, “was very different. They almost had a Vegas show feel.”
The Wanted and Madison Galloway and Jonathan Markov, who make up the Fork ‘n’ Harp, were the other two acts selected.
Their music was more in line with the mandate of MFF.
“I’m super pumped to be a part of the festival this year,” said Galloway, of Fergus. She said she’s looking forward to the experience and the chance to meet other brilliant artists.