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More Pow-Wow Panache: A Tribe Called Red added to Hillside Festival lineup

More Pow-Wow Panache:  A Tribe Called Red added to Hillside Festival lineup

A Tribe Called Red has been added to the lineup of Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ontario, now in its 35th year. The addition complements a full program of indie, Indigenous, and World musicians for the July 13-15th, 2018 summer festival. “We’re pretty excited,” says Samir Baijal, Hillside’s Artistic Director, “the band will close the festival on Sunday on a note of high energy and political intensity.”

“Indigenous Renaissance”

The heart-pounding dance music of A Tribe Called Red, a wildly popular Indigenous DJ group whose members are Mohawk and Cayuga, is part of an Indigenous rebirth in the arts, according to Wab Kinew, broadcaster and musician: “Because artists and fans of art are usually among the more progressive voices, you’re seeing the leading edge of that transformation. The indigenous music renaissance is the symptom of a broader cultural change where indigenous people have more support amongst the average Canadian.” The group was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize in 2013 and 2017, and has won three Juno Awards, including Breakthrough Group of the Year in 2014 and Group of the Year in 2018. They performed at Hillside Inside, the organization’s winter festival, in 2014 but have never appeared at the Hillside’s summer festival.

What does it sound like? The New Tradition.

The particular kind of music A Tribe Called Red creates coincides with the hallmarks of the Indigenous Renaissance: they mix old and new, traditional and modern.  Indeed, the group calls its music “powwow step” and describes it as “the soundtrack to a contemporary evolution of the powwow.” It sounds like electronic dance music as well as powwow, but it is mixed with folk, rock, blues, pop, and hip-hop.  As Janet Rogers, a Mohawk spoken-word artist explains, “New artists are creating a brand new musical territory for the new indigenous person to stand on and to claim and to play on and work on and dance on, and that’s not an easy thing to do in music, to create something that’s new.”

More Indigenous Artists at Hillside

Other Indigenous artists on the Hillside Festival stages include IskwéCris Derksen TrioJeremy Dutcher, and nêhiyawak.

There are also workshops in the Indigenous Circle by Jan ShermanJoanne RaymondAl PotmaTauni SheldonAlbie Sheldon, Alisha ArnoldCarol Tyler, and members of Wiiji Numgumook Kwe, the Guelph Women’s Drum Circle 

The “Classical” Examples:  Derksen & Dutcher

Cris Derksen is from a line of chiefs from North Tall Cree Reserve on her father’s side and a line of Mennonite homesteaders on her mother’s side.  She’s a classically trained cellist who uses new school electronics in a music that braids together her Indigenous ancestry and her classical background.  About her latest project, Orchestral Powwow, Derksen says, ““What excites me most about this project is bringing our Indigenous music to the center of the European model and we as Indigenous artists lead the way with our drums and our heart beat to create new forms of music.”  

Jeremy Dutcher is a classically trained operatic tenor and composer who blends Wolastoq First Nation songs into his contemporary music. The Wolastoq songs Dutcher includes were recorded on wax cylinders between 1907 and 1913 by an anthropologist who studied under the famous Franz Boas and stored the recordings and stories in archives in Ottawa. That’s where Dutcher found them. “For me, it’s less about asking people to learn a new language and more about disrupting the bilingual Anglo-centric Canadian music narrative.” Growing up in New Brunswick, Dutcher was taught Wolastoqey by his mother, who spoke it. But there are only about 600 speakers of the language left.  That doesn’t worry Dutcher too much; even if people aren’t inspired to learn the language (and he hopes that they will be), there’s a long tradition “within the opera sphere, where most people go to an opera and they don’t know the language, they have to experience it purely on a musical level. That is sometimes the most pure experience of music, and singing the language never really worried me.”

Indigenous music, drumming, and knowledge-sharing has been a constitutive element of the Hillside Festival for over 20 years.  The addition of A Tribe Called Red complements the artists already on the bill and will make for an exciting dance party at night that connects people, genres, stories, and politics.


A Tribe Called Red   |   Adrian Underhill   |   Al Simmons   |   Anemone   |   Annie Sumi   |   Birds of Bellwoods   |   Busty and the Bass   |   Cadence Weapon   |   Cécile Doo-Kingué   |   Chad VanGaalen   |   Corridor   |   Cris Derksen Trio   |   Crown Lands   |   Daniel Champagne   |   Destroyer   |   Dimpker Brothers   |   Djazia Satour   |   Doris Folkens   |   Drew McIvor   |   Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine   |   faUSt   |   Five Alarm Funk   |   Fortunate Ones   |   Haley Heynderickx   |   Helena Deland   |   Hollerado   |   HuDost   |   Hyness   |   The Huntress and Holder of Hands   |   Iskwé   |   Jake Clemons   |   Jeremy Dutcher   |   Jeremy Fisher   |   Jess Milton   |   Jessica Moss   |   Jessicka   |   Ken Whiteley   |   The Kents   |   LADAMA   |   Lido Pimienta    |   The Lil Smokies   |   Lilly Hiatt   |   Little Junior   |   Mappe Of   |   Martin Harley   |   MEGATIVE   |   The Messthetics   |   Narcy   |   nêhiyawak   |   Nick Zubec   |   Partner   |   Plants and Animals   |   Poor Man’s Whiskey   |   Rev. Sekou   |   Rhye   |   San Fermin   |   Sarah MacDougall   |   The Slocan Ramblers   |   Tamarack   |   Tim Baker   |   Les Tireux d’Roches   |   Too Attached   |   Twelfth Day   |   U.S. Girls   |   Walrus


Weekend passes are currently on sale and going quickly. Fans are encouraged to take advantage of our early bird weekend pass pricing, which will increase leading up to the festival:

  • Tier 2 [April 9 – June 3]  $139 + HST/SC (ON SALE NOW – prices increase June 4th)
  • Tier 3 [June 4 – July 1] $149 + HST/SC
  • Tier 4 [July 2 – Gate] $159 + HST/SC

Also available are Hillside 2018 individual day passes and seniors’ weekend passes:

  • Friday Day Pass (4:30pm – 11pm) – $57 each + HST/SC
  • Saturday Day Pass (10:30am – 11pm) – $85 each + HST/SC
  • Sunday Day Pass (10:30am – 11pm) – $85 each + HST/SC
  • Seniors’ Weekend Pass  (65+) – $79.50 + HST/SC
  • Children under 12 – FREE! (when accompanied by an adult)

Tickets are currently on sale online through Ticketfly. They’re also available at the following outlets:


Hillside Festival is a three-day, multi-stage marvel of music and community. Touted as “one of the 10 best festivals in Canada” by CBC and The Globe and Mail, as well as a festival you “must see before you die” by Eric Alper, Hillside Festival is world-renowned as one of Canada’s most progressive, environmentally conscious, completely non-commercial community celebrations. Each year, we create a family-friendly village on Guelph Lake Island that we fill with music, dance, drumming, food, crafts, and more.

“So synonymous with community, independent arts, culture, sustainability, inclusiveness…it’s practically its own holiday.”

– Richard Trapunski, NOW Toronto

For more information about Hillside Festival, check out our website at  Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to join in the conversation!

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