Woody Guthrie is having a birthday party at this year's Winnipeg Folk Festival.
The late folk music legend would have turned 100 years old on July 14, so artistic director Chris Frayer has ensured the songwriter's legacy will be honoured throughout the weekend at workshops and a special mainstage show featuring artists performing his material.
"On Sunday we're doing a thing called Walking Woody's Road," Frayer says. "We got a bunch of writings and lyrics that his daughter Nora gave to Jimmy LaFave and they brought the songs to life in a literary music presentation."
The Sunday-night celebration will include LaFave -- who is a member of the Woody Guthrie Coalition, which organizes the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, Okla. -- Mary Gauthier, Eliza Gilkyson and Ellis Paul, although with this year's roster there could be some onstage surprises.
The exact schedule for the 39th edition of the Winnipeg Folk Festival isn't finalized, but the lineup is 98 per cent complete with artists such as Billy Bragg, Beth Orton, Blitzen Trapper, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Junior Brown, Gilkyson, Elliot Brood, Iron & Wine, K'Naan, Bill Frisell, Steep Canyon Rangers, Gauthier, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Todd Snider and Ozomatli confirmed so far.
Wednesday night will be centred around genre-hopping award-winning singer-songwriter Leslie Feist, who will make the folk festival the Winnipeg stop on her tour in support of her 2011 album, Metals. The evening will feature Snowblink, McMorrow and Doug Paisley.
The roster is as eclectic as always with traditional and contemporary folk, blues, roots, reggae, soul, world music, funk, indie-rock, electronic, gospel and Afrobeat artists from across the globe playing over the course of the five-day festival running July 4-8 at Birds Hill Park.
"We're trying to build some anticipation with the event around some of the names, but most bands we book are discovery acts, breakout artists," says Frayer, who is putting the eighth notch in his folk festival belt. "We're taking advantage of the fact our audience loves the discovery, that's why we have bands like Devotchka and the Head and the Heart. People are making exciting music today and we're dedicated to help with that sense of discovery."
When breaking things down by genres, world music aficionados will groove to the music of Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou, K'Naan, Devotchka, Emmanuel Jal, Ozomatli, Sidi Toure and Besh O Drom.
Blues and soul fans will rock out to the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Ruthie Foster, Matt Andersen and Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires. Roots, Americana and bluegrass fans will find plenty to enjoy with the likes of Abigail Washburn, Belle Starr, Atomic Duo, Junior Brown, David Bromberg Quartet and Natalia Zukerman.
Acclaimed, established and obscure singer-songwriters fill the lineup with artists such as Orton, Bragg, Martyn Joseph, Gauthier, Gilkyson, Snider, Kim Churchill and Justin Rutledge booked.
Local artists will be represented by Aaron Burnett, Black Sea Station, Chic Gamine, Dry Bones, Fish & Bird, Jake Chenier Band and Sarah & Christian Dugas.
A grouping Frayer has dubbed "indie-folk" includes Iron & Wine, Blitzen Trapper, Good Old War, James Vincent McMorrow, the Barr Brothers and the Head and the Heart.
"I'm excited about the indie-folk rock stuff at the festival," says Frayer. "The Head and the Heart were just on Austin City Limits, Iron & Wine is coming back with a full band and Todd Snider is, too."
Tickets for the Winnipeg Folk Festival are already on sale. Earlybird five-day adult passes are $206, including GST and convenience fee, at Ticketmaster and the Folk Festival Music Store. Youth and senior passes are $122.
Five-day passes with camping are $281 for adults and $197 for youths and seniors. "Quiet" camping is $40 cheaper.
Adult day tickets are $51 and $70, while youths and seniors tickets are $39 and $52.
New this year is a separate $10 RV pass valid for trailers, campers and camping vans to help regulate the amount of finite space available in the RV area north of the festival campground.
The 6,000 available festival camping tickets sold out by April 11 last year.