Pardon the Winterruption

Music festival hits stages


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West Winnipeg

Six live-music venues around town are taking part in the fourth annual Winterruption music festival, which began Jan. 20 and runs through Jan. 29.

“We’re very excited about the lineup,” said Jorge Requena Ramos said, who is co-artistic director of the festival as well as artistic director at the West End Cultural Centre, which is one of Winterruption’s main presenters, along with Real Love Winnipeg.

“We think it’s a standout lineup with some really great performers from all over Canada and from Manitoba.”

Requena Ramos said the festival has a bit more freedom than other festivals, because it markets itself as a festival that actively tries to present artists together who might otherwise never perform together.

“But the main effort of our festival is what the West End Cultural Centre and Real Love Winnipeg practices, which is anti-racism and anti-oppression,” Requena Ramos said. “We start the festival from the acknowledgment that there are performers that are not normally given a stage or they’re not given a stage at the same rate as other performers. So we offer Black, Indigenous, and persons of colour the stage first, and when we have that lineup curated, then we move on to the more mainstream stuff.”

Requena Ramos said among the artists set to play, he’s particularly excited for Pierre Kwenders, a Congolese-Canadian performer who has made a name for himself in the Montreal music scene. Recently, Kwenders’ notoriety extended across the country when he won the 2022 Polaris Prize, awarded to “artists who produce Canadian music albums of distinction,” for his album José Louis and the Paradox of Love.

“He brought a bunch of styles of pop music from Congo, and how they play in Congo, to Canada, and now he’s doing this with Canadian people. It’s a very interesting project,” he said.

Another standout in Requena Ramos’ eyes is Boogey The Beat, an Anishinaabe DJ and producer named Les Boulanger, whose stage name pays homage to hip hop pioneers the Sugarhill Gang.

“(He) was a standout from Winnipeg, who has produced for Halluci Nation, formerly known as A Tribe Called Red. He produces for and is a DJ for Snotty Nose Rez Kids. He’s done some really big things outside of Winnipeg. He’s started organizing a curated anthology of Indigenous DJs,” Requena Ramos said.

Requena Ramos also pointed to Indigenous rapper Mattmac as another top-notch performer for festival goers to enjoy.

Among the list of performers, there’s one that incites that old Sesame Street song: One Of These Things (Is Not Like The Others). The Winterruption festival will be hosting a Winnipeg Pro Wrestling event.

“I wanted to expand a little bit into the cultural part of cultural centre,” Requena Ramos said. “The wrestling community is a really cool community. It’s like a very specific kind of theatre. We appreciate them, and the storytelling they have is incredible. However, this particular company, Winnipeg Pro Wrestling, has been standing up against toxic masculinity and has been standing up against racism in the ring. They’ve been standing up against sexism in the ring, homophobia in the ring.”

Shows will take place at the West End Cultural Centre, Good Will Social Club, X-Cues Cafe & Lounge, The Rec Room, The Handsome Daughter, and The Park Theatre.

For more info and to tickets, visit

Cody Sellar

Cody Sellar
Community Journalist

Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at or call him at 204-697-7206.

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