w/ This Way North, The Pack AD, Fortune Killers, Wallgrin
Words + Photography
Luis E. Busca
A festival all-things-art, the final pilgrimage for west coast tree planters, a powerful and magnificent gathering of eclectic, inclusive and ecstatic humans. With over 12 venues covering everything from stand-up comedy and botanical workshops to dance lessons and killer rock n’ roll, it’s hard to not find yourself pulled into the invigorating madness that is ArtsWells.
Wells is the 300-pop town that houses this festival of arts and music – and they’ve been doing it for 14 years now, going from small community gathering to full-fledged west coast music festival in only a few seasons. Now ArtsWells has become the northern festival for grassroots and experimental folk music, highlighting female-fronted Canadian musicians such as Carole Pope, The Pack AD and Fortune Killers, as well as inviting along a rag-tag crew of international performers including This Way North (Australia) and BOUSADA (Argentina).
ArtsWells shines where many other festival fall short – they strive for not only the inclusion of female and non-binary perspective and influences, but also for the importance of highlighting and discussing the music and art that has been created in resistance to heteronormality within the Canadian music scene. Need an example? How about a bad-ass-female-quadro of rockers including Carole Pope, Rae Spoon and The Pack AD performing a collaborative-improv set consisting of songs about homoerotic riots and angry lesbian fist fights. Or how about the story of Leisha Jungalwalla and Cat Leahy? Both Melbourne based musician-activists, whom met in ArtsWells for the first time five years ago while individually touring Canada. This year they returned for their Canadian debut as This Way North, the two-piece all-female rock band that has been making waves in the Australian music scene.