Blue Rodeo’s Cuddy headlines the fifth Forest Festival

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Jim Cuddy is headlining this year's Haliburton Forest Festival. Photo courtesy of Mojo Music. Click on Photo for video.

John McDermott will also appear at Bone Lake in August

By Terrance Gavan – The Style’s Music Editor

Some dynamite bluegrass and blues, Latin blues, a blue night sky and a member of Blue Rodeo are set to rock your world in HaliburtonForest this August.

In fact, if you’re a real blues aficionado, you might want to invest in some blue tinted contacts, the better to blend with the azure theme of this year’s Haliburton Highlands Forest Festival slated for August 15-19.

Sean Pennylegion is the coordinator of this year’s festival and he was appropriately apoplectic while announcing his dizzying cast at a cozy Kozy Korner presser on Friday.

“The talent assembled for our 2012 season follows in the tradition that the Forest Festival has established over the past five years of offering outstanding shows,” said Pennylegion. “This year we have no fewer than four 2012 Juno nominated acts in the line-up.”

Cuddy of course is the most distinguished of the performers and no, he won’t be ripping up the Haliburton Forest’s Bone Lake amphitheater with his buddies from Blue Rodeo.

Instead, a small triangle etched from the Jim Cuddy Band, a side project that the popular Canadian icon started 13 years ago, will perform. The Jim Cuddy Trio consists of the eponymous leader, talented guitarist – and a legend in his own right – Colin Cripps and fiddler Anne Lindsay.

Cripps and Cuddy need no introduction. Lindsay borrows on her cult status – she can bring it folks – and Forest Festival faithful may remember her from her twin bill appearance at the festival in 2009.

This year’s line up comes replete with a Highlands Opera Studio excerpt concert. The Highlands Opera Studio is an integral part of the Highlands Summer Festival and the excerpt concert will open the Forest Festival on the singularly stunning floating stage at the Bone Lake amphitheater on Wednesday, August 15 at 8 pm. Cuddy appears on Thursday on the same floating stage at Bone Lake.

On Friday, Irish eyes will be smilin’ when fabulous tenor John McDermott hops onto the floating docket (8 pm) with Jason Fowler and George Koller. McDermott is equally at home inBostonorToronto, while Fowler is a popularTorontosinger and songwriter who doubles as McDermott’s band leader. In fact, Fowler appeared with Cuddy Trio’s Anne Lindsay at the 2009 Forest Festival.

Hilario Duran and Jane Bunnett Quartet will be performing on Saturday at the HaliburtonForestLoggingMuseumat 2 pm. Their gig is based on their Juno nominated album Cuban Rhapsody with Bunnett on flute and sax and Duran pounding the piano. Duran often performs inToronto fronting his 20 piece Latin Jazz band. This is a no miss event and dancing in the aisles is, of course, mandatory.

On Saturday night at theLoggingMuseum, Amanda Martinez continues the Latin theme that features her fusion vocals mixing Afro-Cuban beat with Mexican folk music. Pennylegion notes thatMartinezperformed at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Montreal Jazz Festival and the renowned Blue Note inNew York City. Her quintet consists of guitarist Kevin Laliberte, Drew Briston on bass, Chendy Leon on drums and trumpeter Alexander Brown. Laliberte and Briston are members of the Sultans of Swing and performed at last year’s Forest Festival.

On Sunday afternoon at theLoggingMuseum(2 pm) the famous Bepob Cowboys bring their unique blend of jazz and country to the festival. The Cowboys are led by guitarist Steve Briggs with Prairie Oyster’s John Adames on drums. Burke Carroll (Justin Rutledge and George Fox) is on steel guitar. Bassist Dennis Pendrith (Bruce Cockburn) and fiddler Drew Jurecka (Jeff Healey’s band) round out the quintet. And as if that weren’t enough? The Bebops will be joined by special guest Russell deCarle the fabulous frontman and lead singer of Prairie Oyster. Get your cowboy stomp on folks.

And wrapping up the musical romp on Sunday night (8 pm) is a group guaranteed to rock your soul in the bosom of bothBoneLakeand Abraham. The Suzie Vinnick Trio closes out the Haliburton Forest Festival with a special blend of blues, bluegrass and stunning guitar riffs.

Vinnick, who appeared at Northern Lights Pavilion recently with the Marigolds, is a virtuoso and a six time winner of the Canadian Maple Blues award.

She is joined by the ‘almost local’ Rick Fines, a talented blues guitarist who has taught blues classes at theHaliburtonSchoolof the Arts andHaliburtonHighlandsSecondary School. Vinnick and Fines are joined by Roly Platt – needs no introduction – on harmonica.

The pricing and more info will be online shortly at

Special two concert tickets for Jim Cuddy Trio plus John McDermott are $49 before July 15 and $54 after that.

The other four concerts are $29 each and $34 after July 15. New this year is an option to combine the $49 shows with a $29 concert for the bargain price of $69. Prices do not include HST so please do the requisite math.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]