Frostbite Festival Features

Strong singer-songwriters and high-energy techno-twist bands support this year’s Frostbite Festival, a celebration of diverse music.

Artistic director Eric Epstein says this year’s festival is about presenting strong musicians and contrasting their strengths: “The lineup features quite a few bigger names, who have gotten quite popular throughout Canada. We like to balance the singer-songwriters with bands who are pumped up and high-energy.”

Emphasizing that these few selections “don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the talent performing at Frostbite,” he agrees to provide a few highlighted bands:

Phenomenon Dan Bern, singer-songwriter extraordinaire, is no stranger to Frostbite. Epstein describes Bern as, “a hugely creative performer, who has funny songs, emotional songs and very challenging songs.”

Bern’s subject matter has been controversial, singing about the Oklahoma City bombing and Columbine, but his approach is always intimate and personal.

The established and charismatic singer is contrasted with relative newcomer Dan Mangan, a hip, urban up-and-comer who’s music is fresh and contemporary.

Epstein caught Mangan at the Vancouver Folk Festival and was taken by his captivating collection of songs.

“We’re having a sort of Danapalooza on the last day, where both ‘Dans’ get to perform. They’re quite different from each other, but very strong in their own methods,” says Epstein.

John Southworth comes highly recommended by Hawksley Workman, who calls him a “genius”. The renown Canadian musician calls him a gorgeous lyricist, with weird, eccentric and astounding sounds.

This winter, Southworth is finally joining Frostbite to round out the strong singer-songwriter contingent and add a quirky, whimsical touch.

“We wanted to balance out some of the testosterone, and brought in Kate Reid, a very clever and humorous singer,” says Epstein. Reid is known for her witty songs and dry humour and for spreading “dyke folk love”.

The self-professed “mouthy dyke” is another gem Epstein noticed at the Vancouver Folk Festival and thought Whitehorse audiences might be equally taken by her song writing.

To round out the show, the high-energy Franco-Ontarian band, Swing, closes the festival: “We wanted the energy to ramp up throughout the event, and really end on a high note,” says Epstein.

“Swing is a personal favourite because they are so eclectic.” Using techno-traditional style, Swing combines fiddling with techno beats and DJ spins.

“It’s the climax of all the energy from the festival and guaranteed to top everything,” says Epstein.

The bands mentioned by Epstein represent only a small taste of what Frostbite will feature. For more information on all the performers, visit

The Frostbite Festival runs from Friday, Feb. 19 to Sunday, Feb. 21 on the Yukon Arts Centre stage and Yukon College. Tickets are available through the YAC box office, Arts Underground and online at

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