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Three folk artists take Cariboo to their roots

Saltwater Hank, Ryan McNally and Danny Bell work music together

Cariboo scores a folkie hat-trick.

Led by west coast Ts’msyen performer Saltwater Hank, with two other solo performers on either wing - Ryan McNally and Danny Bell - it’s three acts in one night from the bottom of the Cariboo to the top.

“This is a true variety show with dynamic performances in a diversity of genres,” said Bell, who was just through on a solo jaunt earlier this spring. Now he’s back, with these two talented friends. “From Ts’msyen roots rock sung in the traditional language of Sm’algyax, to old-time country blues, to folk music with comedic storytelling, this is a dynamic show with something for everyone. These artists are all multi-instrumentalists and will be serving as each other’s backing band for the evening.”

They have lined up a tour of about 20 shows across B.C. The local appearances are June 27 at the UniTea Cafe in Ashcroft, June 28 at Magie’s house in Horsefly, June 29 at The Den in Quesnel, July 5 at The Legion in Prince George, and July 6 will be Saltwater Hank by himself at Concerts In The Park in Williams Lake.

Saltwater Hank’s music “is a statement of resistance and resilience built on a bedrock of roots and country music. Based out of Kxeen (Prince Rupert, British Columbia) and writing original songs in Sm’algyax, the Ts’msyen language, Hank is pushing back against two centuries of cultural eradication by the Canadian government.”

Hank made this album to show the power of creating in Indigenous languages, said Bell.

“The fact that I’m singing in my language is an act of resistance,” Saltwater Hank said. “Over 150 years after Macdonald (prime minister John A., an architect of the residential school system) and being able to still speak and sing in our language…This really goes to show that he failed. We succeeded in keeping our language and our musical traditions alive.”

McNally is best known for his interpretative playing of traditional acoustic blues, jazz and old-time music, audiences can’t help but notice the influence that northern living has had on him. For the past 13 years McNally has called Whitehorse his home.

Bell often plays with his band His Disappointments, but also so many others, as a consummate collaborator. His creative ground lies in northern B.C. folk-country-punk with infectious charm. Based on unceded Lhedli T’enneh territory, Danny’s music is steeped in his affection for his home in the hinterland, a blue collar town, the stink of the pulp mill, and everyday life in northern B.C.

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READ MORE: PG music personality Danny Bell tours the Cariboo