Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Leonard the energy bringer

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Music | July 12th, 2017

Photo by Raul Gomez

Leonard Podolak is both a contributor and an innovator on the Canadian folk scene. Considered a clawhammer virtuoso, the Grammy and Juno award-winning artist has entertained audiences worldwide, with a wide range of styles and influences. HPR had the chance to chat with Podolak onsite at Winnipeg Folk Fest this year about his banjo beginnings, growing up with the festival and his latest projects.

High Plains Reader: In the Winnipeg Folk Fest program you’re listed as a banjo virtuoso. What’s your background--how did you get into the banjo?

Leonard Podolak: I got into the banjo here at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. I saw a fella named Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, he and his band played “new grass.” Bela Fleck took bluegrass banjo and took it into jazz, and swing, rock n’ roll, and all these other styles. I was just blown away.

My dad--who’s the founder of the folk festival wanted me to play the banjo from the time I was six and he wasn’t successful at making it happen. Then at 16 I saw Bela and I was like--I’m ready Pa. He could show me old time stuff but I wanted to do New Grass and bluegrass like Bela Fleck but never quite took that direction.

HPR: You mentioned that your dad started the folk festival, what has it been like growing up around the folk fest?

LP: It’s been a journey. When I was a kid it was my parents who ran it and it was taking up their lives all the time. It was this this thing that I kind of wasn’t much interested in and it was the thing that kept mum and dad away (laughs).

The festival itself would be fun. I’d be playing with kids and playing soccer and watching music. When I was in my teens I was playing piano and I got into a basement rock band and appreciating more of what I saw out here.

I’ve been a volunteer, I’ve been on staff, I was the kid of the founders, and then I started to be a folk music fan. That made it really exciting to be here and be able to have access to the artists even though I wasn’t one yet.

Ever since my dad left the festival’s changed--so there’s that weird dynamic of the modern sensibilities both in the infrastructure and music, and that’s interesting too. This festival’s had a huge part of my life--more than one can imagine I think.

HPR: How many workshops are you participating in this weekend?

LP: Well, I was signed up for four but I’m also playing with Ten Strings [Prince Edward Island-based folk group Ten Strings and a Goat Skin]--so I think it’s about six or seven. So I’ve been doing two or three things a day.

HPR: Ten Strings and a Goat Skin isn’t your main project is it?

LP: Not at all. I produced their record--I’m not in that band. Right now I do a little bit of solo stuff and I have two projects than I’m involved in. One is called A New Road. It’s a band based in Ireland and they’re a traditional Irish band that flirts with old Appalachian music, so I fit in because I play Irish tunes on an Appalachian banjo. Another project is Matt Gordon and Leonard Podolak. Matty’s a great old-time fiddle player, also living in Ireland, so old-time Appalachian fiddle, clogging, and a bit of hambone.

HPR: How do you handle your practices if you’re in Canada and they’re in Ireland?

LP: That’s the thing: we made records five years and we’ve been rockin’ that ever since. It’s been interesting because among all the different projects and little things that come up here and there, I’ve been keeping busy.

I do a lot of stuff by myself, just like with different projects. Other people just call me to be “Leonard the energy bringer,””Leonard the weird guy,” or “Leonard the banjo player,” or whatever, but yeah somehow I keep busy.

I work for Home Roots right now, a nonprofit organization started by my parents. We’ve created a network of house concerts across the country, so there’s 12 different tours and they each run about six times a year and they each have 12 gigs, so we’ve created about 700 folk music concerts in Canada a year--which is pretty cool.

Recently in:

News

​Best of the Best 2018

by Sabrina Hornung

Last Sunday we celebrated our annual Best Bets award ceremony at the Plains Art Museum and we had a packed house. With awards from over 50 categories, members of our community gathered, rallied and supported each other in our…

Professionally people know me as a trans activist, educator, or community organizer. This is often the topic of my Trans Corner column. What they may not know is I’m an incredible geek who spends her time unwinding playing video…

Thursday, May 31, 5-9 p.m.11 8th St S, FargoNine regional artists join forces in Fargo’s newest artist collective gallery. Along with the core group of artists, art enthusiasts can anticipate guest artists and great opportunities…

“If I look like a kid on Christmas morning, it’s because that’s the way I feel right now. How I wish my parents could have heard the words you said about me,” Luci Baines Johnson said. She was preparing her commencement…

Gadfly

Armageddon and Rage

by Ed Raymond

Is Our Democracy Dying From A Koch Assisted-Suicide?The One Percent is going after wealth like Captain Ahab went after The Great White Whale. Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal recently wrote about “the up-market way to…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

The organization Nature of the North is storming Fargo with their mission to get everyone out and in nature one way or another. This week’s attempt is a workshop featuring Cyrus Bickell of Disgruntled Brewing in Perham, MN. A man…

Nikki Lane is a trailblazer. Her unique voice could be described as a cross between Wanda Jackson’s grit and Neko Case’s hauntingly smoky vocals. It’s classic and it’s fresh. In 2017 she won an Ameripolitan award in the…

Writer-director Alexandra Dean’s “Bombshell” recounts the remarkable life and achievements of Hedy Lamarr, the Golden Age screen goddess whose physical beauty and career as a Hollywood actor long overshadowed her…

Arts

​Civility is for the Birds

by HPR Contributor

By Tayler Klimektklimek@cord.eduTucked in the back of Roberts Street Studio, if you follow the “yellow brick road” (a funny story, if you get the chance to ask her), you are likely to find local artist Mackenzie Kouba working…

Theater B is giving away seven tickets to go see “The Moors” by Jen Silverman, from April 26 until May 12. Described as part Brontë, part Twilight Zone, “The Moors” is a dark comedy set on a bleak and unforgiving…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

I consider myself an avid wine drinker, but I recently found out there are more than 10,000 varieties of grapes, and about 1,500 of those are used to make commercial wines. I don’t know about you, but I could probably name about…

Best Local CelebrityCarson WentzBest Stylist / BarberJed Felix, Everett’s BarbershopBest Salon / Barber ShopEverett’s BarbershopBest Tattoo Parlor46 & 2 TattooBest Tattoo ArtistMeg Felix, No Coast TattooBest Gift ShopZandbroz…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comAnd they lived “happily ever after.” Many people in the U.S. believe in love and matrimony, but marriage takes consistent effort and time to weather the ups and downs.According to…

By Ken Smithkelandsmith@gmail.comWhen the State of North Dakota decided to sell the campus of the Ellendale Branch of the University of North Dakota following the disastrous January 1970 fire that destroyed the two main buildings,…