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Musician Quique Escamilla

The ice is melting and temperatures are rising just in time for this weekend’s Winterruption festival. The event aims to lure people out of their homes during the dreary, dark days of January.

“Winterruption is an opportunity for us to remember how much we like hanging out with each other,” said Sandra Butel, artistic director and CEO of the Regina Folk Festival. “It is an interruption to your winter.”

The festival, jointly presented by the Regina Folk Festival and Saskatoon’s Broadway Theatre, showcases 17 groups, and more than 40 artists from across Canada and around the world.

According to Butel, hosting shows in both cities gives artists more incentive to stop in Saskatchewan – an area often skipped over in favour of larger cities like Calgary and Winnipeg.

She also cited higher turnout when events are promoted province-wide. “You impact a lot more people and therefore people really want to support it even more,” she said.

Said the Whale is back

Vancouver-based Said the Whale is headlining on Friday, Jan. 20, at the Exchange in Regina and Saturday, Jan. 21, at Louis’ Pub in Saskatoon. After taking a break in the wake of their 2013 release of their album Hawaii, they are now back in full force.

Asked how it feels to be back on the road, guitarist Tyler Bancroft said, “It feels really good. I think that the time off is something that helped in many different ways, kind of like a reset button.”

The band has been working on new material. Many of the songs they’ll play this weekend are from their newest album – As Long As Your Eyes are Wide –  which is set to release on March 31.

The band was a bit apprehensive to attend a festival in the middle of winter on the Prairies, but when Bancroft found out that the temperatures had warmed, he was a relieved.  “I’m happy for that; I don’t do so well in -30 C. It’s truly a winterruption, love it.”

Northcote's home province 

Saskatchewan-born Northcote will open for Said the Whale in both Regina and Saskatoon this weekend. Frontman Matt Goud (pronounced good) moved away from Saskatchewan more than six years ago but is always excited to return to his home province.

“It’s kind of the place that feels like home the most. There are extra nerves that come with that because you see old friends and family, but I love coming back,” said Goud.

Northcote has played shows in Europe and across North America. Goud has found that the music community is likeminded around the world.

“We have good people no matter where we go that are into our music,” he said.

Goud is quick to admit, however, that encouragement is strong in his home province. “Saskatchewan support has been really loyal for us," he said.  “Regina has always been underrated nationally for its music and arts.”

Escamilla combines stories and music 

Quique Escamilla will also take to the stage this weekend. He’ll play a solo set between Danny Olliver and Rosie and the Riveters at the Artisian on Thursday, Jan. 19.

Escamilla grew up in Chiapas state, Mexico. His music combines Latin American rhythms with rock, pop, ska, jazz and reggae sounds. What sets Escamilla’s music apart, however, is his ability to incorporate powerful storytelling into his work; stories of immigration, racism and discrimination.

“The songs are based on real stories that I either heard, lived, or saw,” said Escamilla, sitting in the lobby of the Ramada Plaza Regina.  “There is a lot to say, coming from Latin America. I try to observe their stories and use it in a way that people can connect and understand from another perspective.”

Like many of the artists, Escamilla was pleased when he learned that the weather had warmed up in time for the festival. “I took it more like, okay is the universe saying, ‘It’s going to be warm,’ because it’s Winterruption. We are bringing artists to bring some warmth.”