Five NB Artists to See at Sappyfest 14

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From Swamp Doom to Poet Laureates, Sappyfest 14 welcomes a wide range of New Brunswick artists. 

Matt Carter
Janowskii’s Keith Hallett on stage in Fredericton. Photo: Matt Carter

Sappyfest celebrates 14 years this year. That’s 14 years spent nurturing some of the most fringe artists Canada (and the U.S.) has to offer. It’s odd, it’s unique and it’s a festival many hold close the their heart because at least as far as Atlantic Canada is concerned, there are few other gatherings that champion such a diverse mix of music makers while also creating a place for visual artists, poets and zine makers to be together an revel in unison.

Among the 20+ performers taking part in this year’s lineup, several are from right here in our beautiful province. In hopes of helping you get to know some of these hometown heroes in advance of this weekend’s festival, we’ve put together a list of five New Brunswick artists to see at Sappyfest 14.


Motherhood are a Fredericton trio who embrace their art-rock roots with greater conviction on each and every release. As with any band, evolution is key, and over the past five years or more Motherhood have been pushing boundaries and challenging themselves to be tighter, weirder and more eclectic while delivering highly energetic and dynamic live performances in their ongoing quest to one-up themselves each time they step on stage. The band’s latest album Dear Bongo, (Forward Music Group) is a perfect summary-to-date of all Motherhood are about. To some, it’s the weirdest collection of songs ever assembled and to others, it’s that long overdue breeze on a hot summer’s day.

Motherhood join FET.NAT, Juice Girls and Snotty Nose Rez Kids on the Mainstage, Friday Aug. 2

Julie Aubé

Known to many as a member of Moncton’s Les Hay Babies, Julie Aubé was the last of the groups’ three main performers to step outside the band’s indie-folk confines and try her own thing. Vivianne Roy performs as Laura Sauvage, Katrine Noel is a member of Tampa and for the past year or so Julie has been performing under her own name in support of her debut album, Joie de vivre, a full-on psych-rock record that’s as rich sounding as it is dense and bursting with unpredictable Acadian rock and roll goodness. Arguably one of the strong New Brunswick albums of the past few years, Julie Aubé and her band could very well deliver the festival defining set at this year’s Sappyfest.

Julie Aubé joins Jose Contresras, Diamondtown and Tim Baker in the Mainstage tent on Saturday Aug. 3 in the afternoon.


Born at the end of a long bender, Janowskii was formed by drummer Drew Budovitch and guitarist Keith Hallett as a Sunday morning ritual with the intent of helping to keep Saturday nights under control. The chemistry shared by these two musicians was immediate and in no time, they found themselves waist deep in swampy, doomy, blues rock. Bassist Matt LeBlanc came on board last year and took things to a deeper level. The tone says 1930, the rhythm says 1997, and I say, Janowskii will drain the energy you have left once the party moves to The Legion. Wrap that Friday up in a sweaty heap would ya?

Janowskii joins Deliluh at The Royal Canadian Legion for a late show on Friday Aug. 2

Cursing + Swearing

Like to dance? Like dueling bass guitars? How ‘bout synths? Do you like synths? How ‘bout Saint John and its dedicated Taco Pica community who come together every so often to pair Guatemalan cuisine with all sorts of sounds? I guess what I’m really asking is, DO YOU LIKE FUN? Cursing & Swearing is fun with a capital F-U-N. Cursing & Swearing is the feminist dance party that will leave you wondering “where did I learn those moves?”

Cursing & Swearing play Ducky’s with Flour starting at midnight on Sunday August 4.

Marilyn Lerch

Because Sappyfest is all about left field, my final recommendation goes out to the one and only Marilyn Lerch. Poet, activist, writer, and organizer, Marilyn is probably the most fascinating artist on this year’s Sappyfest roster. Born in Chicago in 1936, she taught high school English in Washington, D.C. during the 60s, the 70s, the 80s and the 90s before moving to Sackville, New Brunswick in 1996 where she started the Sackville Writer’s Group and the Roving Poets. And on top of that, she taught creative writing at Westmorland, Springhill and Dorchester prisons AND was the town’s Poet Laureate from 2014 – 2018.

I have no idea where Marilyn will be reading (possibly Universal Dawn – Sunday Aug. 4 at The Legion) but can only say,  you should ask, you should bring your friends and you should then bask in this woman’s incredibly informed writing (or reading, whatever the case may be).

Happy Sappy!

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