When Claire Lynch began a pen-pal relationship with a Canadian fan, little did she know that it would lead to marriage and a Grammy nomination.
Lynch, who headlines the inaugural Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival at Laketown Ranch happening June 14-16, knew little about the Canadian music scene when she received an email from the fan suggesting places to play in Toronto. One of America’s most pre-eminent women in bluegrass, Lynch began learning more about Canada while corresponding with her new pen-pal, who she eventually married.
Immersing herself in Canadian music led to North by South, a 2016 album of songs by Canadian songwriters such as David Francey and Gordon Lightfoot, including a haunting rendition of Lynn Miles’ coal miner’s widow song, “Black Flowers.” The album garnered Lynch her third Grammy nomination for best bluegrass album and added to her numerous female vocalist awards by the International Bluegrass Music Association.
With a voice that Dolly Parton calls “one of the sweetest, purest and best lead voices in the music business today,” Lynch appears at the festival on a bill that includes Toronto’s The Slocan Ramblers, The Lonely Heartstring Band from Boston, and local and regional artists The Sweet Lowdown, the High Quadra Ramblers, Jenny Lester, Nomad Jones and more.
The festival specializes in bluegrass and Appalachian old-time music. The latter is featured at a Saturday night square dance under a big top circus tent led by dance caller Paul Silveria.
Full details and schedule information can be found at cowichanbluegrass.com.