JUNO winner Francis rocks Farmgate

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

GALETTA – Known for her JUNO Award-winning blues music, Angelique Francis and her family rocked the Farmgate Cider barn Saturday (June 10) afternoon bringing a full house to their feet inside the unique country venue.

Saturday’s concert was a partnership between the Davies’ family business Farmgate Cider and Ottawa music festival Chamberfest. Chamberfest launched a small musical series this year called Chamber Pints bringing musicians from different genres to exciting new venues in a pay-what-you-can concert.

The Farmgate Cider barn, which also serves as a cider tasting room, is new to the Mohrs Road property. The Davies family painstakingly took the heritage barn apart from one location and then reassembled it again on their own apple orchard.

A photo of an audience watching a music performance.
It was a full barn for the concert which was part of Chamberfest’s Chamber Pints music series. Photo by Jake Davies

Patriarch of the Farmgate Cider team, Jim Davies said they are taking it slow when it comes to hosting events at the farm.

In March, the family hosted its annual tradition of wassailing to ensure a great apple harvest.

Early this spring (May 11) they partnered with Bee Savvy Fine Foods to host a special six course dining gala event that was a sell out.

Saturday’s concert was a ‘sell out’ too.

Davies says that’s all they have planned for this year as the team decides what works and what doesn’t work in line with the family business of making cider from their own apples.

As far as musician Angelique is concerned, an artist who has toured the country and the globe, Farmgate Cider’s heritage barn is a pretty special venue.

“We’re from Kanata, so the drive was really nice and scenic on this beautiful day,” Angelique told West Carleton Online after the more than two-hour concert. “It was wonderful to perform here. We have been in talks with Chamberfest to perform for the last few years. With the pandemic and everything, it’s lovely to finally get the chance to perform with Chamberfest, and in Chamber Pints. Farmgate is such a beautiful venue, I was glad a I was able to be in this wonderful, open space. The acoustics were great. The people and company were great, and everybody seemed to be having a wonderful time. I’ve performed in all sorts of places. We’ve performed all across North America, Europe as well. I’ve gone as far as Transylvania, Romania at the Transylvania Bluesfest, Germany too. I feel like one of my favourite parts of performing, and performing so often, is you get to play such unique venues, and I would definitely say, this is one of my favourites in terms of how beautiful it was, and what a wonderful community that came together. It was definitely unique. I’m glad I got the opportunity to play here.”

Angelique and her band, which includes her two sisters, Kharincia on saxophone and Kira on trumpet as well as both providing backing vocals, and her dad Kiaran on drums, cover a variety of genres on top of blues including soul, folk, Americana, jazz, gospel and rock. Her show is high energy and along with singing, Angelique plays a variety of instruments including the cello, bass and harmonica.

A third sister, Kayla Francis, also performed on Angelique’s album Long River.

A photo of people dancing.
The audience couldn’t stay seated for long as Angelique Francis’ high energy music got the butts out of their seats and on the dance floor. Photo by Jake Davies

For Angelique, the show was also a great chance to perform before hitting the Ottawa Jazzfest stage which gets underway the end of June. Angelique and her band will be opening for Buddy Guy on June 28.

“I do have a lot of performances across Canada this year,” Angelique said. “I’ll be doing Stan Rogers Fest out east, the Vancouver Island Folkfest, I’ll be playing a few shows in British Columbia, so all over the place. So, the best place to find me playing nearby is on our website. We have shows lined up all the way to October.”

Angelique says performing with her family is a real treat.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “I’m really lucky that my family chose to pursue music with me as well. I’ve been playing music all my life. My father joined me when I was a teenager. Gradually as my sisters got older and developed an interest in music, they joined me one by one. We all have different other projects, but because I’m oldest, the band started with me. My sisters are amazing horn players, and they will be coming out with projects of their own in the coming months and years.”

Angelique says the nice thing about the blues is it transitions in to so many other genres.

“The nice thing about the blues is that it is the root of so many of the genres we know and love in North America,” she said. “I play a lot of blues-influenced music and the blues influences jazz, and R&B, and folk, and so many different types of music like Americana and gospel and we do all sorts of genres, all sorts of music festivals and our album also features a combination of those different styles merged together with the blues. I feel really lucky I am able to perform so many different kinds of festivals. We even got the opportunity to perform at a hip hop festival once. I’m really glad I’m able to use this different style of music to bring together people from different walks of life, to showcase that people may not think then know the blues, but it is actually all around us and there are so many commonalities we can have to relate with one another in this medium.”

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