How one band restored my faith in folk music. — Shayna Gonsalves


The “Folk” scene is having a serious moment right now — it seems like every shaggy-haired dude on the street is awkwardly lugging around an acoustic guitar, Phillip what’s-his-name thinks he is Marcus Mumford, and droop-eyed girls are under the impression that whining = crooning. A bastardized version of what was once the foundation of American music, the Folk of today is all about the capital F, super hip, “this is what’s in right now” capitalistic vom that, for some reason, seems to be working.

Jaded beyond belief, I found myself incredibly close to thinking that true folk music was dead, only its more popular offshoots left in its wake. Before I had completely lost hope, right as I was on the brink, I found myself in the right place at exactly the right moment. In the middle of March at the Mercury Lounge on the lower east side of Manhattan, The Wilderness of Manitoba took the stage and reminded me that, somewhere out there in the sea of everyone who “is a musician,” there is still good music — and good folk music, at that.


Stopping to play shows on their way home from SxSW, this Canadian band took the stage and did not utter a word until the end of their set. With songs worthy of being allowed to speak for themselves, The Wilderness of Manitoba got a packed room of New Yorkers to become quietly enthralled for the better part of an hour.

It is important to note that this Toronto-based band is not a replica of what folk used to be; they are a glimpse of the better direction in which the genre is moving. With what can only be described as dual lead vocalists, the new music from the band (EP The Leslieville SessionsI) due out in the US in early April) depicts modern folk as seen through the lens of Johnny and June.

Select tracks from TWoM can be streamed here.