A musician in her own right (Natural Sympathies, Cobra and Vulture), Amber is also the Regina Folk Festival’s artistic director. The festival runs Aug. 5–7 in downtown Regina, and for this column Amber has chosen two songs by the RFF’s first-ever guest curator, renowned Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer and artist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, as well four tunes by artists Leanne curated for the festival. /Gregory Beatty

“Break Up”
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Theory of Ice (2021)

The first track on Leanne’s award-winning water-themed album, this tune is a spellbinding mix of poetry and atmospheric rock blended together to create alchemical, intersectional truths writ in music. YouTube

“Soft Stud”
Black Belt Eagle Scout, Mother of My Children (2018)

This sexy jam of a song will be extra good for glancing “casually” across the festival crowd toward your crush/unrequited love/old flame. The fuzzy guitar and repetition of the lyrics “need you, want you” are smoldering. It’s summertime. YouTube

“Stand Tall”
Dominique Fils-Aimé (single, 2022)

This tune has the most perfect groove with Dominique’s gorgeous vocals effortlessly floating on top.  Her music is intimate, precise and infused with meaning. Dominique previously released a trilogy of albums exploring the legacy of African American music and deserves a deep dive. YouTube

“Ballad of a Young Troubadour”
Julian Taylor, The Ridge (2020)

I hope you like ear worms because this one is going to curl up in your skull until next summer. This song tells the story of a young man starting on his path into music, and I can’t stop humming it. YouTube

“Tuktu Strut”
PISQIQ, Altering the Timeline (2019)

PIQSIQ conjures up eerie atmospheres using Inuit-style throat singing blended with melodies and live improvised looping. Wear black eyeliner. YouTube

“I Pity the Country”
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Theory of Ice (2021)

Leanne’s breathy vocals and the soaring dynamics of her full band beautifully interpret Willie Dunn’s famous 1971 song criticizing colonialism and racism: sadly, the song is as timely as ever. YouTube