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It may be cold here in Fredericton, but that doesn’t mean this is no time for celebration.

Next week, Shivering Songs, an annual midwinter celebration of songwriting and storytelling, returns to warm Fredericton’s spirits.

“Shivering Songs is a January folk festival here in Fredericton that began eight years ago when local band The Olympic Symphomium were looking to do something a little bit different for their album release,” explains festival co-producer Brendan MaGee.

“That first year, we had a weekend with four shows: a couple at the Wilmot United Church, Bluegrass Brunch at the Snooty Fox, couple of shows at the Capital. Over the last eight years, we’ve seen a demand for that kind of programming, especially in the harsh winter months. And from there we’ve grown a bit every year.”

The festival takes over multiple downtown venues, including the Wilmot United Church, the Charlotte Street Arts Centre, the Fredericton Playhouse, the Capital Complex and more. These varied locations reflect the variety of artists slated to perform.

“We try to appeal to the widest spectrum of people that we can in our programming,” says MaGee. “Catherine McLelland is doing a tribute to her father, Gene McLelland—a super accomplished performer—which appeals to a ‘pure folk’ demographic. Contrary to that, we have shows at the Capital Complex that really appeal to a younger demographic…David Myles is coming home to Fredericton to do a hometown album release show for his tenth album, Real Love…There’s a lot of bases covered, that’s for sure.”

Other anticipated acts include Tim Baker of Hey Rosetta!, doing his first solo performance since the band announced their indefinite hiatus; Timber Timbre; the return of festival founders The Olympic Symphomium; and, kicking off the festival, Bahamas, celebrating their soon-to-be-released new album with a performance at the Fredericton Playhouse.

As MaGee says, “This is probably the most excited I’ve ever been for a lineup.”

In addition to music, the festival also emphasizes literary arts, with longtime CBC broadcaster Laurie Brown and her co-host Joshua Van Tessel set to record an episode of their new podcast, Pondercast, at the Fredericton Public Library, and veteran music journalist Bob Mersereau, who’s at work on a book about Gene McLelland, joining Catherine McLelland onstage for a post-performance Q&A.

The festival’s organizers also aim to ensure the events are as affordable as possible, making Shivering Songs an appealing draw for students.

“We’ve always had a close relationship with our campus community…We always try to program with that consciousness of student budgets and student taste in music. We try to be inclusionary as far as genres, but the same goes for pricing for the festival: we have a few free events.”

These free events include an outdoor stage setup on Carleton Street, near the library, featuring performances by local favourites The Hypochondriacs and Sleepy Driver.

Best of all, the event gives Frederictonians an excuse to get outside and enjoy the season.

“Especially at this time of year it’s very important to get out and shake off that ‘holiday slumber’…I’m certainly feeling very lethargic these last couple of weeks, and I’m looking forward to getting out, stretching my legs and enjoying a really cool happening for this time of year.”

Shivering Songs kicks off with Bahamas’ performance on Jan. 16, and continues Jan. 18-21.

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