Juno winner Angelique Francis bringing the groove to Townshend Theatre

Tour De Fort will hold the closing concert of its 30th anniversary season featuring the jazz stylings of Angelique Francis. The Tour De Fort show kicks off a string of northwestern Ontario shows.

Francis says the shows are high-energy and she likes to take the audience through a variety of genres and styles.

“For those of you who have been to an Angelique Francis show, come prepared to laugh, dance and have a great time,” Francis said. “It’s really lively and energetic, and we take you to a wide variety of different styles of roots and blues influenced music.”

Francis is a graduate of the music performance program at Carleton University and won the 2023 Juno for Blues Album of the year for her album Long River. She has also won multiple Maple Blues Awards, she took home the 2023 Maple Blues Awards for New Artist/Group of the year and Bassist of the year.

Francis is a multi-instrumentalist, with her website bio calling her a child prodigy, starting to play on stage at seven years old and playing at music festivals across North America by 13. She opened for acts like Beth Hart, Trooper and Shameka Copeland. Concertgoers will get to see Francis play a variety of instruments during her show in Fort Frances. She plays double bass and harmonica, electric bass, guitar and piano while also singing. However she says she loves playing bass because it allows her to control the groove of the band.

“I love the nature of the bass because of its ability to control the groove when it comes to live performance,” she said. “That aspect is so, so important… And I feel like as a multi-instrumentalist, who's also a bandleader, this instrument allows me to kind of lead the band without necessarily having to use traditional hand signals.”

Francis says she loves blues because it has ties to so many other genres of music.

“I just love blues music because of its connection, its strong connection with the musical genres that we all know and love,” she said. “Blues is at the root of all modern North American music, and is responsible for creating and influencing a lot of genres out there in the popular music world, such as jazz, rock, r&b, folk, there's so many different wonderful connections. It surprised me how much people don't realize that these origins share a similar history. So with blues, as a musician who just loves that genre, loves the different influences that I grew up listening to, like Willie Dixon and Big Mama Thornton and Coco Taylor.”

Francis also loves Blues as a way to tell stories. For example, the song Ashamed on Long River tells the story of a philandering ex-boyfriend who tries to creep back into the singer’s life and the shame the singer feels after spending a night with the ex.

“Put lipstick on a pig, he'll try to mess with that too

But tonight, he comes in looking just right

Lord he my kryptonite”

“I also love blues because it's such an expressive performance and storytelling medium. There's so many different aspects of the blues and I love combining and weaving together, the blues and other styles that were influenced from it to weave together really engaging stories that I can interact with my audience with.”

Francis also spends a lot of her time on stage with her family who play in her band.

“We are a very family oriented band and so our band varies with different band members, but at its core, it's family. And so my younger sisters are in the band, Kharincia Francis plays saxophone, so she plays tenor, alto, and baritone saxophone as well as backing vocals. My sister Kira Francis plays trombone, backing vocals and keys, and my little sister Taylor Francis, has recently joined us on various other instruments. My father Kiran Francis is on drums as well. And we have our lead guitarist joining us as well for the show, Dave Williamson.”

Francis’ latest single Train Comin,’ which features Grammy nominated guitarist Eric Gales, arrives this Friday, Apr. 26 just ahead of her Tuesday show.

Tickets for Tour De Fort’s final show of the year starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday Apr. 30 at the Townshend Theatre, tickets are still available at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre and the Ski’s Variety.

The show will also feature the reveal of at least a partial line up for the 2024-2025 Tour de Fort Concert Series.

Last week Tour de Fort announced a silent auction featuring a guitar which has been signed by every artist from their historic anniversary season, including Steven Page. Check the Tour De Fort Facebook page to see the guitar and how to bit. The silent auction will wrap up at the end of intermission at the final show. Anyone interested in this piece of history will want to be there.

Allan Bradbury, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times