If you have been to a festival, house concert or know the Canadian Folk music scene at all – you’ve probably heard of Mitch Podolak. He helped found the Winnipeg Folk Fest and others coast to coast. We were pleased to hear that the Canadian Folk Awards is going to honour him with the Unsung Hero Award next weekend during their annual awards gala. Here is the complete press release:
CALGARY – Mitch Podolak, a prominent figure of the Canadian folk music community, is the recipient of the Unsung Hero award for this year’s Canadian Folk Music Awards (CFMA). The award will be presented at the CFMA Awards Gala on November 10 in Calgary, Alberta.
The Unsung Hero Award is presented annually by the CFMAs in recognition of the exceptional contribution of an individual, group, or organization to any aspect of the Canadian folk music scene. Each year, nominations are accepted from the region where the awards take place. With this year’s awards taking place in Calgary, nominations were accepted from the following regions in Western Canada; British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
Mitch Podolak began his career in the early sixties at the Bohemian Embassy Coffee House in Toronto, where he rose from bus boy to booking shows. In the late 1960s, he began a dynamic relationship with CBC Radio as a freelance documentary filmmaker, working into the 1970s for such shows as Five Nights, CBC Tuesday Night, Between Ourselves and This Country In The Morning. Podolak hosted the CBC’s Simply Folk radio program from 1987 to 1991.
With CBC as a resource base, Podolak helped found the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 1974, serving as the artistic director with Ava Kobrinsky and Colin Gorrie. It was an immediate success and in 1978 he and Gorrie, with Ernie Fladell, Gary Cristall and Frannie Fitzgibbon, founded the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Within the next few years he also helped the Edmonton and Calgary Folk Festivals open their doors. He has also been a major contributor to festivals further east, including Canso, Nova Scotia, Owen Sound and others.
Beyond folk festivals, Podolak was the co-founder of the Winnipeg International Children’s Festival and was the originator of the idea and effort that created the West End Cultural Centre, a major music venue in Winnipeg. In 1976 he founded Barnswallow Records, the label that launched the career of Stan Rogers. Currently Podolak operates as Executive Producer of Home Routes, which is North America’s only house concert circuit.
The CFMA weekend (Nov 8-10, 2013) includes four nominee showcase events, workshops and the CFMA Awards Gala, where winners will be announced in 20 categories. This year’s Gala performance line-up includes Amelia Curran, James Keelaghan & Oscar Lopez, Oh My Darling, The Fretless, Lorne Elliott and duo Christina Smith & Jean Hewson. The Gala is hosted in both official languages, byCBC’s Shelagh Rogers and musician Benoit Bourque (La Bottine Souriante/Le Vent du Nord).