The English and Irish settlers who first colonized Newfoundland brought their music with them: step dances and square sets performed to the accompaniment of the fiddle and the button accordion, followed by the unaccompanied singing of locally composed and “old country” songs. The music was never written down, so as it passed from one generation to the next a distinctive Newfoundland style evolved, whose rhymes and rhythms varied from outport to outport – though its Irish and English roots always remained pronounced.

This traditional style of folk music has lingered on, as exemplified by the island’s most famous fiddlers, Rufus Guinchard and Émile Benoit. The two died in the 1980s, but their approach was adopted by younger artists like singer-songwriters Jim Payne and Ron Hynes, musician-producer Kelly Russell and groups such as Figgy Duff (named after the traditional Newfoundland pudding). Currently, Celtic music is the big deal in the bars of St John’s (Shanneyganock is one of the biggest bands on the scene), but local musicians regularly perform in a more traditional idiom. In particular, look out for one of the most popular bands since the 1990s, the Irish Descendants, who still occasionally perform here. Other artists to watch out for include Duane Andrews, who blends traditional Newfoundland folk with Gypsy Jazz; Hey Rosetta!, one of the most popular indie bands; and local girl Amelia Curran, who has scored big since her 2000 debut. The best of the island’s dozen folk festivals, the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival (t 709 576 8508, w nlfolk.com), is held in Bannerman Park in St John’s in early August.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Canada features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Ottawa: top things to do in the capital of Canada

Ottawa: top things to do in the capital of Canada

Move over Toronto and Montréal: there's a quiet revolution happening in Ottawa. Not so long ago, the city was lambasted as the dullest place in Canada, dubbed …

14 Aug 2018 • Edward Aves insert_drive_file Article
Road trip Canada: 5 of the best routes

Road trip Canada: 5 of the best routes

Rugged and vast, Canada is a road-tripper's dream. Driving gives you the freedom to travel at your own pace – pull over and take in the scenery along the w…

09 Mar 2018 • Stuart Forster insert_drive_file Article
Why Halifax is Canada’s friendliest city

Why Halifax is Canada’s friendliest city

Canadians are a friendly bunch; in fact according to Twitter analysis (so it must be true) Canucks are the nicest people in the world. And Canada’s friendlies…

05 Mar 2018 • Edward Aves insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs