Countdown to New Branch Music & Arts Festival – Interview with Mike Sixonate

New Branch Music & Arts Festival is ready to showcase all the great musicians we have in Newfoundland. Showcasing over 20 artists from across Newfoundland, the festival will run from Friday, August 26th to Sunday, August 28th in Carbonear. We here at Canadian Beats are so excited to be part of the festival and will be out covering all three days so be sure to keep an eye out.

To hold you over until then, we’ve asked a few questions to some of the acts playing which we’ll be sharing with you over the next couple of days. First up, we have Mike Sixonate, who will be opening up the festival on Saturday at 12pm, following the charity soccer game.

First off, can you introduce yourself to our readers? What day are you playing New Branch?

My Name is Mike Sixonate. I am a songwriter and musician from Mount Pearl. I have been writing and performing original music for over a decade. I also front the Newfoundland Pirate Band “Nelsons Folly”. I have a great set of some of my personal favourites that I will play on Saturday at noon.

This is the first year for the New Branch Music & Arts Festival, what are you most excited about?

I am very excited to see this festival get off the ground because I really believe in what Gene is doing. He has always been an advocate for local music and has been helping bands get a little shot of spotlight for a good few years. I am most excited to get a weekend to take in all these awesome Newfoundland bands, spanning so many genres and styles.

The New Branch roster is stacked with tons of great NL acts, which acts are you looking forward to the most?

To say which bands I am looking forward to the most is a hard one for me; I really dig Chris Picco and his writing style so The Long Distance Runners are high on that list. I also really love watching Brenny from Bridges because he is one of the best frontmen Newfoundland has on the go. There are so many top notch performers that the days are going to seem to fly by. I may as well list the whole line up, because I am looking forward to seeing everyone.

Why do you think Newfoundland needs a festival that focuses on homegrown talent? What do you hope comes from this first year of New Branch?

Newfoundland has always had a stereotype of music filled with accordions and fiddles, (folk instruments in general) and 3/4 timing etc. That music is deeply rooted in us, but far from all we have to offer. This all Newfoundland festival is important because it will really showcase the Diversity of our music scene. From Rock and Roll to Rap, All genres are welcome and that is extremely good to see when a lot of festivals seem like carbon copies. I really hope that the public grabs on to this festival and sees the potential for it to really be a window into our musical potential spanning all genres, not just a couple. I hope in the first year it makes a big enough impact to get some more sponsorships and grants in years to come.

What can festival goers expect to see from your set?

I have prepared a set that is high energy and fun. I love writing songs with stories about pirates and tall tales. I like to take advantage of my weird style of percussive fingerpicking and push it to the edge. I have a new song called “Frantic”that is just that! I’ll play songs that were written for my songwriters series “Poets and Pickers” as well as some favourites that crowds seem to really enjoy. I am very excited to get to share these songs with a crowd of people that might not normally get to hear my music.

What’s next for you after the festival?

After the festival I will be putting the finishing touches on my set of Stan Rogers tunes. I am doing a tribute on one of Dee Jay Charters boats on September Third that is leaving from the St. John’s Harbour and floating out past the Narrows for a couple hours. There is a bar on board as well as washrooms. A couple of my good friends are going to share some songs as well, Nick Whelan and Scott Gilbert. You can get your tickets now (Only 30 available) at or at Fred’s Records in St. John’s or The Ferry Last Stop in Portugal Cove.

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