As a folk musician Ian Bell has performed professionally across Canada and in the United States since the late 1970s On his own and with a number of different ensembles, he has appeared at numerous folk festivals (Winnipeg, Mariposa, Edmonton, Ottawa, Yellowknife, Owen Sound, Lunenberg , Montmagny, and others) and in concerts in every sort of venue.
With the group Muddy York, and along with Wade Hemsworth (composer of “The Blackfly Song”, “Log Driver’s Waltz”), Ian performed for two weeks in the Folklife Pavilion at Expo 86 in Vancouver, BC. In 1993 Ian was named “Folk Artist in Residence” for that year at Joseph Schneider Haus Museum, in Kitchener, Ontario. In 1985 Ian served as artistic director of the Mariposa Folk Festival.
As a long-time freelance broadcaster, Ian worked on many occasions with Stuart McLean on CBC Radio’s Vinyl Café. Ian has co-written and served as musical director for five Vinyl Café national concert broadcasts. For seven years Ian was a regular contributor to the weekend Fresh Air program on CBC radio. Over the years, Ian Bell has been a regular contributor to many CBC programs including Ideas, Gabereau, Crossroads, This Morning, and Radio Noon. He also appeared numerous times on Peter Gzowski’s Morningside. Ian has also contributed to numerous film scores and performed period music for and occasionally appeared in the TV series, The Road to Avonlea.
Ian performs material from a large repertoire that includes both Canadian traditional music and his own songs and instrumental compositions. Ian’s original songs have been performed and recorded by: Anne Lederman, Ian Robb, Bobby Watt, Allison Lupton, Lee Murdock and others.
In 2004 Ian performed as part of the “Roots of American Music” Festival at Lincoln Centre in New York City. In July 2005 Ian travelled to Estonia with long-time collaborator Anne Lederman to perform at the Viljandi Folk Festival. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist (guitar, button accordion, mandolin, harmonica, fiddle, pipes) Ian appears on dozens of recordings as sideman as well as many under his own name. He currently performs regularly with The Sandplains Pickers, The Friends of Fiddler’s Green, and Lederman-Bell.
Following the release of three well-received CDs of original songs, Ian returned to his roots with a 2009 CD of traditional songs and tunes – My Pious Friends and Drunken Companions. This album was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award.
Most recently Ian has released Forget Me Not, When Far Away, a collection of traditional songs and chanteys from the age of commercial sail on the Great Lakes.
“This CD is a thoroughly satisfying listening experience….You don’t often find recordings like this anymore” – Canadian Folk Music, Winter 2013 “An affectionate recreation of the songs and music associated with Great Lakes sailors…by a fine performer” fROOTS (Folk Roots), March 2014.
Ian’s most recent project is a free-use online database of traditional and historical music from Ontario. It can be found at www.ontariotraditionalmusic.ca