Ian Bell
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Ian Bell

Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Solo Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"From David Francey"

“Ian Bell writes with a rare clarity and passion. His love and understanding of the past may form a basis for some of his writing, but his characters arrive fully formed in the present. They are brought to life with a warm and vibrant humanity, links in a chain as it were, where every era is as important as the next , in which the past and the future are both well served. I have had the pleasure of hearing Ian in concert, beautifully crafted songs delivered in a strong clear voice. He is a wonderful writer and performer.”
- online

"From Enoch Kent"

In the last 50 odd years I've worked with many musicians; the most accomplished player with whom I have shared the the stage is beyond a doubt Ian Bell….he writes wonderful songs and has a great understanding of the power of words in folk song. - Enoch Kent - online

"From James Gordon"

“One of Canada's best songwriters, storytellers, musicologists and musicians. He's a true renaissance man... and he always puts on one helluva show!" - James Gordon

- online

"For Shallow Water"

Ian Bell
Shallow Water (Free Range Recordings, 2006)
Born and raised not far from Lake Erie's northern shore, neo-traditionalist singersongwriter,
musicologist guitarist and accordionist Ian Bell confesses in the liner
notes to this wonderful collection of folksy originals that he has been fascinated for
most of his life with the stories, grown taller and longer with age, of the once
robust maritime culture of Port Dover, where, for the past few years, he has
worked as curator of the town's Harbour Museum. Recorded in just two sessions,
with two sets of musicians — most of them are familiar names on the Canadian
folk roster: pianist Tom Leighton, bassists David Woodhead and Denis Rondeau,
mandolin player and fiddler Geoff Somers and drummer Christopher Schiller —
Shallow Water is at once a vivid recreation of facets of that lost life and an
affectionate journey through Port Dover's musical past, embracing lyrical balladry,
old-time dance-hall melodies and tavern tales. Distinguished by the quality of his
melodies and his strong, engaging voice, Bell's new solo recording is testimony to
the potency of Canadian roots music.
-Greg Quill - Toronto Star

"For Scatter The Ashes"

"One of the most entertaining albums of the year...a mad mix of drums, pipes, fifes, accordions, fiddle, bass, piano and cornet...not to mention the more usual stringed instruments...Innovative? To be sure - Enchanting? Absolutely." - Come For To Sing

"For My Pious Friends & Drunken Companions"

"Canadiana at its best!"
- Tim Readman - Penguin Eggs

"For Free Range"

"Appeal That's Timeless"
It would be great if Free Range gets the wide attention that could conceivably come its way
- Wilfred Langmaid - Fredericton Daily Gleaner


The most recent CDs can be ordered or downloaded from CD Baby. Earlier recordings are trickier, but not impossible to get. E-mail me about them. ian.bell@sympatico.ca

2009 – My Pious Friends & Drunken Companions
Traditional Material:
A collection of traditional songs and tunes that Ian has performed for years, but never got around to recording until recently. With Geoff Somers, Anne Lederman, Oliver Schroer, Denis Rondeau, The Bilge Rats, Pat O’Gorman, Shane Cooke and others. Recently nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award - "Traditional Singer of The Year".

2007 – Shallow Water

Original Songs and tunes:
Third disc in the “tri-county trilogy” This record includes a lot of music inspired by Port Dover and lakeside life. full of sailors, motorcycles, fishermen, tattoos (several), rockabilly singers, fiddlers and cameo appearances by George Wade and Rudy Vallee. With Geoff Somers, Tom Leighton, David Woodhead, Denis Rondeau, Chris Schiller.

2000 – Signor Farini & Other Adventures
Original Songs and trad. tunes:
Mostly original songs with a few sets of traditional tunes and an old song from Jackie Washington thrown in. Songs inspired by life in darkest southwestern Ontario. With The Dawnbreakers - Kate Murphy, Brian Pickell, Geoff Somers with Anne Lederman and Dave Zdriluk.

1996 – Free Range
Original Songs: (Out of Print)
Original Songs and instrumental music accompanied by the Dawnbreakers – Kate Murphy, Brian Pickell, Oliver Schroer with David Zdriluk and Anne Lederman. I’ll burn you a copy if you ask nicely. (e-mail)

1993 – Singing In A Strange Land
Shape note music from Waterloo Co., Ontario :(Cassette)
Vocal and instrumental arrangements with a large chorus, The Dawnbreakers, Oliver Schroer, Anne Lederman, Ian Robb, and many others. Produced for Joseph Schneider Haus Museum.

1992 – Brightest & Best
Early Christmas Music – Shapenote chorus & instrumental:
Prof. Chalaupka’s Celebrated Singing School with Anne Lederman, Oliver Schroer, David Travers-Smith,
John Mayberry and others. CDs available - e-mail for details.

1991 – The Farmer Feeds Us All
Mostly Traditional & Historic: (Cassette – out of print)
Traditional and contemporary songs about farming and agriculture.

1990 – A Grand Musical Entertainment
Traditional & Historic:
Grassroots Music of Early Ontario (Cassette - out of print) The Dawnbreakers, Prof. Chalaupka’s Celebrated Singing School, Enoch Kent, Anne Lederman, Oliver Schroer, David Travers-Smith, and many others.

1984 – Scatter The Ashes
Traditional & Historic:
Music of Old Ontario - Muddy York (vinyl – try eBay!)
Neat arrangements of fiddle tunes from the 19th century Allan Ash manuscript and early Ontario folksongs. with Anne Lederman. I’ll burn you a copy if you ask nicely. (e-mail)



A native of darkest Southwestern Ontario, Ian 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 has 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.

Following the release of three CDs of well-received original songs, Ian has returned to his roots with a new CD of traditional songs and tunes – My Pious Friends and Drunken Companions. Ian was joined on this recording by many musical friends including Geoff Somers, Anne Lederman, Oliver Schroer, Denis Rondeau, Shane Cook, The Bilge Rats and James Gordon.
This CD was recently nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award - "Traditional Singer of The Year".

Ian also performs with The Friends of Fiddler’s Green, Enoch Kent, The Allison Lupton Band, and in a duo with Anne Lederman.

Band Members