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Local guy plays the big stage at Northern Lights fest (29 photos)

This year's Northern Lights Festival Boreal also featured an entire night of North American Indigenous artists
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For the first time in quite a number of years, a Sault Ste. Marie artist was seen performing during Sudbury’s Northern Lights Festival Boreal (NLFB) in beautiful Bell Park. MD Dunn, the winner of the first-ever Sault Ste. Marie NLFB Meltdown competition, opened the festival’s main stage performances Saturday afternoon to a small but appreciative audience.

“It was great,” Dunn told SooToday. “It was a little scary at the start. But more people came to listen so that was nice.”

Dunn was also invited to take part in one of the many festival workshops hosted throughout the weekend. He joined artists Jonathan Byrd, Barry Miles, and Hidden Roots Collective on the CBC acoustic stage for Songs of Love and Hate - Leonard Cohen Tribute.

“That was a lot of fun,” Dunn said. “It was nice just to meet everyone and hear different takes on Cohen songs and poems.”

He would love to return to NLFB, either as a performer or a spectator. Or maybe even both, Dunn told us.

“Everything has been really great. The challenge is seeing everything. It’s hard to catch everything, but I’m just going to wander around now and have fun.”

Special to the 46th annual NLFB, organizers presented an extra evening of entertainment that featured a variety of spectacular Indigenous artists from across North America. Headlined by Canadian icon Buffy Sainte-Marie, Thursday night’s performances included those from the Black Bull Moose Singers (Sudbury, Ont.), Ansley Simpson (Toronto, Ont.), No Reservations (Sudbury, Ont.), Quantum Tangle (Yellowknife, N.W.T.), Joy Harjo (Albuquerque, N.M.), and The Jerry Cans (Iqaluit, Nvt.). Between performances, short films from Amanda Strong – Four Faces of the Moon and Hipster Headdress – were screened.

Additional NLFB headliners included Friday’s Yukon Blonde, Saturday’s A Tribe Called Red, and Sunday’s Whitehorse. Spotlight performances throughout the weekend featured those by The Turbans from London, England that includes members from Turkey, Bulgaria, Israel, Iran, Italy and Greece; Canadian supergroup TUNS that includes Chris Murphy (Sloan), Mike O’Neill (The Inbreds), and Matt Murphy (The Super Friends, The Pretty Lights); North Carolina’s Johnathan Byrd and the Pickup Boys; Bixiga 70 from Sao Paulo, Brazil; Montreal’s Rae Spoon; Sudbury’s own Juno-nominated hip hop/pow wow singer Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie; and legendary Canadian children’s entertainer and TV personality Fred Penner.