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 

SINCE 1954


From darkest

southwestern Ontario,

Ian Bell has none-the-less performed 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 and dances in venues ranging from Roy Thompson Hall to Randy Haskell’s barn.

Ian was first smitten by the folk songs he heard at hootenannies he attended with his parents in the very early ‘60s, and later at the Mariposa Festivals of the early ‘70s. While in his twenties, Ian was lucky enough to be able to find ways to make music with a number of great players who were a generation (or two) senior to him. They included fiddlers Tommy McQueston, and Carl Grexton, stepdancer Alec Mulligan and fiddler/dance caller Jack Hayes, and later,  Mennonite singer Onias Weber. Ian is forever grateful to them for their generosity of spirit and the links they forged in the long chain of traditional music.

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 for the Mariposa Folk Festival.

Over the years Ian’s accompanists and band-mates have included: Oliver Schroer – violin, David Travers-Smith –trumpet/producer,  Geoff Somers – fiddle/mandolin, Anne Lederman – fiddle/ piano Brian Pickell – guitar mandolin, Tom Leighton - piano, James Gordon singer, guitarist

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 repeat visitor 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, The Lucky Sisters 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 returned to his roots in 2009 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. It was a nominee for Canadian Folk Music Awards in the Traditional category.

In 2013 Ian and the gang created Forget me Not When far Away a new CD of traditional songs of the Great Lakes. It too has been nominated for a “Traditional Singer” CFMA award

Ian also performs withThe Sandplains Pickers, Lederman-Bell, The Friends of Fiddler’s Green, Enoch Kent, and The Allison Lupton Band

For bookings contact  Ian at


Right :

With Anne Lederman in

Muddy York.

“It was the ‘80s -

We make no apology”.

Photo by

John Lederman

At The Millrace Festival - 2008.

Photo by Geoff Lewis

Playing fiddle (X back row)

with a few close friends in Viljandi,

Estonia 2005.

Below: Offering sage career advice to Ben Lovett and Winston Marshall of Mumford and Sons. February, 2013

Below: An earnest accordion/ukulele moment with Stuart McLean at Hugh’s Room.

Photo Brian Pickell

Left: Canadian Invasion of New England

Ian was joined by Pressgang Mutiny at the 2015 Sea Music Festival - Mystic Seaport, Mystic Connecticut - Photo by Charlie Ipcars.

Left: Shades and shiny belt buckle in 1977

with Cumberland Wail. Hippie Bluegrass at it’s hippiest

Right: Doin’ the twist with The Young ‘Uns and irish Mythen at the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival 2015 - Photo by Allison Lupton.