Rik Leaf

Rik Leaf

Creative Director, 2005 - Present -  Recording Artist/Producer/Slam Poet, Published Author. Rik has released numerous CDs, worked in TV/Film tours internationally as a solo artist and with Tribe of One. Through his artistic activism he has worked with the UN and the Department of Foreign Affairs.


Website URL: http://www.rikleaf.com

This isn’t just ‘based’ on a true story, this is the real thing, I know...I was there.

It was winter 2008, and not just any old winter, but a Canadian prairie winter; nothing between the howling wind and Winnipeg but two bare ass trees just north of Regina. Marie-Josée and I were wheeling our way north, waaaaaayyyyy north, all the way up to Fort St. John, B.C. where the tour was starting. We had four great shows in Fort St. John before heading down to Grande Prairie, Alberta for a double header at Better Than Fred’s.

I’m just speculating, but it seems entirely possible Jeff Foxworthy wrote a lot of his, ‘you might be a red neck’ jokes in Grande Prairie. You ain’t never seen so many 4x4’s and big screen TVs with sports of every size and colour in your life. Anyway…we load our gear into Fred’s while Toby the chef busted out some serious uptown sizzle and whipped us up a meal that will never be on the menu…off the chart cuisine.

About that time the owner volunteered to lead us back to his place, which is also the band house. We wound our way through Grande Prairies downtown following John’s big ass 4x4 and eventually pull up in front of his idyllic suburban home. John lives upstairs but tells us that we’ll get back from the gig before he does, and because it’s so f**ing cold out, he’ll let us park in his driveway so we can plug our Japanese import in. (I know this is supposed to be a slight…like the car I drive is supposed to say something about me, but in -40 all it means to me is that I get to park 30 feet closer to the door)

We chill out, we get ready, we go to Fred’s, play the show, have a couple drinks and head back to the band house. I’m driving and MJ’s chatting away (thankfully in English so I’m actually catching some of what she’s saying) we pull up in John’s driveway. Our plan is for MJ to grab the guitars and hightail it for the door while I plug the car in. As I’m scrambling around in the snowdrifts digging like a mole looking for an electric hole to plug the extension cord in, Marie-Josée is rattling away at the back door with the keys. Eventually I get the car plugged in and join her at the door. Together we’re pulling and pushing on the lock, jingling and jangling the keys, lifting up, pressing down, I’m talking dirty to the door knob…all the crazy shit you do when something’s not working. Then it dawns on me that John might have given us the wrong keys and this set may be for the side door. Piling even more guitars in MJ’s arms I promise to be right back and dash around the side of the house. I get to the side door slip the key in the lock and voila, success! I let myself in, feeling a bit uncomfortable that I’m in John’s place, especially as there is a dog barking somewhere, but as I tiptoe through the kitchen I console myself with the knowledge that this isn’t technically my fault. If he hadn’t given me the wrong keys I wouldn’t be sneaking through his house. At which point I reach the back door and nothing is familiar. There are no stairs where there were when we left, the door opens a different way…and as I open the door to let MJ and 70 pounds of musical gear crash through the door I suddenly realize, ‘we’re in the wrong f**ing house!’

We started giggling, and shushing each other, which made us giggle harder. We tried to sneak out, but were suddenly unable to turn around without banging guitar cases against door frames and boot cupboards. I’m sure are all the deep resonant overtones sounded like Tree Beard and slough of drunken Ents after a kegger.

We get outside when I realize we can’t just run cause our car is parked in the frigging driveway. As I’m struggling to get the keys out of my pocket Conan bursts through the side door. MJ, showing great athleticism I didn’t even know she possessed just…vanished. With his large, He-man body glistening with he-sweat, nostrils flaring like a Stallion he bellows, ‘WHAT THE F#&! ARE YOU DOING IN MY HOUSE!’

At that moment I remembered a sales lecture I sat through right after high school. The gist of the lecture was, most salesmen are men and most of their door to door sales are with the woman of the house. It was a long drawn out boring lecture that involved points like, ‘the man is usually bigger and psychologically may intimidate the woman,’ so whenever possible the salesman was supposed to stand on a lower step than the woman, subconsciously putting her in the dominant role, blah, blah, blah.
This runs through my head as I try to assume the most unimposing, frail, waif-like artistic form, and begin (inexplicably) to talk in a high, womanly register at 100 miles an hour, ‘Oh I’m sorry sir that was me we have the wrong house and it was a total accident and I didn’t mean to walk through your house,’


‘It was the keys, the keys; we thought the keys were the wrong keys or the side keys…’


‘That’s my car, I know it’s an shitty import and I should be renting domestic but I was flirting with the girl at the counter for fun and she gave me this upgrade,’


I think I was bowing and genuflecting the entire time, making every overture to peace and conciliation I could think of. I backed the car out of Conan’s driveway, pulled in NEXT DOOR, where John actually lived and ran for the door. Of course the keys worked just fine this time and we slipped inside quietly. Neither of us could find the light switch in the entrance way but I headed down the stairs with guitars in both hands as we started to relive the events of the past few minutes in that giddy, post excitement way, which was right about the time I missed the last two steps. Suddenly I took flight, arms outstretched, each clutching a guitar case spread wide like the wings of a majestic swan…until I came down with a sound I’m sure even Conan heard. An Olympic belly flop with a half twist and two droning Ents farumping in each case. Insult, as they say, to injury.

The next day I confess to John what happened. He thinks it’s hilarious and heads down to the club where he proceeds to start telling the staff the story, which is when the bartender says, ‘Oh yeah I heard about that driving to work,’ a confused pause ensued, ‘they were talking about a break and enter on the news, apparently the guy startled the intruders who took off…in a shitty little import.’

Tuesday, 05 October 2010 22:31

Rik Leaf - What If

Watch the video of Rik's latest spoken word piece, 'What If' recorded as it was 'slammed' throughout the month of September, 2010 during Tribe of One's month long Arctic Tour.

What If…

We believed in dreams like when we were kids

And sticks could be transformed into swords

Weathered boards and cardboard floors into pirate ships

That could sail the seven seas

So we could be hero’s and

Win the kiss from a lady’s lips

Discover buried treasured hidden under the X

What if…

We could see ourselves with our own eyes

And not through those of others

Where seeing is believing and believing is just being

More than a collision of intuition

And the fashionable decision

To be or not to be…cool

What if…

The sins of the father’s didn’t define their sons and the daughters

We were able to peer out from behind

the excuses and abuses

Heal the scars

running through our hearts and minds

And find a future to call our own

And leave their past behind

What if…

We found our voice and in the finding

found a choice

A way to share what’s brought us to this place

And in the telling of our tales transport the ones who hear

To feel what we feel - To see what we see…

And with our colours and sounds

Transform the world to one where our story can be heard ..and we can be found

What if…

We learned about ourselves for ourselves

Taught ourselves so we take our dreams down off the shelves

Define success and failure on our own

Instead of buying into the big idea

That the only way to be our best

Is to be better than the worst in someone else

What if…

I am me and you are you

But we combine our strength and push back against the weight

Of all the sameness that suffocates

Become the exception and not the rule

Raise the sails of our pirate ships

To catch the magic in the wind

Let the freak flag of freedom fly

as we ride the sea again

What if we would…what if we do

what if…that’s what I asked you


Tuesday, 05 October 2010 05:26

Educational Creative Clinic Reviews

"The week long tour of the South Slave was a terrific way to start our year. Your energy, enthusiasm, ability to connect with the students along with the high-calibre of your performance as a group helped each of our schools get off to a great start. "There is, as I've said before, something really special about Tribe of One. Your performances both moved and inspired us all. As performers you connect with your audience in a way that is unique. You tease all our senses through your performance and what you leave behind is a warm memory and the desire to open the floodgates of our own creativity. Your workshops inspired our youth and helped feed their creative spirits and your performances left memories which will last a life time. Who could ask for more....Mahsi Cho" Brent Kaulback, Regional Director, South Slave District School District, NWT, 2010


"Tribe of One was a great day long event at the start of Lutsel K'e Dene School's 2010 year. Students were challenged and engaged by workshops focusing on dance, art and story. The workshops demanded risk-taking, courage and creativity from the students and they stepped up! Once class participated in Buffy's dance for the community which was very special for students and parents. All the students showed courage and committment to their part in the dance and they were proud and so were the parents. The community concert brought almost the entire community into the school to join with the students to enjoy stimulating music, beautiful dance and spontaneous artwork! I had so many elders and community members saying what a fabulous concert it was and how much they enjoyed the time out from work to share this with their children. Thanks very much for your visit to our community and we certainly hope to see you again next year!!" Sheila Cavanagh, Principal. Lutsel K'e Dene School

"The students, staff and community here at Deninu School, in Fort Resolution, wish to send our gratitude for giving us an exceptionally memorable performance this past 22 September 2010!   During our last full staff meeting it was with unanimous agreement that this year’s ‘Tribe of One’ presentation was student centered, culturally connected and simply ‘a step in the right direction from last year’. Along with the refined performance itself, we all agreed that both students and staff gained a clearer understanding and appreciation for individualism and the talents that each person may hold.  As you know, we are your most loyal fans and continue to promote your ‘awesome entertainment’ (as one student said) long after your departure.  The students, staff and community cherished your performance and look forward to your presence once again in the not-so-far future." Dan Summers, Principal, Fort Resolution Deninu School


"Tribe of One delivers far more, and what they deliver resonates with the kids far more than their blurb captures. In their workshops and in concert, Tribe of One went far beyond entertaining our students (though they did that too.) Their high-impact visit gave a real boost to the fine and performaning arts in our school, and I sudder to think that we might have missed an amazing opportunity had I been too quick to hit the delete button."                  Geoff Bueger, Principal, Princess Alexandra School, Hay River, NWT, 2010

“We were blessed to have Tribe of One in our territory. You brought music, art and dance to those of us starved for this form of entertainment and all art forms were of the highest caliber. You are all living examples of the Dene principles of discovering your talent and sharing it with others. Without exception, I have fielded only positive comments from Principals, teachers, students and parents. We are eager to work with you to return next year.”    Brent Kaulback, Regional Director, South Slave District School District, NWT, 2009

“Last Fall, the students at Heart Lake Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario, came together to experience Tribe of One, little did I know that the Tribe would take the school by storm! From the moment the group walked on to the stage, the students were entranced. It is one thing to follow the curriculum. It is another to teach its worth in our lives. Rik Leaf and Tribe of One did just that! I highly recommend them to other schools.” Gretchen Day, Heart Lake Secondary School, Brampton, ON, 2003

On behalf of Sydney Academy I would like to thank you for your presentation to our music, art and drama students today. We really appreciate the message in your presentation, especially at a time when the arts are under siege as governmental agencies attempt to balance their books at the expense of creative thought and art. Coming from a region of the country that is experiencing full force, the downturn of the economy and collapse of all primary industries, the arts are providing hope, especially to students struggling to find their voice. Your presentation has been invaluable to them, as you have encouraged them to imagine, create and persevere.  Verne Lorway, Music Director, Sydney Academy, Cape Breton, 2006

”Last year Tribe of One performed at Sussex Regional High School. The music was amazing and touching, combined with the artist's painting and the creative dance I found it to be a very enlightening and cultural experience. I thought it was awesome that students were exposed to this sort of experience. I considered it to be the best presentation I have ever seen throughout my entire High School career.”                                                          Jon MacNeill, President SRHS Student Council, Sussex, NB, 2004


Tuesday, 05 October 2010 05:04

Rik Leaf - CD Reviews

Reviews for 'Tribe of One' Released 2009

"Rik Leaf’s latest CD, ‘Tribe of One’ is one of those rare CDs that is both artistically excellent and spiritually uplifting. It is music that resonates emotionally, connects the listener to the meaning of community, and provides a window into the soul of our nation. As the Member of Parliament for Winnipeg North since 1997, I have witnessed the strength that flows from cultural diversity and from the presence of talented artists passionate about their own community. Rik Leaf is one of those artists and it is his passion to connect music with the history and identity of a neighbourhood that has had the effect of empowering others and effecting positive change.  It was Rik who saw the potential for building community through the arts and who was instrumental in establishing the North End Artists Collective. Rik’s latest CD is an important contribution to communities everywhere like Winnipeg's North End. It is also an invaluable addition to Canada's music scene with its beautifully written lyrics and instrumentals that create an honest depiction of our nation's history and its peoples' struggles, from our First Nations' communities, to our French/English duality, to our ethnocultural diversity.  I don't know of any other effort that has so completely captured the essence of Canada. From the beat of the powwow drum in "Hope" and "Silver Lining", to the haunting melodies in "Lonely" and "Blue Skies" depicting the vastness and beauty of our nation, to the bilingual songs of "Je Me Souviens" and "Beau Sommeil", to the typically Canadian cynicism in "Democracy in Drag," this CD just about says it all in terms of Canadian heritage and identity. Every song resonates esthetically and emotionally but none more than "The Maple Leaf" which ranks right up there with "This Land Is Your Land" as a nationally recognized trademark song of Canada."  Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Member of Parliament, Winnipeg North

"Rik Leaf is a category 4 hurricane slamming into the coast of Canadian Culture. Rik's latest album is a wonderful, eclectic, adventurous stomp. The songs radiate a blended atmosphere and a unique multi-cultural experience...a modern Canadian anthem!"  Karla Adolphe, Jacob & Lily

Rik Leaf's latest album, Tribe of One, is a collage of musical styles as varied as the Canada it celebrates in the opening track, “The Maple Leaf,” a toe-tapping, coast-to-coast road-trip of personal reflection.  Any hope of easy patriotism and sentiment, though, is soon dispelled by the next track, tellingly titled “Hope,” a blues song about the perils of trusting in the (White) Man which appropriately marries slide guitar and harmonica with First-Nations chanting and drumming.  This juxtaposition sets the tone for the rest of the album, which examines the struggle for intimacy amid conditions of estrangement and persistent longing for home, of both “dark night [and] silver lining.”  These songs are at once personal and political, detailing the struggle to find and maintain community in a complex world of social and personal complications. Built around the musical core of Rik (slide/acoustic guitar, piano, ocarina) and Marie-Josée Dandeneau, (upright/fretless bass) a collective of Winnipeg-based musicians add inflections of East-Coast, Québecois, and First Nations elements to a broad range of musical derivations, from jazz and folk to funk and blues. Rik Leaf has carefully positioned himself as a songwriter on the margins speaking hope diffusing joy to the disenfranchised and dispirited.  This album represents a maturing of that voice and a musical presence that gives us ears to hear." Brent Nelson, Ph.D. English Dept. University of Saskatchewan

"Rik Leaf has a new CD out!! It's hard to imagine an album being more Canadian than this one....and the music is top-notch. Folksy, bluesy, rootsy...and you can dance to it! Rik leaves you thinking, too. Check it out, friends, this is good music!!"  Paula Spurr, Blue Grass Orphans

"A multi-layered slice of Canadiana - while others try to divide the country, Rik has captured the sound of Canadian unity."  Broose Tulloch, 92.9 KICK FM


Reviews for 'now is the winter of our discontent' Released 2006

“Buoyed by a swooping, elastic voice that recalls Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield, Leaf dabbles in Cletic-sounding folk-rock, piano-based acoustic gems, funky dance jams and straight-ahead guitar rockers, all with a level of gutsy aplomb and intensity that belies his background as an activist. His songwriting chops are finely honed, he knows his way around a hook, and the back-up musicians he surrounds himself with all rise to meet his highly set standards. If this is winter to Rik Leaf, we can’t wait for the first signs of spring!” **** David Schmeichel

If I were to wait until I had formulated an appropriate description of all the warm, sad, ironic, exultant, comedic, quiet, relieved, grandiose, iconoclastic, patriotic and happy feelings that have been my companions since my first few moments with this new record, far too much time would pass before I could tell you how vastly proud I am of you, and how deeply satisfying it is to hear this incarnation of these ideas of yours. Oh, the way you go.  Brent (from Friends & Fans Forum)

Can I say...I opened up your album this morning and listened to it and it kicks ass...Especially track 1 and track 6, in my opinion, but i love them all. This morning I was super depressed and when I woke up and I took the liner notes and lyrics of the album up to my room and when I read them, they were so much like beautiful poetry and I felt every word that was there.  Like FELT, on a soul level.  I bawled like a baby and felt cleansed. I love your music, Dana (from Friends & Fans Forum)

A great opus of which you must be good and stoked ... i love the way the unsuspecting listener is set upon by the ensuing anthems like a desert creature upon a rocky ledge, drunken nay dulled by the sun's unrelenting morning splendor only to find its swift merciful end in the talons of a winged predator.  Grand tones guit and bass .. and retro scape / feel. It betrays grandeur beyond itself.                            Brian Wiebe, Solar Nest Arts, Kelowna, B.C.


Reviews for in 2 deep 2 stand, Released 2000

“As front man of Winnipeg-based Tribe of One, which seeks to combine a fusion of musical styles with professional dance to create a stunning live show, Rik Leaf is most clearly a musical innovator. Given the inviting space of a whole solo album, Rik imaginatively conjures a variety of edgy sounds that are as novel as ZARA’s cover design, which makes this reviewers task none too easy! Showing his familiarity with a whole range of styles within the musical spectrum, Rik experiments with the likes of rock, techno, soul/funk, dance, tribal and more. Lyrics, too, are drenched in Leaf’s own, poetic originality, as he transparently throws out spiritual thoughts, ideas and heart-inspired prayers. ‘Rescue Me’ is an ambient shuffle graced by gentle piano. The following ‘Simple Answer’ is an ethereal cry from Rik’s soul, exploring the deep meaning of love. Then there’s ‘Prepare the Way’ a brooding and intense piece combining strong percussion with searing guitar, and the more joyful ‘So Obvious,’ given texture by way of its quirky accordion vibes. Other less-obvious tones adding richness to this venture include Andrew Smith’s harmonica and mandolin (Andrew also provides first-class production) slide guitar and (as well as programming) a good half-dozen or more traditional forms of percussion. Musically this album twists and turns from track to explorative track. The result is not a pretentious and inharmonious melee of noises, but an intriguing 60 minute tapestry of true diversity/ingenuity. Tom Lennie, Gold USA.com

Tuesday, 05 October 2010 04:55

Tribe of One - Live Performance Reviews

“As a public art gallery, we were intrigued by Tribe of One’s concept of bringing together music, dance, poetry and visual arts.  We hoped the performance would complement our programming with creativity and ingenuity.  The event far exceeded our expectations and hopes.  The energy, passion, talent and commitment from all the performers in the group were remarkable.  Each individual displayed such intense enthusiasm and knowledge for their specific contribution, that when together the effect was explosive.  How four individuals could manage to keep our eyes, ears and minds moving so intensely for such an extended period of time is unfathomable to me. The gallery was thrilled to be the host of such an exciting event and to be responsible for bringing such an exceptional and inspiring group to the community.  It augmented our focus on celebrating the multiculturalism of Canada beautifully.  The feedback we have received has been uniformly glowing and we have already had requests from those in attendance and from those who missed the performance to bring the group back!”                                                      Maura Broadhurst, Curator, Latcham Gallery

“After seeing videos of Tribe of One on YouTube, I was already sold... but I had no idea that these videos would pale in comparison to the live performance. I was actually moved to tears during your set, stricken with emotion at the beauty of not only of the music and the visuals, but of the message they so effortlessly convey. I have never seen a group that could, at once, be both joyous and driving, yet dark and haunting. The amount of sound coming off the stage was incredible, and the dancers complimented that sound perfectly. I heard nothing but rave reviews from the crowd. The most memorable performance of my weekend.” Ken Jaworski, Artistic Director, Brandon Folk Music and Art Festival

“Through your involvement with Aboriginal Music Program, you have joined with an elite group of rising stars representing the best and brightest Aboriginal recording artists from across the country. It is my pleasure to extend my support, encouragement and sincere best wishes to Tribe of One towards its upcoming CD release and performances across Canada. Eric Robinson, Minister of Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport

"‘What a unique show! Tribe of One will captivate you with music, dance and visual art which represent the love and pride these artists share for their country.      Lynn Munilla, Artistic Director, Festival du Voyageur

Monday, 04 October 2010 05:21

Discover Tribe of One

What We DoAnchor

Since its inception in 1998, Tribe of One has developed a reputation for creating technically innovative, highly adaptable, cross-cultural entertainment that engages audiences through an amazing blend of Sound, Physical Movement & Dance, Performance Painting and Slam Poetry.

Sound - Rik Leaf & Marie-Josee Dandeneau, play over a dozen instruments between them to create the thunderous tribal sound. A fusion of instruments from indigenous cultures around the world layers First Nations pow-wow & hand drums with didgeridoo and ocarinas over Rik’s percussive slide/acoustic guitar and MJ’s soulful fretless/upright bass.

Physical Movement and Dance - Anishinabe First Nations dancer and choreographer, Buffy Handel, sets emotions in motion through a combination of traditional and modern dance styles, regalia and costumes, fusing hoop, jingle and fancy shawl choreography with salsa, samba and Brazilian capoeira.

Performance Painting – Audiences are swept up into the creation process as award winning painter and performance artist, Tina Newlove, creates stunning visual images, as an empty canvas is infused with the swirl of creative energy on and off the stage.

Storytelling – A master storyteller, Rik’s socially conscious lyrics, slam poetry, instrumental soundscapes and spontaneous narratives transport audiences through the ancient art of storytelling to a world of imagination and wonder.

Who We Are

Tribe of One is a collective of world-class performers and producers who fuse the rich heritage of old world cultures with modern artistic expression. With deep mutual respect and a sense of adventure, Tribe of One embraces artists from a variety of disciplines and cultures to create wildly unique, one-of-a-kind performances.

Core Artists of our Creative Process

Rik Leaf – Founder/Creative Director, 1998 - Present -  Recording Artist/Producer/Slam Poet, Rik has released numerous CDs, hosted the Artist Next Door TV show, he tours internationally as a solo artist and with Tribe of One. Through his artistic activism he has worked with the UN and the Department of Foreign Affairs.


Marie-Josee Dandeneau – Musical Director, 2005 – Present - French Canadian, multi-instrumental musician from St. Boniface, Winnipeg, Manitoba, MJ specializes in double bass and electric fretless bass, recording and performing internationally with artists from around the world.


Tina Newlove - Principle Visual Artist, 1998 - Present - Graduating with distinction from McMaster University, Tina's paintings have been accepted into over seventy juried exhibitions, receiving numerous awards including an Award of Merit from the Society of Canadian Artists in 2010. She's been with Tribe from the beginning.


Buffy Handel - Principle Dancer, 2008 - Present - Originally from a remote community in northern Manitoba, Buffy has become one of Canada's premier First Nations dancers and choreographers, touring internationally as a presenter and performer. Buffy is the founder of the Aboriginal School of Dance in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Sunday, 26 September 2010 22:39

NWT Tour by the Numbers

Northwest Territory Tour by the Numbers

Over a 21 day, three - week period in September /10 the 4 performers and 1 sound tech from Tribe of One produced 16 concerts and lead 112 creative workshops, impacting 1000's of students in 16 separate schools and communities. Never have we accomplished so much in so short a time. The names and faces may blur into one massive memory, but the tour experience was marked by a number of amazing moments with many exceptional students and staff.

As our government continues to sacrifice funding for arts programs in schools and regions across the country, the need for passionate, talented individuals to rise up and provide innovative grassroots solutions is greater than ever. Tribe of One has always been at the forefront of developing creative solutions and partnerships that allow us to work on issues that affect the quality and dignity of life. We were honored, (and humbled) by the spirit and determination we discovered in communities across the north, and mark it a rare privilege to be able to spend a month sharing our stories with theirs. It really is true...we're better together!

Page 4 of 4

Satisfied Customers