Beaches International Jazz Festival preview

The 27th Beaches International Jazz Festival has expanded to include an extra weekend of music in honour of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.

Running from July 10 to 26, the festival will now cover three weekends at Woodbine Park, as well as the popular Streetfest that shuts down Queen Street East for three nights of live music along the Beach’s commercial strip.

The opening weekend will feature a Pan Am party at Woodbine Park. Russian progressive jazz group Arsenal kick off the evening – and

Melbourne Ska Orchestra
Melbourne Ska Orchestra

the festival – on Friday, July 10, followed by hometown funk group KC Roberts and the Live Revolution. Saturday, July 11 will feature the 26-member Melbourne Ska Orchestra, the Toronto-based La Gran Colombia Orchestra, lively Streetfest favourite and electric violin wailer Dr. Draw, Toronto Latin jazz group CaneFire, and more. Sunday, July 12 will be rounded out with performers including the Lula All Stars from Toronto’s Lula Lounge, the Caribbean-inspired Bustamento, and local soul singer Andria Simone.

The action picks up again the following weekend, July 17 to 19, in Woodbine Park. Joaquin

Dr. Draw during a past Streetfest. BEACH METRO NEWS FILE PHOTO: Jon Muldoon
Dr. Draw during a past Streetfest.

Nunez Hidalgo will join with Son de Cuba to heat up the stage on Friday, followed by Streetfest party crew God Made Me Funky. Highlights on Saturday include Tanzanian-Canadian Alysha Brilla, followed by Canadian blues group the Blackburn Brothers. Closing out the night will be US blues musician Chris Thomas King. Sunday performers include banjo wizard Jayme Stone, whose unlikely The Other Side of the Air project blends the bluegrass instrument with Indian, Persian, and West African music. Ogguere will close out the main stage with its Cuban sounds. While the main stage is running, an a capella stage will highlight vocal talent.

Lest the foodies feel left out of the proceedings, the Taste of Jazz returns to Woodbine Park on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 21 and 22, offering live jazz and a full lineup of food trucks. New this year is the Farmers’ Market Jazz Series, which will bring live music to the East Lynn Farmers’ Market on July 9 and 16, and to the Leslieville Farmers’ Market on July 12 and 19.

Beachers take note: Streetfest will run from 7 to 11 p.m. from Thursday, July 23 to Saturday, July 25 on Queen Street East from Woodbine to Beech Avenue. Everything from calypso to blues and Cajun to big band jazz will be heard along Queen, with a mix of returning favourites and newcomers. Make plans now to park the car early and invite friends over to take in the sounds of summer (or, for the agoraphobics in the neighbourhood, make plans to head to the cottage).

CaneFire PHOTO: Kevin Thom
PHOTO: Kevin Thom

And finally, from Friday, July 24 to Sunday, July 26, the main stage in Woodbine Park will highlight more of the best in jazz, Latin, blues, and more. CaneFire returns on Friday, followed by blues guitarist and singer Larry McCray. On Saturday, Chris Whiteley and Diana Braithwaite get things started at noon. Quebec gypsy jazz group The Lost Fingers will be joined by guitarist John Jorgenson, and indie soul group The Boom Booms close out the evening. The Heavyweights Brass Band kick things off on Sunday. Festival artistic director Bill King’s Rhythm Express are followed by festival closers the Lula All Stars. Youth ensembles, Latin groups, and big bands will be featured on side stages throughout the weekend.

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