Beaches International Jazz Festival’s virtual celebrations begin this week

The Free Label perform at last year's StreetFest as part of the Beaches International Jazz Festival. They will be among musicians taking part in this year's virtual festival which starts on Friday, July 17.

The 32nd annual Beaches International Jazz Festival will be going virtual this month, and opening night is on Friday, July 17.

Due to the decision by the City of Toronto to cancel permits for large gatherings this summer to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the festival had to alter its plans for this year.

While it had been a Beach tradition for decades to have jazz performances in local parks and along Queen Street East during the festival, this year’s celebration will be online with free streaming of musical performances and lectures from July 17 to 26.

The virtual festival, which can be accessed at, will see performances from more than 300 artists from Canada, the United States and Cuba.

“In times like these, where we may feel more alone than ever, our hope is to bring a little bit of life, fun and happiness to homes throughout the GTA and beyond,” said Claire Chilelli of the jazz festival in a release. “While we may not be celebrating and enjoying the Festival together physically, we will still be brought together by the power of music.”

To celebrate the festival’s more than 30 years in the community, the opening night event is titled the Beaches Jazz Festival Favourites and will feature a tribute to some of the great performers who have appeared over the decades at the festival.

The show streaming for July 17 begins at 7:30 p.m. and will see performances by Eddie and Quincy Bullen, KC Roberts and the Live Revolution, Johannes Linstead, AIZA, Aj Croece, Dr. Draw and Tyler Shaw

On July 18, it will be Groovin’ In The Livin’ Room, with streaming starting at 7:30 p.m. Performers will be Roy Davis Jr. (Chicago House Legend), John Kong (Do Right Music), DJ Yogi (United Soul), DJ Quesquescet (No Funk Records), Farbsie Funk (Make It Funky Collective), and more

The festival’s popular Latin Carnival goes virtual on July 19, with streaming starting at 6:30 p.m. The evening will see a salsa class with Steps Dance Studio, and performances by William Vivanco, Rice and Mango, Yanni Borrel, Cucalame Danzonera, Los Hijos De Tuta, Sol de Cuba, The Imbayakunas and Los Moralitos.

From July 20 to 22, the festival will present its Listen and Learn sessions, music themed trivia and lectures.

On July 20, musicologist Dr. Mike Daley’s 90-minute video lecture on the Joni Mitchell Story will be available for streaming. The video covers Mitchell’s career from her start in Saskatchewan through her rise to stardom and will feature vintage clips and recording. The streaming of the lecture will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

There will be a Listen and Learn session with Errol Nazareth, host of CBC’s Big City, Small World, on July 21 starting at 7:30 p.m. Nazareth will chat with local artists Jenna Marie and Jay Yoo. The 30-minute session will feature conversation and music from Marie and Yoo, who will perform music from their album Here, Now.

Also on July 21, Beaches Jazz Festival Artistic Director Bill King will discuss the Juno Award-winning LP Museum Pieces by Moe Koffman in 1979. Koffman and his trio were inspired by Royal Ontario Museum collections and how they worked with curators at the ROM. King will be discussing the album with present curators at the ROM. Streaming begins for Beaches Jazz Celebrates Museum Pieces, Moe Koffman at 8 p.m.

As well on July 21, there will be Trivia Night with Quiz Coconut starting for streaming at 7:30 p.m. Participants are invited to test their music and general knowledge in a fun and interactive session on Zoom. There will be prizes to be won including a Muskoka Brewery Prize Pack and some Beaches Jazz Festival swag. The Zoom info on the meeting will be released shortly on the jazz festival’s website.

On July 22, Dr. Mike Daley’s lecture on The Motown Story will be available for streaming from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Daley will tell the story of Motown featuring music from The Miracles, The Supremes, The Jackson 5 and more.

The virtual jazz festival will also bring back its popular Sounds of Leslieville and Riverside Block Party on July 23.

Streaming of ‘Sing’ Stage performances begin and 6 p.m. Featured artists will be FreePlay, Jordana Talsky, Alissa Vox Raw, Pressgang Mutiny, Ault Sisters, Yonge Guns, Cadence, and kith & kin.

Streaming for the Block Party starts at 7:30 p.m. and there will be performances by The Free Label, Sam Polley and the Old Tomorrows, the Toronto All-Star Big Band, A Fellow Ship, Stacey Renee, Trainwreck, Steph La Rochelle, Command Sisters and Goodbye Honolulu.

On July 24, which would normally be about the time the popular Street Fest on Queen Street East, brings tens of thousands of music fans to the Beach, the virtual festival will stream Street Fest Favourites starting at 7 p.m.

Performing will be Stacey Renee, Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost, The Imbayakunas, The Free Label, Dr. Draw, Soukustek, The Chicago Project, Yani Borrel, the Toronto All-Star Band, Jerome Tucker Band, Sol de Cuba, Roz De La Cruz, The Sidewalk Crusaders, The Accolades, and Abraxas: The Santana Tribute.

Wrapping up the virtual festival will be the OLG Weekend Series on July 25 and 26. Show streaming both days starts at 7 p.m.

On July 25, performers will be Alex Pangman, The J&B Kings, Laila Biali, The Joy Lapps Project, Andy Kim, Wavey Abersold, and Sean Jones and the Rightous Echo.

On July 26, performers will be Diana Salvatore, After Funk, Loony, Marcus Anderson, Julian Taylor, The Soul Motivators, and JP Saxe.

For more info on this year’s virtual Beaches International Jazz Festival, please visit

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