Toronto, Harbourfront Centre Summer Festivals – Music Overview

Toronto, Canada – The influence of Cuban music styles on popular African World music is revealed with the first Toronto appearances by acclaimed Afro-Cuban Senegalese dance band Orchestra Baobab (July 10 – $15) and Guinea West Africa’s Bembeya Jazz (August 22). The melodic diversity of The Americas in song and rhythm chants its full potential at free concerts throughout the summer. Latin music’s fusion fire heats up with first Toronto appearances by Colombia’s Petrona Martinez (July 11) and Cuban-American Bobi Céspedes (August 3). The Americas musical influence abroad plays out in first Toronto appearances by Algerian vocalist/guitarist Souad Massi (July 27), Congolese vocalist/guitarist So Kalmery (July 25) and the live band experience of UK DJ/Producer Richard Blairs’ Sidestepper project (August 2). All concert events are free admission.

The songs and stories North America’s music heritage are highlighted throughout the summer (selected performers listed). Acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriters Veda Hille, The Brothers Cosmoline, Bob Snider and legendary Winnipeg Folk artist Leonard Podolak (with The Duhks) sculpt tunes at Anthems & Icons (June 27-29). Canada Day: Canada Then & Now features a wide diversity of Canadian song with performances by Jian Ghomeshi, Pamela Morgan and La Vent du Nord. The Labatt Blues Festival (July 4-6) captures the Blues’ enduring influence with performances by Americans Corey Harris and The 5×5, Fruteland Jackson and Wes Mackey in addition to Canadian icons Jack de Keyzer and Rita Chiarelli. Native Blues is represented by George Leach and the Rez Bluez tenth anniversary revue. The first Sol Soulstice (June 20-22) festival features classic Soul artists like Detroit’s Bettye LaVette (June 21) and newer Soul artists like American Lizz Wright (June 22) who stir the Soul with Gospel, R&B and Funk alongside Toronto’s wealth of talented Soul artists.

World music in The America’s is expressed in numerous genres at World’s Fare: The Americas Now (July 11-13 and July 18-20). Some of Montreal’s most innovative groups like Convoy Cubano, Lotus Ensemble and Monica Freire join Toronto’s Maza Meze, Tantra, Swamperella and Sault Ste. Marie fiddle champion Pierre Schryer for a tour-de-force of Canada’s impressive musical melange. Francophonix (July 25-27) displays the heritage of the North American Francophonie with performances by American Rosie Ledet & The Zydeco Playboys and Montreal’s Dobacaracol. The Francophone diaspora widens to African with performances by Algerian Souad Massi and Congolese guitarist/vocalist So Kalmery.

Caribbean sounds and song predominate at Guinness Island Soul (August 1-4) where Canadian Reggae icons like Errol Blackwood and Leejahn jump up with Soca artist Trevor B and Toronto groups Moses Revolution and Kalabash to express a full range of Island rhythms. Canada’s largest South Asian festival, Masala! Mehndi! Masti! (August 8-10), continues to present innovative South Asian artists exploring their musical heritage through a North American context. Toronto electronic outfit Lal are joined by Montreal hip-hop artist Spek and R&B performer Deesha in addition to a performance by Washington D.C. contemporary-classical sitarist/vocalist Meghana Bhat. Artist details for Gobsmacked! a revel of offbeat expression (August 15-17) and Fresh (August 29 – September 1) to be announced in June.

The Toronto Music Garden hosts an array of outstanding free concerts presented by City of Toronto Parks and Recreation and Harbourfront Centre from June 26 through September 14. Returning for its fourth season, Summer Music in the Garden showcases some of Canada’s most outstanding classical musicians and dancers, Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Sunday’s at 4 p.m. The concert season opens Thursday June 26 with Cellodrama II: Eight cellists, led by Simon Fryer. Internationally renowned Canadian artists featured include: violinists Erika Raum, Scott St. John and Jasper Wood; violists Max Mandel and Kathleen Kajioka; master kanun player George Sawa; Flamenco dancer Esmeralda Enrique; and the Evergreen Club Gamelan. The Toronto Music Garden is a City of Toronto park, located at 475 Queens Quay West. It is wheelchair-accessible and open year-round. A full performance schedule is available upon request.

For information on all of the Harbourfront Centre Summer Festivals the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit online at Tickets for the July 10 Orchestra Baobab Pier Party can also be purchased by calling 416-973-4000. Harbourfront Centre Summer Festivals take place at Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.