By Stevie Connor
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Hey folks !
What a summer for entertainment of the live and independent artist kind !
The Beaches, Toronto - Music In The Park Series
Over the last few weeks I have stayed pretty close to home with some amazing artists performing in Toronto and the GTA ( Greater Toronto Area ) and last week was no exception when we took a drive down to the east end, a place we are very familiar with, my wife was born and raised in the Beaches area, a very vibrant and artsy side of the city, so it was to the Beach village that we went, Kew Gardens to be more specific and the Music In The Park series that is held every Sunday in the summer, this being the inaugural year and it's FREE, sponsored by local businesses ( The Beach Village BIA )
They have a fantastic line up all summer with Ken Whitely and Suzie Vinnick already having performed, this weekend coming is The Julian Taylor Band and in a couple of weeks The Young Novelists are there ... lets talk about Suzie first and we'll get on to the other two I mentioned.
I think Suzie is one of the best Blues and Roots artists that I have come across since I came to Canada, she is an absolutely stellar guitar player, and her timing as a bass player is beyond incredible, she plays as a solo artist, as a duo with Rick Fines and Roly Platt and in other combinations now and in the past including having played in Tony D 's band a few years ago as a bass player, you'll know Tony these days as a member of the brilliant multi award winning band MonkeyJunk based in Ottawa.
Suzie has a brand new album in the works and is running a go fund me campaign, she played a couple of songs from the forthcoming release last weekend and they were fantastic, she is on top form both playing and vocally. This will be her first album release in five years and has been much anticipated, she is a multi award winner in a number of genres including blues music, folk Music, songwriting, has TV credits to her name both for commercials and film and is one of the go to people for songwriting collaborations - she has written with Matt Andersen, David Leask, Samantha Martin and many more.
The new album is a Blues and Roots extravaganza featuring a full band and will focus on her different ‘voices’ - as a singer, songwriter and musician - she will be singing, playing electric & acoustic guitars, lap steel and electric bass.
The album is being recorded at The Old Sumbler House in Fenwick, Ontario, the studio is owned by artist Mark Lalama.
Check out her campaign here www.gofundme.com/suzievinnick and visit her website www.suzievinnick.com/
Julian Taylor Band
This week at Kew Gardens it's The Julian Taylor Band, I have been a huge fan for a couple of years since hearing him, an even bigger fan since meeting and interviewing him just this year and can't wait to get on down and see the full band perform, his latest release' Desert Star ' is amazing and should be in your collection.
These shows start at 2pm in the afternoon and go on until 4pm, still enough time to check out all the great local businesses before stopping at a local cafe / restaurant for dinner in a very cool part of Toronto.
Julian has been described as being the keeper of the ' Toronto Sound ', a sound synonymous with the meeting place where all cultures converge, be it European, Carribean, African or indigenous, he carries the mantle extremely well and with honour.
The Young Novelists
Talent oozes from the pores of Laura and Graydon who are The Young Novelists, they are based in Toronto, winners of the 2015 Canadian folk music award for new / emerging artist of the year, and nominated for vocal group of the year.
Exclaim! dubbed their first EP “ unpretentious brilliance ” and their six-piece folk-roots band has won critical acclaim ever since. Stephen Fearing described them as having “ tight arrangements, great dynamics, and good songs with beautiful three-part harmonies ” that is not a bad recommendation right there and their live shows capture audiences with both barnstorming sing alongs and heartbreaking folk ballads.
I have been a fan since seeing performances at showcases at major conferences in Canada and have watched the brilliance of their art as a duo too at a few live gigs.
Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games - Fergus, Ontario
As a Piper the highland games outings are firmly in my blood having attended from a young age marching in front of my Dad;s pipe band holding aloft the trophies he had won, to performing myself all over the world including here in Canada where in 1986 I won the Intercontinental Championships as a member of The Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band at the Antigonish Highland Games in Nova Scotia.
I love the Fergus festival starting Friday 11th August and all weekend long for their spectacle and not only the pipe bands but the many folk bands that play for the crowds on various stages and venues in the town during the day and in the evenings.
Unfortunately the date of the games clashes with the World Pipe Band Championships that are held in Scotland annually along with the week long piping festival on the lead up and many leading Canadian pipers and pipe bands are unable to attend Fergus due to this, it also coincides with the worlds largest Celtic Festival in Lorient, France but the ones that do make the trip to Fergus make it a special occasion every year.
I look forward to catching up with the Rollo's, the famous pipe band family from Toronto along with many other friends who attend every year.
As I said, a major part of the games is the activities that go on day and night that include, highland dancing, heavy events and the musical entertainment.
Highlights this weekend that you should definitely look out for are performances by David Leask, Tony McManus, The Town Pants and The Red Hot Chilli Pipers... I am going to be running from venue to venue trying to catch them all.
Here is the website and maybe I'll see you there on Friday or Saturday, say hello if you do... if I am in the beer tent then mine is a Guinness ! ... Tapadh Leibh ( Thank You ) !!
From Scotland originally now based in Ontario Tony is one of the leading Celtic, Folk guitarists in the world today and always a pleasure to hear him play tunes with triplings , doublings and many other gracenotes just like a piper or fiddler on the guitar which just blows my mind, but he does it with ease ..... virtuoso is the word that comes to mind.
I have known David for a long time and been a fan since first hearing him play at a songwriter event in 2011, now based in Ontario he is originally a Borders lad from Jedburgh, just down the road from where I lived in Peebles before moving to Canada from Scotland, he actually attended the Scouts with my cousin Vincent many moons ago... now there you go ... it is a small world ... David is an amazing performer, multi award winner in many genres and a sought after collaborator for writing new material .... he plays Celtic, Roots and Country tinged music full of soul that defies pigeon holing so I won't ....
The Town Pants
With a decades worth of headlining Roots and Celtic festivals to selling out nights at rock venues Vancouver based The Town Pants own brand of Celtic roots rock rebel spans five albums so far, backed up with a legendary live show that’s garnered them fans internationally from New York to Norway.
The Red Hot Chilli Pipers
Literally the most famous bagpipe band on the planet and a one of a kind ensemble of fabulous musicians.
They are an ensemble consisting of pipers, guitarists, keyboards and drummers formed in Scotland in 2002. They entered and won the BBC talent show When Will I Be Famous? Their name is a play on the American band the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In 2004, the group appeared on the main stage at T in the Park with the headline band, the rock group The Darkness. They appeared on BBC Radio 1 on the Greg James show in July 2013 and The Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Nick Grimshaw in 2014.
The Chillis have never been more in demand for their infectious style of feel good music which appeals right across the age range to people all over the world. They have a pool of the very best musicians from Scotland and across the globe - many holding World Champion titles and all serious players with impressive credentials and qualifications...
amongst previous members of the band is my great buddy Stevie Lawrence ( Seen in this video far right playing the Bouzouki ) who is an award winning musician, composer and producer and he hosts the fab ' Celtic Tapestry ' Show on Blues and Roots Radio, you should definitely check that out.
So you can guess I will be in my element again all weekend long with a touch of Funk, Soul, Rock N Roll, Roots, Celtic music and more bagpipes than you can shake a Beaver Tail at ( and no it's not an animal for non Canadians reading this ) ......
I hope to see some of you at the events .. and as a reminder mine is a Te bheag .. or did I say Guinness ? ... or both ? !
Until next week