It’s impossible not to fall in love with this city during the Halifax Jazz Festival (page 22). From July 12 to 16, music fills the city. Local talents riff with international stars in intimate club shows, free afternoon concerts have a relaxed community vibe, while hundreds jam the festival tent to groove their brains out at the nightly main-stage shows.
The Halifax Waterfront Main Stage is home to the festival box office, and the centre of the action. The free matinee shows are a great way to get a sense what JazzFest is about, but things really get hot in the evening. Things start on July 12 with Jo Mersa Marley, grandson of reggae legend Bob Marley. He’s not getting by on DNA, though—performing since age 4, he fuses pop, hip-hop, and dancehall influences. Rising reggae talent Jesse Royal shares the bill.
One of this year’s biggest highlights is the return to Halifax of Canadian roots-rock legends Blue Rodeo on July 14. With a mellow mood and a huge catalogue of sing-along classics, these guys are legends of the summer festival circuit, and sure to keep people dancing until the wee smalls.
Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals follow them on July 15. Brandon Paak Anderson, better known by his stage name Anderson Paak, is an American singer-songwriter, rapper, producer and virtuoso drummer, best known for his work on Dr. Dre’s Grammy-nominated album Compton. His artsy musical range runs the gamut: R&B, ‘70s soul, hip-hop, funk, and rock. Curious about the future of hip-hop, and music in general? This is the show for you. Acclaimed local singer/songwriter Reeny Smith opens.
TAKE ME TO CHURCH
The concerts at St. Matthew’s Church (page EC6) on Barrington Street are always JazzFest highlights for musical purists, and 2017 will be no different. Jane Bunnett & Maqueque start the series on July 12. A multiple Juno winner, Bunnett has turned her bands into showcases for Canadian, American, and Cuban talent. She’s a versatile flutist, saxophonist, and pianist who constantly explores Afro-Cuban melodies—little wonder she’s a darling of the Canadian jazz scene.
The temperature keeps rising on July 13 when Dr. Lonnie Smith performs. The undisputed master of the Hammond B-3 organ has been performing for 50+ years, recording with the biggest names in jazz, blues, and R&B giants in the industry.
On July 14, songwriter Andy Shauf brings his concept album The Party to the stage: a “tightly narrated 38 minutes, all set to ornate arrangements of fuzzed-out guitars, string sections, clarinets, and dreamy synths, all draped over delicate piano, acoustic guitars,
and rainy-day drums.”
If an intimate club show is more your speed, The Carleton (page 65) on Argyle Street is your ideal base for the festival. This stylish, music-friendly bar hosts the late-night stage (11:15pm start time); the lineup includes Keith Hallett (July 12), Kirsten Olivia (July 13), Willem Paynter Hardbop Collective (July 14), and Roxy & the Underground Soul Sound (July 15). More of an early-to-bed type? Check out the Carleton’s Groove Stage featuring 8pm shows with The Brood (July 13), The Zim Gars (July 14), and Talea (July 15).