Downtown Kitchener may not be a jewel, but it does take on something of a sparkle in the summer months thanks to a host of entertaining events, including plenty of live music. This weekend is a case in point: Our World Festival of Music will fill the air around city hall with a variety of international sounds Friday and Saturday nights.
Some international cuisine and some Fair Trade crafts add to the travel-the-world-without-leaving-home feeling.
Now in its fifth year, the festival is part of Kitchener’s annual TAPESTRY Celebrations of Diversity. An expanded version will greet visitors this year, notes the festival’s artistic director.
“Our World has grown incrementally over the five years, and this a great way to celebrate the fifth anniversary,” said Lawrence McNaught of this year’s lineup.
While the festival officially runs from 7 to 10 p.m. both nights, the whole thing gets rolling Friday at 6 p.m. with a bonus performance by the New Horizons Band, which will provide a jazzy feel off the start.
The band will be followed at 7 p.m. by the Macondo Quartet, a Latin fusion quartet featuring three local musicians and a Chilean saxophonist.
The quartet’s mix of local and international players reflects what McNaught was aiming for in programming the performances, all of which take place in the civic square in front of the city hall.
“I’ve tried to not only to bring nationally-known artists, but also to provide opportunities for local acts,” he explained.
Following Macondo will be deft blues guitarist and singer James Anthony and his band. Now based in Hamilton, Anthony is an accomplished player who hasn’t always got the recognition he deserves – “it’s always a great show.”
The evening’s headliner will be Tony Gouveia, a Portuguese fado singer – fado being the urban folk music of Lisbon.
Born in the capital city of Portugal, Gouveia came to Canada at the age of 13. His father’s love of fado kept him exposed to the music of his roots, ultimately leading to his decision to become a fadista (fado singer).
“He’s been called the new voice of fado. He’s taken the traditional music and made it less folky, with more a popular sound,” McNaught said of Gouveia’s sound.
For Saturday, the music will be preceded by a belly dancing display organized by Down Hips Dance Studio, after which The Bosswich takes the stage.
A Waterloo-based sextet of young performers, The Bosswich plays an upbeat mix of Jamaican-style ska and punk-influenced riffs.
“They’ll start Saturday night off with a bang. They’re a lot of fun, with a real jump.”
The music then takes a turn from brass to strings. The Sultans of String, to be precise.
The JUNO-nominated band has been called “Canada’s ambassadors of musical diversity,” recognizing the sonic mix of Spanish flamenco, Arabic folk, Cuban rhythms and French manouche Gypsy-jazz that is their sound.
The Sultans’ new album, Yalla Yalla, is up for Instrumental Album of the Year at this year’s JUNO awards.
Capping the evening will be Amanda Martinez, a Toronto-based performer who for three consecutive years starting in 2007 was nominated for Latin Jazz Artist of the Year at Canada’s National Jazz Awards.
Her debut album Sola won for Best World Music Album.
Born in Canada to a Mexican father and South African mother, she’ll be travelling to South Africa next week to perform in concerts related to the FIFA World Cup.
The Our World Festival of Music runs June 4 and 5, 7-10 p.m. Performances take place in the civic square, which will also be home to food and craft vendors. The Multicultural Cinema Club will be showing music movies inside the city hall rotunda. Admission is free.