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A world of music is a hometown affair

Saturday evening’s musical lineup includes, clockwise from top left, Big Band Theory, Joni NehRita, Jojo Worthington, Sandy MacDonald and Tannis Slimmon. [Submitted]

You don’t have to travel far to take in a world of music. And this year, neither will the performers, as the 14th annual Our World Festival of Music draws on local talent to present a global musical kaleidoscope.

Adding to the flavour again this year, the event is joined by the King StrEATery Food Truck Festival in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region.

The free family-friendly event is scheduled for Saturday (June 15) starting at 4 p.m. outside the Kitchener city hall, with the music beginning at 5 p.m.

The two festivals joined together for the first time last year, a combination that was well received, says Our World’s artistic director, Lawrence McNaught.

“We had some good crowds out – it went really well,” he says. “The people at Big Brothers Big Sisters were very happy because it worked out very well for them.”

For Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region, it’s a chance to expand the King StrEATery event, part of its efforts to do more with the community since moving to a downtown Kitchener location in 2016. For the King StrEATery portion, the organization is expecting an expanded offering of 20 food trucks serving up a variety of fare, from the traditional hotdogs and ice cream to pizza, jerk chicken and vegan food.

There are also games, activities and children’s programming on tap.

The musical menu features a tasty assortment, from the new sounds of rising star JoJo Worthington, and the classic folk of Tannis Slimmon, to local favourite Sandy MacDonald, the best in big band jazz with Big Band Theory, and soulful R&B sounds of Joni NehRita.

“We wanted to go with an all-local selection of music for this year’s Our World,” said McNaught of the lineup. “There are so many great musicians from right here in the region.

“I was happy to make it a wholly local event.”

Sandy MacDonald gets things rolling at 5 p.m. From blues, rock and folk, to country, jazz and Celtic, he’s a musician that can cover all genres in a crowd-pleasing manner.

“A veteran musician, and a true music lover, Sandy’s live sets are a delight from start to finish.”

At 6 p.m., Tannis Slimmon brings to the stage her distinctive folk style. From her time as a member of the legendary trio The Bird Sisters to her solo material and work with the trio Boreal, she is known for live performances. She can also be heard on more than a hundred albums, contributing songs or singing harmonies for others including David Francey, Willie P. Bennett, Valdy and Rheostatics.

For this show, she’ll be joined by multi-instrumentalist Lewis Melville.

“This lovely, beautiful folk music,” says McNaught.

At 7 p.m., the music shifts gears again with newcomer JoJo Worthington, who performs beautifully crafted, intimate songs that transform into sweeping soundscapes, he says.

“It’s a sound that starts off quietly as one thing and then turns out to be this large wall of sound.”

Her performance will draw on her brand new CD, The Company You Keep.

The stage will get much more crowded at 8:15, when the KW Big Band Theory lives up to its name: 17 performers, drawing on some of the best jazz musicians in the area, come together to present a great selection of big band tunes under the direction of Robin Habermehl.

With an expressive and expansive horn section, that band will offer music from Maynard Ferguson to Blood Sweat and Tears.

At 9:30, things get funkier still courtesy of Joni Nehrita.

A Guelph-based singer-songwriter and keyboard player, Nehrita has become a fan favourite for her takes on soul, R&B, jazz and popular song. With three albums under her belt, she’s working on a fourth that’s expected later this year.  Love & Protest, a marked step further toward global roots/world music, explores the juxtaposition between love being “the answer” and fire/anger being the fuel to protest, to question, to be the change. The new album finds NehRita switching from keys to guitar as her main instrument and relies heavily on percussion rhythms found in Caribbean & Brazilian music.

“This will be a chance for Joni to play some stuff from her upcoming CD,” says McNaught. “She’s developed a name that goes beyond the local stage for her soul and R&B sound.”

With the music lined up and a string of food trucks ready to roll in, turning the street into a pedestrian mall for the evening, the only thing organizers are watching for is some good weather as the cherry on top.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” says McNaught.


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