Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Out and About

Just in from my second round of Luminato. Tonight it was Yemen Blues, a huge ensemble from Israel with all the world music components like unusual drums and percssion, an oud-like instrument but surrounded by conventional western instruments, many played by young white women, probably not from Yemen. There was cello and violin on one side and flute, trumpet and trombone on the other. It was quite idylic, laying on my blanket staring up at a clear blue sky framed by skyscrapers. A small private plane did a couple of low passes and you felt like you could reach up and grab it like a mosquito.  Opening was Chris McKhool's Sultans of string.  This was their larger ensemble and it was tight. Nice hat, Chris. Much more sultan-like although now I'm thinking he could go all the way and get a turban.

At Metro (now Pecaud) Square I wen't directly to  the jerk chicken stand  only to find them closed.  They come highly recommended and I look forward to checking out their menu durring the jazz festival - but I hope they extend their hours! I was starved so Brook Blackburn guides me over to Joe Mama's - a venue I had yet to visit. What a great place - Alana Bridgewater was singing, Crory, Brooke's brother, was playing drums. Next time I would not order the calimari in a a rib-joint but I like the place, And they have a resident B-3 organ, a rare thang these days. I believe I'll try to get them to notice the formidable B3 maeatro, Clayton Doley, who's moving here next month from Australia. He's been performing with Harry Manx over the years - sometimes on American tours but mostly Europe and Australia - where he's a big star in his own right. He is to the organ what harry is to the slide guitar...that is he takes it to an entirely different place!

The video switching for the big screens was a slick as a network TV show - looks like there were several remote control cameras mounted on the side and back of the stage.  The production all around would be had to beat - the sound was crystal clear in a venue where I've heard it totally muffled at other less well funded events.

Earlier today it was the beaches Jazz Festival media launch at the Balmy Beach Club - I love going to this free lunch even though I feel like there's no love lost from some of the oraganizers.  Bill King, the artistic director is a buddy and as I stood by him at the "free lunch" lineup I mention that I missed the Pulled Pork - a favourite of mine - but BVill ponts out that it's a new caterer. So new, in fact, that they don't know who he is, and when He asks for a burger they're giving him a hard time like he shouldn't get any seconds because there are still people who haven't had their burger. Well, most people had left and it was pretty well over - I said, "Give the guy a burger - her runs the joint!"  As always it will be a great lineup, though not the blues content we've come to expect on the main stage. 

Friday Night I bopped down to the square to get a feel for the venue since it will be the new home of the Toronto Jazz Festival. I was paying special attention to where they were getting their power and phone lines. At Nathan Philips we literally had to get a guy with a forklift to move one of those big concrete slabs so our Bell Telephone guy could set up the temporary configuration for the Jazz Festival.  First I dropped in to Fay Olson's Friday "happy hour" art Quotes and lisrtened to the smooth sounds of the Canadian Jazz Quartet.

Still don't have a band lined up for my jazz festival appearance (sat - Main Stage at the distillery at 3pm on July 2).  Something will fall in place - it always does. One great example of that was booking Brent Titcomb to come play percussion and harmonica with me at the Orangeville Festival. We ran into each other the week before at a gathering to Bless the Water (and apologize for treating it so badly)

Before Orangeville I attended a showcase of two of the hottest young guitarists on the blues scene, Garrett Mason and Keith Hallett. It was to promote Keith's new CD, but Garrett produced it - and I guess plays on it. He was sure an integral part of the band in this 40 minute showcase for music industry taste-makers...ha, like myself, eh?  Some mighty fine guitar was played.