Nothing kicks off the summer right more than a great concert!
The SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival is geared up for 8 days of more than 60 shows in every corner of our city. There are so many acts to choose from and this edition of Brit’s Picks should only be the place to start.
With more than 4 decades in the music industry, Lucinda Williams has become a legend for her blues-infused country sound. Williams has multiple Grammy awards on her mantle and was named to Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Country Artists of All Time list. She’s toured with Bonnie Raitt and will entertain you with tunes from her latest album Good Souls Better Angels. Williams is celebrating Saskatchewan talent as well with Juno nominated opener Megan Nash. No shortage of talent with this opening night.
They wowed you with their Grey Cup half-time performance, just played The Rally in Hamilton in front of 25,000 screaming fans and now Arkells are bringing the party to Saskatoon. This is a band that will truly be one of the rock concerts of the year and a perfect one to take the kids. The band is currently touring in support of its Blink Once album and teasing for more hits on the horizon with Blink Twice. They are celebrating Canadian talent with openers Juno and Polaris Prize winning hip hop artist Haviah Mighty and Mohawk singer/songwriter Shawnee Kish. Kish has a solo show at Amigos on Sunday night.
When I spoke to the Executive Director of the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival Shannon Josdal she told me that this was the show that really solidified the 2022 lineup for her. Patti LaBelle is a living legend and she’s bringing her big band and all the hits to the festival main stage. LaBelle is known as the godmother of soul and she’s gonna blow you away with her incredible voice. This is a great concert to take those young, aspiring musicians to so they can see the masters at work. Local guitar legend Jack Semple will open the show.
If you’re looking for a great date night, you’re going to want to check out the main stage for Bahamas. He’s known as the “Sad Hunk” and honestly, I dare you not to feel a little romantic after listening to his laid back, lilting tunes. Bahamas is a favourite here in Saskatoon and his band is incredible. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather listen to on a hot summer night. Ontario singer songwriter Ruby Waters is the opening act. She’s had her voice compared to a cross between Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin and it’ll only be a matter of time before everyone knows her name.
If it’s an afternoon of straight ahead jazz, look no further than Saturday afternoon on the University of Saskatchewan campus. Juno award winner and hometown hero Jon Ballantyne is back in the city to perform. It’s unusual to have such a big name play a matinee but the schedule is because Ballantyne is also one of the instructors for the festival’s Jazz Intensive, a week-long camp for aspiring musicians that lets them learn from the greats. When Ballantyne played the festival in 2019 arts journalist Cam Fuller said, “Watching him play was a little like watching open heart surgery.” It’s your chance to see a master at his craft.
Don Ross Louder Than Usual
Don Ross has been called one of the greatest living Canadian guitarists and he’s in town with a new ensemble to do what he does best. Ross who normally performs on his own around the globe, was finding there were just some of his compositions that needed a bigger sound so he formed this new ensemble to strut their stuff on the big stage. His music is a groovy, jazz-based guitar that will have you tapping your toes. Saskatoon’s Katie Tupper will open the show with her Neo-soul sound.
Kiesza & The Halluci Nation
It’s an unexpected double bill for this year’s festival. A favourite and a comeback story to tantalize you music fans out there. The Halluci Nation (formerly A Tribe Called Red), a Juno award winning act has rocked Saskatoon stages with its blend of pow wow music and hip hop to revolutionize dance floors across the country. Kiesza is an electro-pop artist that raced up the charts with hits like Hideaway (2014) and Sound of a Woman (2015) and fell silent after a traumatic brain injury and has stormed the club scene with new work this year. It’s a night full of dance waiting for you in the gardens, don’t miss it!
They have pack stadiums and large venues, headlined festivals and dominated the music scene but in Saskatoon, you have a chance to see The Strumbellas in a more intimate venue. The indie-pop group will bring chart topping tunes like Spirits, Salvation and I’ll Wait to the Broadway Theatre. I can’t think of a better way to get up close and personal with a big-name act.
WHO DOESN’T LIKE FREE??
Whether you’re an all-day festival regular or you’re a first timer, the Free Stage in Victoria Park is where it’s at. There’s a ton of options in every genre imaginable and it’s the perfect place to take younger ones to their first concert. Here are a few of my favourites.
Friday – 6:15p.m.
Weyburn’s Tenille Arts has been tearing up the Country Music scene since her sophomore album Love, Heartbreak & Everything in Between dropped in 2020. Since then, she’s released another called Girl to Girl, was inducted into the 2021 CMT Next Women of Country Class, was nominated for the Academy Country Music award for New Female Artist of the Year, and just wrapped a tour opening for Lady A. You’re going to want to see this superstar on the rise.
Saturday – 1:15p.m.
She’s a familiar face to us as one of the founding members of Rosie & the Riveters but when the group disbanded in 2020, Farideh decided it was time for a musical change. The result is her soothing, synth-infused pop tunes with and cheeky, colourful videos. Farideh will delight you with her new music and raw talent. Check out her video shorts on social media. They are full of observations on life, pranks on her friends and family, and have kept me laughing through some very dark times.
Seven Mile Sun
Wednesday – 4:00p.m.
If you’re looking for a little straight ahead rock, don’t miss this trio out of Harris, SK. Seven Mile Sun has been getting a lot of attention on Spotify and some radio play to boot. North Sask Music Zine says the group “exemplifies the rock n roll aesthetic” and said, “they are a stand out attraction anywhere and anytime they are on stage.” Their debut EP Light In The Dark is only the beginning.