This year the Stewart Park Festival will be held July 18-20, 2014. It is a free festival for the whole family with three days of music in Stewart Park, part of downtown Heritage Perth, and also includes workshops, an artisan market, children’s activities and after hours concerts.
YOUTH SHOWCASE (FRIDAY, MAIN STAGE 1:00)
The Youth Showcase is a chance for local youth to shine onstage as solo or group artists. Many got their start in The Academy of Musical Theatre, as featured on Saturday, or in their school music programs. Let’s have a round of applause for the next up-and-comers!
LONG SAULT TRIO (FRIDAY, MAIN STAGE, 4:00)
Local stalwarts Long Sault Trio were formed in the heart of Lanark County along Long Sault Creek in McDonalds Corners. Comprising Linda Marie Grenier, Dave Tilston and Victor Maltby, they play eclectic music that is Folk with hints of music from all over, touching on everyday life, love, trucks and driving, to craft their original songs.
THE LOVELOCKS (FRIDAY, MAIN STAGE, 5:00)
Fresh out of the Toronto Alt-Country scene, these two friends, Ali Raney and Zoe Neuman, bring a quirky sense of fun to the business of making music. Despite a humble living-room start, these savvy ladies have built on modern music-making techniques, even crowd funding their debut album; between talent and hard work, they should go far.
SULTANS OF STRING(FRIDAY, MAIN STAGE, 6:00)
Sultans of String celebrate the diversity of world music with a tasty stew of Spanish Flamenco, Arabic folk, Cuban rhythms, and French Manouche Gypsy-jazz. Lead fiddle Chris McKhool lays down spicy melodies while guitarist Kevin Laliberté adds meaty flamenco rhythms. Rounding out the flavours with funk bass and hand percussion, Sultans of String serve up a warm and tasty dish that’s sure to please.
THE BILLS (FRIDAY, MAIN STAGE, 7:00)
Last seen at Stewart Park Festival as The Bill Hilly Band, West-coast band The Bills will bring their renowned rich acoustic sound to the Main Stage. Sweet harmonies and deft musicianship form the foundation musically, but this is band that is truly more than the sum of its parts. All band members sing, but they play multiple instruments: Marc Atkinson on mandolin and guitar, Adrian Dolan on fiddle, accordion, and piano, Chris Frye on guitar and lead vocals, Richard Moody on violin and viola, and Scott White anchoring it all on upright bass.
DANNY MICHEL (FRIDAY, MAIN STAGE, 8:00)
Danny Michel is one of those infinitely flexible musicians. Just when you’ve got him pigeonholed as an effortless pop craftsman, he runs off to Belize to play with local musicians, the Garifuna Collective. With three JUNO nominations, the Polaris Prize long list and ten albums under his belt, Danny Michel is unquestionably one of the finest and most charming songwriters ever to grace the stage. Appearing solo at the Festival for the first time, Michel brings us his warm raspy voice, stellar songcraft, and nimble guitar playing. This will be a set for lyric listeners, for wild park dancers, and for music lovers of every stripe.
THE ACADEMY FOR MUSICAL THEATRE (SATURDAY, MAIN STAGE, 11:00)
The Academy for Musical Theatre (formerly “Perth Academy of Musical Theatre”) is closing in on its seventeenth birthday, and this year marks their expansion to a second site in Ottawa. Their summer program brings youth aged 5 to 17 from across North America together for an intense workshop in theatre, music, and dance; they now bring you the fruits of their labours. It is wonderful to see the talent that comes to these performances year after year; the Academy can now boast alumni who have gone on to careers in the performing arts. Who knows who we’ll be boasting about “seeing here first”?
DR JAZZ (SATURDAY, MAIN STAGE, 12:00)
Bringing the infectious groove of New Orleans street music to the stage for over twenty years, Dr. Jazz features the combined talents of reedman Dave Renaud, on clarinet, saxophones, flute and bass clarinet, Art Katona on trombone, Paul Cheatley on banjo and guitar, and Bob Langley on sousaphone and string bass. They live to entertain, and have a little something for everyone.
CHRISTINE TASSAN ET LES IMPOSTEURES (SATURDAY, MAIN STAGE, 1:00)
Manouche, the type of music played by Christine Tassan, is gypsy jazz in the tradition of Django Reinhardt. Let Christine Tassan et les Imposteures take you away to a night in France, with her unique blend of folk, jazz, tango, swing and pop. This all-female quartet, comprising Tassan on guitar, Martine Gaumond on violin, Lise-Anne Ross on rhythm guitar, and Blanche Baillargeon on standup bass, trade vocals and share arranging and composing duties. Their prowess will stun you, their harmonies will charm you; I promise you will be impressed!
BOMBADILS (SATURDAY, MAIN STAGE, 2:00)
A four-piece folk ensemble equally at home with classical music, traditional Irish tunes, and live improvisation, The Bombadils combine bluegrass and Celtic traditions in their own unique blend. Featuring fiddler and vocalist Sarah Frank, guitarist Luke Fraser, bassist Alan Mackie, and flautist Anh Phung.
DUANE ANDREWS & CRAIG YOUNG (SATURDAY, MAIN STAGE, 3:00)
Only in Newfoundland could you find two players who united influences as varied as Django Reinhardt (that guy again, he’s everywhere!) and Bill Monroe. Duane Andrews brings the gypsy jazz to the table, while Craig Young plays the country and bluegrass, and they throw in the odd Newfoundland reel for fun. They’re both such fine pickers it all blends seamlessly. A real treat for the ears!
PACIFIC CURLS (SATURDAY, MAIN STAGE, 4:00)
Pacific Curls combine the musical traditions of New Zealand, the Pacific, and Scotland. Featuring Kim Halliday, Ora Barlow and Sarah Beattie, they perform music with depth, verve, and fire. Over the years, the three members have accumulated an impressive instrumental collection featuring the ukulele, cajon, fiddle, Taonga Puoro – traditional Maori instruments, guitar, stomp box, kalimba, various percussive instruments. The musicians all trade vocal turns, and sing in Te Reo Maori, Rotuman and English.
JOHN GORKA (SATURDAY, MAIN STAGE, 5:00)
John Gorka is a songwriter’s songwriter; his songs have been covered by the cream of Nashville and Folk music royalty. Hailing from New Jersey, but identified with the whole American heartland, he crafted Americana before the label even existed. Working in the trenches of folk since the 1970s, a prominent member of the New Folk movement in the 1980s, John Gorka brings his soulful baritone voice and original songwriting to the Stewart Park Stage after a long absence. We trust that it will make the heart grow fonder.
ALYSHA BRILLA (SATURDAY, MAIN STAGE, 6:00)
2014 Juno nominee Alysha Brilla is a quickly-rising Tanzanian-Canadian singer, songwriter and producer. She brings a delightfully international sensibility to the business of making pop. Brilla not only sings, she plays guitar, piano and djembe, fusing the traditions of her parentage with the sounds of her generation. Her latest single, “Lifted”, has been moving up the charts this spring. Singing in English with dashes of Swahili, she has toured internationally and nationally; Brilla’s music has been featured on major network television shows such as “King” and “Degrassi; the Next Generation”.
JW JONES (SATURDAY, MAIN STAGE, 7:30)
“Canada’s Top Touring Bluesman”, JW-Jones is never still. Jones has cut records from Hollywood to Sun Studios in Memphis; disc number 7 is on the way. After performing in 18 countries, 4 continents, he’s stopping by the Stewart Park Festival stage for some down-home music and relaxation. Balancing a blistering guitar with a mellow, feel-good vocal delivery, JW Jones promises to help you get your groove on for the evening.
AMANDA BON & THE OUTSKIRTS (SUNDAY, MAIN STAGE, 12:30)
Amanda Bon formed her band in 2010, cherry-picking some of Ottawa’s best players to complement her sound, including Danny Artuso on (guitars, pedal steel, vocals), KEN KANWISHER (Upright bass, accordion), and GILLES LECLERC (Mandolin, vocals). They’ve spend the last four years seasoning and honing their sound and building a following. They recently released a second CD, ‘Down the Road’, under their newly adopted band name, Amanda Bon and The Outskirts. Rootsy, honest, and warm, they are sure set your toes a tappin’.
MIGUEL DE ARMAS (SUNDAY, MAIN STAGE, 1:30)
Miguel de Armas is one of Cuba’s finest exports, carrying on a long tradition of jazz piano. De Armas brings the rhythms of Cuba and America together in a unique blend. He is nimble, percussive, and devastatingly fast. De Armas has recorded over 50 albums in Cuba and the West. He has performed at the Lincoln Centre in New York and has shared the stage with stars including: Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, McCoy Tyner, Earth Wind and Fire, Afrocuban All Stars, George Benson, Wynton Marsalis, Clark Terry, Sammy Figueroa, Robbie Ammen, and Gilberto Gil. Now based in Ottawa, which he considers his adopted home, de Armas will bring us a taste of Cuba on a sunny afternoon.
AMELIA CURRAN (SUNDAY, MAIN STAGE, 2:30)
I made a typo about Curran earlier this month, calling her the smarter songstress instead of the master songstress I had intended. My error was revealing. Clever, witty, dark as a barroom and rough as whisky, Curran’s lyrics and delivery bring Leonard Cohen to mind, but only glancingly, for she is very much her own mistress. With roots in the Newfoundland music scene, and working out of the East Coast for the last decade, Amelia Curran has honed her craft to a fine point. She will grace our stage and our workshops with her warm, forceful voice and masterful songwriting.
DUSTY DRIFTERS (SUNDAY, MAIN STAGE, 3:30)
Ottawa’s Dusty Drifters play Bluegrass. They play bluegrass like they used to play heavy metal and punk — hard, and so fast there’s no stopping. But despite their rock-and-roll roots, they approach Bluegrass with passion and a sense of purity. Their playing is tight, their harmonies angelic, and the music is glorious. They will satisfy Bluegrass purists and casual music fans alike.