Toronto Jazz Fest 2013: Our Top Picks

2013 heralds an exciting year for the Toronto Jazz Festival.  For its 27th edition, organizers have planned some truly special treats for music lovers that aren’t to be missed.  OTM offers the perhaps more casual attendee — the music lover who perhaps doesn’t envision themselves a “jazz fan” — a quick guide to the summer sounds.

Free-For-All Friday:  June 21st

This year, the festival kicks off with entirely free programming on Friday, June 21st!  This is perhaps the best strategic move of the fest this year, and the rewards are many for concert goers.  In the spotlight:  a free performance at Nathan Phillips Square featuring Martha Reeves & The Vandellas (“Dancing In The Street”) and Smokey Robinson (“I Second That Emotion”)!  The official press release explains:

The festivities get underway at 8pm. Wristbands will ensure admittance to the seating area in the Mainstage Marquee tent. Starting at 5 p.m., wristbands will be distributed on the east side of Nathan Phillips Square. One wristband per person. Two 9’ x 16’ high-resolution screens will also illuminate the Square. Everyone can enjoy the performance wherever they are standing.

Not feeling a large crowd or Motown? The fest has you covered with the magic of Molly Johnson for two shows at Jazz Bistro, just for starters!  Full schedule at the fest website.

Mavis Staples; Dr. John & The Nite Trippers

Mainstage Concert – Nathan Phillips Square
Date: Sat Jun 22 8:00pm

NXNE 2013 folk may recognize Dr. John from the powerful documentary AKA Doc Pomus.  The embodiment of New Orleans’ lush history of culture and music, he brings his unique blend of blues, soul, zydeco and more to the stage.  Mavis Staples is a legend in her own right, having been an integral voice of the Civil Rights Movement through her gift of song.

Lily Frost & The Casablancas

Shops At Don Mills
Date:  Tues June 25 7:00pm

Lily Frost has a long history of softly elegant songwriting, mostly of the pop-folk persuasion.  Her track “Who Am I?” was featured in the Kirsten Dunst film Crazy/Beautiful and she continues to work hard at her craft.  On her latest outing, she’s decided to take a foray into swing.  The results:  a fresh spin on a classic vibe.  This is another free show – bonus!

Meshell Ndegeocello

Horseshoe Tavern
Date: Wed Jun 26 10:00pm

With her soulful voice in tow, Meshell Ndegeocello isn’t afraid to try anything.  From her duet John Mellencamp on hit “Wild Night” to the moving tale of a gay teen pushed to the limit in “Leviticus: Faggot”, Meshell will enrapture all in her presence.  Her latest album, a tribute to Nina Simone, is a collection of original works and covers that should make for an amazing set!

Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers Ft. Edie Brickell

Mainstage Concert – Nathan Phillips Square
Date: Sat Jun 29 8:00pm

Steve Martin… that Steve Martin?  If you’re referring to the comedian and actor, you would be correct – just don’t forget to add “Grammy winner”.  Steve brings his stellar banjo chops to the stage with his band and a special guest:  Edie Brickell.  Those who remember the 90s will recall her hit single “What I Am” quite readily.  With Edie’s poetic lyrics and Steve’s passion for music, this is a heavenly duo to enjoy beneath the stars.

There’s so much more to enjoy at the Toronto Jazz Festival; now that you’ve had a taste, swing by the official site and see all of the incredible options.

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