By Kerry Doole
Muskoka Music Festival (formerly Sawdust City Music Festival) is a boutique 3-day multi-venue festival that takes place in Gravenhurst, ON, every Aug. This year it runs Aug. 18-20, in tandem with a sister event, Dockside Festival of the Arts. The latter fest takes place at Muskoka Wharf Special Event Park and features Songwriters' Circles and headlining performances from the likes of Alex Pangman & The Sweet Hots, Lindy Vopnfjörð, Kunlé, and Clerel. Others appearing at the Dockside Stage include Claire Davis, Dayna Manning, Doghouse Orchestra, Eamon McGrath, Highway 11 Corridor Ukulele Players, and MMF founder Miranda Mulholland. As part of the Muskoka Music Festival, Loreena McKennitt plays the Opera House Stage for a sold-out Saturday evening performance. More info here.
– Habari Africa is a free African music and arts festival by Batuki Music Society that is back with its tenth edition at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, Aug. 11–13. More info here.
– The Manifesto festival in Toronto is now underway, featuring a full week of events August 7-13 in celebration of 50 years of hip-hop. It is anchored by a live concert powered by The Block on Aug. 11, headlined by Los Angeles-based rap star Aminé and Canadian rap pioneer Saukrates. More info here.
– VENUExVENUE is a multi-day, multi-venue live music fest coming to London, ON, and featuring top emerging London regional artists. Over 50 artists will perform at 4 venues across London over 3 days, Nov. 9-11. Earlybird wristbands are on sale here now, until Sept. 12. More info here. The fest is presented by Indie Week, with the support of Slaight Music, Ontario Creates, London Music Office and Tourism London.
– Co-operative weather and a strong and well-balanced musical lineup helped make Hamilton's Festival of Friends, a free event at Gage Park, a major success this past weekend (Aug. 4-6). This scribe caught the opening night mainstage headliners, Jeremie Albino and Bahamas. The former impressed with his take on countrified rock and a quality guitar-heavy band that included Sameer Cash. Bahamas (Afie Jurvanen) then pleased the large crowd with his mellow and well-crafted soft-rock tunes and droll between-song banter. His upcoming album is reportedly country-focused, but this set selection concentrated on favourites from his already-released discography. Mention should be made of his stellar Toronto-based band, comprising Don Kerr (Rheostatics), Christine Bougie, Darcy Yates, and Felicity Williams.
– I returned the following night to see headliners The Wailers, who drew a larger and highly appreciative audience. Given that the heyday of Bob Marley's band was nearly 50 years ago, it's no surprise that none of that outfit is still going, but this version is led by Aston Barrett Jr., son of one of the originals. They did justice to the best-known Marley classics as well as such lesser-known gems as Rastaman Vibration and Crazy Baldheads, with the one flaw being frontman Mitchell Brunings' constant shoutouts to Hamilton. Bob never pandered to his audience like that. Kudos to whoever controlled the festival's sound for a superb job.
– The free Welland Afro-Caribbean Festival runs Aug. 12 and 13 in Merrit Park, Welland, ON. Info and tix here.
– SXSW Sydney is launching this Oct., and CIMA reports that "our partners in film and tech will be producing a small 'Canada House' with the Canadian Consulate in Sydney over 3 days, Oct. 18-20, during the event. For this year, we’d like to know if any of our businesses are planning to attend and also if you have either applied or been accepted to showcase. Depending on the participation, there may be some opportunities for a Canadian music presence at Canada House as well. If you plan to attend this event or may have an interest in doing so, please complete this form below. Learn more about SXSW Sydney here.
– A reminder that registration for Contact East 2023 is officially open here. The conference will take place in Woody Point, Ktaqmkuk / NL, Sept. 21 -24. Contact East is APA's hallmark showcase summit and Atlantic Canada's premiere performing arts booking conference. It is a four-day showcase and professional development event complete with approximately 30 artist performances, showcase and pitch sessions, and networking opportunities.
– On Aug. 9, Toronto rapper Tory Lanez was given a 10-year jail sentence in a Los Angeles court for three major felony charges, headed by his shooting of fellow rap star Megan Thee Stallion. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Herriford handed down the sentence to the 31-year-old Lanez, who was convicted in Dec. of three felonies: assault with a semiautomatic firearm; having a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle and discharging a firearm with gross negligence. Lawyers for Lanez plan to appeal the conviction. Read more on the case here.
– The First Peoples’ Cultural Council’s (FPCC) Arts Program presents up to $20K for emerging music industry professionals in the roles of administrator, agent, promoter, manager, event organizer or presenter. The deadline to apply here is Sept. 15.
–The 28th annual Honey Jam Concert is coming up on Aug. 17 at TD Music Hall in Toronto, featuring a variety of young emerging female artists from across Canada in an array of musical genres. The concert is the culmination of the 2023 season of Honey Jam's non-profit artist development programme which provides mentoring, educational, performance and networking opportunities 20 acts are set to take the stage including 18 emerging artists and 2 special segments. More info here. Tix here.
– Alberta Focus, a program that includes an Alberta Music Showcase and one-on-one meetings with international delegates, is now accepting applications from Alberta Music members here, with a deadline of Aug. 16. Apply here.
– Much-heralded Toronto poet and songsmith Robert Priest presents an evening of song and poetry at Kensington Sound in Toronto tonight (Aug. 10). Tix here. An upcoming album was produced by Jaymz Bee.
– The Nora Kelly Band heads down from Montreal on Aug. 12 to preview their debut full-length album, Rodeo Clown, live at Bar Orwell in Toronto. Tix here. Rodeo Clown is set to arrive on Aug. 25 via Mint Records.