Yemen Blues, and other event and musical notes

Event notes:
(See for full details of these and other upcoming shows & events)

Luminato Festival is now in full swing, with events all over the map (figuratively and literally), including free concerts nightly at Metro Square (now David Pecault Square) at King & John, including Art of Time Ensemble, Delhi 2 Dublin with Malkit Singh, kd lang, and closing with a double bill of Tasa & Nitin Sawhney.

Two highlights for me:

  • Yemen Blues: Tue. June 14. Free, 8pm
    By all accounts, the show might be one of the highlights of the year — at least for those of us who missed their February Toronto concert. Everything I’ve heard: on world music lists, from people who’ve seen them says don’t miss this group.

    For a taste, see the band’s You Tube channel or some audio on MySpace Also see John Goddard’s June 10 Toronto Star article about the group. The story also mentions some of the other Luminato world music acts, and makes the argument that Luminato has now replaced Harbourfront as Toronto’s top world music venue. Significantly, for the last two years, Luminato hired Derek Andrews, the former Harbourfront music programmer.

    Sultans of String open.

  • A day of Arabic music, Sat. Jun. 18 including Natacha Atlas, Hakim, “the Lion of Egypt” with Minor Empire & George Sawa. Two shows: 2 & 4pm. Details here
  • I also have a note posted about some of the varied musical and other events at Luminato relating to Arabic and Middle Eastern culture and politics posted on my Libyan blog


Lots more  in June of course, including, as noted previously:

  • This weekend: Taste of Little Italy Festival has a number of live bands & also check out the Beach BBQ & Brews Festival: blues Friday, rock Saturday & reggae Sunday.
  • Jun 24-Jul 3: Toronto Jazz Festival with hundreds of acts starts off with a free concert by Aretha Franklin on Jun 24, conflicting concerts with Youssou n’Dour and Randy Weston, both on Jun. 26; and many many more.
  • Jun. 25: Congolese soukous from Werrason (formerly of Wenge Musica BCBG)
  • Also, note Franco-Fete at Harboufront, Jun. 24-16:  Some performers include: Kyessi Wète from Paris (pop, blues, reggae, soul & rumba); Ben L’Oncle Soul; Mamaku (French Bohemian meets South Pacifica dub & eastern sounds); Ouanani from Montreal featuring musicians from Canada, Senegal, Mozambique, Ghana & Togo. Details here
  • Jun. 30: Kabakuwo at the Lula: traditional Mandinka music featuring dual koras. Mark this one down.
  • Canada Day, Jul. 1:Sonia “Aimy’ Aimiuwu in a free Melody Bar show (7pm). Originally from Nigeria, she has a great voice and will be backed by some top Toronto African musicians including Pa Joe, Ebenezer Agyekum, Suleiman Juma and Kwame on drums.


A few other notes:

  • “The Day the Music Died”: Disappearing college radio in the US: New York Times ariticle, June 12
  • Appropriate to that article, CKLN here in Toronto which recently lost its radio license, is in fact still broadcasting — online. Supporters of the station are working on an appeal. More details, including notice of a special meeting on June 29, plus a Listen Live link at
  • Les Paul: Anyone who Googled on June 9, found “the coolest doodle ever” honouring the birthday of the late guitar innovator Les Paul’s birthday. Paul is the only person who’s a member of the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame!

    Here’s a nice clip of him and Mary Ford with their classic, “How High the Moon”. And here’s a 10 minute YouTube excerpt from an award-winning full-length documentary about him

  • Another innovator of a different sort was the late Texan musician and singer Doug Sahm. My favourite quote about him was by writer Chet Flippo who described Sahm as “the lonely guy standing at the crossroad where Highway 61 intersected Route 66, where all of American popular music came riding by”.(See my 2009 appreciation on the 10th anniversary of Sahm’s death).
    A new collection of Sahm’s singles — on his own and as the Sir Douglas Quintet — has been released recently. Read a good review here