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T.O. Music Pix Newsletter #110: June 10/10
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Updated June 11
In this issue: 

1. Luminato notes
a) "The Concert", June 12
b) Other concerts and events
2. Upcoming events
3. Jazz Festival & Angelique Kidjo on radio
4. A huge African July weekend
5. Last weekend: Ethio Stars & Ricardo Lemvo

1. Luminato (June 11-20)

A few notes on the opening of what in a few years has become one of Toronto's most significant cultural events.  Details on these and others on my events page, and of course, the Luminato website.

a) "The Concert": June 12

This cover of this week's NOW magazine screams "OMFG NXNE!". For African music fans, we could say the same thing about the lineup of this Saturday's free Queen's Park concert. I've already posted enough raves about the lineup, it doesn't need much more now, other than summing it up as  "If you're interested in the kind of music covered on this website, you can't miss this one". See the last newsletter for more information about many of the artists.


Rock The Casbah
1pm Lo’Jo
2pm Maryem Tollar Ensemble
3pm Karim Saada
4pm Rachid Taha

An African Prom
7:00pm Mr. Something Something
8:00pm Tony Allen
9pm Bela Fleck / The Africa Project
   featuring Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba

A nice article on the musician who will be the highlight for me (and quite possibly the highlight of the year), Bassekou Kouyaté, in today's Toronto Star by John Goddard. John also has a brief writeup about Rachid Taha and others.

John's Bassekou article notes that he (Kouyaté) was originally known as a sideman, playing on numerous recordings of, and in concert with, other more famous musicians. A couple of years ago, the late British DJ, Charlie Gillett, devoted one of his World Service shows to this aspect of Bassekou's career, playing songs featuring Bassekou on albums by artists like Youssou n'Dour, Toumani Diabaté, etc. The radio show is no longer online, but Charlie's notes, and comments by others are posted here.

Finally, as noted in the last newsletter, and in the Star, Throw Down Your Heart, the documentary about Béla Fleck's musical trip to several African countries will be screened on Saturday morning as part of the festival. Tickets are $15, and Béla and Bassekou will attend and participate in a Q&A session afterward.


Luminato offers much more great free music, notably

  • June 19: Another full day concert, headed by Salif Keita, but also featuring Malagasy music from Razia Said, backed by Toronto's Madagascar Slim; Pablo Menéndez and Mezcla from Cuba (see this article and video). The day opens with "Global Divas" featuring sets from Canada's Alejandra Ribera, whose music mixes her Argentinean roots, classical training with cabaret-style jazz; Rupa and the April Fishes, performing in English, Spanish and French; Cape Verde native Carmen Souza and Toronto's Guinean-born griot, Katenen "Cheka" Dioubaté.
  • June 20: "World Music Celebration", marking World Refugee Day" opens with Iraqui oud player -- and refugee --  Rahim al Haj,, and also features local bands Autorickshaw and Mr. Something Something, and closes with Burkina Electric from Burkina Faso (and elsewhere).
  • Other shows include "Latin Divas", June 12 at Yonge Dundas Square featuring India and the Lula All Stars with a tribute to Celia Cruz; plus "Bollywood Divas", June 14, same location.

Other Luminato events of note include:


  • June 12:Two films of note: River of Sand, about a Canadian musician's trip to Mali. This free screening unfortunately conflicts with the Béla Fleck documentary. Also, Sembene: The Making of African Cinema.
  • June 17: "Spotlight on Arabic Film": Five free films at the NFB building. See Luminato's film page for details. (Click "View by Date" tab, and look for Jun. 17


  • One of the central pieces of Luminato is The African Trilogy:, three one-hour plays focusing on different views of Africa and the West. Daily at the Fleck Theatre, Harbourfront. See also this June 7 article in the Globe & Mail by John Bradshaw.


  • Jun. 3-Aug. 2: Bamako in Toronto": a collection of images from Africa's top contemporary photography festival. Gladstone Hotel, See my event page for other related events,

More: June 13: "African Issues an the Challenge of Artistic Response";


2. Other events
Beyond Luminato:a few other shows of note in the next week or so

Friday night, June 11 Quartier Latin: some great soukous and rumba from the Congo with this 12-piece band -- Koffi Olomide's former group -- at The Opera House. Njacko Backo and Kalimba Kalimba open. Presented by Music Africa and the Organization for Social Entrepreneurship in Africa. Proceeds to support entrepreneurs in Africa. See for details and video.

June 12: Franco-Fete at Harbourfront featuring Haitiain Les Trois Accords. See this Toronto Star article.

Saturdays: Eritrean and Ethiopian grooves weekly with Daniel Nebiat and Tamiru, at the new Lambadina Resto Lounge, in the former Habesha Club location, 875 Bloor St. W.

Update: June 11
June 13: Béla Fleck is not the only banjo master coming to town this weekend. Sunday night, Hugh's Room hosts Alison Brown. For some background on her, read Eric Thom's preview on the Roots Music Canada website.

The news that Alison Brown is coming to Toronto is huge....  But you may not know her – or her music.... [H]er Sunday night show at Hugh’s Room will provide you intimate access to see and hear one of the best practitioners of the 5-string banjo, and a hand-picked band known for their ability to reconfigure any genre that comes their way. If you think this is traditional fare, you’d best strap yourself down for a pleasant awakening.

Earlier that day, the annual "Festival on Bloor" will be held around Bloor & Brunswick, including musical performances by Daniel Nebiat, Steven McKay, David Woodhead's Confabulations, Hotcha!, Cafe Con Pan & Zebrina. Noon - 6pm, and broadcast live on CIUT, 89.5, or at

June 17: Funkabelly
at the Lula promises "Wild moves & Global grooves", also featuring Toronto's gypsy funk band, Nomadica.

June 18: Birthday and CD release celebration for the late fiddler Oliver Schroer featuring a host of guest musicians at Hugh's room.

June 19: Changuito,  one of Cuba's percussion legends and Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo at the Trane Studio

More info on the events page, which has numerous updates.


3. Toronto Jazz Festival (June 25-Jul. 4) & Angelique Kidjo

Many of the world and roots shows are listed on the events page, and I'll have more notes coming out as this gets closer, but wanted to note a time-sensitive link.

The Festival is bringing the great African diva, Angelique Kidjo of Benin on July 1. You can hear her in a one-hour live radio segment on BBC Radio London's show "World in London" with host DJ Ritu online here. It's available online until Saturday afternoon.  A fascinating discussion about her life, her father (her new CD, Oyo, is dedicated to him), and her views.

One more festival note: The African Guitar Summit show at the Lula on July 1 has been cancelled.


4. Big July weekend: July 23-25
African music fans, take note of that weekend:

  • Alpha Yaya Diallo of the African Guitar Summit plays the Lula on the 23rd
  • The free Bana Y'Afrique is at Metro Hall on the 24th and 25th, with an excellent lineup headed by Congolese star M'bilia Bel, and also featuring the Ethio Stars, Afrafronto, Donné Roberts, Ijo Vudu and others.
  • Oliver Mtukudzi returns to town on the 24th,
  • And, Toronto's Guinean griot, Katenen "Cheka" Dioubaté releases her first CD the same night, featuring as guest artist, one of Guinea's great voices, Sekkouba Bambino.

You've been warned! (And of course, this is not to forget the jam-packed Afrofest weekend of July 10-11.


5. Last weekend: Ethio Stars and Ricardo Lemvo

Two great shows last weekend featuring excellent musicians.

The Ethio Stars, in their second appearance Friday night at the Lula Lounge played some classic Ethiopian grooves. A top notch band, they'll also play the Bana Y'Afrique festival July 24/25. Video clip here.

The next night, Congolese-born, Angolan & LA-based Ricardo Lemvo got a big crowd dancing all night at the Lula with his Afro-Cuban rhythms, in front of a band featuring some members of his group Makina Loca, and a number of Toronto's top Cuban and Latin musicians. Video clip here.

Ethio Stars singer Ermias Assebework gets the crowd moving at the Gladstone

Ricardo Lemvo at the Lula


John Leeson