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Music Photos: 2007 (Updated: Dec. 27, 2007)
For other pictures, click: 2009, 2008, 20062005. or 2002-2004 
Click here for a full list of all artists' photos

All photographs are © John Leeson.
They can be reproduced with credit "Photo by John Leeson:". Contact me for higher resolution copies. 

  HIGHLIGHTS: Some favourite photos /and or concerts and shows  (Updated October /06).

Includes Aster Aweke, Amadou & Mariam, Refugee All-Stars, Baaba Maal, Oliver Mtukudzi, King Sunny Ade, African Guitar Summit, Orchestra Baobab, Bembeya Jazz, Tinariwen, Mahmoud Ahmed and lots more.

Includes Debashish Battacharya, Mighty Sparrow, Wanda Jackson Sidi Goma, Trio Joubran, Billy Joe Shaver, David Murray, Radio Kabul, Buddy Miller, Leon Russell, Lhasa, Lila Downs, and more.
To view pictures:
Each concert is contained in its own photo album. You can also link to an album of all shows in a month, or visit the
Main Gallery Page)

Inside each album, you can click on individual photos, or click the "slideshow" link in the upper right.  Right below the "slideshow" link, you'll see other links that take you up a level, e.g. from an individual show album to the album grouping all the shows that month (or months).


2007: December
Dec. 25: MAHMOUD AHMED at the Lithuanian House

One of my shows of the year.

What a Christmas treat! One of the great performers of African music, Mahmoud Ahmed is the biggest star of Ethiopian music. His early (1970's) recordings, later released in the West in the great Ethiopiques series had an impact on Western ears similar to the reissues of Robert Johnson's delta blues.

He is still a dynamic and powerful performer. In 2007, he won the BBC Radio 3 World Music Award for Africa. His live performances draw a huge, enthusiastic Ethiopian audience.

Some links: Listen to his 2005 WOMAD concert (click "listen to this gig"). On YouTube, catch a few short clips from this concert, and longer ones: from Paris -- bouncing camera, but with the feel of a Mahmoud show, and another one with some grungy sound, but with all the energy and excitement intact. See also my photos from his 2003 Toronto concert.

Dec. 21: ZALE SECK and DEAN CRONE at the Lula Lounge Photos to come. Click thumbnail for larger image.

The Montreal-based Senegalese griot, guitarist and drummer truly rocked the Lula in a holiday party organized by Karibuni Radio (CIUT FM) and Music Africa.

Dec. 9: ALPHA YAYA DIALLO at the Lula Lounge. Photos to come. Click thumbnail for larger image.

A rare Toronto appearance by the multiple-Juno award winning member of the African Guitar Summit, Alpha's distinctive and beautiful guitar work helped fill the Lula on a December night. A couple of high-energy dancers, and a guest appearance by fellow AGS guitarist, Donné Roberts helped keep the night cooking.

Sponsored by Small World Music and Music Africa


Dec. 5: STELLA CHIWESHE at the NOW Lounge Photos to come. Click thumbnail for larger image.

The Queen of Zimbabwean mbira, she put on a superb summer concert here with her Earthquake Band. In the fall of 2007, she was living in Toronto for several months, giving mbira lessons, and conducting spiritual circles, as well as doing the occasional public solo performance like this one.


Dec. 5: ANNE LEDERMAN at the Pattie Walker Studio. Photos to come. Click thumbnail for larger image.

The Toronto fiddler who performs on her own, and in various bands and projects organized this fundraiser, together with the Métis Artists Collective for the  Youth Elder project, bringing togethe some of the elder Métis traditional fiddlers, with some of the best young fiddlers to help preserve and develop Métis fiddling traditions. Performances are planned in Toronto in summer, 2008.

2007: October-November
Nov. 27: GRUPO DESANDANN at the Church of the Holy Trinity. Click thumbnail for larger image.

One of my shows of the year.

The 9-member, (mostly) acapella Cuban group, from Haitian background, with their gorgeous voices and harmonies is a favourite of mine. It was unfortunate that more people didn't catch this wondeful show (there were about 100 people), but the applause and cheers throughout the show sounded like one 2 to 3 times larger. Fortunately, for those who missed this concert, the group will be back in town in early June, perhaps promoting their just-recorded CD, made with Juno winner Jane Bunnett, who featured them on her 2002 CD, Cuban Odyssey. Keep an eye on this website.

Their 1999 CD, Descendents is a gem. It's available on CD Baby, which features extended (2 minute) samples from all its cuts. Some video clips from the concert have been posted on YouTube, although the sound quality doesn't do their voices justice.

An interesting article about their attempts to perform several years ago in Miami: home to large Haitian and Cuban populations.

Nov. 20: TINARIWEN at the Mod Club

"One of the most devastatingly mean and lowdown sounds to have come out of Africa." - Songlines magazine. The Tuareg musicians from Mali have a fascinating history, and great, rocking desert music. They recently opened for the Rolling Stones, a group they have sometimes been compared to.

An interesting mini-documentary/profile is available on YouTube: Part 1 / Part 2. See my photos of their 2005 Harbourfront concert here. You can here their full 2007 WOMAD set here. Their website is here.

Nov. 1: TONY COX & JABULANI at the NOW Lounge  Photos to come. Click thumbnail for larger image.

Touring South African acoustic guitarist Cox opened for the Toronto-based South African trio.

Oct. 31: MR. SOMETHING SOMETHING & IKWUNGA at the Lula Lounge  Photos to come. Click thumbnail for larger image.

CD Release for Deep Sleep, the collaboration between the Toronto-based Afrobeat group, and the Nigerian, Baltimore-based poet. The night was also a Halloween celebration, with much of the full house in costume.

Oct. 5: OLIVER MTUKUDZI at Healey's Roadhouse. Click thumbnail for larger image

One of my shows of the year.

Part of the Small World Music Festival. See See also my photos of Tuku from 2005 here.

2007: August-September
Sep. 23: AMAZONES at the Lula Lounge Photos to come. Click thumbnail for larger image
(The Women Master Drummers of Guinea)

Part of the Small World Music Festival. See

Sep. 1: NEWAY DEBEBE at The Opera House

There aren't many musical events as energetic and exciting as a concert with one of the big stars of Ethiopian music scene, and a full house of enthusiastic and ready to dance fans.

Neway put out as much energy as the audience on the floor did... and that's impressive!

  Aug. 1: JAYME STONE at Hugh's Room  Photos to come

The Toronto-born player explores the African roots of the banjo, having recently spent 6 weeks in Mali. Musicians playing with him include two musicians from Mali: Jah Youssef (kamale n'goni) and Mansa Sissoko (kora). See

2007: July
Jul. 23: BILLY JOE SHAVER at Hugh's Room. Click thumbnail for larger image.

One of my shows of the year.

One of my favourite performers, the great Texas singer/songwriter/poet. My appreciation of the man and his music is here. My photos of his 2005 Harbourfront Centre show are here.

My video page has a few video clips of Billy Joe; see also the July 19 article in NOW weekly.

Jul. 22: STELLA CHIWESHE at the Berkeley Church. Click thumbnail for larger image.

One of my shows of the year.

"The queen of Zimbabwean mbira" put on an amazing performance, with her aptly named Earthquake Band. See this website for more about her, and check this YouTube video

Her summer tour was organized by Africville Productions, a new music production company, which also presents exhibits of Zimbabwean stone sculpture.

Jul. 15: RICARDO LEMVO & MAKINA LOCA at Harbourfront. Photos to come

Great Cuban-Congolese rumba.

Jul. 7-8: AFROFEST 2007 at Queen's Park.

The best two days of African music and spirit around. Lots of photos to come. Posted so far:



One of my shows of the year.

The world's greatest kora player (from Mali), brought his dance band, for what might be the best African music concert of the year (so far!). A fantastic kick off to Afrofest 2007.

Click thumbnail for larger image.

Jul. 5: KATENEN "CHEKA" DIOUBATÉ at Harbourfront

The Guinean-born griot performed with her band, Snowgriots, an excellent band of local musicians. See her MySpace page.

Jul. 2: ANDY PALACIO & THE GARIFUNA COLLECTIVE at Harbourfront. Click thumbnail for larger image.

One of my shows of the year.

As expected, this was one of this summer's highlight shows, and part of what might be the best double bill of the year.

For some background on Andy, his music, and the history and music of the Garifuna people of Central America, who brought West African musical traditions to Central America see this webpage. You can also read an interview of Andy done by Banning Eyre of Afropop Worldwide here. Hear some music from his great CD, Watina on his MySpace page.

Jul. 2: LOS MUNEQUITO DE MATANZAS at Harbourfront. Click thumbnail for larger image.

Perhaps Cuba's greatest rumba band in a rare appearance helped complete a superb (free!) double bill.

Jul. 1: MAVIS STAPLES at the Toronto Jazz Festival

One of my shows of the year.

The greatest concert of the year (so far). Mavis's voice, strength, personality, and history are simply astounding. If you missed it, you should find out the next show of hers you can catch.

Some of my favourite Mavis links:
- Video of "Eye on the Prize" - a video from her new CD.
- Video: The Staple Singers in Ghana, 1971, "When Will We Be Paid?"
- Video: The Staples with The Band, "The Weight"

- Mavis on radio with Charlie Gillett, Christmas Day, 2004. Possibly the most enjoyable radio show I've ever listened to. Go to the Mondomix radio page. Under "The sound of the world", scroll down under "Last programmes" for Mavis Staples, Part 1 and Part 2.

Jul. 1: REBIRTH BRASS BAND at the Toronto Jazz Festival - Photos to come. Click thumbnail for larger image.

Opening for Mavis Staples

2007: June
Jun. 29: SEUN KUTI & EGYPT 80 at Harbourfront Centre - Click thumbnail for larger image.

One of my shows of the year.

The younger son of Fela Kuti channelled his late father on stage at Harbourfront. He first performed with Fela at age 8, and his show, with Fela's band was eerily like watching Fela.

The most un-Fela aspect of the night was the length. The band was getting into the groove when the show ended after just 85 minutes. (Two nights later, older brother Femi played for four hours at the Docks).

Links: his MySpace page, and some recent articles: "In the Name of the Father" , Afropop profile, Eye Weekly profile.

Jun. 29: DANIEL NEBIAT at Harbourfront Centre - Photos to come. Click thumbnail for larger image.

The Toronto-based Eritrean krar player Nebiat, performed with Waleed Abdulhamid and Saba of Nouvel Exposé.

Hear some of his music on his MySpace page. You can also read an interesting interview done for his March 2007 gig at Sneaky Dee's/Wavelength. See my photos from his Gladstone show


Jun. 25: ADAM SOLOMON & TIKISA: Video shoot

Photographed during a promotional video shoot at Audiolab Studios, Toronto.

Jun. 16: TRIBUTE TO HANDSOME NED at the Horseshoe

One of my shows of the year.

Marking the 20th anniversary of the death of Toronto's "Godfather of Rockabilly": Robin Masyk, aka Handsome Ned. The night featured four hours of music by Ned and in his spirit, with a lengthy list of guest artists, plus a trailer for the upcoming documentary, The Name is Ned.

Read an account of the show on, and see my note about Ned in the Jan. 24 newsletter. As well, you can find more about him, and hear some of his music on his MySpace page.

  Jun. 8: MIGHTY POPO at the Lula Lounge- Photos to come.

What a hot night. It marked the Toronto CD release of Popo's new CD, Muhazi, and also was Music Africa's press launch for Afrofest 2007

  Jun. 8: JOE BOYD at the NOW Lounge - Photos to come
Jun. 2: NJACKO BACKO / VAL WOLOSHYN WEDDING at the Muhtadi Drum Festival

I was happy to be asked to take the wedding photos of Njacko & Val, who were married the same place they first met: at the Muhtadi International Drum Festival at Queen's Park. Friends joined for lunch afterward, and the reception was the next day at the Gladstone Hotel.

2007: April-May
May 11: BA CISSOKO at the Lula Lounge (Opening: Kikijiko)

One of my shows of the year.

The Guinean musician brought his dual-kora group to town to rock (and roll) a sold-out Lula Lounge, living up to the title of his latest CD, Electric Griot Land. You can hear a full concert of theirs, from the 2004 WOMAD festival in the U.K. here. I also have photos from his 2005 Harbourfront show here.

Toronto/Sudanese hiphop singer Kikijiko opened, backed by a group of young Southern Sudanese musicians.

  May 9: "ODESSA/HAVANA" (David Buchbinder with Hilario Duran) at the Lula Lounge

Photos to come.

  Apr. 19: FUZE (Mel M'rabet and Victor Nesrallah) at the Trane Studio

The Toronto launch of Parallel Views, a CD that beautifully mixes the musics of oud player Mel M'rabet with his Spanish/Moroccan influences with that of Victor Nesrallah (guitar/resonator) whose music roots include blues, folk, jazz and Arabic classic music. More info and some samples on Mel's Myspace page.

Photos to come.

2007: February-March
Mar. 29: ADAM SOLOMON & TIKISA at the Lula Lounge

The CD release for Adam's new Roots Rhythms, featuring music based on various Kenyan rhythms. The show also featured Pa Joe, Theo Yaw Boyakye, Muhtadi & Donné Roberts.

  Feb. 15: AFRICAN DANCE ENSEMBLE at the Lula Lounge

"Joy of Mama Africa: a night of music, drumming dance, and song." Just as the show was advertised, it was a joyous occasion, and the loud, strong rhythms soon had the dance floor jammed. See the group's website:

Photos to come.

- Feb 16 at Aeolian Hall (London, Ont.)
Feb 10 at Harbourfront Centre

One of my shows of the year.

The son of the late Ali Farka Touré put such an outstanding performance on Feb. 10, I had to go see him again on the 16th. New to the world stage, he seems set for great things. For more about him, see his website (with audio and video) or John Goddard's Feb. 8 Toronto Star article. As well, the Rock, Paper, Scissors website has extensive links to press coverage and reviews, and also a profile of him.

Catch some great video clips of VFT playing solo in Bamako, Mali. Part 1, 2, 3, 4

Feb 10: DONNÉ ROBERTS: Making his new music video

The song is "Hira 'n' Taolo" (Voices from the ancestors) from his Rhythm was Born CD. (I may or may not appear in the video, depending on the editor's good or bad taste...)

Feb 9: ADAM SOLOMON & TIKISA at Safari Village Restaurant

Photos to come

Feb 9: FOJEBA at the Gladstone Hotel

Jean-Baptiste Foaleng, aka Fojeba. Part of the Music Africa/Gladstone series, "Singers Players, Griots of Toronto"


Feb. 3: TAMSIR SECK at Earthsong

The Senegalese griot, drummer and dancer brings energy and spirit to every performance. He will also perform Feb. 16 at the Gladstone. See events page.

Feb. 2: DANIEL NEBIAT at the Gladstone Hotel

Eritrean krar player opened Music Africa's "Singers Players, Griots of Toronto", every Friday night in February.

2007 January

Boubacar Diabaté

Katenen Diobaté

One of my shows of the year.

A wonderful memorial and tribute, organized by Music Africa for the late El-Hadj Boubacar Diabaté, a master kora player and griot, originally from Senegal who passed away in Montréal in October 2006.

A huge collection of performers, most of whom who knew or worked with Boubacar provided over 4 hours of almost non-stop music and tribute in the intimate NOW Lounge.

Poet Kwame Stephens opened, followed by Kassoum Diamoutene, Donné Roberts, Muhtadi, Robert Simms, Jacques Yamdjie, Katenen Diobaté, Njacko Backo & the Toumkak Drummers, Tamsir Seck & Sani Abu.

A similar tribute was held the same night in Montréal.

Click here for the Music Africa press release. Photo of Boubacar courtesy of Music Africa

Jan. 13: ADAM SOLOMON at Oakwood Village Library

The opening reception for "African Images" exhibit sponsored by Spence Gallery

Jan. 13: DONNÉ ROBERTS at Earthsong

Celebrating the birthday of owner Ilse Lichtenberger.

Jan. 12: NJACKO BACKO & KALIMBA KALIMBA at the Gladstone Hotel

Celebrating the first anniversary of the opening of the beautifully restored and renovated 1889 hotel.

Jan. 12: HILARIO DURAN at the Gladstone Hotel
See also:

2009 photos
2008 photos

2006 photos
2005 photos
2002-2004 photos