Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival
Wow, what a weekend. Photographing the opening 3 days of the 31st Annual Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival has been a non-stop adreniline rush. My weekend was full taking in some awesome music at some of my favourite venues, meeting some very talented people, and doing what I love with that thing called a camera. I'm exhausted, but in the best way possible - and the festival isn't even half over! Here are a few highlights of six of my favourite acts from throughout the weekend. Be sure to check out their music - and remember, we've still got 6 full days of great entertainment left, so get yourself out to one of the many venues in the city and join in the fun!
In her own words, "OH MY GOD" this lady was on fire! Though I didn't actually connect her name to her 90's hits until she took over the stage and began performing, it took all of 30 seconds for my favour to be won. She was a total fire cracker with her iconic big curly hair and spunky attitude - and I'm sure I wasn't the only woman in the garden envious of how confidently she rocked that leather jumpsuit. Marshall's energy didn't fade from the moment she stepped on stage and the entire sold out crown was singing along like they were 20 years younger. Here's a great article in the StarPhoenix including a snippet of video from the show (the back of my head makes an appearance just after 1 minute).
One of my favourite things about Sask Jazz is the many great Canadian bands you are inevitably introduced to for the first time. This 8 piece group from Montreal stopped in at The Capitol Music Club on Friday night and put on a show worthy of a much larger stage. Performing in English, French, Creole, Spanish, and Arabic, I was never sure what to expect next from the hip-hop crew but I knew it would be awesome.
Being the only musician of the weekend who I had seen perform previously, I held high expectations for Ryder’s set - and she was sure to deliver. Between her high-energy on-your-feet singles and mid-set acoustic numbers, her performance was like the perfect night out with something for everyone. I’ve also got to mention her fabulous band, complete with two background singers who caught my eye many times during the night with their slick style and top notch dance moves.
Though they opened the main stage for Serena Ryder I didn’t catch up with Begonia until their late set at The Capitol close to midnight. Winnipeg native Alexa Dirks quickly captivated her audience with soothing vocals and story-telling lyrics. Engaging with the venue throughout the night through her witty anecdotes and casual feminism, Dirks made you feel like you were long time friends catching up over a drink. She's not afraid of telling the truth in her music, even when the topic's not easy, and that's one of the many reasons I'm eager to sing her praises.
These Saskatchewan locals made the drive up from Regina for a jam-packed Sunday night as they were one of the four bands playing the Bess before throwing one hell of a late night party at The Capitol. Though their folky tunes were definitely enjoyable in the gardens and drew a nice sized crowd to their feet to dance along in the grass, it was the intimate bar scene that really brought things off the charts. I snuck into the sold-out Capitol midway through their set and was instantly hit by the energy of the band and crowd feeding off one another. It was just the kind of party I've come to expect from Jazz Fest week - even on a school night.
Sunday night was a little bit different for me - and the rest of the Sask Jazz team - as the Bess Gardens went country for the first time in festival history. Our country fans made this small town Alberta boy feel right at home and I'm sure he won over a few new admirers as well. Kissel was a very dynamic entertainer and knew just how to get the crowd going. He even brought out a brand new guitar and signed it before gifting it to a 5th grade girl who had been singing along to every song from the front row. I also had the pleasure of capturing his meet and greet with fans after the show and loved watching him engage with each one of them - he so clearly values his supporters and makes sure they know it. And of course like any country kid he's not one to turn down a good after party and was spotted later at The Capitol mingling with fans and enjoying The Dead South once more.