The weather hasn’t been overly cooperative, but Victoria Day weekend heralded the arrival of the summer season. Another sure sign? Outdoor music festivals such as the one next weekend that brings a world of sounds to downtown Kitchener.
The Our World Festival of Music marks its sixth year June 3-4 in the civic square in front of city hall, officially launching Tapestry: Celebrations of Diversity. In that vein, this year’s festival features performances by artists whose roots reflect Canada’s rich musical and cultural diversity: a trip around the world from Cuba to Zambia, the Middle East to the American Southwest.
“I’ve attempted to line up some very upbeat stuff, the kind of performances that create a real outdoor festival atmosphere,” explained producer Lawrence McNaught.
The festival opens at 7 p.m. June 3 with a performance by The Bellydonnas, a troupe of dancers that is the area’s leading exponents of this Middle Eastern dance form. They’ll be followed at 8 by The Bosswich, a Waterloo-based octet of young performers who play an upbeat mix of Jamaican-style ska and punk-influenced riffs.
The headliner for the night is Chasaya Sichilima, a Zambian singer and songwriter who now calls Kitchener home. He’s developed a sound that incorporates rhythm and blues with traditional Zambian folk music and has become known for his smooth silky vocals and unique dance moves.
On Saturday night, things get rolling at 7 p.m. with The Water Boys, a University of Waterloo-based all male a cappella group that offers up contemporary, pop and roots songs.
At 8 p.m., things take on a decidedly Latin flavour with Septeto, a collaboration of the top Cuban/Latin musicians in Toronto performing classic son montuno, the root of contemporary salsa.
Switching gears to wrap up the evening, Western Swing Authority will bring their acclaimed southwest sound to the stage. Featuring local musicians that include Shane Gusé (2010 CCMA fiddle player of the year) and bassist Matt Lima, the group is a collection of seasoned professionals with individual bios that span from Gordon Lightfoot and Ian Tyson to Kellylee Evans and George Canyon, as well as a who’s who of Canadian country music.
The Western Swing Authority’s much-lauded debut CD recreates the sounds from the dancehalls of Texas and the Southwest in the 1930s and ‘40s.
“It’s a sound in the classic style of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys – very authentic,” said McNaught. “It’s really very beautiful music.”
The Our World Festival of Music runs June 3 and 4, 7-10 p.m. Performances take place in the civic square in front of Kitchener city hall, which will also be home to food and craft vendors. Admission is free.