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8. Jun. 2017

Get DOWN at the Festival: music to dance to!

The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival 2017 is fast approaching, and with that comes the reality that we will soon be at Vancouver's best live music venues hanging out with pals, and getting our groove on at the Festival's top acts! 

This year has been a tough one weather-wise for Vancouverites, and if you're anything like me, we're all in need of some therapeutic jams, groovy beats, and care-free basking in the sunshine.. 

Here is my list of the best music to get DOWN to at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. Listen to tunes, bask in the sunshine on a grassy lawn, or best of all.. show off your best dance moves at a show, indoors or out! Whatever your jam may be, the below artists are sure to get you in the best Festival mood without a care in the world! 


with the Mattson 2. June 23, 8pm: The Vogue Theatre. 


Antibalas is set to join us at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival this summer for their second time. We are very excited to have them back! Their show will be on Friday June 23, and for me, this concert will really be the kick-off to the 2017 Jazz Festival because, well... dancing!! Nothing more celebratory than getting groovy with my team here at Coastal Jazz. 

Antibalas' live shows are the stuff of legend—hot, sweaty, dance marathons set to a tight, infectious grooves. Yes, there WILL be a dance floor at the Vogue, so get on down there! I'm also looking forward to this show, because the openers, "The Mattson 2" are a hilarious hawaiian-shirt-clad twin duo who rock out on guitar and percussion together... so much fun packed into this evening! I can't wait to experience it all. 

More details about Antibalas:

Conceived in Mexico City and born in a Brooklyn warehouse in 1997, Antibalas is rooted in Afrobeat, but thoroughly flexible. Lead singer Amayo, a native of Lagos, Nigeria and a senior Kung Fu master, guides the band through cathartic workouts of call and response, dynamic instrumentals and eruptive solos. Antibalas has collaborated with artists from Angélique Kidjo to Medeski Martin & Wood to Public Enemy, and served as the house band at Carnegie Hall. They’re on the road in support of their newly released album, their first since 2012’s Antibalas. Don’t miss the dance party of the year!

Thievery Corporation

June 29 at the Orpheum Theatre, 8pm


Thievery Corporation is one of those household band names that has maintained a steady and successful reputation over its 20-year career. How have they managed it? In my opinion, Thievery Corporation stays successful due to its timeless sound, and cross-generational approachability. They have created a unique blend of world-infused textures, ambient beats, and groovy sounds, that people of many backgrounds can't help but identify with and love their music. 

I remember the first time that I was drawn to Thievery.. it was when I was in my first year of my undergrad at UBC, and would listen to the soundtrack album "Garden State" on repeat as I crossed campus to head to class. Their track "Lebanese Blonde" was so beautiful in its ambient electronic groove of smooth vocals, I was hooked instantly. It's always been a dream of mine to see Thievery perform, and for me, their performance at the Festival on June 29 will be less about dancing, and more about sitting back and letting their colourful, electronic, and groove-based sound wash over me. 

More about Thievery Corporation:

This giant band will put you in the summer groove. Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, AKA Thievery Corporation, have been performing for 20 years—with millions of album sales, high profile collaborations, and TV appearances to their credit. Since 1996, they’re virtually defined an entire sub-genre of electronic music. With their new record, The Temple of I & I, they visit Jamaica for inspiration with an upbeat brass section providing groovy melodies, driving horn stabs, and thumping bass. Don’t miss this unique and genre bending mashup of Middle Eastern, lo-fi, ambient, Jazz Bossa Nova, trip-hop, & reggae, complete with 15-piece band.

Omar Souleyman

June 25 at The Imperial, 9pm


The Syrian musician Omar Souleyman is a must-see for me at the Jazz Festival for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, I feel very proud to live in a country like Canada that supports and promotes diversity and all-inclusivity in regards to cultural acceptance. From a personal standpoint, (it's a blog afterall!) I was absolutely thrilled to learn that the Coastal Jazz Programming Department invited Omar Souleyman, a Syrian musician, to perform at the 2017 Festival. This invitation came shortly after Donald Trump announced that refugees and citizens from seven muslim countries would be barred from entering the States. In my opinion, there is no better time than now for Canadian cultural organizations to be promoting multicultural acceptance from all corners of the world! I can't think of a better reason to DANCE!

Secondly, Omar Souleyman's infectious sound is filled with tons of energy. I am absolutely certain that it will only take a matter of minutes before every audience member in the Imperial will be dancing to the beat of his music. Its impossible not to tap your toe, let alone jump to the rhythm of Omar Souleyman's tunes!! Before I say any more, you must watch his music video "Warni Warni, and you will understand completely what I am talking about:

More about Omar Souleyman:

A dance floor-igniting preacher of love Omar Souleyman brings his “irresistible, hyperactive electronica” (The Guardian) to Vancouver for a night of undulating synths, intense beats, and hip-shaking sensory overload! An unlikely cult hero among electronic connoisseurs like Modeselektor, Gilles Peterson, and Four Tet (who produced his breakthrough album Wenu Wenu), the 50-year-old Syrian began as a wedding singer and has recorded over 500 albums based on the Levantine dance music Dabke. There’s comfort in Souleyman’s unifying theme of love. This is, after all, dance music's virtue: to dissolve us in time and space, building bridges where previously there were only walls.

A few more Must-Sees:

Sammy Miller and the Congregation

June 24, 5:15pm: Georgia Stage, Downtown Jazz. FREE


One of the top aspects of the Jazz Festival that I am looking forward to this summer is to experience downtown Vancouver become transformed into a live music-friendly space for Vancouverites. In a matter of weeks, the central heart of downtown Vancouver will be filled with music! There is really nothing better that I can imagine for our city in the summertime, and I am so thrilled to be a part of it all.

Sammy Miller & the Congregation are going to perfectly express this kind of summer-celebration vibe through their soulful New-Orelans-inspired joy-jazz. Sammy Miller and the Congregation's music is sure to perfectly complement the sunshine, blue-skies and happiness that will be vibrating throughout downtown Vancouver on June 24. Right before their show, I'm planning on picking up a refreshment at the Georgia Bar next to their stage, (or hitting up one of the food trucks, depends on my mood!) and soaking up their sound with complete satisfaction. This one is going to be fantastic, and absolutely dance-inspiring. 

More details about Sammy Miller and the Congregation:

The joyful and generous GRAMMY-nominated drummer/vocalist Sammy Miller creates feel-good, globally conscious music with “the raw uplifting vibe of a New Orleans street parade” (The SF Weekly). His brassy, stomping Congregation features Alphonso Horne trumpet, Ben Flocks tenor sax, Sam Crittenden trombone, David Linard keys, John Snow bass… & you!

Nik West

June 25, 5:15pm, Georgia Stage, Downtown Jazz, FREE


Nik West is going to be a must-see for me, mostly because I have never seen a woman better rock out on the electric bass with a blue mullet before. I want to see this IRL y'all!! This woman is full of flare, style, energy, creativity, and SASS. I can't wait to hear her to rally me into a crazy bass-dance. Nik West's show promises to be super fun, groovy, as well as entertaining. She is quite the lady of jazz!! Join me by the Georgia Stage on June 25 for her show... and yes, it's also free!

More about Nik West:

Not since Bootsy Collins have we had the giddy pleasure of getting down to a bassist that blends flamboyant charisma and ridiculous chops in one bedazzling package. Her former collaborator Prince said "she inspires me in the same way that Sheila E did." With a bass clef hairdo, powerhouse voice and explosive stage presence, Nik West leads the new funk groovement!

Lady Wray

July 1, David Lam Park Main Stage, 8:45pm. Free. 


Lady Wray and her four-piece soul band are bringing an evening show to the grassy lawns of David Lam Park that will cap off Canada Day with tons of flare! In my opinion, soul music isn't going out of style anytime soon, so Lady Wray's sultry vocals and funky beats will be more than welcome on what will be a fine, gorgeous summer evening in the park. Anyone know good soul dance moves? I may be making up my own so could use all the help I can get... ;) 

More details about Lady Wray:

"Pure pleasure for lovers of deep soul music? Absolutely."—Uncut 
Former Missy Elliot and Black Keys collaborator, powerhouse vocalist Nicole Wray and her band Lady blend the flair of '60s soul with the driving beat of hip-hop, and the silky rhythms of modern R&B. Sweetness, strength, emotion—it's all there!

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