Each year, our Downtown Jazz weekend draws thousands to the downtown core for two days of jam-packed free stages, food trucks, face painting, beer gardens, and dancing. The free weekend is a high point of the summer for many locals – myself included. It serves as a way to hear all kinds of new music without having to spend a dime, and it’s also a really beautiful gathering place for people of all different ages and backgrounds to get together and dance.
Here’s the low-down on what’s happening this year! This list contains just highlights – for the full lineup, click here.
SATURDAY, JUNE 22
Mike W.T. Allen’s Space Elevator (Georgia Stage, 12:30PM)
Space Elevator is unlike anything else you have ever seen, and that’s a guarantee*. It’s equal parts heavy metal big band and funk spaceship. They don’t perform very often in the city, so this is a rare chance to witness their majesty.
*not legally binding, just very likely.
Elisa Thorn’s HUE (Robson Stage, 1:30PM)
HUE consists of a harp, vocals, drums, and bass – an unusual combination with a stunning result. Led by local harpist Elisa Thorn, HUE has been called “rapturous” and “captivating” (Georgia Straight), and anyone who has seen them live will attest to the same.
Begonia (Georgia Stage, 3:45PM)
Begonia is a powerhouse. It’s hard to pin her to one genre, but NPR describes her music as “…the place where synth-pop meets old soul and scrappy meets sexy.” I’m a sucker for a perfectly-crafted pop song, and Begonia’s got those in spades. Her set is sure to get you dancing!
Audrey Ochoa (Robson Stage, 6:45PM)
Instrumental fans will be overjoyed to see Ochoa in this year’s lineup; she’s a phenomenal trombone player with a big warm sound, and she’s a total joy to watch. See for yourself:
Snotty Nose Rez Kids (Georgia Stage, 7:30PM)
Snotty Nose Rez Kids have been getting a ton of much-deserved attention lately. They’ll be headlining Downtown Jazz on the heels of nominations for the 2018 Polaris Prize and the 2019 JUNO for Indigenous Music Album of the Year, and they show no signs of stopping. The hip-hop duo from the Haisla Nation have been making waves since their first release in 2017, and we’re thrilled to have them with us this year.
SUNDAY, JUNE 23
Dominique Fils-Aimé (Robson Stage, 3:00PM)
Fils-Aimé brings a remarkable, slow-burning soul energy to her performances, and I’m sure her set on the Robson Stage will be no exception. We’re very lucky to have her visiting from Montréal to work her magic on this coast.
King Ayisoba (Georgia Stage, 3:45PM)
King Ayisoba may win the award for farthest to travel, though the Ghanaian is no stranger to international touring. Known as the “king of kologo”, Ayisoba has played shows in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Switzerland – the list goes on. In the words of Jazz Fest programmer Cole Schmidt: “Ayisoba will smack both sides of your hanging heart”.
Lydia Hol (Robson Stage, 5:00PM)
Lydia Hol is a soulful local treasure. If you bought a ticket to the Suffers show, you’ll get to see her on the Imperial stage as their opener, but if you didn’t, this is your chance to witness her majesty: her seven-piece band deftly combines early ‘60s soul and lush psychedelic rock to create a musical experience that won’t soon be forgotten.
DJ Shub (Georgia Stage, 7:30PM)
What a way to close out weekend of free shows! This show is going to be a giant dance party, and certified fun or your money back. DJ Shub is a founding member of a Tribe Called Red, but he’s off on his own now, and he definitely hasn’t lost any of the firepower.
There’s something for everyone at Downtown Jazz, whether it’s new music or the perfect lemonade (across both free weekends I drank 4 glasses of incredible lemonade from the on-site lemonade stand. It is so good). So grab a friend or loved one and come check it out!