Hidden Gems in the Free Program

“A million gemstones falling down our stairwell” – Chad VanGaalen

Aside from Dan Gaucher’s drumming, Chad VanGaalen is probably one of my favourite things to come out of Calgary. Unfortunately you won’t find him in this year’s program, but you will find lots of Dan’s drumming, which coincidentally fits with the lyric above, since he often finds a special way to make the music sound like it’s falling down a stairwell. Do check it out.

Sorting through the abundance of great local groups that we expect you to already know based on their steady efforts to make good shit happen in our city throughout the other 51 weeks of the year, I’ve decided to highlight some of the acts in our free program that you might be less likely to recognize.

For “jazz fans” exhausting a little too much energy discussing why rap music may or may not be jazz music, perhaps you will find some peace in the sounds of Audrey Ochoa’s trombone and her latest trio from Edmonton on opening weekend. Audrey is an active music maker from a city with too many nicknames, (that don’t include the words “No Fun”), who brings a set of tunes from her new album featuring Mike Lent on bass and Sandro Dominelli on drums.

Audrey Ochoa

Audrey Ochoa plays the Robson Stage at Downtown Jazz at 6:45pm on June 22nd

Snotty Nose Rez Kids

Back to hyping hip hop. My mom is going to Wu-Tang. What’s standing in your way? And we’re extremely pleased to reveal that the mystery band that will close down the free stage downtown on Saturday night is the Snotty Nose Rez Kids. Those that didn’t catch them at Talking Stick Festival in February or a couple weeks ago to kick off their tour in support of their new album TRAPLINE, this is your chance. These guys have a busy summer ahead of them and are gathering some nice attention with each release of their conscious and compelling music. Here’s the latest.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids play the Georgia Stage at Downtown Jazz at 7:30pm on June 22nd


Sunday. Noon. Bernice. Yea. I heard this band’s latest record on an airplane in the sky and thought two things; “how do people get their music on airplanes in the sky?” and then after listening “what does/could this possibly sound like live”? Bernice played at the Red Gate in Vancouver on a Sunday in late January, which sounds challenging, but actually cut right through any creeping post-Christmas seasonal-depression vibes that were starting to get their hooks in me. That show was very good, and this band is jam-packed with very good musicians based in Toronto who are plenty capable playing most styles with great ease. This includes Felicity Williams from the Bahamas, and the guitarist that some of you may have seen perform with KNOWER last year – Mr. Thom Gill. A note for any drummer in town that’s looking to open up and be inspired to the wonderfully terrifying world of electronics: Philippe Melanson.

Bernice play the Georgia Stage at Downtown Jazz at 12:30pm on June 23rd

King Ayisoba

King Ayisoba travels to us from Ghana, while making stops along the way to play at a handful of other great festival across Canada, including Sled Island and Suoni per il Popollo. He’ll be soaking up all the space on that big stage, with a powerful and diverse voice accompanied by his hypnotic and heavy-handed kologo playing. For those that don’t know, the kologo is a bit like a banjo with fewer strings and perhaps a little more forgiving on a Sunday in festival season. If you are a fan of traditional West African music, but always enjoy your music with a splash of outspoken rock and roll values, Ayisoba will smack both sides of your hanging heart. His musical catalogue is a deep one, which also includes long time collaborations with members of anarcho-punk group from the Netherlands – The Ex.

King Ayisoba plays the Georgia Stage at Downtown Jazz at 3:45pm on June 23


The 5 o’clock “afternoon sessions” at the Ironworks returned about 5 years ago to allow for even more opportunities to catch collaborations between world-class improvisers from our own scene performing with some visiting artist from all over. This series also continues to be a fine excuse to grab a beer and watch some mysterious music unfold in one of our nicest venues for hearing exciting ad hoc performances. Some highlights this year include a couple duos between Montreal guitarist Vicky Mettler & pianist Lisa Cay Miller; Dutch based saxophonist, John Dikeman and drummer, Kenton Loewen; a solo set by bassist Luke Stewart; and the second rendezvous from a new collaborative trio involving Peggy Lee, Roisin Adams and Erika Angell (Thus Owls), which had its debut performance in December at the WISE Hall.

Performance Works

Performance Works daytime events are another great option for those looking to collect a little magic and save some pocket change. Some of the non-local highlights that stand out are Illegal Crowns, Joanna Duda Trio from Poland, and a guy some of you might remember named Tyson Naylor, who travels from Berlin to reconnect with his “old” trio feat. Ted Crosby.

Canada Day

Finally we’ve arrived at Canada Day. Super free. Super not a lot of parking. Come for Shannon Scott’s beautiful new trio. Smash an ice cream and some face paint, and stay for Dan Gaucher’s stairwell drum solo trick with Monk Music feat. Andrés Vial (from Montreal) on piano, and Michael Davidson (from Toronto) on vibes.