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Jazz up your life with a music festival

If Sudbury seems a bit ... jazzier next week, there's a good reason. The sixth annual Jazz Sudbury festival is due to take place Sept. 3-6.
Performers at the annual Jazz Sudbury Festival include the Legendary Downchild Blues Band, left, the Heavyweights Brass Band, top right, and Emilie-Claire Barlow, bottom right. Supplied photos.
If Sudbury seems a bit ... jazzier next week, there's a good reason.

The sixth annual Jazz Sudbury festival is due to take place Sept. 3-6.

Allan Walsh, a Laurentian University music instructor and Jazz Sudbury's artistic director, said people seem to really enjoy the festival.

No wonder. He said many of those who have played at past festivals — including big names such as Nikki Yanofsky and Holly Cole — are also frequently seen at large music festivals in other parts of North America.

Add to that the best talent in the local jazz scene, and you've got a winning combination, Walsh said.

The musician is enthusiastic as he speaks about this year's festival headliners, who will be performing at the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre Sept. 5 and 6.

The Friday night headliner, The Legendary Downchild Blues Band, plays the “jump blues,” an up-tempo blues that's considered the precursor to rhythm and blues and rock and roll.

The Toronto band has been around for the better part of four decades.

“That'll be fantastic,” Walsh said.

Saturday night features two headliners — the Heavyweights Brass Band and Emilie-Claire Barlow.

The Heavyweights Brass Band — also from Toronto — is a relatively new New Orleans-inspired group.

“It's funky music,” Walsh said. They're absolutely fantastic players — just unbelievable. They'll have you on your feet, dancing.”

Toronto's Emilie-Claire Barlow is an “absolutely fantastic” jazz singer, he said. “We always try to find a vocalist that can sing in French as well,” Walsh said. “Emilie-Claire is definitely one of those.”

Of course, while Jazz Sudbury always brings in performers from elsewhere, Sudbury has its share of jazz talent.

These musicians — including Hugh Jazz, Hilary Welch, Elgin Street Legends, Lakeside Quartet, the Chris Dardick Group and the Borealis Quartet (of which Walsh is a member) will perform at both the Bell Park mainstage and downtown venues.

Until Aug. 29, emerging artists also have a chance to apply on Jazz Sudbury's website to perform at the main stage Sept. 5 and win $1,000.

A unique event — the Jazz Walk — takes place in downtown Sudbury Sept. 6. The LU Jazz Combo, Emilie-Claire Barlow and Reg Schwager and the Heavyweights Brass Band will perform at downtown venues between 1 and 4 p.m.

In between each concert, another one of Walsh's musical ensembles — the Nickel City Dixie Stompers — will perform on the streets of the city's core. “It's a chance for the fans to get up close and personal with the artists,” Walsh said.

For the festival's full lineup, or to purchase tickets, which range in price from $30 to $80, visit

Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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