The Beaches Jazz Festival gets horny!

The Beaches Jazz Festival gets horny!

I decided to go down on the Thursday night to check out the street festival, and visit some of my old friends and watch them perform. For some reason, I would say half the lineup had changed. I saw a few favourites, but I saw a whole lot of new bands entertaining the crowd, What I saw a lot of are, most of the bands had a horn section, to complete their sound. Now, I love a great horn section, but Man, there was a ton on them down on the street competing to see who had the best around. I chose not to judge, but to enjoy each and every band I stood in front of.

I started with a perennial favourite of mine called The Imbayahunas, from Ecuador. Their South American flavor just warms you up for what you are about to experience walking down Queen Street East. Their pan flutes will have you swaying with free delight and you will want to make friends with the person standing next to you.

Here are a couple pics from Imbayahunas’ performance:

Once I move on from my initiation, I discovered a very shaggy man named, Johannes. He also had a South American flair to his sound. I think maybe a little closer to Cuba. His guitar playing was light and lively and full of flavor. His fingers were fast and precise, but his hair flipping was meant for you ladies standing and watching this fascinating artist.

Here are a couple pics from Johannes’ performance:

Then as you walked down the street a little further, you will still hear some flamenco sounds coming from a man called Yiannis. This guy will blow you away with his lightning fast picking as he whirls and twirls your eardrums with the ridiculous exactitude of a fine race car driver. He is super fast, very clean and will throw in some American Funk, because he can. Oh, by the way, he is having a record release party in November at Lula Lounge.

Here are a couple pics from Yiannis’ performance:

I then moved on to a young and fun band called Turbo Street Funk. They did a cover of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Any fan of this show was singing along and reliving their youthful memories. They did a solid version of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September”.  They even had the crowd do a sing along with the classic Eighties hit, “Who are you gonna call, Ghostbusters”. They are a very highly entertaining band that began as street punks and grew into one of Toronto’s favorite party bands.

Here are a couple pics from Turbo Street Funk’s performance:

I turned my attention over to a more classic Jazz band called Metro Big Band. They had that classic look of being a big band that Count Basie would love to conduct. By the time I got there, I was witnessed to an incredible singer named Ilse Themen, who was doing a cover of James Brown, “I Feel Good”. Now if Janis Joplin had a chance to sing that song live, you would have been standing beside me. Another lovely lady came on, and I am sorry, I did not catch her name, but she did a very fun and playful version of, “Makin’ Whoopee”.

Here are a couple pics from Metro Big Band’s performance:

It was getting to the end of the evening for the performers, and I made it to the last performer on the street. I saw this elegant songstress walk up to the mike to do her last set of the evening. Her name is Elise LeGrow, and she had the dedicated crowd exactly where she wanted them. This was the final show for the evening, she was dressed to kill and then she opens her mouth, and a hush fell over the flock. The sound that emanated from her was smoky and a little squeaky but had the charm to invest your listening pleasure a little deeper. She mixed her originals with some reworked classics. I believe “Valerie” was an original. Elise if I am wrong, please correct me. She went back many years to reinvent this classic, “Who do you love”. I have heard great reworks of this song from George Thorogood to Nash the Slash. This version from Elise took on a whole new meaning. There were moments of reminiscing to the Cowboy junkies, heroin blues sound, and then you get a moment that Amy Winehouse was watching this performance. Even Blue Velvet, from David Lynch must have had a bit of influence on this band.

Here are a couple pics from Elise LeGrow’s performance:

All I know, is that everyday people don’t get to witness such an intriguing performance or get to say hello to an interesting cast of characters that have such an appreciation of the attention they are getting; well go out on August 11th at The Roy Thompson Hall patio for a free show, and try and make me eat my words from this article.

To learn more about these artists here are their websites.

http://www.theimbayakunas.com/index.aspx

http://johanneslinstead.com/main/

https://www.yktunes.com/

https://www.turbostreetfunk.com/

http://www.metro-bigband.com/

http://eliselegrow.com/

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