We offer up four picks for a festival turning 30

Music by Craig Silliphant and Gregory Beatty



The SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2016. If you visit saskjazz.com you’ll find a neat time capsule exploring all sorts of jazz festival legends and lore.

As great as the festival’s been over its three decades, it could’ve had an even more impressive pedigree had it booked some artists early in their careers who later went on to become major stars instead of passing on them.

The time capsule covers that in Missed Connections. Adele is probably the biggest name on the list, but it also includes Amy Winehouse, The Black Keys, Joss Stone, Michael Bublé, Lana del Ray and Sam Smith. All could have played the festival at one point or another, but didn’t.

On the plus side, the festival has seen such luminaries as Aaron Neville, Chick Corea, Blind Boys of Alabama, Dave Brubeck, Diana Krall, Feist, Herbie Hancock, John Legend, Little Richard, Macy Gray, St. Vincent, The Roots and many more wonderful artists grace its stages.

So congratulations to the staff and volunteers for all the hard work and dedication they’ve put in over the years. Thanks also to SaskTel for being a long-time sponsor.

To help set the stage for the 2016 festival, here are four acts we’re keen to see:

Big Boi

While I like the song, I wasn’t really a follower of the duo Outkast when the single “Ms. Jackson” (from 2000’s Stankonia) came out. I wandered into things around the time of the smash hit double album Speakerboxx/The Love Below in 2003. Atlanta, Georgia’s Big Boi and Andre 3000 were each responsible for a side of the album, Big Boi’s side being Speakerboxx. It’s as funky as it is dirty, with bass heavy jams laid underneath 808s and breakbeats.

Fans of Big Boi’s solo work would probably point you towards Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, which shows him in top form, both as a rapper and a producer. While it only garnered mixed reviews, I also dig Big Grams, Big Boi’s team-up with electro-group Phantogram (which also features an appearance from Run the Jewels, the best group out there right now).

Big Boi is a big get for Jazzfest, probably the artist with the most potential for blowing minds in the whole line-up.

Big Boi plays July 2 @ Bessborough Gardens with The Lytics and The Gaff. /CS


Last September, Metric released its sixth studio album Pagans In Vegas. Since then, the Toronto rock quartet fronted by Emily Haines (vocals, keys) with James Shaw (lead guitar), Joshua Winstead (bass guitar) and Joules Scott-Key (drums) has been on the road, with stints in Europe, the United States and Mexico.

Now that festival season is upon us, the band is doing a string of outdoor gigs starting with the SaskTel Jazz Festival, and also including stops in Ottawa, Halifax, Victoria and Fredericton.

In contrast to Metric’s earlier indie rock sound, Pagans In Vegas tilts more toward electronic/pop. Speaking about the album prior to a late March show at Regina’s Brandt Centre, Haines expressed a determination to keep evolving as an artist. To not do that, she said, sounded like death to her.

“The songs from Pagans that we’re playing live are really adding to the show,” she added. “Big smiles and happiness.”

Metric plays June 25 @ Bessborough Gardens with Emilie & Ogden. /GB

Built To Spill

For an indie band that ended up with major label support, it’s surprising that Boise, Idaho’s Built to Spill’s first two Warner Brothers’ offerings are their most cherished. Their second Warner release, Keep It Like a Secret, is probably their most accessible “pop” album. But the first one, Perfect From Now On, showed they still had a lot of creative freedom in their contract.

The two albums vaulted Built to Spill to the top of the indie band heap in the ’90s. Built to Spill’s main man, Doug Martsch, was even a bit of a J. Mascis-style guitar hero in an anti-guitar hero time, utilizing melodic hooks with sloppy, but emotional solo noodling. Built to Spill may not be burning as bright in people’s minds as they were in the late ’90s, but they’re still putting out great records, and they boast an exceptional live show (they even managed to stay on the Warner label).

Built To Spill plays June 24 @ Amigos Cantina with Slow Down Molasses. /CS

City and Colour

City and Colour is touring in support of its fifth studio album I Should Go Before You, which was released last October. Fronted by Dallas Green, formerly of the post-hardcore band Alexisonfire, the band also includes Dante Schwebel (guitar), Jack Lawrence (bass), Doug MacGregor (drums) and Matt Kelly (pedal steel, keys).

Judging from the title track, and additional singles such as “Wasted Love” and “Lover Come Back”, you could be forgiven for assuming Green was following in the footsteps of Buck 65 with his latest album in chronicling the demise of a marriage (as the hip hop artist famously did with his 2014 LP Neverlove).

But from all reports, Green remains happily married to Toronto TV host Leah Miller. Instead, I Should Go Before You offers an honest appraisal of the ups and downs of love and relationships. And as fans of Green well know, his heartfelt delivery serves as a perfect vehicle for upending all the usual romantic clichés.

City and Colour plays July 3 @ Bessborough Gardens with Reuben and the Dark. /GB