SummerWorks' musical arm brings a diverse array of acts to the festival.
Now in its fourth year, the SummerWorks Music Series, which started off as sort of an add-on to the original theatre fest, has become an event in its own right. This year’s edition features an interesting blend of relative newbies, Canadian music veterans, side projects from established artists, and alternative takes on musical theatre.
The opening party, which takes place on August 9, has not one but two electronic side projects from members of well-known local indie acts. Forest City Lover Kat Burns will appear as her alter-ego Kashka, combining chillwave-esque fuzzy electronics with melodic vocals. Warm Myth, meanwhile, is a slow, almost dreamy electronic collaboration between Ohbijou‘s Casey Mecija and Bonjay‘s Kieran Adams.
Guelph-based brother duo The Magic, who play on August 10, are among the more interesting up-and-coming acts at this year’s SummerWorks. The’80s revivalists manage to mine that decade’s sonic gold without coming off as too derivative or painfully ironic. Sure, they borrow from more obvious choices (Hall and Oates, Talking Heads), but they also toss in big chunks of funk-soul to keep it interesting.
Another emerging act worth looking at: OG Melody, who play the festival’s closing party on August 19. OG Melody take classic ’90s-style R&B and inject it with a dose of indie rock lo-fi sensibility to create a sound that is simultaneously sexy and poppy.
Nova Scotia–born art-hop veteran and CBC host Rich “Buck 65” Terfry will bring his unique musical stew to SummerWorks on August 15. If you’ve never seen Buck do his thing live, you’ve been wasting your life. With influences ranging from Tom Waits and David Byrne to Kool Keith and MC Shan, a catalogue spanning more than two decades and a general penchant for weirdness, Buck 65 pretty much never disappoints. The other more established artist anchoring this year’s music series is Hawksley Workman, who’s written a one-man cabaret show called The God That Comes, based on Euripides’ The Bacchae. (Note that this show comes with a work-in-progress disclaimer.) It will likely be either excellent or disastrous, but nowhere in between. Either way it’s going to be interesting.
The festival line-up also includes what could only be termed musical theatre for the bleak and/or introspective. The two-act “chamber musical” Blood Ties, tops this list of musicals for the black hearted. It may not be the way you would expect to present the story of four friends cleaning up after a suicide, but it is often these kinds of incongruities that make for the best ideas. The show, written by Anika Johnson and Barbara Johnston, returns after successful performances at SummerWorks 2010 and at the Lower Ossington Theatre in 2011, when it was known previously as Blood Buds. This re-incarnation now features a different cast well as the updated tagline, “Everyone’s hands are STILL dirty.”