Luminato 2013: Music Preview
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Luminato 2013: Music Preview

This year's Luminato music line-up features everything from "audio drag" to Chinese reggae.

Coming hot on the heels of NXNE, you may be all concerted-out by the time Luminato rolls around, but that’s just too bad. This is a bit of a banner year for music at the annual arts festival, with a mixture of legendary artists and acts from around the world making their Canadian debut.


Joni: A Portrait in Song – A Birthday Happening Live at Massey Hall

When: Tuesday, June 18 and Wednesday, June 19, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Massey Hall (178 Victoria Street)

Joni Mitchell will be joining an all-star cast paying tribute to her at Massey Hall on her 70th birthday. Mitchell is a musical legend who’s influenced four decades worth of artists; she’ll only be performing briefly, reading a poem, but the other artists who will be joining her make this a must-see show. Jazz hero and funk pioneer Herbie Hancock will join her on June 19, as will new-school jazz darling Esperanza Spalding. Both nights will see Mitchell joined by artists like Cold Specks, Rufus Wainwright and Glen Hansard. If you like Joni Mitchell even a little, or just have a general respect for music history, you should really make every effort to see this.

Maxi Priest

When: Saturday, June 15, 9 p.m.
Where: The Hub at David Pecaut Square (221 King Street West)

English reggae singer Maxi Priest has been cranking out the hits for the better part of 30 years, both as a solo artist and doing duets with the likes of Roberta Flack, Shabba Ranks, and Shaggy. He’s one of only two British-based reggae acts to have a Number One hit in the U.S. with 1990’s “Close to You.” (UB40 was the other.) “Close to You” was probably playing when some of you were conceived. You should drop by and thank him for that.

Heroes of the Weird

Kid Koala’s Space Cadet

When: Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15, 10:30 p.m.
Where: The Hub at David Pecaut Square (221 King Street West)

Turntablist Kid Koala came to Luminato last year as part of Deltron 3030. This year, he’s back with Space Cadet, an “immersive headphone experience” based on his second graphic novel, where the audience sits on inflatable space pods. Spin called it “a triumph of whimsy.” We’re not quite sure what that all means, but Kid Koala is just generally excellent, and this sounds like it will be an experience no matter what happens.

Laurie Anderson

When: Sunday, June 16, 9 p.m.
Where: The Hub at David Pecaut Square (221 King Street West)

Sculptor-turned-musician Laurie Anderson has been combining spoken word, performance art, and music since the late 1960s. Along the way, she’s also invented two new instruments—tape bow violin and the talking stick—and pioneered a voice-filter technique she calls audio drag, lowering her voice into a masculine register. (Her male alter ego is named Fenway Bergamot.) She is both a creative genius and wonderfully bizarre. Go see her or regret it for the rest of your life.

Canadian Debuts

Long Shen Dao

When: Saturday, June 15, 8 p.m.
Where: The Hub at David Pecaut Square (221 King Street West)

A six-man reggae band from Beijing, that hotbed of Rastafarian culture, Long Shen Dao combine classic roots reggae with rock and ska influences, as well as traditional Chinese instruments. This will be their first North American show, and if their videos are anything to go by, they should be pretty entertaining. At minimum, you should go to say you’ve seen a Chinese reggae band.

Garifuna Collective

When: Sunday, June 23, 2 p.m.
Where: The Hub at David Pecaut Square (221 King Street West)

The African-influence hand-drum centred music of Belize’s Garifuna people was proclaimed a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2001, and with good reason. It can border on trance-inducing and absolutely compels you to move. The Garifuna Collective represent music at its best. This will be the group’s Canadian debut. Why wouldn’t you want to be there?