What to See This Weekend at the 2013 Beaches International Jazz Festival

The 2013 Beaches International Jazz Festival may not be especially jazzy, but there's still plenty worth checking out.

KC Roberts and the Live Revolution play the Beaches International Jazz Fest on Thursday.

  • Multiple venues
  • July 19–28
  • FREE

The Beaches International Jazz Festival marks its 25th anniversary as it wraps up its 2013 edition this weekend. On tap are lots of cover bands, pan flute-led ensembles, and a sea of boomers in Hawaiian shirts walking their dogs.

Is that “Cheeseburger in Paradise” you just heard? Probably. Is that 70-year-old white gentleman in the “Canadian Tuxedo” doing a Bob Marley cover? You bet he is. One love, Toronto. Calling this event a jazz festival at this point is just illogical. The flavour is really more akin to the Taste of the Danforth, or Taste of the Kingsway,than a music festival.

So what’s the best way to enjoy this fest? Grab a seat on one of Queen Street East’s many great patios, get a bite and drink and soak up the great weather and the people watching. If you’re interested in going specifically for the music, don’t linger or wander. Head directly to see one of our top three picks, which are below.

KC Roberts and the Live Revolution

When: Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27, 7 p.m.
Where: In front of the LCBO (2185 Queen Street East)

This seven-piece funk band brings all of its jazz, hip hop, electronic, and rock influences to the table in a soulful, infectious cloud of fun. On Thursday at the festival, it had the largest, most enthusiastic crowd by far. What was telling is that there were lots of folks there who were intimate with the band’s original material, dancing and singing along. These guys are poised to take off, big time. Check them out at the fest and pick up their recently released crowdfunded double CD.

Jesse Whiteley

When: Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27, 7 p.m.
Where: In front of My Place in The Beach (2066 Queen Street East)

One of the younger members of the Whiteley family, a clan well known for producing folk musicians, Jesse is a fantastic piano player with lots of charm and a great voice. He was playing a Jelly Roll Morton tune on his Roland on Thursday night, amping the jazz content of the fest up by about 100 per cent.

Seagull All Stars

When: Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27, 7 p.m.
Where: In front of Seagull Classics (1974 Queen Street East)

Some of Toronto’s best jazz musicians are congregating in front of Seagull Classics (it’s a furniture store) and playing some swinging tunes. Thursday night, Mike Downes and Bill McBernie were on hand, being led by saxophonist Bob Brough. Who knows who else might show up this weekend?

What else is happening:

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