The Beaches International Jazz Festival celebrates 28th years next weekend. The Jazz festival is one of my favourite beach events and it might have something to do with the fact that we opened Beach Denture Clinic in 1987, around the same time as the festival launched.
The Festival was the brain child of Lido Chilelli (formerly owner of Lido’s In The Beach) now Executive Producer, of Beaches International Jazz Festival.
It was actually at Lido’s In The Beach, that the idea for a summer festival took hold.
One day in the ‘80s when the regular band was moving its equipment out, the piano sat for a while on Queen Street in front of the local barber shop.
To pass the time, one of the band members stepped up the plate and tickled the ivories for a few minutes while waiting for the truck.
He started getting all kinds of interest and Lido knew he was onto something. It wasn't until 1989, when the first festival was held and local jazz artists were booked to perform at the Kew Beach Bandshell.
There have been many transitions since the original festival from closing down part of Queen Street to blossoming into a month long mid-summer event that attracts millions of fans and makes a major contribution to promoting Canadian jazz excellence locally and on the world stage.
What makes the festival a true attraction is its ability to retain old talent but experiment with fresh programming that has decidedly won over a new generation of admirers.
And who has been to the festival?
According to the website, countless memorable musicians including artists such as Brian Hughes, David Blamires, Jane Bunnett, Warren Hill, Jesse Cook, Ingrid Jensan, Carole Weilsman, Molly Johnson, Jay Douglas, Francois Bourassa, Lorraine Desmarais, Mark Jordan, Carl Weathersby, Hilario Duran, Matt Dusk, Tromebone Shorty, and Red Barret, just to name a few!
There is something for everyone at the festival, including workshops, a visual arts program and numerous beach community events. But it's the music that counts and this year's musical features include:
- Beach Salsa Festival – July 2-3 – Woodbine Park
- Sounds of Leslieville & Riverside – July 8-10 – Jimmie Simpson Park
- Taste of Jazz – July 19 & 20 – Woodbine Park
- Streetfest on Queen St. E. – July 21& 23
- Big Band Stage – July 22-24 – Main Stage
In Lido's own words, he best describes the success of the festival: “The world has taken notice of this little street festival. We continue to be the ambassadors for the City and its jazz scene. Where else in Canada can you find a festival of this magnitude, beachside, and for free?
As a Beach business we’ve been delighted to share the Beach with such a wonderful festival and for 28 long years.
But there are numerous beach businesses with a similar legacy in the neighbourhood including our own. We’re looking towards March to celebrateing our 30th anniversary next year at our Queen and Woodbine clinic.
Congratulations to the Beaches International Jazz Festival on another successful concert.
Let the music begin!
~Menely Lainas, DD
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