Thu, Apr 24, 2014.
Soul, jazz, alt-rock, New Orleans, East Coast and more, the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival has made its upcoming 2014 event perhaps the widest-ranging lineup yet. The latest additions to the roster come from a host of different genres, but with one thing in common, a dynamic stage show. It's the last major announcement of headliners before the full schedule is released on May 6.
(photo by Diane Lafond)
David Clayton-Thomas was one of the leading lights in the mid-60's Toronto scene, with his band The Shays packing clubs down town and in Yorkville Village, and scoring major local radio hits. Word of his vocal prowess spread through the North American scene, and led to an invitation to join the horn-driven up-and-comers Blood, Sweat and Tears. With the addition of DCT's huge voice, the group scored massive hits such as Spinning Wheel, and since that time he's been the man in the middle at the meeting of jazz and rock. The last couple of years he's led a big band that's moved into the blues as well, so he's pretty much the perfect Harvest guest.
(Photo by Tim Brennan)
Well, except for Joel Plaskett, who is only a little more perfect because he has never failed to impress over his many appearances at the festival. This time he's back with The Emergency, and the talented trio will no doubt have something special worked up for September. Plaskett's been relatively quiet on the recording front of late, at least on his own projects, instead producing for East Coast faves Old Man Luedecke and ex-Great Big Seaman Sean McCann. By the fall though, who knows what will have cropped up? It won't matter really, we're all cool with a greatest hits set, too.
For all of the fans who were amazed by the sets two years ago by Charles Bradly and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, there's more vintage soul ahead. Lee Fields & the Expressions have been gaining the same kind of ecstatic reviews for their albums and concerts the last couple of years. Fields is a veteran who began touring in the 60's on the soul circuit, but really only came into his own in the late 2000's. Great reviews for his 2012 album Faithful Man have pushed him into the top ranks of festival slots, and this promises to be one of the must-see shows in September.
Every year at Harvest, another band jumps out to great acclaim with a super show. Last year, that was The Revivalists from New Orleans, and wisely the group has been invited back. Mixing funk with jam, horns and pedal steel, the rhythms will take you into a full Harvest-style groove. Hamilton, Ontario's Arkells are one of the country's fastest-rising rock stars, already Juno-winners for their first album Jackson Square, and now with a hit follow-up Michegan Left on their plates as well. Rounding up the the new additions is leading East Coast roots-rockers The Stanfields, another band known for a searing live show.
So the major headliners all seem to be in place for September, but Harvest has been known to pull a surprise or two, holding back a couple of names for just the right moment. The next we'll hear from them is the official Festival Launch on Tuesday, May 6, and then tickets go on sale Saturday, May 10.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).