The second annual Aurora Jazz+ Festival was held this past Friday night and Saturday. I didn't have a chance to see any of the Friday night performers, but I spent the entire day at the Town Park Saturday listening to the Jazz, Blues, R&B, Pop, Folk, and Rock music line-up the organizers had put together. Along with returning artists like Joel Krivy, Bobby Rice and the Mike Massaro Band, there were a bevy of new performers along for the ride.
The organizers, George and Sher St.Kitts, seem to be dedicated to showcasing as much local talent as possible, and included many amateur, semi-pro, and up and coming York Region performers. The absolute highlight of the show, for me, was Stacey Kaniuk - a cute-as-a-button local girl with a voice that'll knock your socks off. This girl cannot be far from breaking through into the big time. During a hot enough to set the stage on fire rendition of the James Brown hit It's a Man's Man's Man's World, the performers due up next stood on the alternate stage, arms crossed, watching the rug being pulled out from under them. This is a singer-songwriter on her way to the top, mark my words.
Other local performers included the amateur acts Higher Ground and Six Way From Sunday, and aspiring pros Chris Hau, and The Julian Troiano Band. Also in the mix were the traditional Jazz sounds of the After Hours Big Band - another local group - and big name headliner Robert Michaels' cuban/flamenco (cubamenco) guitar stylings.
The event was in support of two local charities; The Canadian Center for Abuse Awareness, and Safehaven.
I was somewhat disappointed with the turnout this year. The park was pretty much empty until evening. Most of the spectators came out to see Robert Michaels play after 8:00PM, but during the day acts were, unfortunately, playing to a sparse littering of no more than a couple hundred people. I'm not sure whether the problem was the timing - on a summer long weekend - or a lack of widespread promotion, or something else - or, more likely, a combination of these factors, but hopefully next year's event will be better attended.
For more pictures of the event, visit my Flickr photoset.