10 Local Artists to Check out at the Winnipeg Jazz Festival

The Winnipeg International Jazz Festival is always a highly-anticipated event among local music fans. With a 10-day schedule packed full of club shows, concert performances, and free nightly parties at Old Market Square, it’s an annual summer highlight.

While this year’s lineup of headlining acts has come under some criticism due to its lack of jazz-specific content (despite big names in other genres like the Flaming Lips and Daniel Caesar), the lineup of local performers is, as usual, unimpeachable.

Here are just a few of the many, many outstanding Winnipeg musicians hitting Jazz Fest stages from June 14-24.

Iskwé

Saturday, June 16 @ 10:40 p.m.
Old Market Square

A powerhouse voice, infectious beats and a social conscience. If you somehow missed Iskwé’s (deservedly) JUNO-nominated The Fight Within or the unforgettable single Nobody Knows, which deals with the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, you’re in for a treat. The Winnipeg ex-pat draws from her cultural roots to create a wholly unique trip-hop sound.

Carrasco/Krause Ensemble

Friday, June 22 @ 5:45 p.m.
Old Market Square

Blending their respective Chilean and Russian Mennonite backgrounds, jazz players Jaime Carrasco and Jesse Krause draw on stories of migration and combine them with updated standards, creating a wholly original (and jazz-heavy) take on ‘world music.’

Chuck Copenace

Thursday, June 21 @ 8:20 p.m.
Old Market Square

Already pushing the envelope with his hard-edged jazz/funk instrumentals, Ojibway trumpeter Chuck Copenace delves into his traditional spirituality and connects the dots between Indigenous ceremonial music, electronic dance music, jazz and hip-hop.

Keith Price

Thursday, June 21  @ 6 p.m.
Old Market Square

A guitarist whose heavily textured compositions shine whether as a solo performer or as part of an ensemble. Price’s 2017 recording with his double quartet was a blast of experimental jazz magic. The wide range of influences on display throughout his catalogue makes his sound accessible even for newcomers to the genre.

Marisolle Negash

Saturday, June 16 @ 5 p.m.
Old Market Square

Tuesday, June 19 @ 8 p.m.
West End Cultural Centre

An accomplished keyboard player and vocalist, Marisolle is at the heart of an R&B/neo-soul renaissance in Winnipeg. She has spent the past few years developing her sound and becoming one of the city’s must-see live performers, and though her recorded output may be small, the spellbinding singles she’s released to date are signs of big things to come.

Odd Outfit

Saturday June 24 @ 10 p.m.
Good Will Social Club

Driving, experimental, instrumental jazz-fusion. Drawing from elements of jazz, R&B, punk rock, hip-hop, psychedelia and more, Odd Outfit is riding on the critical success of its debut album, Up/Down, and taking its melting pot of sound into unexplored territory.

RasTamils

Monday, June 18 @ 10 p.m.
Old Market Square

Vocalist Franklin Fernando is inspired by his Sri Lankan upbringing and deep love of reggae music, both of which he instills in RasTamils’ unique sound. Hard-charging, conscious anthems and gorgeous lover’s rock melodies share the stage at a RasTamils show, always buoyed by infectious reggae rhythms.

The Reverend Rambler

Thursday, June 21 @ 8 p.m.
Knox United Church

A one-man blues/rock/soul powerhouse. If you’ve never seen someone playing drums, singing and playing guitar at the same time, the Rev is right up your alley … but he’s no novelty act. Combining a punk energy with down-home roots makes this one-of-a-kind artist an exciting addition to any festival.

3Peat

Sunday, June 17 @ 10 p.m.
Old Market Square

Quite simply, Winnipeg’s best rap group. 3Peat are coming off a successful European tour, where they’ve been spreading the gospel of prairie hip-hop, and they continue to draw passionate crowds at home and abroad. With a new album in the works and a variety of solo projects released over the past few years, they’ve been rapidly growing their fanbase and perfecting their sound. A must-see on anyone’s list.

The Mariachi Ghost

Friday, June 22 @ midnight
Old Market Square

One look at a photo of this face-painted Western Canadian Music Award-winning octet, and you know you’re in for something special. The Mariachi Ghost modernizes traditional Mexican music, with haunting harmonies, dance, and rock-influenced elements playing major roles in their sound.

Contributor: Sam Thompson is the host of Witchpolice Radio, a podcast that has featured interviews with local musicians since 2012. The show’s archive of almost 300 episodes can be found at http://www.witchpolice.com, and archival episodes can be heard on Sundays at midnight on UMFM 101.5.

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