Big Acts Coming to Streamlined Jazz Fest

Jann Arden will perform on June 30.

With five acts signed for the ticketed concerts in the Delta Bessborough Gardens for the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, artistic director Kevin Tobin is counting on a strong opening weekend launch and an equally strong closing kick.

The festival runs from June 21 to 30 and, under a streamlining of the festival model, the Gardens will be used for ticketed concerts five nights and turned over to free stage performances the other five nights.

The performance lineup, as designed by Tobin, looks like this.

Walk Off The Earth will perform June 21

Walk Off The Earth, a Canadian indie band from Burlington, Ont., will lead off on the main stage June 21. The band was launched in 2006, started recording in 2012 and played at a National Football League halftime show in Minnesota in 2018.

The band suffered a loss with the death of Mike Taylor in December, but the remaining members vowed to carry on.

The Roots will perform June 22

The Roots, as close to a pure jazz band as any of the acts signed, will appear on June 22. They call themselves America’s Hip Hop Band, but since signing as the house band for NBC’s Tonight Show, they have adopted a jazzy and eclectic take on hip hop.

Lyle Lovett will headline on June 23.

Lyle Lovett, who comes with a ton of credentials, will headline on June 23. Lovett is a singer-songwriter with 13 albums and 20 hit singles to his credit. He has won four Grammy awards, including best male artist and best country album in 2007. Lovett admits to playing some jazz in addition to Texas country, western swing and bluegrass.

Johnny Reid will be back on June 29.

The biggest catch is Johnny Reid, the Scottish-born singer who emigrated to Canada in 1988. He’s played to sell-out crowds at TCU Place and twice headlined at the Saskatoon Exhibition. His festival appearance is June 29. He’s won a handful of JUNO awards, starting in 2010 and winning again in 2018, clicking with Revival as the Canadian album of the year.

Closing night on June 30 belongs to Jann Arden. The timing couldn’t be better. An acclaimed singer-songwriter with JUNO awards in hand, she is now starring in her own comedy show on the CTV network.

 Her first show attracted 1.4 million viewers. Her latest music release is an album called These Are the Days. Arden has been chosen for inclusion in Canada’s Walk of Fame.

“We are proud to release an eclectic and diverse lineup for the 33rd annual festival,” Tobin said in a news release. “From headliners to hidden gems, artists you know and those yet to be discovered, the program offers something for everyone.”  

The big marketing catch this year is an LB Garden Pass, available at $260, which allows its holder access to all of the ticketed events in the Bessborough Gardens. The bonus is that a ticket is transferable. The sale will last for a limited time.

There will also be ticketed shows at the Broadway Theatre, The Bassment and Amigos. One special event will be the Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra, led by Dean McNeill, on June 22 at the Broadway. Another will be a tribute to the late Maurice Drouin, a noted Saskatoon pianist, at The Bassment on June 29, with an array of artists performing Drouin’s favourite songs.

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