I’ve been a music booker for a long time – about half of my life – and I’ve always considered booking music an art. When I work on a festival or music series, it uses up all of my creative energy in the same way that writing or acting does; it satisfies my drive to create in the same way.
I never really had the right words to describe it to people until someone – I can’t remember if it was Elizabeth Fennel or Fynn Leitch – said something in an online conversation that really resonated with me: “Curation is Creation.” In those three neat words so much of what I do as a booker is explained.
I’m not someone who likes booking a big headliner to end the show – I like a lineup that works like a long mixed tape, building a feeling, shaping a mood. I believe that music can bring together a community, can create intergenerational and cross-cultural conversations and places. I can and do book ticketed shows, but my preference leans heavily towards free shows in outdoor venues. ((Though I’m sometimes conflicted about that, as I think audiences should understand that art costs money.))
I love giving emerging artists an opportunity; I love introducing audiences to artists or sounds that they’ve never heard before. I love working with artists who are professional and pleasant, and I take care to book acts that will treat my crew, audiences, staff, and volunteers with respect.
The lineup for my weekly Music City Summer Series is something I’m very proud of; the brief was to book a series that spoke to the multiple distinct demographics of the Distillery District, and brought Roots/Country/Folk in counterpoint to the huge amount of Jazz and Latin American/Caribbean programming that we’ve got on throughout the rest of the Summer.
These are acts that, aside from being wonderful and very skilled, I also think are lovely people; it gives me a little thrill of pleasure to see the whole lineup laid out as it is below. So here it is, The Distillery District’s Music City Summer Series, 2015:
The Double Cuts
Wednesday June 3, 2015
Toronto’s most genial Western Swing band The Double Cuts draw from a timeless repertoire that sets audiences smiling and ready to dance.
Wednesday June 10, 2015
Bringing a shine to every venue with their beautiful harmonies and extraordinary energy, The Dirty dishes have been touring the country breaking hearts and soothing souls at festivals and events throughout Canada.
Wednesday June 17, 2015, 6pm
Delivering a veritable gumbo of old-style jazz and folk music, The Boxcar Boys are a joyous acoustic celebration guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.
Wednesday June 24, 2015, 6pm
When Saskatoon native and Folk/Jazz/Blues artist Suzie Vinnick takes the stage, she takes it from the footlights to the rafters and owns it. Her powerful presence and skillful playing has left a lasting impression on audience across the country.
Kristine Schmitt and the Lonesome Ace Stringband
Wednesday July 1, 2015, 6pm
Kristine Schmitt is a Toronto-based singer-songwriter, specializing in material both drawn from and influenced by music from the early part of the twentieth century. Whether it’s a fifties country ballad, an old mountain tune, a salty twenties blues number, a swinging thirties jazz tune, or belting out one of her own, you’d better hang on tight!
Red Moon Road
Wednesday July 8, 2015, 6pm
Born in a storm on a wild Canadian lake, Canada’s most energetic and endearing folk trio brings masterful storytelling and a lush and lively take on modern roots music.
Wednesday July 29, 2015, 6pm
Canadian virtuoso fiddler and singer Miranda Mulholland’s music has a subtle power and distinctive personality. Mixing Jazz, Folk, and Roots music seamlessly, she thrives on diversity. a member of Great Lakes Swimmers and Belle Star, her solo work reflects her skill and experience, bringing her own unique style to the fore.
Wednesday August 5, 2015, 6pm
Through their rich-but-rustic sound, Toronto Roots/Rock outfit The Young Novelists deliver raw but elegant instrumentation and stacked, multi-layered harmonies.
Wednesday August 12, 2015, 6pm
An eclectic traditionalist, Kaia Kater offers a unique take on Appalachian and Canadian traditional music through banjo and voice.
Wednesday August 19, 2015, 6pm
Part velvet, part gravel, Melissa Payne’s voice stands out – her playing on fiddle and guitar a demonstration in passion and graceful restraint, her songs stomp and holler like a heatbeat leaving audiences enthralled.
Wednesday August 26, 2015, 6pm
Blending Folk, Country, and Blues, Patrick Brealey is filled to the brim with swagger, tenderness, and charisma. Whether through his clever songwriting or quick sense of humour, he captivates crowds wherever he performs.