“Where Music Comes Alive”: Sun Life Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival Returns This Weekend

Organizers of the Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival are eager to see some semblance of normalcy this weekend after a two-year absence.

After being canceled the past two years and cut short due to Mother Nature in 2019, the Sun Life Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival returns this weekend, July 22-24, with the opening act for Iron Tonic on stage. in front of City Hall at 5 p.m. Friday. .

“I can’t imagine anything better on a nice, warm summer night than sitting down with a beer and listening to some great live music,” said festival chairman Steve Joyce. “We’re excited to collect live music and share it with the community.”

After the carpet was pulled out for everyone in 2020, Joyce said a drive-in version of the jazz festival was in the works for Bingemans last year that would have ended up being allowed under COVID color codes -19 from the province. “But they didn’t lift the full lockdown until mid-June and by then it was too late,” Joyce said. “We thought we licked it, but it licked us.”

Many artists who would have been part of last year’s event have been rescheduled to perform this year.

Headliners include Matt Dusk Sings Sinatra on Friday, rock-inspired band Monkey House on Saturday and contemporary crooner Steven Taetz on Sunday.

The lineup is packed with “world-class Ontario-based talent,” according to artistic director Derek Hines, who said bringing in international talent, who sometimes make up half of the festival schedule, was still too risky with the restrictions. travel plans in place earlier this year.

But with 14 acts throughout the weekend, there’s enough for sophisticated purists and fusion fans, according to Joyce, who said artists like Brantford’s Avery Raquel will bring soul to the stage and that Kitchener-Waterloo R&B artist Rufus John will incorporate hip pop.

“We’re trying to broaden the scope,” said Joyce, who hopes to attract more people who are indifferent to jazz as a genre that lacks rhythm or melody, noting the festival’s slogan, “Where Music Comes Alive.”

Jazz can be about improvisation, but it doesn’t have to be, said Hines, a singer who plays with a local ensemble and works with some of the artists appearing this weekend. “It can have a good rhythm and follow a melody, or it can be more expressive and completely improvised,” he said. “What’s really great about jazz is that these two things exist at the same time.

“There’s no one size fits all with jazz, and I think that’s what’s cool about it.” Hines said one of the main goals this year was to make entertainment accessible to everyone, especially after a two-year absence.

The festival, which attracts around 20,000 people, is always free thanks to sponsors and government subsidies. This year, organizers plan to issue free tickets online to help gather demographic information that will help them apply for grants and ensure people won’t be turned away due to capacity limits. Walk-in visits will still be accepted if places are available.

As for the crowds, Joyce isn’t sure what to expect this year. “Let your hair down, bring family, bring friends,” he said. “There could be another wave in the fall, so let’s take advantage of it while we can.”

Volunteers are still needed. Information on how to register to help and get tickets is available at waterloojazzfest.com.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Returning after a two-year hiatus, the Chronicle reached out to organizers of the Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival to see what’s in store for us this weekend.

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