Top Fives



Daniel Caesar: Unsurprisingly, Daniel Caesar is at the top of my must-see list for jazz fest this year. His stunning debut LP, Freudian, was one of my top picks on my annual “Best of” albums list for the Winnipeg Free Press – it’s simple but beautiful and emotional. He’s one of the most buzzed-about artists in the Canadian music scene right now for a reason.

Lido Pimienta: Lido Pimienta is the kind of musical role model young women need right now. She’s fiercely feminist, defiant and loudly political in her work; she’s a multi-instrumentalist and multi-lingual, and her Spanish-language album, La Papessa, snagged the prestigious Polaris Music Prize in 2017. If that’s not enough of a reason to check her out, I don’t know what is.

Moon Hooch: New York-based horn-and-percussion trio Moon Hooch is an experience – take a peek at their NPR Tiny Desk Concert if you don’t believe me. They are explosive and energetic, blending all the best elements of jazz, funk and electronic music to create a whirlwind of danceable fun.

Ellen Doty: Calgary-native Ellen Doty has mastered the mix of pop, soul and jazz. There’s an intimacy to what she creates -- both in the vivid stories told within her lyrics, and her breathy, sweet vocals – that is absolutely engrossing.

The Flaming Lips: For performance value alone, the Flaming Lips show is on my list to see.. How can you say no to a 57-year-old man crowd surfing whilst in a large plastic bubble and the likelihood that many coloured balls will fall from the ceiling?



Jazz music has a long and storied tradition. While it is important to respect and revere the past, it is also important to think about the future. The Winnipeg Jazzfest lineup has managed to strike a nice balance this year!

1)    Daniel Caesar – Drove down the California coast last week with this on. It was magical.

2)    tUnE-yArDs – There is so much interesting stuff going on in her music and from what I’ve seen on the interwebs she does some pretty magical things in concert WITHOUT backing tracks. She is a loop pedal master. Can’t wait how to see how her records translates live!

3)    Jill Barber – Love her! A few years back she recorded entire album of French classics by Edith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg and I still listen to it. This record makes me want to own a gramophone. If anyone has one for sale, holler!

4)    Ponteix – These guys are making very vibey/atmospheric/interesting pop and doing it at a very high level. They are carrying the torch along with a few other bands in western Canada and making francophone music outside of Québec relevant.

5)    Ghost-Note – Saw them on the Jazz Fest pamphlet. Loved the name (very à propos). Had no idea who they were. Listened to it. Loved it. Can’t wait to check it out live!



1. Gogo Penguin @ The WECC

I am thrilled to see this group perform in Winnipeg as it has saved me the air fare to see them in the UK. I am captivated by their intricate arrangements set on top of an atmospheric and electronic inspired backdrop. Gogo Penguin's two albums,  v2.0 and Manmade Object were on repeat during the birth of our daughter last summer. Fun for the whole family!

2. Neil Watson + Julian Bradford / Jeff Presslaff / Todd Martin + Aaron Shorr / Charlie Ballantine / Karly Epp + Karl Kohut / Sean Irvine + Andrew Littleford @ Parlour Coffee

I see how this appears to be a little self serving, but I was delighted with the performances at Parlour Coffee last year as the intimate setting of our humble 400 square foot shop was transformed by the sound of these excellent musicians. These lunch hour moments are sure to be nourishing even if you only have 10 minutes to sit (or stand) and take it in.



Call it provincial, but when it comes to Winnipeg’s arts scene, I love seeing bonafide Winnipeggers on the bill. This year’s festival is the perfect opportunity to connect (and reconnect) with musicians who are shaping this province’s artistic community. I’m especially interested in the number of amazing young women featured this year and I know I for one, don’t want to miss a beat. Excuse me while I fan-girl it up.

#1 - Kelly Bado  

Even before her romp on Quebec’s La Voix (the French Canadian equivalent of “The Voice”), Bado was well established as a fresh young voice (and now staple) in Manitoba’s music scene. Given that she will be releasing a new album in 2019, I can’t imagine she will be sticking around Winnipeg much longer, so I’d recommend catching her on-stage while we can. Check out this video. 

#2 - IsKwé

IsKwé is the living embodiment of all things edgy in Canadian music. She is a totally cool artist who, in spite of considerable international acclaim, has yet to lose touch of her roots. Her sound and look is such a blend of genres and a fresh synthesis of our particular historical moment. Whether it’s the first time or the fifteenth, you won’t regret catching this one.  Check out this video.


I have to give it to Heather Thomas, this synthy R&B experiment is downright magical. ATLAAS, full stop, without question, has a beautiful sound. As a musician, Thomas has this refined ability to deliver romantic, emotional, and earnest lyrics; and when paired with her own magical voice -- she can soften even the most hardened cynic in the room.  Check out this video. 

#4 - Marisolle Negash

When I think about Negash on the scene, I can imagine her crooning love songs in hazy cocktail lounges in New York or Chicago. Her sound is raw, soulful, and almost smoky. You’re likely to catch her performing at cafes and restaurants around Winnipeg, where she explores new tunes and brings life to light some pretty vibrant collaborations. If you like 90s hip hip and soul, you’ll be down with Marisolle.

#5 - Rayannah

Rayannah’s music is layered, melodic, and electronic; and I have to admit, I dig her independent all-in-one vibe. There aren’t many performers who can literally bring-it-all to the table, and she does exactly that (with her looper in tow). When I hear her perform, I feel like I have my own personal Franco-Manitoban Imogen Heap.  Check out this video.


Honorable mentions to...

Casati is just too much fun with Grace Hrabi’s ukelele, they deliver a musical journey that will leave you floating → Video

Erin Propp with Larry Roy are an incredible and steadfast pair of performers. Their compositions are soft, soulful, and timeless → Video

Keith Price → Gotta love Keith. He’s one hell of a musician, constantly supports other musicians, and he’s probably flat-out one of the nicest guys in this city.



  1. Daniel Ceaser – Daniel Ceaser is one of those artists whose tranquilizing music can be enjoyed during almost any mood. His style borders R&B and soul and can quite honestly make you forget about all the worries of your day. His soothing vocals and consequential lyrics are definite reasons you should see one of his shows.

  2. Allison Au - This next one might be a tad bit biased, but as a former Saxophonist and wood wind lover, I highly suggest watching saxophonist Allison Au. She brings a magical presence to stage and enlightens the entire room with her smooth and upbeat compositions played through her Alto Sax. She plays two shows on June 21s. One from 6pm-8:30pm and the other from 9-10:30, that's double the opportunity to see one of her amazing shows.

  3. Alsarah & the Nubatones - Music is universal and I'm a strong believer that you don't necessarily have to understand the language a song is sung to appreciate it's beauty. That's why, I love listening to Alsarah & the Nubatones, and I think that you too, can appreciate one of their Arabian sung performances.

  4. The Flaming Lips - I love a high energy show and you can bet that The Flaming Lips bring their best to every stage. They are fantastic for staying true to their quirky outfits and performances and it makes their rock-alternative concerts that much better.

  5. Robi Botos – Robi Botos is one of my favourite jazz pianists because he's not afraid to go beyond the jazz realm to bring a new spark to his music. You can  expect to be fully blown away by the talent that comes out of one man and his ten fingers which is exactly why you need to see him in person this year for Jazz Winnipeg.



The Wet Secrets w/ Duotang – It has been a while since I have seen both acts. The high energy performances and great songs will make a great night.

Iskwé – Her shows keep getting stronger. Her music and politics make the shows unforgettable. She is amazing.

Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer - these guys put on a killer show and have never disappointed.

Super Duty Tough Work – Each show is unique, jazz players and an MC, what is not to like.

Just because I always enjoy myself and look forward to this event, my other choice is Ellen Doty, 3PEAT, Kelly Bado, Micah Erenberg, Dirty Catfish Brass Band, Faouzia, Leaf Rapids, Ariel Posen, Orbit, Rayannah, viisi, The Lytics, and finally The Mariachi Ghost. I will be busy as usual.



Cinematheque Partners with the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival to present a series of jazz + music-themed films during our festival. Check the schedule here. 

1) Keith Price - Several years ago Winnipeg guitarist Keith Price performed a live set at Cinematheque to accompany some rare 8mm films. His playing was fantastic - deeply felt, soulful, with expert picking. I can't recommend this show highly enough.

2) The Lost Highway Players Tribute to David Lynch composer Angelo Baldamenti -  Whoever thought up this idea deserves a medal. Angelo Baldamenti often flies under the radar. Not any more. His great ambient scores with David Lynch are stunning. A great line up with arranger Jonathan Alexiuk, saxophonist Neil Watson, and multi-instrumentalist Dave Quanbury.

3) Dirty Catfish Brass Band - If you think you are in New Orleans you are. These guys will rock the park known as Old Market Square and levitate the Cube into the stratosphere.  Don't miss this.

4) The Flaming Lips - Another group which stands by their style and can out-weird anyone in the alternative pop world. Apparently in 1990 a rep for Warner Bros. Records witnessed a show at which the band almost burned down the venue with pyrotechnics (American Legion Hall in Norman, Oklahoma). And If you like their show you might want to check out their wild doc Fearless Freaks playing at Cinematheque during the festival.

5) The Mariachi Ghost - This band knows how to dress and perform like nobody's business. Fantastic costumes, showmanship, stage performance and musical chops. The soul of Mexico comes across like a hot wind. See them before they get too big!  



1. The Flaming Lips

I really got into The Flaming Lips back when Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots came out in 2002; the guy I was dating at the time wore out their CD in his car because we listened to it so much. Whoops. However, despite being a fan for over a decade I’ve yet to see these guys perform live, and seeing them at The Burt will definitely check off a bucket list item for me.

2. 3Peat

3Peat are hands-down my favourite local hip-hop group. I’ve seen them several times in different venues and festival settings and they never fail to deliver. Not only are their lyrics super-smart and creative, but their tracks are catchy as hell and they bring an incredible energy to the stage that really gets the crowd going. I’m beyond excited at the chance to see them perform as part of Jazz Fest this year.

3. Cadence Weapon

The irony of the fact that I’m most excited to see two hip-hop acts at a jazz festival isn’t lost on me, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Cadence Weapon on this list. After binge-listening to everything he has on Apple Music and reading that The National Post named him Canada’s most “creative rapper” I’m convinced that this is a show I won’t want to miss.


I’ll be honest: I’m a sucker for a musician who knows their way around a looping pedal, and the combination of synth, haunting vocals, and layered sounds vocalist Heather Thomas, guitarist Charlotte Friesen and drummer Luke Janzen create is practically spellbinding. ATLAAS have been on my local radar for a while now and I’ve seen them at Rainbow Trout, The Good Will, and other local venues more times than I can count… and I’m still excited for another show. So you know they’re good.

5. SC Mira as the Roadhouse Band from Twin Peaks

I’m not even sure what needs to be said about this other than: one of my favourite local indie bands is doing a tribute to the Roadhouse Band from Twin Peaks! Obviously this is going to be amazing! (Side note: I’m really, really hoping that there will be doughnuts at this show.)



Lido Pimienta:  Tuesday June 19 at the West End Cultural Centre

Lido Pimienta is a boss. I had the unexpected pleasure of watching her throw down in Ottawa at the MEGAPHONO festival earlier this year and she blew me away. Lido is a talented songwriter, powerful vocalist, and entertaining performer. Definitely a show you do not want to miss!

Daniel Ceasar:  Wednesday June 20 @ Pantages and Thursday, June 21 @ The Burt

Soothing like a warm cup of tea. That’s the best way I can describe Daniel Ceasar’s music. The rest of Winnipeg has already caught on to this incredible Canadian R&B singer. What are you waiting for? Apparently for his shows to be sold out. Better luck next time.

Super Duty Tough Work:  Thursday, June 14 @ Old Market Square

Super Duty Tough Work (SDTW) is one of my favourite local acts! SDTW’s interpretation of 90s hip hop never fails to keep your head bobbin and groovin. You know what’s better than listening to hip hop through headphones? Listening to hip hop in real life.

Marisolle Nagash:  Saturday June 16 @ Old Market Square and Tuesday June 19 @ The WECC

Marisolle Nagash is one the most luscious voices coming out of the prairies right now.  You have two chances to catch her performing during the festival, the first one being at the free opening weekend and second when she supports Lido Pimienta on June 19th!

Cadence Weapon:  Wednesday, June 20 @ The Good Will Social Club

Going through the artist line-up this year, Cadence was one of the hip hop artists I wasn’t familiar with. National Post named him Canada’s most “creative rapper.” This big statement has definitely peaked my interest. I’m excited to witness Cadence Weapon’s lyricism and listen to his Kaytranada produced tracks.



1. ALLISON AU – Thursday June 21 at Kitchen Sync

Named one of “10 Rising Female Instrumentalists You Should Know” by SF Jazz, saxophonist Au is a virtuosic player, but also an exceptional composer who first got my attention for her 2014 album The Sky Was Pale Blue, Then Grey. While I was unsuccessful in my efforts to get that one a Polaris prize nod, my vote for her sophomore album Forest Grove at the Junos did not go unwasted as the album took the award for Best Instrumental Jazz album. Au plays two shows at the festival so there’s no excuse to miss out on one of the best jazz artists in the nation.

2. EMIE R ROUSSEL TRIO – Saturday Jun 23 at Knox United Church

Right up there with Au in the Canadian jazz landscape is Quebec pianist Emie R. Roussel, whose third record, Quantum, won the 2015 Félix for jazz album of the year. Her most recent effort, Intersections, is a showcase for Roussel’s deft playing – whether on the Nord keyboard or on a grand piano she has a delicate force to her work and she’s ably accompanied by Nicolas Bédard on bass and Dominic Cloutier on drums. The Emie R. Roussel Trio will open for Michael Kaeshammer so make sure you get there when the doors open so you don’t miss their set.

3. ALSARAH + THE NUBATONES – Friday June 22 at The Good Will Social Club

Having released two great albums with her band the Nubatones on Wonderwheel Recordings and a collaborative LP with French producer Debruit on the venerable Soundways, I am all in on Sudanese-born songwriter Alsarah and the unique sound she creates and has dubbed “East-African Retro-Pop music.” Do yourself a favour and check out the Alsarah & The Nubatones Tiny Desk Concert for a taste of what’s to come and get your tickets now.

4. LIDO PIMIENTA – Tuesday June 19 at the West End Cultural Centre

I’ll be honest, I voted for, and expected A Tribe Called Red to win the Polaris Prize last year. Instead it was one of their collaborators, the Toronto-based, Colombian-born Pimienta who took the award for La Papessa, a dynamic blend of synthpop, electronic elements and percussive sounds drawing from her Afro-Colombian heritage. It’s a singular work from a singular artist.

5. TUNE-YARDS – Friday June 22 at the Garrick Centre

It’s been years since Merrill Garbus brought her tUnE-yArDs act to town and in the interim there have been two great records added to her discography, 2014’s whokill and I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, released earlier this year. Garbus blew the roof off the West End Cultural Centre back in 2011 and I fully expect this show to do the same to the Garrick.


SC MIRA AS THE ROADHOUSE BAND – Thursday June 21 at The Good Will Social Club

Local rockers ScMira doing a tribute to Angelo Badalementi performing as the Roadhouse Band from Twin Peaks? This promises to be as hot as a damn fine cup of coffee.




I’ve loved this band since whokill came out in 2011 and their show at the WECC like five years ago is in my top ten of all time (and I think Mike booked that one too). Complex rhythmic ideas form the foundation of catchy songs that make you move and make you think.  Merrill Garbus has a huge voice that rallies all to action! Plus, you get to feel Hannah transport you to other-worlds with her beautiful violin-looping to start the night.


Dude’s been at the top of the lyrical game for a while now. New album produced by Kaytranada seems like a recipe for more awesome. Excited to see the updated Weapon bring that new noise to our city.


I’m no jazz expert, but I love my jazz chaotic. These guys seem to slip in and out of chaos, settling into heavy grooves, giving you just enough to sink your teeth into before ripping you into another wild ride. I wanna feel this kinetic energy in the flesh!


So many good local artists I could shine a light on here, but 3Peat has been heavy in my ears the last year. Have done some collaborating and watching these guys create is seriously some magic like I’ve never seen. Smart words, insane flow, old-school beats…these guys are much deeper than just bringing a party…but yeah they’ll bring the party too.


Been hearing rumblings about this guy and his band for a while now. Was honestly drawn in by the kickass cover art on his latest album, Meditation Tape. The tunes feel equal parts classic and fresh. And there’s vibraphone. I love vibraphone.



1 - The Flaming Lips - I have seen then twice, one of which I booked (Panamania 2015) so have had to work with all of the intricacies of their tech rider (kudos to your production team), but its so worth it, they are one of the best live shows I have ever seen and I am dying to see the show fit into the Burt. 

In no particular order:

2 - The Wet Secrets

3 - Ponteix

4 - Ellen Doty

5 - Provincial Archive

These are all amazing artists who have recently played BreakOut West, have incredible material out and are travelling over the summer so we can see them right here in Winnipeg. They have great things going on and I hope everyone goes out to see them…. I can’t even get started on the local list as there are so many incredible artists. Overall, great lineup!



Top 5 in no particular order

Flaming Lips - A ridiculously good theatrical live show and songs that run the gammet from the surreal and silly to meditating on the existential nature of life. Also, they know how to throw a party.

Lido Pimienta - Unapologetically outspoken & performances that are controversial and challenging, she released one of the most interesting albums of 2016 and deserved that Polaris Prize in a field of candidates that were all outstanding.

SC Mira and the Angelo Badalamenti tribute - Angelo's collaboration with Tim Booth (Booth & The Bad Angel) stunned me when it first came out, and his work with David Lynch is of course outstanding. A tribute seems long over-due.

The Wet Secrets w/ Duotang - I saw Duotang jam with members of the Wet Secrets at The Forks late after the Interstellar Rodeo and thought they might bring the building down around our ears. So much chemistry between the two bands, it can only be an amazing night.

Iskwé - Fierce, passionate and political, this Treaty One performer has energy and power to spare. Her presence grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. She’s one to watch.


Jodie LayneJazz Winnipeg