Halifax Jazz Festival Adds Ron Sexsmith

The 2017 TD Halifax Jazz Festival announces the addition of Ron Sexsmith to this year’s Main Stage, opening the night for Blue Rodeo, Friday, July 14, plus more local programming with free concerts and events July 12-16 throughout the area.


Free stages include the Main Stage on the Halifax waterfront, the Dartmouth Park World Peace Pavilion, Hydrostone Park, and Halifax Public Libraries,, as well as aboard Halifax’s favourite seafaring landmark, Theodore Tugboat, returning as part of the Jazz Labs series. To celebrate Canada’s 150 Celebration, a new stage, Jazz Connects, will travel around the region celebrating the area’s considerable talent and diversity.

On the final day of this year’s festival, Sunday, July 16, all shows are free, including the Creative Music Workshops student finale show at Halifax Central Library and the Main Stage evening double bill with The Mellotones and Gypsophilia. With so many diverse offerings at some of the city’s landmark locations, everyone has an opportunity to participate in the festival and enjoy a stunning roster of international, Canadian and local entertainment.

Ron Sexsmith, one of the greatest songwriters of his generation, joins Blue Rodeo on the Main Stage, Friday, July 14,  kicking off that evening’s performance. Through truth and simplicity, Sexsmith’s songs help us get closer to the things that make us better people. Presented by Sonic Concerts, tickets are $55.00. Gates open at 7:30pm, show at 8:30pm.

New this year, and to celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary Celebration, the TD Halifax Jazz Festival presents Jazz Connects, an exciting new stage showcasing our area’s diverse local talent. Over the course of four days (July 13-16

), the festival will be traveling to a different locations across the HRM highlighting the music of Indigenous, African Canadian, and Immigrant artists from across the Maritimes. With the support of Canada 150 Forward Fund, the Halifax Jazz Festival is proud to present sixteen acts, which showcase the astoundingly diverse talents of emerging and established artists from Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, Pabineau First Nation, East Preston, North Preston, Uniacke Square, and more.

Beginning Wednesday, July 12, running through Sunday, daily free programming, starts at noon at the Main Stage on the Halifax waterfront for fans of all ages. While at the Main Stage, stop by the interactive Kid Zone for crafts, face painting and more fun daily, along with food vendors and refreshments.

The TD Halifax Jazz Festival is proud to partner with Stingray Music, to present the Stingray Rising Stars Program on the Main Stage again this year. The Stingray Rising Stars program offers cash awards and showcase opportunities to emerging Canadian artists from across Canada. Every afternoon of the festival, beginning at 2:30pm, artists perform as part of the program.

Stingray Rising Stars series kicks off Wednesday, July 12, with Quinn Bachand’s Brichen, a gypsy jazz ensemble from Victoria, BC, followed on Thursday, July 13, by Vancouver art pop band, Only a Visitor. Juno-award winning jazz saxophonist Allison Au performs Friday, July 14, while on Saturday, July 15, hear Toronto singer and songwriter Melissa Lauren. On Sunday, July 16, Toronto’s Parker Abbott Trio closes out the series, and the Stingray Rising Stars winner will  be announced later that evening from the Main Stage. Stingray Rising Stars series  is free and open to all ages.

Main Stage daily free programming focuses on Nova Scotia, with local artists on stage daily, from July 12-16. Beginning at noon, shows follow at 1:15pm, and 4pm, and these performances are suitable for all ages.

Main Stage daily free programming begins Wednesday, July 12 with three Halifax based bands: at noon latin groove band Son Latino, at 1:15pm, Ally Fiola The Next Quest – saxophonist Ally Fiola and her jazz septet, The Next Quest, followed by  instrumental quintet Riot Squad at 4pm. Thursday, July 13 at noon hear eight of Halifax’s finest trombone professionals perform as the, Halifax Trombone Summit. Followed by Halifax reggae fusion band Kore at 1:15pm, and at 4pm sax player, singer-songwriter, Krisanne Crowell and her stellar band, Solarocity take the stage.

Local programming on the Main Stage continues throughout the weekend beginning Friday, July 14, with Halifax’s Shirley Jackson and her band, Good Rockin’ Daddies performing at noon, Antigonish violinist Donald MacLennan at 1:15pm, and at 4pm don’t miss artistic director Jeff Goodspeed and international Cuban recording artist Augusto Enriquez lead Los Primos. Saturday July 15, features 22 members on stage as the Big Valley Swing Orchestra starts at noon, followed by Halifax’s afro funk favourites Chronos Band, then at 4pm, last year’s Stingray Rising Stars winners New Bridge. And on Sunday July 16 get ready for the big band jazz and swing sounds of Chebucto Big Band starting at noon, followed by the deep repertoire of big band music by The Tuesday Night Band at 1:15pm, closing the Main Stage daytime programming Sunday at 4pm, with Vesuvius – join these Halifax professional musicians who seek to explore new music through the evolving vehicle that is big band.

On the weekend, picturesque Hydrostone Park provides the backdrop for more free local based concerts, starting at 1pm and kicking off hourly for two days, Saturday July 15 and Sunday, July 16.

Saturday performances at Hydrostone Park begin at 1pm with Blue Spirits, a soulful ensemble blending cool jazz, bop, blues, funk, and hip hop.  Drawing on influences from Funk, Soul, Jazz, Latin and World music, Lazeez will play at 2pm. At 3pm, take in Blue Lane, a genre-defying, Halifax-based trio that merges the sounds of jazz, blues, rockabilly, fusion and traditional pop music. Not to be missed, Arrythmia plays at Hydrostone Park at 4pm, bringing together hip hop, jazz, spoken word, experimental, chamber music and more.

A second day of free entertainment at Hydrostone Park begins Sunday, July 16 at 1pm with a show by veteran international touring artist Morgan Davis, playing country blues, as well as his own contemporary songs. At 2pm, the free programming continues with Halifax’s own Zoe Leger, performing her newest project, Lady Be Good: 100 Years of Ella in celebration of what would have been Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday.. Next up is The Tritones at 3pm, a lively jazz & blues trio that have been pleasing audiences for more than two decades with their lush, full sounds, performing songwriting gems from the ‘30’s and ‘40’s. The line up at Hydrostone Park concludes with a show at 4pm by Nova Scotia trumpeter and international touring artist Mike Cowie, who learned about jazz and improv from the likes of Bucky Adams and Dutch Mason, two of the region’s legendary musicians.

Saturday July 15 the Dartmouth Park World Peace Pavilion will host free shows hourly starting at 10am with Halifax singer, bassist and guitarist John Chiasson.  At 11am, Halifax-based Sam Wilson Quartet plays original music and jazz standards, and at noon, noted jazz vocalist Karen Myatt takes the stage. At 1pm get ready to dance with funk soul artist Josh Lake.

Once again Theodore Tugboat sets sail with Splash! Bang! Boom! a free and interactive Jazz Lab music workshop that takes place while sailing the Halifax Harbour. A popular children’s attraction with two harbour cruises daily, Thursday July 13, Friday July 14 and Saturday July 15 with two sailings each morning at 10am and 11am. Theodore Tugboat is the perfect location for the TD Halifax Jazz Festival to introduce young listeners to the magic of music. Sessions will be conducted by noted musicians Ross Burns (Thursday) Bianca Palmer (Friday), and  Dr. Henry Bishop (Saturday). These workshops are sure to be lots of fun, as everyone on board can participate and play some percussion instruments together. We recommend early arrival, as this is first come, first boarded. Each sailing is 40 minutes.

Halifax Public Libraries – Halifax Central Library, Halifax North Memorial Library, and Alderney Gate Library, Dartmouth –  will host a series of free events and artists talks. These Jazz Labs are for the entire family and offer a behind the scenes look at making music that includes artist talks, master classes, and interactive concerts.

The first Jazz Lab will take place at Halifax Central Library, Wednesday, July 12 join Jane Bunnett and her exquisite all-female sextet, Maqueque, for an intimate performance and discussion of Cuban culture and music from noon – 1pm. On Saturday July 15 at 2pm Vekked & Fresh Kils, two of the most innovative and dynamic performers in the world at their respective crafts, for “The Art of Production in Practice with Vekked & Fresh Kils.” At 2pm on Sunday, July 16, join us for a free finale show and listen to the results of hard work, collaboration and risk-taking at the Creative Music Workshops Student Finale.

At Halifax North Memorial Library Jazz Labs continue on Thursday, July 13 with “Finding Your Groove: Percussion Workshop with Inti Gonzalez.” Starting at noon, in this hour long workshop, Inti will be guiding musicians of all skill levels in answering the question “what is groove?”

Jazz Labs comes to Dartmouth at Alderney Gate Library on Friday, July 14 where  Halifax’s Holly Arsenault plays and talks about many great classics from the Great American Songbook starting at 1pm.

Not to be missed are this year’s partnered stages presented at Baton Rouge Steakhouse & Bar (1877 Hollis St), Le Bistro (1333 South Park St), Obladee Wine Bar (1600 Barrington St), and Lot Six (1685 Argyle St). All partnered stages are No Cover.

Shows at partnered stages kick off Wednesday July 12, at 6pm at Le Bistro with Zoe Leger. At Obladee Wine Bar, the Jeff Mosher Trio starts at 8pm. On Thursday, July 13 head to Le Bistro at 6pm for Zoe Leger. At Baton Rouge, starting at 6:30pm, hear the  George Hebert Trio; at 7pm at Lot Six, Willem Paynter Trio plays; then head to Obladee Wine Bar for Bill Stevenson Trio at 9pm.

Weekend shows at partnered stages continue with Zoe Leger & Friends at Le Bistro starting at 6pm; George Hebert Trio at Baton Rouge at 6:30 and Haley /Roach / Gatti at Obladee Wine Bar at 9pm on Friday, July 14. Zoe Leger & Friends play again Saturday, July 15, at Le Bistro starting at 6pm; Moonlight Trio by John Chiasson plays at Baton Rouge beginning at 6:30 pm and at Obladee Wine Bar catch the Willem Paynter Trio at 9pm. Sunday, July 16, Zoe Leger returns to Le Bistro, starting at 6pm, and Moonlight Trio by John Chiasson hits the stage at 6:30 pm at Baton Rouge.

Join us for our big finale free Main Stage show to celebrate career milestones with two of the best bands Halifax has ever seen – The Mellotones and Gypsophilia – who will co-headline the Main Stage on Sunday, July 16. Gypsophilia will play their final Halifax Jazz Festival Performance and The Mellotones celebrate 20 years of funk. To celebrate the career of these two acts, this show will be free.

TICKETS for Main Stage shows, Jo Mersa Marley, Jesse Royal, Ron Sexsmith and Blue Rodeo, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, the Late Night Stages, Carleton Groove Stage, Creative Music Workshop Series, along with the St. Matthew’s Church series shows are on sale now. Tickets are available for purchase at the etixnow kiosks in the Halifax Forum (2901 Windsor Street) and Music Nova Scotia (2169 Gottingen Street) and online Halifaxjazzfestival.etixnow.com, and etixnow.com.

About the author


Jeff is one-fourth of the group that makes up HAFILAX. His usual ramblings can be read right here on the website. If reading isn't your thing, he also hosts the Basement Tapes podcast.