July 19, 2021
Category: Blog Posts
Must-See Downtown Live Shows This Summer
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past year-and-a-half it’s how important live music is to our psyches. Streaming concerts have been something of a boon in keeping musicians active and listeners somewhat content, but let’s face it, there’s nothing that beats the excitement of an in-person performance. Happily, the Downtown Business Association is showcasing local artists this summer with a series of free indoor and outdoor micro-events with Downtown Live. You can find a complete list of performers on the Downtown Live page but we’ve helpfully gone ahead and compiled a list of five acts that might be of interest to you over the coming weeks.
Some supergroups are predicated on star power, others on musical affinity. Major Love falls under both of those categories. The bank comprised of singer-songwriter Colleen Brown and pop-rock trio Scenic Route to Alaska, two of Edmonton’s most acclaimed acts, are clearly in love with soul as they are folk, pop, even psychedelia. You can hear the chemistry on their self-titled 2018 album and first two singles, So Good and Tear it Down, both of which picked up heavy airplay on CBC 2. Conflicting schedules often keep these two apart, so any chance to see them should be taken. Major Love at The Backyard, 10004 104 Ave., Wednesday, July 21 at 7 p.m.
One of the few bands able to perform regularly during the pandemic, Brasstactics are also one of Edmonton’s more unique musical offerings. Set up as an unabashed homage to New Orleans brass band culture, the nine-piece are often caught dancing and playing in backyards, parks, even on sidewalks, blasting horn-heavy rearrangements of pop and rock hits from Dr. Dre to AC/DC. It’s a sure-fire party from the get-go, with no guarantee that the band will stick to the stage or simply march up and down the aisles between chairs. Brasstactics at Mercer Tavern, 10363 104 St., Thursday, July 22 at 7 p.m.
There are many paths to a career in music, and not all of them are predicated around sitting in a garage and writing songs with your band. Sometimes it’s about sitting in front of a computer, learning other artists’ songs, and performing them on Youtube with an acoustic guitar. That’s how singer-songwriter Josh Sahunta did it, covering Shawn Mendes and Ed Sheeran songs for years until the itch to write his own took over. You can still feel Mendes and Sheeran in the DNA of his 2017 album Dissonance, but Sahunta works his own distinctive groove on his spring single Falling For You. He hasn’t lost touch with his past, however; check out Sahunta’s version of Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy on his Covers EP, released in early June. Josh Sahunta at Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar, 10334 108 St., Wednesday, July 28 at 7 p.m.
Cristian de la Luna
Colombian-born Cristian de la Luna proudly carries his heritage in his music, even as he delicately scrapes around the roots of it with his guitar. Adept at writing in Spanish, French, and English, the singer-songwriter, poet, and human rights activist has gone from playing in a traditional Colombian music ensemble to mixing funk and reggae with his homeland rhythms as the leader of his own ensemble. De la Luna’s solo work has made an even bigger splash in town, picking up an Edmonton Music Award in the Latin Recording of the Year category for his 2018 album Sabes. By turns hopeful and melancholy, de la Luna’s music is perhaps the perfect soundtrack to a hard couple of years. Cristian de la Luna at Bodega Tapas & Wine Bar, 10220 103 St., Thursday, July 29 at 7 p.m.
Audrey Ochoa Trio
There aren’t a lot of trombone players that have made it into the public consciousness. You’ll have to go all the way back to the mid-20th century to find celebrated players like Jack Teagarden and Tommy Dorsey working the slide, with Trombone Shorty and Fred Wesley taking up the funk side of things in later years. In Edmonton, we have Audrey Ochoa, who can swing like Jack and Tommy, groove like Fred and Shorty, or dip her toes in ska, punk and electronica waters when she feels like it. It’s been part of her musical makeup from the start, but you can really hear Ochoa’s ever-questing spirit on her latest effort, Frankenhorn, where her mellifluous ‘bone snuggles against strings, piano and Latin jazz arrangements, with an accompanying side of electro-remixes from DJ Battery Poacher. Audrey Ochoa at the Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market, 10305 97 Street., Saturday, Aug. 14 at 12 p.m.
Positioned somewhere in the intersections between alt-country, roots music and folk noir, singer-songwriter Tanyss Nixi is also something of a throwback to classic outlaw twang. There’s a sting in those sweet vocals and a cutting undertone to the lyrics of songs like Rich People and Toilet Town, pithy working class rejoinders that remind more of Merle Haggard than Uncle Tupelo. Nixi has a revolving door of musicians that she calls on depending on the show, but lately she’s been performing as part of a socially distanced pandemic duo with metal/punk guitarist Isho Gunn. Whether she opts to be solo, with Gunn, or partnered with a full band, file this show under not to be missed. Tanyss Nixi at the Cask & Barrel, 10041 104 St., Saturday, Aug. 14 at 4 p.m.