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Derek Andrews’ favourite shows of 2019

Guitar in Woods

Derek Andrews is an independent arts consultant, music curator, music programmer and artist manager. He was the longtime music programmer for Harbourfront Centre, he launched Canada’s first world music conference, Mundial Montreal, and he’s widely regarded internationally as an authority on world music.  In other words, his best-of list gleaned from shows all around the world, is a pretty good indicator of the coolest stuff out there right now.

Twenty nineteen was another full and rich year for m; late in life, I am privileged to travel and experience a lot of music culture. To that end, I’ll share a few highlights below, including some names you might know and some I am sure you don’t.

I’m typing from New York, which has been an annual trip to be immersed in a culture business gathering that layers all sorts of performing arts organizers. Folk Alliance International will once again follow for me in 2020, this time in New Orleans. My life is full of these gatherings where music organizers try to advance the careers of artists and do a better job of improving the quality of life for many, including you.

The popular music community has been getting better organized through my career, improving revenue streams, of late trying to overcome the negative digital downgrading and generally celebrating the joy of the music experience.  I’ll try to keep you informed about things coming up here and in the coming months.  Check out the names of the artists below. They are some of my 2019 recommendations, discoveries and tips.

2019 Highlights:

  • Leudji Luna at the Lula Lounge, Toronto and Amsterdam Roots Festival.
  • Puuluup at Music Estonia (office) in Tallinn* and at DROM Taberna, Toronto.
  • Absalón & Afropacifico at BOmm, Bogota (Afro BOmm)*
  • NST & Soul Sauce meets Kim Yulhee at Mundial Montreal and WOMEX*
  • Vilda at Mundial Montreal and others*
  • Jeremy Dutcher at globalFEST, New York*
  • Afrotronix at the Amsterdam Roots Festival
  • Le Vent du Nord at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
  • Mark Lalama at the Dakota Tavern, Toronto
  • The Ward at Harbourfront Centre, Toronto
  • Fatoumata Diawara at Meridian Arts Centre, Toronto
  • Taborah Johnson at the Women’s Blues Revue, Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto
  • The Arsenals at the Cultura Festival, Mel Lastman Square, Toronto
  • Digging Roots at WOMEX in Tampere, Finland*

*showcase events where artists do not get paid but perform to expand their careers.

Four more names to watch in 2020: Catrona Sturton, Kalyna Rakel, Sophie Lukacs, and Nidal Ibourk.

I encourage anyone reading this to get out and support live music in their local community in a club, church basement, concert hall or festival. My playlist above is all about live music. I’m not a recording person. The artists make recordings of course, so try to engage the above on a service that pays the artists properly.


  1. I desire to travel around the world and attend the live of musicians I admire.
    In my community, I mostly attend the live performance of musicians at church. Well, that’s usually where I find artists performing without pay. But whether it’s in secular gatherings or in church, you’ll find it interesting to listen or watch artists perform.

    Meanwhile, I listen to Leudji Luna on YouTube. I love the beats of her songs, even though I don’t understand Portuguese.

  2. Terrific article! especially love the last paragraph. Folks need to get out to live music more, support our music creators. Recorded music has it’s place, but recordings can’t replace the live, spontaneous energy, fun, and magic that can happen between artist and audience sharing that magic in the moment. Thx Derek Andrews for all that you do in the music community!


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