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The Speak Music Be Kind Festival in photos: kindness trumps coldness Part 1


Above: James Bailey, Lydia Persaud and Kyla Charter

There was too much musical and emotional content on display at Beverly Kreller’s Speak Music Be Kind Festival this past weekend for our reporter to completely describe the magnitude of the vibe. How did Toronto’s first music festival of 2020 combine the perfect storm ingredients of a sizable audience, a comfortable and accessible venue, the Tranzac, and a captivating flow of lustrous musical talent to manifest a concept – kindness – so intrinsically simple that it has failed to be made obvious until now?

As a gender-balanced event, there was a lake effect of feminine calm that was palpable from every angle, and, with a major snow occurrence squatting down on the entire region overnight, there was that particularly Canadian camaraderie that only mutual sufferers of the overchill can share. It seemed that the deluge, fortunately, had little appreciable effect on attendance, or on the safe and timely transit of performers and volunteers to the venue. Highlights of two nights spent kindling kindness follow:

Above: Gregarious blues monger Sammy Duke absorbs the high attitudes with prime kindness motivator Beverly Kreller and Roots Music Canada’s retired chairman of the moose, David Newland.

Fiercely empathetic duet Piper & Carson inducted the audience in the Southern Cross Room into the wolf clan with a howling chorus, setting a primeval tone for Friday night’s opening set.

Shi Wisdom, the songstress with the longest of tresses, blessed and unstressed the main hall with a stick of incense and some trancey beats and rhymes.

Best of buds Chloe Watkinson and Mip contributed bundles of warmth and fun to the bonfire of kinship that empowered the evening’s ascending flight path. Chloe crushed it yet again with her superb power ballad “The Universe.”

In their florally resplendent fabrics, Blisk brought Balkan balladry, stomping revelry and some elegant harmony to a boil with their accordion-fuelled distillation of far-flung cultures and wildly celebratory songs.

Mike Field’s capricious pop compositions gave his star-studded band a chance to enhance the dance quotient, and an opportunity for sax man Paul Metcalfe to blow away the chill.

Vivienne Wilder was a total weapon against gravity with her uplifting songcraft, badass lyricism and the musical support of her two expert flotation devices, Neil Whitford on guitar and Andrew Roorda on bass.

Jazzomometers were overloaded during late sets by cobalt-jacketed scat champ Ori Dagan sparring with his miracle bass player Jordan O’Connor (above); the Simone Morris Trio keeping the audience hanging off every note and word of her insinuating originals in a snowflake chic ensemble; and by midnight, dreamy retro queen Tia Brazda, with style galore, conveying her positive perspectives on the changing stages of affection and romance (below).


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