Stellar lineup for this year’s Waterdown ArtsFest

In less than three years, the Waterdown ArtsFest has become one of Hamilton’s premier music and arts festivals.

The festival’s first two years brought an impressive array of entertainment, and this summer’s lineup is bigger and better.

The musical lineup announced Thursday for the two-day festival offers a dazzling level of quality in a variety of genres — jazz, blues, folk, country and world music — all for free.

This year — ArtsFest takes place Aug. 18 and 19 — the festival will expand onto Dundas Street East, adding a second stage and beverage area to the main music area on Griffin Street.

For jazz fans, the festival includes multiple Juno winner Matt Dusk & The Swing Shift Big Band, and the Cuban stylings of Grammy-nominated saxophonist Jane Bunnett and her band Maqueque.

Guitarist Michael Occhipinti will fuse jazz with Old World folk traditions with his Sicilian Jazz Project band, and jazz-rock orchestra Lighthouse will perform their hits from the ’70s.

Singer-guitarist Matt Andersen is known for his electrifying live performances and will anchor a blues contingent that also includes vocal powerhouse Rita Chiarelli, Juno winner Harrison Kennedy and the classic R&B of Jully Black.

As well, April Wine frontman Myles Goodwyn will perform tracks from his new blues album “And Friends of the Blues.”

Country fans will get a rare live appearance by award-winning singer George Fox, as well as local favourites Lori Yates and The Redhill Valleys.

 For more traditional folk and roots fans, there are singer-songwriter Barney Bentall, Old Man Luedecke, Leroy Stagger and Michael Jerome Brown.

And, for the child in all of us, Fred Penner will return to sing all his hits, including “The Cat Came Back” and “I Love Sandwiches.”

There will also be street performers, artisan vendors and visual art exhibitions, and cuisine offered up from the many local restaurants and a few specialty food trucks.

“We’re trying to attract the plus-50 (age group) and families with young children,” says Geoff Kulawick, festival board chair and owner of Waterdown-based True North Records, Canada’s largest independent record label.

“We’re trying to position it as ‘festival refined,'” Kulawick added. “This is not camping, this is not partying. This is fine wine, food, art and great musicians. This is a target demographic that the majority of other festivals are not programming for.”

Kulawick conceived the idea of the ArtsFest after moving True North to downtown Waterdown four years ago from Burlington.

Kulawick, who lives in Carlisle, quickly fell in love with the town’s heritage buildings and quaint historic atmosphere and decided it was something the rest of the world would appreciate, as well.

Kulawick and his wife Brooke, co-owner of True North, joined forces with Donna Redl, owner of Creative Works art studio in Waterdown, and the festival was born in 2015.

“Donna Redl inspired us to get involved into the community and to bring arts and culture into the mix,” Kulawick said.

Old School Yule! Nominated for Juno Award

The Juno Awards will return once again this year to honour the best in Canadian music, and the nominees have just been announced.

Fighting for the prestigious title of Album of the Year are Arcade Fire, Johnny Reid, Michael Bublé, Ruth B and Shania Twain. International Album of the Year then finds Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran all nominated.

As for Single of the Year, it will be a battle between Alessia Cara, Arcade Fire, Arkells, Shawn Mendes and the Weeknd. Meanwhile, Artist of the Year nominees include Ruth B, Shania Twain, Gord Downie, Daniel Caesar and Lights. And then the Group of the Year nominees are A Tribe Called Red, Arcade Fire, Alvvays, Broken Social Scene and Hedley.

With a Twist
​Bria Skonberg
Turn Up The Quiet
​Diana Krall
Come On
​Kellylee Evans
​Blue Note*Universal
Old School Yule!
​Matt Dusk
​True North*IDLA
No Filter
​Michael Kaeshammer

“This is a hit! For generations beyond…”

Every year we hear all the standard Christmas songs hit radio again; Brenda Lee, Bobby Helms, Bing Crosby with David Bowie, Elvis and Frank Sinatra.

Then we start receiving new product here at Cashbox Canada and we always enjoy the fresh offerings of new artists or at least their new Christmas albums.

But on this rare occasion when this new CD came in, it was a perfect combination of the old tunes offered by a young artist, Canadian icon Matt Dusk.

A Christmas album that embraces the festive swagger of the 1960’s, Old School Yule! is an up-tempo, cocktail party album that will have you feeling a little “Ring-a-Ding-Ding” while you croon along to “Fa-La-La-La-La”.

“It’s supposed to feel like a classic variety show,” says Dusk while on tour in America. “I wanted to record an album that you would have sitting on the turntable right next to your Bing Crosby Christmas records.”

If retro is what you’re looking for, Dusk’s new album has everything you need. The sixteen tracks contain many of the most popular holiday classics, from White Christmas to Jingle Bells. Along for the (sleigh) ride are some new songs and a few twists on some old favourites. The album also features an original holiday hit, Snowed In With You, penned by Dusk himself.

“Christmas songs are really the only standards we have left,” says the jazz crooner. “I’m so happy to be able to take this music I grew up with and share it with everyone from lifelong fans of Christmas music to future generations just now discovering them.”
Dusk is no stranger to those future generations. The Juno-nominated singer celebrated the birth of his first child, Kaia-Mae, in 2016. It was becoming a new father that really put the idea of a Christmas record into his head.

“It really is a lifelong dream come true,” he says, referring to his baby daughter. “My fondest memories from my childhood are those Christmases by the fireplace, listening to Nat King Cole with my parents. It’s going to be amazing to share that with my own daughter… and with my own album!”

Dusk isn’t alone in the celebration. Old School Yule! contains new duets with several celebrated singers. Barbara Lica joins him on a lively version of Let it Snow!, Sophia Perlman reminds the kids that Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and Emma-Lee sticks around for Baby, It’s Cold Outside.

Old School Yule! doesn’t hold back the music…or the musicians. The album contains over a hundred musicians, including a full orchestra, big band, and Dusk’s own childhood choir – St. Michael’s Choir School. It’s one of the biggest albums of Dusk’s career, but he’s taking it all in stride.

“If you loved all those Christmas specials on TV from the sixties and seventies, I think you’re really going to love Old School Yule! It’s got almost everything you could want from a holiday record.”

When asked what it might be missing, Dusk offers one of his trademark smiles and a coy, little wink.

“Yeah,” he grins. “Martini shaker not included.”

Track Listing:
1 Happy Holiday
2 Sleigh Ride
3 The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
4 The Christmas Song
5 Santa Claus Is Coming to Town with Sophia Perlman
6 Jingle Bells
7 White Christmas
8 I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
9 Baby It’s Cold Outside with Emma-Lee
10 Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
11 Donde Esta Santa Claus
12 Marshmallow World
13 Let It Snow! with Barbra Lica
14 Snowed In With You
15 Winter Wonderland
16 Do You Hear What I Hear with St Michael’s Choir School

Purchase this great CD and learn more about this great artist visit

Westjet turns Gate 28 into jazz club

About 110 passengers heading for Toronto got a Christmas surprise when they reached Gate 28 at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Sunday.

WestJet had turned the departure lounge into a jazz club, complete with a performance by Juno-nominated singer Matt Dusk, a visit from “Mrs. Claus” and a buffet of food and drinks.

Oh, and five people also won gift cards for a return flight to anywhere WestJet flies.

The event was Day 9 of the WestJet Christmas Miracle: 12 Flights of Christmas project.

Quinn Clancy was one of those who won a big prize, given out as a reward for being willing to step up and dance with Mrs. Claus while Dusk sang traditional Christmas carols.

“It’s pretty cool,” Clancy said. “Amazing. Totally caught us off-guard but it’s pretty cool.”

Clancy and his wife Brandi were on their way home to Barrie, Ont., on Sunday, and were tickled pink to encounter the WestJet-blue-clad Mrs. Claus. Volunteers wearing Christmas hats of the same shade were abundant, as were glasses filled with similar-hued drinks from the buffet table. White leather sofas were arranged in rows in front of an intimate stage setting where Dusk performed in a trio with Stephen MacDonald on saxophone and and Martin Anderson on piano.

Clancy said he travels fairly often. Although he now lives in Ontario, he was born in Halifax.

“My family’s here, so I’m here quite often,” Clancy said.

The electrician said they were in Halifax for his brother-in-law’s surprise 60th birthday party. It was a quick visit, coming in Thursday, but the airport festivities topped it off nicely.

“Awesome,” Clancy said of his return-flight gift. “(I) might have to put it to good use New Year’s Eve.

“We were talking about going to Vegas over the holidays because the Maple Leafs are playing the Las Vegas Knights New Year’s afternoon. So, that’s probably going to be a destination for us.”

The other passengers weren’t left out. They all got Christmas stockings with copies of Dusk’s Christmas CD and noise-cancelling headphones.

Leslie Duffy and her daughter Madeline were on their way back to Guelph after visiting Halifax to check out Dalhousie University as a possible school for the teen.

“This is amazing,” Leslie said. “It’s absolutely wonderful. You’d never expect to come to the airport and have something like this happening.

“It’s my daughter’s 17th birthday so it just kind of makes the morning extra-special.”

She said if they weren’t fully in the Christmas spirit before, they are now.

“Just coming to Halifax this weekend started to get us into the spirit but this really kicks it off.”

It also helped Madeline anticipate making Halifax her home.

“It’s really cool,” the high school senior said. “I really wasn’t expecting it.”

Dusk appreciated how much the passengers got into the spirit of things with him.

“As a performer, it’s like a conversation with someone. If you’re in a bar and you go up and say ‘hi,’ they give you information and you give it back, you can have good dialogue and this audience was giving me a lot of dialogue,” Dusk said. “In my opinion, Christmas music and holiday music is all about a collective. As a kid we used to go door-to-door carolling. So this is kind of like bringing me back to those moments as a kid.”

It’s the sixth year for WestJet’s Christmas Miracles promotion. The videos have been viewed millions of times around the world. This year, the company is hosting 12 such events over 12 days at different locations across the country with different special guests and prizes. Halifax was the ninth location. Previous events this year have already been held in Montreal, Calgary, Toronto, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Edmonton, Ottawa and Vancouver.

WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said the Halifax leg turned out to be a fantastic event.

“Everybody was truly surprised to see Matt Dusk appear on the stage and I think the one thing I’ve seen in the past nine days is it’s been fantastic that people are slowing down, getting off their phone and just taking some time to just enjoy the moment. I think that’s really part of what we’re trying to do is surprise people but also get everyone in the Christmas spirit and it definitely happened today.”

Each event is posted online through Facebook Live and video is later available at the Christmas Miracle portal on the WestJet website.

Matt Dusk: “My Daughter is really my litmus test for music”

I’m not one of those guys who is like, “Here’s a picture of my daughter! And here’s a picture of her on a horse!” Every parent thinks his or her kid is the most blessed child in the world and the cutest, and when they see other cute babies, they get jealous.

My kid, she’s great. We keep her on our schedule, so she is up really late and goes to bed around 1 a.m. She is always around adults. The issue is, when you want to go out, it becomes a little more stressful because I don’t want to go to a restaurant and have her crying and throwing crap all over the place. We want to be courteous to other people. We don’t want to be those parents that are like, “This is natural!” There are a lot of things that are natural that we don’t want to share with everybody.

It makes me want to stay home more. Friday and Saturday nights were always for having people over, but now I don’t want anybody over on Saturday nights. I just want to sit and take a breather. Maybe I’m just getting old and lazy.

She is very animated. Her facial expressions are like a mime. When she gets a gift, her eyes open wide and it’s over the top. Usually, when I give someone a gift, they’re like, “Oh, thanks.” She is like, “Woahhh! A ball!”

What’s really cool is that she loves music, so she is really my litmus test for music. If I start writing a song and she starts dancing and trying to sing, then I know I’m onto something.

When I had Kaia, I wanted to relive the Christmas traditions I grew up with, and a big part of that was music. I can remember going to my grandpa and grandma’s house. I was five or six years old and the first thing I would do is rush over to the record player and pull out Bing Crosby’s White Christmas record. I would put it on and the thing would just loop ad nauseam for the whole night.

Eventually, somebody would play piano and we would sing carols. Now we just say screw it and go straight to YouTube and do karaoke, and whatever comes out comes out.

I feel that, especially as you get older, you can’t choose your family. You really are stuck with them, so you have to make the best of it. When you start to give people a chance, you just develop better bonds with them over time.

Matt Dusk’s collection of holiday standards, Old School Yule!, is out now on CD and vinyl and available on all streaming services. His Old School Yule! Holiday Tour plays across Canada through Christmas Day.

Hello! The Last Word

Christmas is coming and Matt Dusk is READY!  One of Canada’s best belters of standards (not to mention one of its spiffiest) the recoring artist, 38, is getting into the spirit of the holidays with Old School Yule!

What singer Matt Dusk is watching, reading and looking forward to

If you hear what Matt Dusk is hearing, it’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas. On Nov. 3, the popular Canadian crooner is set to release Old School Yule!, a 16-track collection of Kringle-season classics, recorded with a 60-piece orchestra and 50-piece choir. Old school, Sinatra-style. Outside of holiday standards, Dusk reveals what else has been jingling his bells lately.

What he just saw:Blade Runner 2049. I never saw the original until well into my adult life, and after seeing it, I wondered what all the hoopla was about. It wasn’t until the third or fourth viewing I realized how deep, dark and poetic the movie was for its time. Nothing brings closure to a movie than the line ‘All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.’ Blade Runner 2049 goes even further with more questions unanswered, amongst a beautiful eye-candy experience. Oh, and how does Harrison Ford age so well?”

What he’s reading:Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth by Nick Murray. Just plain old simple investing advice: low and slow always wins. No shortcuts, no get-rich-quick schemes.”

What he’s looking forward to: “Here: Locating Contemporary Canadian Artists, at the Aga Khan Museum for the rest of the year. Not everybody knows of or has been to this Toronto gem. One of the most refreshing and stunning venues, full of culture and history. As a frequent traveller, it continually surprises me how incredibly diverse Toronto and Canada is. So much beauty found in our own backyard.

Matt Dusk Swings Into Orillia!

The venue may be called the Orillia Opera House, but Canadian Matt Dusk is ready to sing there… and swing!

“Let’s turn back the clock,” the 38-year-old Toronto-born crooner, tells BarrieToday. “Do you remember the time when the Concorde was the fastest passenger plane on earth? When it was possible to travel from Paris to New York in three-and-a-half hours? Those were cool times, when cocktails tasted good and you didn’t think of an eventual headache afterwards, when you didn’t have to think how to dress because there was only one way.”

Finally, he says, “they were times where they only played one kind of music…Our kind of music!”

Dusk, who regularly recreates the feel of a Sinatra performance in everything he does, hits the Opera House stage Friday, Oct. 13. You’re excused if your first thought of Matt hearkens back to the Mark Burnett-produced reality show The Casino.

Dusk says that’s all right with him, considering the double-edged nature of a TV show.

“The positive side is you get mass exposure,” he says, “For example, while I was on The Casino, some episodes were viewed by as many as 20 million people in North America. The downside is that television focuses on your personality and not your artistry, therefore some people don’t take you seriously as a musician.”

Even so, Dusk reckons, “I still think it was a great platform to help launch my career on a global scale. People still remember me from The Casino and I still keep in contact with a few of the people on that show.”

It’s also just fine, thanks, that people spot the vocal and physical similarities between him and Frank, Dino and the rest of the crooners of that era. Like fellow Canadian crooner and rival Michael Buble, Dusk shows a good deal of respect for the time when that style of singing was in its heyday.

“(They were) guys who were well dressed, liked a good martini, could sing, and were always hanging around beautiful people. Today, their lives have been romanticized to a bygone era, where things were easier and where everyone was having a good time. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?”

One of his more recent efforts was a duet album, Just the Two of Us, with the Polish singer Margaret. Duets are among Matt’s favourite projects.

“The idea of collaborating with other artists is exciting, as I treat it like a dance… always figuring out how connect one step at a time. Margaret, although a big pop star, was trained classically and played jazz in high school. All I was doing was bringing her back to her early youth,” he recalls with humour.

“Now I know how Tony Bennett feels singing with Lady Gaga.”

And, while not exactly ready for the rocking chair himself, Dusk figures Margaret’s youth worked in her favour when they made the CD.

“Although I’ve improved over my years, I can get set in my ways. When you’re young you can throw caution to the wind and just try everything. She helped me become a little less stubborn… and for that reason alone I’d definitely record with her. And I know we will.”

Dusk is known for his debut album, Two Shots, and its follow-up, Back in Town, both of which went gold, is in process of cutting two new albums, and is off-the-charts enthused about them. For him, “it’s like 1962 all over again! My band and I are always trying out new music!”

Matt Dusk plays the Orillia Opera House Friday, Oct. 13. To learn more, click here.

Jazz singer Matt Dusk spins his ‘Old School Yule’ album on vinyl

We don’t know much about Canadian jazz singer Matt Dusk. But we know one thing for sure — he’ll get very excited when you place his new holiday album, Old School Yule, on your turntable at home or in the office.

That’s because, as Dusk points out, he and his team “overlooked a minor design flaw” when creating the vinyl edition of his album, a Magic Records release that spotlights 16 jazz covers of familiar holiday classics like “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.”

That design flaw, as you can see below, revolves around the vinyl issue’s center sticker. The picture shows Dusk leaping in the air, innocently enough, but the hole removed for the center post spindle is positioned by his groin. Which gets properly filled in by a bulging knob when the album is on the record player.

We’ll assume this is all an accident, unless Dusk is looking to replace the late Blowfly as the king of raunchy holiday songs. But we think this was not intentional.

“Bring on the creative hashtags,” Dusk tweeted.

Listen to this year’s Juno jazz nominees mash up Drake, The Weeknd, Alessia Cara and Shawn Mendes

Awards shows don’t usually spawn friendships. But when Toronto crooner Matt Dusk was nominated for a Juno Award in the Vocal Jazz Album category, he called up his competitors and invited them to spend a day with him in the studio. Along with singers Heather Bambrick and Barbra Lica, Dusk recorded a swinging, big-band mash-up of five pop songs by some of his fellow Juno nominees: Drake, The Weeknd, Alessia Cara, Shawn Mendes and Sia. It’s bizarre—and whole lot of fun.