It would take a whole lot of words to describe the experience of witnessing a performance by The Lemon Bucket Orkestra – they are musical Vitamin B! Peps you up, is good for what ails ya! They are a true musical mashup crossing cultural borders and musical genres. Treat yourself sometime this weekend to being caught up in the moment – Lemon Bucket Style!
Toronto’s The Lemon Bucket Orkestra performing on the anniversary of the Toronto Blackout.
The weekend wrapup for Summerworks & Planet IndigenUS!
The rain never came this weekend and it was a good thing as MIXED BAG MAG was all over the city! Saturday was www.summerworks.ca and Waawaate Fobister’s “Medicine Boy” along with www.queenwestmusicfest.com over at Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Figuring we would pay for the forecasted rain that never came on Saturday, it was a welcome surprise when Sunday turned out to be as stunning as the day before. With the combination of stellar weather and the closing of Planet IndigenUS, Harbourfront was packed out. MIXED BAG MAG attended Canadian-Mexican artist Rodrigo Marti’s tour of the PowerPlant’s current exhibit “ Tools for Conviviality” then headed over to take in 3 exhibits at Harbourfront Centre – “Not So Fast | NSF”, “BORN AGAIN: Repurposed City”, and ”This We Know” an exhibition of recent work by the students in the Aboriginal Visual Culture Program at OCAD U.
Next it was all about relaxing – listening to music performed by Aboriginal artists with the backdrop of the lake, chatting with tourists then drinking fresh coconut water that made one feel like a tourist languishing somewhere in a more tropical locale rather than Lake Ontario! Planet IndigenUS ‘s finale was First Nations dancers wrapping up the festival by getting the crowd engaged in a round dance that shifted happily into something not so circular but nonetheless organic and full of life.
Young fans talking to the CBC about why they love K’NAAN and performing an impromptu version of K’NAAN’s “Waving Flag”.
Just over a year ago I gave myself an assignment to start the ball rolling on what was ultimately going to be my bigger project – MIXED BAG MAG. On my blog, The L. Project, I began to produce a portfolio of work that demonstrated my knack at uncovering and then curating a theme, a stream, an undercurrent. I went out into Toronto to find other people that spoke a new 21st Century language – intercultural, interdisciplinary, socially innovative – people that with their creativity were into sparking a flame that could lead to BIG change.
And since I went out to explore what made Toronto such a fantastic model for a 21st Century city it only made sense to begin my journey of discovery by covering what I believe to be the quintessential model of a 21st Century arts festival – LUMINATO.
It celebrates all the artistic disciplines, this year even including the Culinary Arts.
Not just cross-disciplinary, LUMINATO also makes cross-cultural dialogue the cornerstone upon which it has built an interesting series of hybrid commissions including last year’s 1001 Nights which brought together the talent of British director Tim Supple and Lebanese writer Hanan Al-Shaykh.
For LUMINATO 2011 I cleared out my account and bought all the tickets I could afford. Along with my bank account I cleared my calendar and for the next 10 days immersed myself into all that I love –dance, music, film, literature, visual arts, design and more! Extraordinary was already in season for me in 2011 and with 35+ events attended in all, LUMINATO was undoubtedly the highlight of my year!
At Luminato 2012, I spent most of my nights taking advantage of the free concerts at the Luminato Hub (David Pecaut Square) in an effort to scout out what acts may be a fit for MIXED BAG MAG. The music I experienced criss-crossed the globe from Mali (Fatoumata Diawara) to the Balkans (Shantel & The Bucovina Club Orkestar & our local Lemon Bucket Orkestra), and included Canada’s own K’NAAN, a Somali born performer who mixes hip-hop with traditional Somali musical elements and poetry.
Each night as I witnessed the diverse crowds that would show up I noticed something. Along with people that were unfamiliar but open to the music that was being performed, others were intimately acquainted with what was being sung. Behind me, beside me and in front of me were people belting out lyrics in a language that was their original mother tongue. In the location of their new home, people were able to joyously sing, at the top of their lungs, the songs from the home they left. You could sense the cathartic release!
How powerful can this be for us as a community if we choose to collectively celebrate the sum of all our ethnically diverse parts?
A beautiful week of beautiful music only confirmed what I already believe – that events like LUMINATO offer more to us than just entertainment. At a societal level these types of events can offer healing.
This is why I began this project and my journey of curating at MIXED BAG MAG the best of what I call New Culture because what is closest to my heart is the transformative power of culture. Ultimately it is the energizing spark that can ignite our souls.
Performers from top to bottom – K’NAAN and Nelly Furtado, Michael Franti, Nomadic Massive, Fatoumata Diawara, Afrocubism, Michael Franti and Jovanotti, Telmary Diaz, Shantel & the Bucovina Club Orkestar, and Lemon Bucket Orkestra. All photography by Leah Snyder.