2018 Performers

LEE OSKAR

A Man and His Instrument Dedicated to Excellence

Lee Oskar Harmonicas Founder/President Lee Oskar is a world-renowned harmonica virtuoso, composer, producer, visual artist, musical explorer and harmonica manufacturer.

Internationally renowned for his unique role as a founding member and former lead harmonica player for the pioneer Funk/Jazz group, WAR, Lee’s stellar career as a globally touring musician uniquely equipped him to become a revolutionary harmonica maker.  In the 70s, Lee grew increasingly frustrated with the poor quality of harmonicas that were on the market at the time.  So he went on a quest to find a superior quality manufacturer that could meet his needs and bring his design ideas to life.  In the early 80s, he found the perfect partner in Tombo Manufacturing of Japan, a multi-generational harmonica manufacturer known for excellence since 1917.

Together, Lee Oskar and Tombo collaborated closely to perfect Lee Oskar Harmonicas, pairing Lee’s design ideas, creativity and musical knowledge with Tombo’s manufacturing expertise and commitment to superlative quality.

leeoskar.com is a culminating showcase of Lee Oskar products and his life’s work.

SO LONG SEVEN/SL7

"... fusing the inspirations of India, West Africa, Spain and Brazil to make dynamic and intriguing original music that draws on folk, chamber music and jazz..."

Peter Hum / Ottawa Citizen

So Long Seven was brought together by community, and in turn, brings community together. With unique instrumentation (guitar, banjo, tabla, violin and vocals) and richly textured orchestration, the diverse influences of the group not only span culture, but generation too – they cover four decades in age, with a member in each (i.e. 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.)

Their sophomore album, ‘Kala Kalo’ translates to “black” in both Hindi and Romani, respectively. It refers to those who have been rejected – in other words, the black sheep of the family. ‘Kala Kalo’ is a dedication to anyone who has ever felt ostracized be it in a grander political framework or simply on a personal and community level. With this sentiment in mind, Tim Posgate says:

“In some ways we are all so different. Early beginnings were Toronto, Saskatoon, Gatineau and Thunder Bay. We are like cats and we all like cats. (‘Cairo’ is written for Neil’s cat by that name.) We all love music. We often play and compose for each other with great mutual respect. Trying to challenge, push and inspire each other to bring-forth a high-energy stage show. Most of our time together on the road and at rehearsal is filled with laughter!”

NORAH DOOLEY

Norah Dooley is a storyteller, critically acclaimed children’s author, and educator who performs in schools, libraries, festivals and conferences and specializes in teaching people of all ages how important their stories are. For the past 18 summers she has told stories to thousands of children through ReadBoston.org. She is the founder of StoriesLive.org, and a co-founder of Massmouth.org and the Boston Story Slam series. She teaches storytelling at Lesley, Tufts and Suffolk Universities. Internationally she has lectured teachers of English and graduate students in Tokyo, Japan on the role of storytelling in language acquisition, and in Arsuha Secondary schools in Tanzania as part of the African Storytelling initiative of WorldEd.org.  Norah is an active union member of SEIU Local 509 where she is a steward for her fellow adjuncts at Lesley University.  She works for justice and intends to comfort the afflicted. She is unafraid to afflict the comfortable, as needed.

Editor’s note:  Ms Dooley thrills both the mature audience and an auditorium filled with young children with equal passion and success. She gloriously taps into the child in each one of us whether we be 5 years old or 105.  Be prepared to be deliciously entertained!

JORDAN JOHN

"Dynamite! The handsome lad vocally suggests Al Green via Smokey Robinson.  Among impressive up-and-comers, John is definitely one to watch."

Christopher Loudon / JAZZ TIMES

To say that vocal sensation Jordan John is a more powerful and polished lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist than many players twice his age would tell just a fraction of the story.  Adept on drums, keyboards, guitar and bass, he has already compiled  a longer list of credits and displays more assuredness and maturity than many performers twice his age.

Be it performing in front of 20,000+ as a lead singing, guitar wielding frontman, opening for The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin (at her personal request), jamming at age 16 on drums with the artist formerly known as Prince, singing the American National Anthem at the 2011 Toronto Honda Indy, performing as interim bassist for fame Canadian rock trio, Wide Mouth Mason, Jordan’s talent and energy is sure to delight and amaze both avid and casual music listeners.

Garnering praise from the who’s who of the music industry such as world renown producer David foster, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, John Mayall, Steve Jordan, Keith Richards, Robbie Robertson, you may begin to register the proper amount of astonishment his musicality can command.

In addition to his work as a frontman in the US and Europe, Jordan’s diverse multi-instrumental ability has allowed to perform and/or record at the highest level on drums, guitar, bass and B3 Hammond organ for artists such as Johnny Reid, Colin James, Jeff Healey, Burton Cummings, Wide Mouth Mason, Ronnie Spector, The Trailer Park Boys, Deborah Cox, Divine Brown, Lucky Peterson, Matt Schofield, Pinetop Perkins, Elise LeGrow… to name but a few.

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MIKE BRANTON

A Chicago story: "I hit the open stage at Buddy guy's club and they wouldn't let me off. One of the guys there plays guitar with Koko Taylor and he kept calling me back up!"

Mike Branton made a name for himself as a young guitar prodigy in the Southern Ontario region evolving into a triple threat: inventive improvisational soloist, original singer and songwriter.  Part of any musician’s education is backing up other people.  Branton has been featured by, played with, shared the stage, recorded with and just plain jammed with a who’s who of Canadian and American blues musicians including Jeff Healey, Michael Pickett, George “Wildchild” Butler, Chicago Pete, Pat Ramsey, Richard Newell aka “King Biscuit Boy”, David Clayton Thomas, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Lee Oskar, Jordan John, Steve Marriner & Matt Sobb (Monkeyjunk), Amos Garrett, Michael Fonfara (Electric Flag) and long time boss Stu Heydon. This is a man in love with the blues. It was his first musical passion and one that has remained in full bloom over the years.  His trio closes out Concert For Peace every year and absolutely never disappoints!

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