Festival Guide: Halifax Jazz Festival 2017

Where: Halifax, N.S.
When: July 12-16

What it is

It’s time to get, erm, jazzed about jazz fest again. The 31st edition of the festival starts today with a couple free afternoon shows and ends on Sunday night with a free party on the mainstage with Gypsophilia and the Mellotones.

Along with music every night on the mainstage, Jazz festival shows stretch out all over downtown Halifax and even outside of the city centre with free afternoon shows in Cherrybrook, Bedford and Lower Sackville.

The best part about Halifax Jazz Festival every year is the programming includes a little bit for everyone. If you’re an R&B fan, check out Anderson .Paak. The California artist has collaborated with a bevy of artists including Dr. Dre, Schoolboy Q, The Game and Kaytranada.

If you’re interested in local history, Joe Sealy’s Africville Stories will be spun at St. Matthew’s Church on Saturday. If reggae is your thing, check out Jo Mersa Marley. You can probably figure out who he’s the grandson of. If you’re a kid (you’re probably not reading this post anyways), take a ride around the harbour on Theodore Tugboat with local drummer hero Bianca Palmer.

And if you’re one of these “back in my day jazz festival meant actual jazz” type of people, well sorry, but you’re wrong. Bria Skonberg won the 2017 JUNO for vocal jazz album.


Jo Mersa Marley, Bria Skonberg, Blue Rodeo, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, Gypsophilia. For the full lineup, check out Jazz Festival website

Mix Pick

It’s not the last waltz, but this will be one of your final chances to see Halifax jazz icons Gypsophilia. Earlier this year, the band announced it’s calling it a day after playing together for 13 years. They’ve already played nine jazz festivals this summer and are capping off the circuit with a free show on the mainstage on Sunday, July 16 with the Mellotones. The actual final for real goodbye comes in October at the Marquee Club, but this is it until then. A Gypsophilia live show is something to behold. Dancing, crowd participation, movement, swaying, clapping, tambourines and smiles take place while a plethora of jazz styles (heavy on the Eastern European variety) are played.

In the words of David Byrne, “Don’t you miss it, don’t you miss it. Some ‘a you people just about missed it! Last time to make plans!”

Catch Gypsophilia and the Mellotones on the mainstage at 8:30 pm on Sunday, July 16.

Mix Tip

There’s literally construction everywhere downtown right now. Streets are ripped off, portions of the waterfront are blocked off and condos are popping up out of every hole in the ground. So have fun navigating and account for some delays if you’re trying to park.

Also, there’s a food drive taking place at the mainstage all week in support of local food bank Feed Nova Scotia. This is an essential service for many Nova Scotians and you can find out more information on most-needed items here.

Press photo of Gypsophilia by Nathan Boone