Braziliant Art of Jazz
Once again it falls upon the Art Of Jazz celebration (June 4 to 8) to make up for the other festivals' unfortunate oversights. This year's Distillery District (55 Mill)event is highlighted by the appearances of celebrated pianist Randy Weston with saxophonist Billy Harper June 6, exceptional vocalist Sheila Jordan with pianist Steve Kuhn June 7, in addition to the quartet of hard-thumping Lenny Kravitz drummer Cindy Blackman June 8. But the most anticipated portion of the five-day festival is saved for last: the all-star tribute concerts, this year saluting Brazilian jazz greats Hermeto Pascoal June 7 and Egberto Gismonti June 8. www.artofjazz.org.
Zip on Led Zep reunion
Alison Krauss (left) and Robert Plant serenade the Molson Amphitheatre July 14.
While it would've been swell to have a Led Zeppelin show in Toronto, the closest you'll get to any sort of Stairway To Heaven is hearing Robert Plant duet with bluegrass sweetheart Alison Krauss on their oddball Raising Sandselection of folk, gospel, blues, country and gently swinging R&B at the Molson Amphitheatre (909 Lakeshore West)
Close enough for jazz
The annual Toronto Jazz Festival (June 20 to July 3) seems to be less and less about real improvisational music, but at least they're making up for the jazz shortfall with some decent soul, R&B, blues and world music artists. Launching this year's edition will be Reverend Al Green,whose less than thrilling Lay It Down album shouldn't keep you from seeing him tear up the Sony Centre (1 Front East)June 19 ($32-50-$82.50). The Nathan Phillips Square seriesgets underway in boisterous Big Easy fashion with Dr. John and the Wild Magnolias June 20 ($40), continuing with the return of soulful Brit guitar slinger James Hunter June 24 ($25), before peaking with Malian maestro Salif Keita June 29 ($30). The real festival hot spot will be the Supermarket (268 Augusta), hosting velvety-voiced soul-jazz rising star Jose James June 27 ($10-$15), followed by dance-floor destroyer Alice Russell June 28 ($17.50). www.tojazz.com.
Three times a Virgin
The final summer blowout will be the massive V Fest weekend music-athon at Toronto IslandSeptember 6 and 7. Along with the numerous vendors trying to sell you junk, there will be formerly hugely popular British acts including Oasis, Spiritualized, Paul Weller, Bloc Party and Stereophonics (remember them?). For a little Canadian content, you'll also see the Constantines, the Weakerthans and Wintersleep,along with a couple of other draft choices yet to be named. This year's headliners will be some band called the Foo Fighters,whose singer notably played drums for Juliette and the Licks, Pete Yorn and Tenacious D. Tickets are $159 for the complete two-day package and $87 for one day (both prices include the ferry fare). www.virginfestival.ca.
Scratch that itch
Lee Scratch Perry,one of the key architects of dub reggae, is also widely known as an extremely colourful and unpredictable character. For that last reason, we're not completely convinced he's serious when he claims that party rocker Andrew WK is producing his upcoming album, but with Perry anything is possible. You can judge for yourself when he performs June 30 at Harbourfront Centre(235 Queens Quay West). Free.
Harbourfront's annual Beats, Breaks And Culture festival is celebrating five years July 4 to 6, and once again features a top-notch lineup of talents who blur the line between genres. International guests include some indie-electro from Ladytron and Poni Hoax as well as a funky set of live soulful house from the always excellent Tortured Soul. The locals also have some heavyweights on their side, including Thunderheist, Crystal Castles and up-and-comers Woodhands. All of it's free at Harbourfront Centre.
What a Rush
Somehow the term prog rock went from being a dis to being a totally acceptable term of reference for young bands, so it's entirely possible that ironic mullets might outnumber the authentic ones when Rush take the stage July 9 at the Molson Amphitheatre. $27.50-$119.50. 416-870-8000.
Judas Priest may be the headliners of the Metal Masters tour, but more exciting are legendary hard rockers Motörhead, who will join Priest alongside Testament and Heaven and Hell August 13 at Molson Amphitheatre. $25-$125.
Bang your (Radio)head
For some reason, Radiohead didn't think it wise to adapt their pay-what-you-want album scheme to ticket sales for their upcoming tour - and we thought they trusted their fans to do the right thing. You can catch the Brit-pop bigwigs August 15 at the
The Rogers Picnic is back July 20 at Fort York(100 Garrison), featuring a large lineup of indie rock talent. Highlights this year include City and Colour, Cat Power, Chromeo, Animal Collective, Dizzee Rascal, Vampire Weekend and more. $49.50. 416-870-8000.