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Musical preview to festivals

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Winnipeg musicians Keith and Renée perform Tuesday at Air Canada Park during the kickoff for this year's Downtown Concert Series.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Winnipeg musicians Keith and Renée perform Tuesday at Air Canada Park during the kickoff for this year's Downtown Concert Series. Photo Store

Office workers in downtown Winnipeg will have one more reason to bust out of their cubicles during their lunch hours this summer.

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ announced Tuesday they will capitalizing on everyone's favourite fleeting season with a series of free noon-hour outdoor concerts every Wednesday, beginning June 4.

Partnering with nine local music festivals, the BIZ will host shows previewing the festivals' artists each week at Air Canada Park (beside Portage Place Shopping Centre) and Millennium Library Park.

A handful of the Downtown Concert Series' performers were announced Tuesday, while the BIZ's full lineup will be revealed in the coming months, said marketing and communications manager Signy Gerrard.

Calgary singer-songwriter Cara Luft and Newfoundland's Celtic music meisters Fortunate Ones will represent the Winnipeg Folk Festival on July 2 and July 9, respectively.

Folk Fest executive director Lynne Skromeda is particularly excited to fly in these out-of-town artists so Winnipeggers can get a taste of what's to come at Birds Hill Provincial Park July 9-13.

"I don't think anyone's ever brought all the festivals together in one series at one time," said Skromeda. "It's lively, it's exciting and it's going to be a great way to say, 'Hey, you like (this band)? You can come see more of them at our festival next weekend.'"

Other BIZ festival partners include well-known Winnipeg mainstays Aboriginal Music Week and Folklorama, up-and-comers Big Fun Festival and out-of-towners Islendingadagurinn and Dauphin's CountryFest.

Folklorama's executive director Debra Zoerb was glad the BIZ initiated a one-stop festival shop. She's usually tied up with Folklorama preparation during summer and doesn't always have time in the evenings to visit other festivals.

"I try to get out to as many of them as I can. Our province is really blessed to have so many festivals, and sometimes it's just physically impossible to get to all of them," Zoerb said. "We try as much as we can to support one another, because I want to go see their festivals as much as I want to see our own."

Zoerb said Folklorama will be bringing in Clyde Heerah and the Paradize Band and Descargo Latino for the concert series. The Paradize Band is a crowd favourite every year at the African-Caribbean pavilion, she noted, and Descargo Latino is a new collective featuring a trio of Latin American musicians from Winnipeg.

Another Winnipeg act, Keith and Renée, ushered in the BIZ's concert series announcement Tuesday with a performance in Air Canada Park.

jessica.botelho-urbanski@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 28, 2014 A2

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