The Winnipeg International Jazz Festival prides itself on being a downtown event with Old Market Square serving as its hub for six days of free concerts and headlining acts filling venues such as the Burton Cummings Theatre and the Centennial Concert Hall.
Winnipeg International Jazz Festival
● June 18-23
● Various locations
● Festival passes $60-$350 at the Jazz Winnipeg office (007-100 Arthur St.)
● Individual show tickets also available.
● All ticket and show information at jazzwinnipeg.com
But this year, the festival is expanding its boundaries by collaborating with RAW:Gallery to create RAW:JazzFest, a pop-up venue just outside of the downtown borders in St. Boniface at Parc Elzéar Goulet on Taché Avenue overlooking the Red River.
"It felt like a unique opportunity to create a concert experience for Winnipeggers that they haven’t had before, and to also kind of be part of making a cool building. There’s unique value in that," says jazz fest artistic director Mike Falk.
"We love having music in small spaces; I think that when people are crushed together a bit more their kinetic energy bounces around and makes for good shows, so I think with this project it’s definitely designed to both animate the space and animate the people, and have some fun, as well."
Creating intimate pop-up venues is nothing new for RAW:Gallery. The local organization is known for its unique focus on architecture and art, including serving as one of the founders of winter tradition RAW:almond, the annual pop-up restaurant located on the frozen intersection of the Red and Assiniboine rivers at The Forks.
The temporary jazz fest space has a capacity of 80; a purposeful number meant to increase the intimacy of the shows while still making sure everyone is comfortable in the space, which is designed with specific dimensions to help achieve the ideal acoustics.
Architect and RAW:Gallery founder Joe Kalturnyk designed (and has spent the last week constructing) the fully transportable and reusable venue. It's shaped like a big V, with two wings of seating facing toward the stage at the point; splitting the audience into two smaller groups helps with the acoustics, as do the diffusers on the wall, which help break up the soundwaves.
"The design was almost entirely dictated by quality of sound; it’s something I’ve really been getting interested in the last several years and I really wanted to share what can be done with the space," Kalturnyk says.
"We’ve spent some time building diffusers and what I wanted to showcase was different ways to diffuse sound, so we have, I want to say, six or seven different kinds of diffusers and the walls will have acoustically absorbent fabric so we can control the sound.
(Parc Elzéar Goulet on Taché Ave. at Rue Aubert)
Saul Williams with Rayannah
7 p.m. and 10 p.m., $30
Ethan Aredelli with Todd Martin
7 p.m., $20
Viisi with Ferro x Sadye
10 p.m., $20
Living Hour with Dave Quanbury
7 p.m., $25
Living Hour with Veneer
10 p.m., $25
Walle Larsson with Jennifer Hanson
6 p.m., $20
Jennifer Hanson with Walle Larsson
9 p.m., $20
10 p.m., $20
"The idea is we can view the building almost like a mixing board, so if you don’t like the sound coming off of one wall or one area, you can start moving the space instead of trying to blast it through mixing boards or speakers, we can accomplish the same, or similar, technique with the space.
"The best analogy I can use is like waves crashing on the rocks, it breaks up the soundwaves. So when the soundwave hits that wall it gets scattered and broken up and doesn’t bounce back as extreme. Most bad sound is echoes and reflections," says Kalturnyk.
Not every type of musician would be a good fit for the space, so Falk has curated a varied lineup in terms of genre, but one that tends to lean toward the softer side of the musical spectrum.
"I think (indie-pop band) Boniface will probably be the loudest band we put in there, but I think there’s also a really diverse mix. We’ve got some top-drawer jazz in there, we’ve got some indie pop, we’ve got hip hop, both locals and touring acts," says Falk, noting most shows in the venue will be seated except for Viisi on Thursday and Boniface on Sunday, which will be standing.
With each new act and new sound comes a completely different listening experience, so both Falk and Kalturnyk are hoping music fans will be able to stop in a few times throughout jazz fest, which kicks off Tuesday and runs through Sunday.
"I think the one thing that’s going to be interesting is that different sections of the building will sound different; I do want to encourage attendees to explore that, but once they’re in their seats they’ll probably want to stay there," laughs Kalturnyk.
"All I can say is come back several times, if you can, and try to listen to different kinds of music in the same space and see what that does and how much it changes."
Thursday, 8 p.m.
Centennial Concert Hall
Friday, 8 p.m.
Burton Cummings Theatre
Curtis Nowosad Quartet
Saturday, 8 p.m.
West End Cultural Centre
Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine
Saturday, 8 p.m.
Sunday, 8 p.m.
Burton Cummings Theatre
New Legends Night
Various artists, including Jakob Bro Trio, Donny McCaslin and Itamar Borochov
Sunday, 2 p.m.-11 p.m.
The Cube, Old Market Square
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Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.
Updated on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at 11:31 AM CDT: Corrects spelling of Viisi.