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Nanaimo International Jazz Festival – September 15 to 17

September 15 - September 17

$19 – $35

Jazz music’s reputation for improvisation, collaboration and camaraderie is legendary in the music world. Nanaimo’s jazz connection is also acclaimed and unique. This city can rightfully boast a cornucopia of home-grown musical talents. Some have blossomed internationally while others have fostered deep roots, cultivating their passion for music in their community, and nurturing the future generations.

After recently being awarded the BC Touring Councils’ 2023 ‘Festival of the Year’ award, the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival, also known as NIJFA, decided to show appreciation for its musical community by celebrating many of these marvelous musicians who live and breathe music on our coast.

From September 15 to 17 more than 114 musicians will take to the stage, performing throughout Nanaimo at 6 different downtown venues. Community partners keen to help create space for all this talent include the Port Theatre, The Old City Quarter Association for the Wesley Street Stage, The Vault, The Modern, The Nanaimo Bar and the Courtyard by Marriott.

This year’s festivities start at Noon on Friday September 15 with five hourly concerts on the Wesley Street Stage, starting with the award-winning group, the Shineolas; followed by the fabulous sounds of the Teighan Couch Quartet; the amazing Doc Fingers; the spirited Duncan Symonds, Super Fly Weight and more.

The Friday night venues include the Modern Café where the talented Kenton Willem and Natasha Adams perform for the dinner audiences at 6:30pm; the Vault will open its doors for the Jam Night with the Kelby MacNayr Trio hosting at 9:00pm; and the late-night music lovers can head over to the Nanaimo Bar where the charismatic Lady O and The Omen will be providing some funky jazz from 9:30pm to 1:00am.

True to tradition, the Saturday morning New Orleans style Musical Walk will start at Maffeo-Sutton Park at 11:45am where everyone is invited to walk, dance, prance, skip, cartwheel their way along the waterfront along with the wonderful 8-piece band,

Natasha Hoskins and the Stompers leading the way.

The Saturday afternoon fun starts at 1:00pm at the Wesley Street Stage, with the dynamite 9-piece band The New Groovement,and the rest of the day unfolds with local gem on keys Scott Arkell with the velvety vocals of Gosia Hagen; the inspiring, young multi-instrumentalist known as the Rivercity Sidemen; and concluding the day with one of Canada’s most highly respected jazz vocalists (who has recently moved back home to the Island) Bonnie Brett with guests Steve Wallace and Phil Dwyer.

The Saturday September 16th evening continues to celebrate Community with an All-Star Concert at the Port Theatre. This event promises to be one very special gathering as more than 40 musicians and special guests pay homage to one of our community’s most beloved music mentors, Bryan Stovell. The doors open at 6:00pm with the award-wining Wellington Jazz Band providing some pre-show music in the lobby.

The Port stage lights up at 7:00pm with another Nanaimo inspiration who has been wowing audiences for the past few years in New Orleans and across the US. Sax phenom, Connor Stewart, returns home with some of his New Orleans bandmates: Miles Lyons (Grammy award winning trombone player), Zack Knewstub (piano), Aaron Levinson (drums) and he has also invited Island colleagues John Lee (bass) and Mike Clement (guitar) to join in the fun.

Steve Jones, another treasured educator, and musician will be leading the fabulous Decadence band to continue energizing the stage; special guests Carmella Luvisotto, Phil Dwyer, John Capon and some surprises, will share their exclusive musical history in this tribute to ‘Stove’. Bryan will be put to work for the finale, when he conducts the NMA Big Band, now celebrating its 56th year, featuring a repertoire of classic jazz, swing, Latin, fusion, New Orleans sounds. Tickets for the All-Star Concert at the Port are $35 general, $30 NIJFA members with code, $22.50 Youth and are available online at Port Theatre Box Office or in person. Tickets at The Port Theatre.

As is the tradition of jazz, the music continues into the night. The Courtyard by Marriott across from the Port Theatre, is hosting a chill evening of nosh and notes with guitar aces Brad Shipley and Duncan Symonds at 7:30pm; and the second Vault Jam Night will be hosted by the Nick Peck Quartet starting at 9:00pm.

Sunday September 17th promises to conclude the festival with dancing in the streets! NIJFA is thrilled to present the legendary Louise Rose at 1:00pm with her inimitable jazz, gospels stylings at the Wesley Street Stage. Ending the day will be Mahogany Swing Band featuring the magnificent voice of Simon Paterson and the stylistic arrangements of local pianist Patrick Courtin accompanied by Nico Rhodes, Al Murray and Drake Shoemaker – we will also have The Big Mess at 2pm at Wesley Street.


September 15
September 17
$19 – $35
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Nanaimo International Jazz Festival