Full (Wreck) House

Danette Dooley
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Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival has a little something for everyone

Ever dreamed of performing on stage with a gospel choir? Those who sign up for Ken Whiteley's gospel singing workshop on Saturday will be given an opportunity to turn such dreams into reality.

The session is one of four workshops taking place during the Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival.

The Idlers. Submitted photo

Ever dreamed of performing on stage with a gospel choir? Those who sign up for Ken Whiteley's gospel singing workshop on Saturday will be given an opportunity to turn such dreams into reality.

The session is one of four workshops taking place during the Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival.

Touted as one of Canada's finest musical statesman, Whiteley has worked with blues and folk legends including Pete Seeger and Lonnie Johnson.

His music covers everything from blues and gospel to children's music.

During the workshop Whiteley will give participants an overview of gospel music and divide them into different sections of a choir such as soprano, alto, tenor/bass.

Workshop participants will learn several songs during the workshop and will join Whiteley on stage during his blues and gospel revue concert taking place Sunday at the Elim Pentecostal Tabernacle.

Festival artistic director Kirk Newhook says the workshop is open to everyone with an interest in gospel music.

"We're putting a call out to any singer, professional or amateur," Newhook says.

The festival runs from July 14-19 with kick off performances by St. John's first live salsa band - Salsa Roca, followed later in the evening by Bill Brennan and the Banda Brazil. Brennan's band pays tribute to dozens of well-known Brazilian composers and singers.

"It's great to feature some of our strongest local players doing such diverse music," Newhook says of the opening acts.

The festival combines local talent as well as national and international artists with two groups from New York among this year's performers.

"We're promoting the concert as 150 artists, 40 concerts, six days," Newhook says.

Concerts and workshops take place at numerous indoor and outdoor locations in and around the city - everything from George Street pubs to Memorial University's D.F. Cook Recital Hall.

The D.F. Cook concert features the New York-based jazz trio The Bad Plus.

For the first time this year, the Bowring Park Amphitheatre is among the outdoor venues.

Saturday's family-focused concert in the park features Jayme Stone and Mansa Sissoko. The duo recently won a Juno for their world music album "Africa to Appalachia."

Thursday night's concert at Holy Heart Theatre features local artists Janet Cull, Kelly-Ann Evans and Dana Parsons as they pay tribute to the women of motown and soul.

All four festival workshops are open to people of all ages.

Participation is encouraged but is not obligatory, Newhook says.

"If someone just wants to come and listen they can do that. They won't be yanked up on stage."

Toronto-based foursome Blackburn - a band which includes three brothers - will perform twice during the festival.

The band's music is described as rich in blues but inflected with rhythm and blues and soul.

The brothers' father is a well-known blues musician. Their mother is from Carbonear.

"The brothers are really excited about coming here. They haven't been here before," Newhook says.

Other local performers include folk trio The Once - a band comprised of Geraldine Hollett of Burin, Andrew Dale of Coley's Point and Phil Churchill of Corner Brook.

People interested in taking in much of the festival can purchase a festival pass or a festival pass plus.

"The plus pass guarantees admission to the D.F. Cook, the Holy Heart and the gospel show. Both passes are admission to all the other shows and workshops on a capacity basis."

For more information on the festival visit www.wreckhousejazzandblues.com or call 709-739-7734.

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: Bowring Park Amphitheatre, Holy Heart Theatre

Geographic location: Canada, St. John's, New York George Street Africa Appalachia Carbonear Corner Brook

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