Brazilian jazz trumpeter Amelia Thomas and her band kicked off Sounds of Summer at the Old City Quarter in 2019. This year’s concert series begins Aug. 6. (Bulletin file photo)

Brazilian jazz trumpeter Amelia Thomas and her band kicked off Sounds of Summer at the Old City Quarter in 2019. This year’s concert series begins Aug. 6. (Bulletin file photo)

Sounds of Summer outdoor concert series returns to Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter

Last year’s event was to be twice as long before being cancelled due to COVID-19

Live music is returning to Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter.

After missing a year due to COVID-19, the OCQ’s Sounds of Summer live noon-hour concert series back. Each Friday in August and September local musical ensembles will be performing folk, jazz, rock and swing music at Wesley Square and Heritage Mews. Guests are asked to bring their own chairs.

Sounds of Summer organizer James McRae said last year’s series was going to be twice as long, running from June to September, before it had to be called off. He said the OCQ expanded the series because “they liked what was happening” and wanted more of it.

“Instead of just eight groups I had 16 groups lined up for last year,” McRae said. “And when I got the cancellation, because, well, everybody couldn’t do anything last year, I basically contacted all the musicians and told them, ‘If it happens next year, I’ll get a hold of you.’”

When he did approach the artists about returning for 2021, McRae said were eager for the opportunity to get back in front of a crowd.

“All of the groups that got a hold of me, they got a hold of me pretty well ASAP when I sent the note out…” McRae said. “We’re keen to play and keen to do some music.”

The series starts on Aug. 6 at Wesley Square with pianist Dave Klinger and his band playing the music of Cole Porter. The following week features a performance by the mother-son duo of singer Joëlle Rabu and keyboardist Nico Rhodes. On Aug. 20 drummer Natasha Hoskins plays with her quartet and VIU saxophone instructor Ben Henriques. The August concerts conclude with a performance by folk singer Tony Turner’s band the Peripheral Visionaries.

In September the series moves to Heritage Mews. Singer-songwriter David Essig plays the first show of the month on Sept. 3, followed by the Glen Foster Group on Sept. 10 and trombonist John Capon and his trio on Sept. 17. Sounds of Summer concludes with a two-hour performance by retro swing group the Palace Band, of which McRae is a member.

“I try to make it different music styles to appeal to a wider variety of listeners, that’s been my agenda with the [series] and it’s a good lineup this year,” McRae said. “It’s smaller because there’s only eight Fridays where the music is happening, but it’s great that live music is happening.”

WHAT’S ON … Sounds of Summer concert series takes place at Wesley Square, 335 Wesley St., each Friday in August and Heritage Mews, 321 Wesley St., each Friday in September from 12 to 1 p.m.

RELATED: Old City Quarter’s Sounds of Summer live music series now underway

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