Cape Breton Jazz Festival


2019 Schedule

Soon to be Released 


Festival will take place in Sydney July 28-August 3, 2019


Festival Performers and location of Festival shows will be announced in May







Highlights From Past Years


Cape Breton Jazz Festival





August 2-11, 2018

Sydney, Cape Breton




With 'Jazz on the Water' as its theme, the 2018 Cape Breton Jazz Festival will be the best ever.

Partnering with the Sydney Port, Flavor On The Water restaurant, the Sydney Waterfront Festival,  the  'Ride for the Cure', in conjunction with the Cape Breton Bike Rally, and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, the Festival welcomes tourists and local residents. 

 The Festival will present an exciting program of ticketed shows and  free outdoor events. 

Most Evening Concerts  will be held at the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion (Big Fiddle) in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. Free outdoor shows will be held in downtown Sydney, and in the adjacent community of Membertou. 


For the indoor shows tickets can be purchased at the Cape Breton Curiosity Shop, 296 Charlotte St. Sydney. Tickets Cost: $20 Advance, $25 at the door. Dining menus and drinks available; Indoor Shows are Family Friendly events with all ages welcome. 


The Festival very much appreciates support from the following

corporate and government partners:

Cape Breton University Alumni Department, Sydney Credit Union,

the Coast 89.7FM, Destination Cape Breton, Cape Breton Regional

Municipality, Flavor on the Water, Port of Sydney, New Dawn

Corporation, NKearns Event and Project Solutions. 



Event Information 



Juno Award Winning Jazz Saxophonist Kirk MacDonald from Toronto and special guests will be the Festival's closing concert Saturday, August 11

Kirk MacDonald Appearing Saturday August 11 2011


Festival Schedule:



Thursday, August 2, 2018 

Bill Stevenson Trio with Geoff Arsenault and Ron Hines

at 7:30 at the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion, Sydney 

Kicking off the 2018 Cape Breton Jazz Festival is a Festival favourite the Bill Stevenson Trio. Based in Halifax, the trio which consists of Bill on piano, Geoff Arsenault on drums, and Ron Hines on bass never fails to deliver a high energy soulful performance. Through Bill's rich vocals and elegant yet blues filled piano playing the group entertains audiences with songs sung and played from throughout the jazz era - songs from the Great American Songbook, and from the lexicon of blues and popular standards. Sit back and enjoy or dance to this classy presentation of fun filled music.


Bill Stevenson



The Bill Stevenson Trio



Friday, August 3, 2018 

Joe Way with Special Guests singer Charlotte MacDonald,  

Blues vocalist Theresa Malenfant and guitarist Scott Medford

at 7:30 at the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion, Sydney 


Jazz guitarist Joe Waye has been a featured attraction at the Cape Breton Jazz Festival for the past several years. Through his melodic improvised jazz guitar playing, Joe has delighted those attending his shows, resulting in his shows becoming one of the better attended shows of the Festival. Joe will be joined for this show by vocalist Charlotte MacDonald, who has been a favourite performer at the Cape Breton Jazz Festival for the past few years.


Joe Waye



Saturday, August 4, 2018 

The Whiskysmoke Blues Band

at 8:00 pm at the Outdoor Beer Tent - 19 years and over - Free Admission–  in Membertou (next to Membertou Trade Centre)

Presented by the Ride for the Cure in conjunction with the Cape Breton Bike Rally

The Jazz Festival's Blues Night will be headlined by the Whiskysmoke Blues Band from Antigonish. The event will be an outdoor beer tent adjacent to the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre in Membertou near Sydney. The event is sponsored by the 'Ride for the Cure' in conjunction with the Cape Breton Bike Rally. The event will run from 8 pm until midnight. The Band is comprised of some of the top players in eastern Nova Scotia, including Mike Melchin on vocals, guitar, keyboards, and harmonica, Jake Hanlon on guitar, Ryan Billington on vocals and keyboards, Carl Laudadio on vocals and bass, and Allan Fraser on drums.


The Whiskysmoke Blues Band



Saturday, August 4, 2018 

Blues Vocalist Theresa Malenfant and guitarist Scott Medford

at 8:00 pm at the Outdoor Beer Tent - 19 years and over - Free Admission–  in Membertou (MTCC)

Presented by the Ride for the Cure in conjunction with the Cape Breton Bike Rally


Theresa Malenfant has been entertaining east coast blues fans for a number of years. She sings the blues with a soulful earthy style which is seldom matched by  vocal performances on the east coast. Accompanied by New Brunswick blues guitarist Scott Medford, Theresa will heat up the audience with her blues infused style. 

Theresa Malenfant




Sunday, August 5 2018 

Out of the Jazz Box:

Dwayne Cote on fiddle and Jason MacDonald on guitar, along with theCrowds Bridge Band, and solo performance by Jordan Musycsyn

at 7:30 pm at the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion, Sydney

Presented by The Coast radio station 89.7 FM

Dwayne Cote


Cape Breton fiddling standout Dwayne Cote will be part of the featured 'Outside the Jazz Box' program on Sunday, August 5 2018. Dwayne is well known for his eclectic playing style which encompasses all different genres. Dwayne along with guitar player, vocalist, and songwriter Jason MacDonald will have the house shaking as their high energy will delight everyone attending. Both players have been featured performers on the Cape Breton music scene for many years. They are both delighted to be making their first appearance at the Cape Breton Jazz Festival. A full house is expected for this show.


Crowds Bridge

From multiple ECMA performances to busking with Matt Anderson on the PEI ferry, Crowdis Bridge has been entertaining folks in small towns and strange places since 2008. Lovers and purveyors of roots and traditional music, they are steeped in bluegrass, old-time, folk, Celtic and country-blues. This Cape Breton group of multi-instrumentalists, vocalists & songwriters creates a musical landscape as amazing and diverse as the island they call home. 

In 2012, their sophomore album, The Seasons & The Rhymes garnered national radio attention on CBC and was nominated by Music Nova Scotia for Country/Bluegrass album of the year. They have performed at countless festivals and venues across the Maritimes. Currently midway through recording their long awaited third album of original songs, Crowdis Bridge is sure to make you tap your foot with a smile. 


Band Members 

* Andrew Fedora: Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin 

* Ben Furey: Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin 

* Kyle Legere: Banjo, Vocals, Guitar 

* Jason Rudderham: Upright Bass, Vocals 

* Colin Grant: Fiddle



Crowds Bridge


Jordan Musycsyn



Wednesday, August 8 2018 

Jazz Fest Celebration 

Featuring Lots of Local Performers Including:

 Lots of local musicians sharing the stage, including Ethan Ardelli, Russell LeBlanc, Bruce MacKinley, Johnny Hawkins, Matt Nicholson, Debbie Keating, Scott Rodney, Ward Glogowski, Shane MacLean, Roy Dawson, Darren MacNeil, Mike Glick, Tanner MacDonald, and more.

at 7:30 pm Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion, Sydney


Thursday, August 9 2018 

New York Stories:

With former Nylon Group singer Micah Barnes 


Jazz Pianist Holly Arsenault!

at 7:30 pm Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion, Sydney


“New York Stories” takes audiences on a musical tour of The Big Apple starting uptown at The Apollo Theatre and The Cotton Club and moving midtown to Times Square & Broadway before landing downtown at legendary Jazz Clubs such as Birdland and The Blue Note in The Village!   

Canadian Jazz crooner, Micah Barnes and critically acclaimed Jazz Pianist Holly Arsenault will be performing classic songs from legendary New York songwriters like Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Carole King & Burt Bacharach, as well as material from Micah’s critically acclaimed album “New York Stories” (eOne Music) which he and Holly are touring the Atlantic provinces with! 

Don’t miss the chance to spend an evening in Manhattan! 



Micah Barnes


Micah Barnes



Holly Arsenault




Friday, August 10 2018  at 7:00-9:00 pm 

Free Outdoor Show Charlotte St. Sydney

Presented by the Sydney Waterfront Festival 


The Booty Boppin' Brass Band

Led by Halifax Trumpet player and vocalist Mike Cowie with a selection of some of Atlantic Canada's top jazz players, this high energy band includes: Rick Waychesko on trumpet, Martin Davidson on tenor sax, Dan Martin on trombone and vocals, Pierre Devillers on Tuba, and Dave Burton on drums. The group will have people dancing in the aisles.

The Booty Boppin' Brass Band plays blues based high energy music with driving 2nd line, Funk, Hip Hop and Latin beats. The BBBB is about impossible horn arrangements, a Sousaphone that doesn't stop and fun vocals.

The Booty Boppin’ Brass Band gets our audience singing, stomping, and playing percussion on stage with us - we also feature some cool choreography and audience march throughs.

The BBBB was featured on the main stage at The 2016 Halifax Jazz Festival with Preservation Hall. In 2017 the band is featured 5 times on the CBC stage during the Halifax Tall Ships Festival.


The Booty Boppin' Brass Band



Friday, August 10 2018  at 6:00 pm 

Free Outdoor Show Charlotte St. Sydney  

The Carl Getto Jazz Group

The Carl Getto Jazz Group features vocalists singing classic jazz standards accompanied by some of Cape Breton's top jazz players, including Ethan Ardelli, Red Mike MacDonald, Russell LeBlanc.

Carl Getto Jazz Group


Saturday, August 11, 2018 

Juno Award winner Kirk MacDonald

with Special Guests:

Virginia MacDonald, Lucian Gray, Paul Tynan, and Jake Hanlon


at 7:30 at the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion, Sydney 

Kirk MacDonald



With an established reputation as one of Canada's leading saxophonists, Kirk MacDonald cut his first record at the age of thirteen. Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards, and has worked with many leading musicians in a variety of musical genres. He has performed on over fifty CDs as both leader and side- man, and has participated in numerous national broadcast recordings for CBC Radio. In addition to performing extensively throughout Canada, he has also performed in the USA, Spain, France, Italy, Holland, Monaco, Aus- tralia, Korea, Bermuda, and the Bahamas.

For over thirty years Kirk has worked and recorded with many leading Canadian, U.S. and International jazz musicians including Claude Ranger, Dave Young, Sam Noto, Sonny Greenwich, Kenny Wheeler, Eddie Hender- son, Harold Mabern, Walter Bishop Jr., Tom Harrell, Lorne Lofsky, Bob Mover, Pat LaBarbera, John Taylor, Ron McClure, Jack DeJohnette, Mike Stern, Jim McNeely, Bob Mintzer, Vince Mendoza, John Clayton, Chris Potter, Glenn Ferris, Maria Schneider, Dave Grusin, Danilo Perez, Adam Rogers, Dennis Mackrel, Nancy Walker, Barry Romberg, Andre White, Rob Smith, Brian Dickinson, Denny Christianson, Bernie Senensky, Phil Nimmons, James Moody, Rosemary Clooney, Humber College Faculty Ensemble.

Kirk will highlight the Cape Breton Jazz Festival with his closing show on Saturday, August 11 at the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion (Big Fiddle), Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Virginia MacDonald on clarinet and Lucian Gray on guitar


Lucian Gray

Known for his relaxed feel and commanding sound, Lucian Gray is an virtuosic young guitarist with a deep respect for the jazz tradition. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Lucian Gray was born into a musical family. His father is one of Canada's foremost trumpet players, and his mother the head of her own music school. He started playing the piano at the age of 4. Upon entering high school, Lucian decided to pick up the guitar and played in various rock and fusion groups throughout his teens. After being introduced to the music of Wes Montgomery, he decided he wanted to be a jazz guitarist. In 2008, Lucian was awarded the Slaight Scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship. He graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree of Music Performance. During his time at Berklee, Lucian studied with guitar guru Mick Goodrick. In 2009, Lucian was awarded the Rising Young Star at the Prince Edward County Jazz Festival. In 2015, Lucian entered the first Wes Montgomery International Jazz Guitar Competition and was one of five finalists selected to perform at the culminating concert of the competition. Lucian is currently active in the Toronto jazz scene, performing with his own group and as a sideman, as well as teaching privately.



Virginia MacDonald

Virginia grew up in a musical family and started playing clarinet when she was seven years old. She was accepted into the prestigious high school band program at the Etobicoke School of the Arts in Toronto, and had the chance to play and study music more extensively throughout her time there. While in high school, Virginia was accepted into the Youth Jazz Canada Honour Combo three years in a row, and had the chance to study with some of Canada’s finest musicians. Since then, she has established herself as a respected and sought after musician in the Toronto jazz scene, and has performed extensively as a leader and sidewoman at several venues across the city, including the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the Jazz Bistro, the Rex Jazz & Blues Bar, Poetry Jazz Cafe, and in several Canadian festivals including the Toronto Jazz Festival, the Kensington Market Jazz Festival, the Beaches Jazz Festival, and the Cape Breton Jazz Festival. She currently attends Humber College, and has had the opportunity to study with the great Pat LaBarbera (Buddy Rich Big Band, Elvin Jones Quartet) for the past three years. She’s worked with many local musicians including Kirk MacDonald, Pat LaBarbera, Lorne Lofsky, Neil Swainson, Nancy Walker, Kieran Overs, Bruce Cassidy, David Occhipinti. She’s had the opportunity to work internationally in Europe, at well-known jazz clubs such as Bogui Jazz and Jimmy Glass Jazz Club, and has had the chance to share the stage with many renowned jazz musicians such as Dick Oatts, Rich Perry, Adam Nussbaum, Peter Bernstein, and Harold Mabern. 





 Highlights From 2017:




 Guitarist/Vocalist: Mike Rud


 Pianist/Vocalist: Steve Amirault



Island to Island Cuban Group Los Primos:


Featuring Augusto Enriquez and Jeff Goodspeed



Steppin’ Out :


Vocals by Kevin Colford on Classic Jazz Standards




Ethan Ardelli Quartet:


featuring:  Kirk MacDonald (sax)

 Ted Quinlan (guitar), Steve Amirault (piano),

Eric Burke (bass, Ethan Ardelli (drums)



Cookin’ Blues Night:


Joe Murphy Band,

featuring Curtis Matheson on guitar


Dan Dorion Band



Festival Closing Party:


Joe Waye, Michele Stephens, Carl Getto,


Charlotte MacDonald, Red Mike MacDonald,


Johnny Hawkins, and others




Festival Performers


Kirk MacDonald, Island to Island Presents Los Primos, Augusto

Enriquez, Jeff Goodspeed, Matt MacLennan, Shelley Allen,

EthanArdelli, Kevin Colford, Red Mike MacDonald,

Ken Howatson, Steve MacInnis,

Bruce MacKinley, Russell LeBlanc, Ronnie Leadbeater, Peter

MacDonald, Mike Rud, Steve Amirault, Ted Quinlan,

Eric Burke,

Joe Murphy Blues Band, Dan Doiron Blues Band,

Curtis Matheson,

Joe Waye, Michele Stephens, Johnny Hawkins,

Carl Getto, ChrisMcDonald, Charlotte MacDonald, Take Note

Drummers, Scott Rodney,

Matthew  Nicholson, Doug Johnson, Tyler MacDonald, and others




Phone Carl at 902-565-1092


2017 Community Sponsors:


Hearthstone Inn,

Coastal Community Radio,

New Dawn,



Cape Breton Regional Municipality,

Destination Cape Breton,

Nkearns Event and Project Solutions,

Coda Recording Studio.



New York Stories with former Nylon Group singer Micah Barnes and Jazz Pianist Holly Arsenault! 

New York Stories with former Nylon Group singer Micah Barnes and Jazz Pianist Holly Arsenault! 

Past Press Releases


                Three Juno Award Winning Artists  

           Kirk MacDonald, Mike Rud, Steve Amirault  

To Highlight 2017 Cape Breton Jazz and World Music Festival




Guitarist and vocalist Mike Rud from Montreal, pianist and vocalist Steve Amirault from Toronto, along with iconic tenor  saxophonist Kirk MacDonald of Toronto and formerly from New Waterford, NS, who fresh off his European jazz tour will headline this year's Festival. All have been past winners of a Juno Award, symbolic of outstanding music achievement in Canada. The three performers will be playing at the Heartstone Inn on Kings Rd. in Sydney, during the week long Festival. Rud and Amirault are scheduled to appear at the Festival on Wednesday, August 9. Amirault will also appear with the Ethan Ardelli Group on Thursday at the Hearthstone Inn. Tickets cost $20 in advance at $25 at the door. Locations for advance ticket sales will be announced shortly.


A Cookin' Blues Night Will Be A Special Feature of the 2017 Cape Breton Jazz Festival: Joe Murphy and Dan Doiron on Friday, August 11 2017


Long time Nova Scotian blues player Joe Murphy and his band, along with Dan Doiron of Halifax and his band will headline a 'cookin' blues night' at the 2017 Cape Breton Jazz Festival. The blues night which promises to generate an evening of hot blues will be held on Friday, August 11 at the Hearthstone Inn in Sydney.  Joe Murphy has been entertaining audiences for many years in and around Halifax, and has shared the stage with most of Atlantic Canada's blues players. Doiron, a Port Hood, NS  native,  is delighted to return to Cape Breton to display his blues prowess. Doiron is an oustanding blues guitarist who has performed at the Halifax Jazz Festival. Both bands will have their audiences up and dancing. 


Canadian Jazz Guitarist Ted Quinlan To Appear At 2017 Cape Breton Jazz Festival: Thursday, August 10 2017

TED QUINLAN (guitarist, writer, educator) is respected as one of Canada’s most multi-faceted jazz musicians, highly skilled as a solo jazz guitarist, session player, writer, and dedicated educator. He is a sought-after sideman, frequently appearing with the “who’s who” of Canadian jazz artists on concert stages, in clubs, and in jazz festivals from coast-to-coast. Throughout his abiding career, he has performed with some of the biggest international jazz stars including Freddie Baker, Chet Baker, Eddie Harris, Jimmy Smith, and Joey DeFrancesco. Ted will be performing with of several outstanding jazz players on Thursday, August 10 at the Hearthstone Inn in Sydney, NS.


Drummer Ethan Ardelli To Bring His Group of Outstanding Jazz Players to Jazz Festival Stage; Saxophonist Kirk MacDonald Added To Program: Thursday, August 10 2017


Drummer Ethan Ardelli has become one of the top jazz drummers on the Toronto jazz scene, since moving from Cape Breton to Toronto several years ago. Ethan has played with most of Toronto's top jazz players, and is on their list of drummers to call when they need to have a soulful jazz drumming feel to power their rhythm section. For this gig, Ethan has put together a group which consists of Ted Quinlan on guitar, Cape Bretoner and world traveler Eric Burke on bass, Steve Amirault on piano, and Ethan himself on drums. They will be joined on stage by Kirk MacDonald, a Juno Award winner, and one of Canada's  top jazz tenor saxophone players. They will be playing on Thursday, August 10 at the Hearthstone Inn in Sydney. 


Kevin Colford: Steppin Out - Vocal Arrangements of Classic Jazz Standards  August 7 2017

Vocalist Kevin Colford of Sydney, Nova Scotia will front a  roup of Cape Breton musicians  who together will present a show of arrangements of classic jazz standards.  Joining Kevin on stage on Monday, August 7, 2017, will be Red Mike MacDonald on bass guitar, Ken Howatson on trombone, Steve MacInnis trumpet, Bruce MacKinlay on alto sax, Russell LeBlanc on tenor sax, Ronnie Leadbeater on drums, Peter MacDonald on piano. The classic vocal standards will include songs by Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Diana Krall. The tunes will range from fast and slow, including swing, dixieland, and polkas. The show will take place at the Hearthstone Inn. Tickets cost $20 in advance at $25 at the door. Locations for advance ticket sales will be announced shortly.


The Cape Breton Jazz Festival is quickly becoming a major festival on the Cape Breton music scene, especially encouraging visitors to Cape Breton to extend their stay to take advantage of the eclectic music offering.


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