New Brunswick Celebrates Autumn with Spirits and Arts Festivals
NEW BRUNSWICK, Canada - In autumn, as the leaves turn, the riverfront city of Fredericton is awash with fiery scarlets and bright yellows. And the cultural calendar is as lively as ever. A jazz and blues festival plays out in September, The Playhouse presents ballet, theatre and stand-up comedy in October and a whisky festival welcomes connoisseurs in chilly November. And, to keep things warm , Picaroons' micro-brewery is open all year long.
Canada's culture capital (as well as its poet's capital) has made a commitment to the arts. Home to the renowned New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, Canada's only such institution in North America, Fredericton is alive with creative talent.
The city boasts the Beaverbrook Art Gallery with 3,000 works of art, including paintings by Caravaggio, Dalí, Gainsborough and Turner and some 15 galleries and artist studios. As the leaves begin to turn, concerts and festivals that mark the New Brunswick summer continue and the festivities are worth a special visit.
Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival
The Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival (September 11 -16) gets raves from music buffs. Organizers say it is the hospitality that fans enjoy the most and the fact that they can see their favorite world-class musicians up close and personal. All 27 of the venues are in intimate settings, and this year's stellar line-up includes 57 of the world's top jazz, funk and blues bands and musicians.
Ø Three-time Grammy winning blues musician Keb'Mo' is called the "living link to the seminal Delta Blues" (9/12).
Ø Grammy-winning singer and pianist Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers play classical jazz, bluegrass, folk, Motown, rock and blues. Back in the early 1990s, he played with the Grateful Dead (9/13).
Ø Critics describe the North Carolina-based Avett Brothers as a combination of Townes Van Zandt, Buddy Holly, the Beatles and the Ramones. They play folk, bluegrass, country and rock and roll. Their performance with Bob Dylan at the 2011 Grammys was buzzworthy (9/14).
Ø A living legend and one of the most influential blues masters in history, English singer John Mayall has mentored some of the biggest names in rock and roll. He formed his first award-winning band (John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers) in the 1960s. (9/14 & 9/15).
Ø Charles Bradley and the Extraordinaires, the "Screaming Eagle of Soul," is still echoing Otis Redding funk, soul and R&B (9/14 & 9/15).
Ø Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are spearheading a revivalist movement to capture the essence of 1960s-1970s funk/soul music shunning modern digital recording methods. (9/15).
Ø Canadian singer Kathleen Edwards, who won the Juno Awards Songwriter of the Year and whom Rolling Stone named one of 2003's "Top 10 Artist to Watch," pairs up (9/15) with fellow Canadian David Myles, an award-winning song writer, singer and acoustic guitarist.
Ø In his 50 plus years making music, jazz saxophonist Maceo Parker has become synonymous with funk. He got his start playing soul music with James Brown in the 1960s and has enjoyed a successful solo career for the past 20 years (9/15).
Tickets are available at www.ticketpro.ca or by calling 1-888-311-9090, and range in price from as low as about $10 to about $50.
Music, Dance and Theatre in October
The Playhouse will present the world premiere of New Brunswick playwright Norm Foster's Hilda's Yard (October 11-14). Norm MacDonald of "Saturday Night Live" fame will do stand-up comedy on October 21 and on October 25, the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada will perform Amadeus.
Canada's Oldest Whisky Festival
In a province where one in six New Brunswickers claim direct Scottish ancestry, it is no wonder Canada's oldest whisky festival is celebrated here. On November 19-20, at the Delta Fredericton, Alcool NB Liquor and the Whisky Tasting Society will present the 14th annual NB Spirits Festival featuring 150 of the world's finest single malts, blended scotches, ports, sherries, rums, gins and liqueurs.
The program includes seminars, special tastings and nosing sessions hosted by some of the world's leading authorities on premium spirits as well as a seven-course food and whisky pairing dinner. Representatives from Scotland's distilleries usually attend, and last year, single malt experts from Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Bowmore, on the island of Islay, came to New Brunswick.
And almost any night of the year, Frank Scott will pour you one of the 200 plus single malts and premium blends he serves at The Lunar Rogue Pub which continues to make Whiskey Magazine's "Great Whiskey Bars of the World."
Brewery of the Year
But sometimes only a great beer will do and Fredericton's Picaroons micro-brewery is ready to accommodate. It was named "Brewery of the Year" at the 2011 Canadian Brewing Awards. Picaroons makes hand-crafted ales in traditional British style, including its signature Irish Red, Best Bitter and Simeon Jones River Valley Amber Ale. Visitors can watch the process and sample the thirst-quenching product at this brewery, part of the Atlantic Economusée network.