A Look Back at

Laila Boulos
Top Concerts For 2008

Here is a chronological listing of my favourite concerts of 2008

Le Trio Joubran @ Enwave Theatre, Toronto (Mar. 1)
This oud trio's intoxicating performance at Lula Lounge (September, 2005) was a breath-taking musical utopia. On this tour, culminating with their heart-piercing rendition of Albeniz's "Asturias", and with the addition of percussionist Yousef Hbeisch to accentuate the passionate layering of ouds, the effect was... utopia multiplied by 100!
> LMR report

Otros Aires @ Lula Lounge, Toronto (Apr. 27)
Their sultry music, rooted in tango rhythms, combined with a backdrop of salacious videos harkening to a more innocent era created a romantic den inside Lula Lounge.
> LMR report

Sultans of String @ Yonge Dundas Square, Toronto (May 24)
at the Green Toronto Festival
Environmentalist and Sultans of String leader, Chris McKhool's attempt to set a Guinness Book World Record for the largest bicycle bell ensemble (in order to draw attention to the environment) filled Yonge and Dundas Square with the wonderfully lighthearted peal of bells. Continuing the magic, the Sultans of String seamlessly took over the stage, wrapping the audience in the sophisticated and mysterious Latin and Middle Eastern rhythms for which they are famous.

Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizards @ Toronto Star Stage (Jun. 21)
at the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival
The exquisite musical virtuosity and camaraderie of this group consistently filled the stage at Healey's, then later at Jeff Healey's Roadhouse for many years. Continuing the legacy of the late Jeff Healey (who sadly, passed away on March 2, 2008) this stellar, yet bittersweet, performance warmed the soul. Mr. Healey must have been beaming down with "Angel Eyes".

Naturally 7 @ Primus Stage (Jun. 29)
at the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival
Every musical note produced by these funky, laid-back, role models for their generation is a "sleight of vocal chord" innovation. These 'Ripley's believe it or not' talented young men enthralled their adoring audience with unbelievably creative vocal manipulation.

Salif Keita with Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa @ Toronto Star Stage (Jun. 29)
at the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival
Combining the festivities of the Carnival in Brazil and Mardis Gras in New Orleans would not come close to the heights of vibrant colours, sounds and escapades ricocheting around the stage at these two jaw-dropping and fun-filled performances.
> LMR report

Baba Zula @ Lula Lounge, Toronto (Sep. 23)
at the 7th Annual Small World Music Festival
Baba Zula provided 'something for everyone' as they wrapped their exotic melodies around lyrics and live interpretive artwork bursting with political and social commentary and accentuated with snake-like dance performances.
> LMR report

Toronto Blues Society's Women's Blues Revue @ Massey Hall, Toronto (Nov. 29)
Backed by an all-star "These Boots are made for Walking" female band, some of the highlights of this 22nd edition of the Women's Blues Revue ranged from Lily Frost's pulled-from-the-stage-of-a-1920's-dance-hall vocals; to Digging Roots's ShoShona Kish's coquettish interpretations; to the fragility of Elizabeth Shepherd's earnest, girl-next-door singing (showcasing this vibrant jazz performer's versatility); and, Suzie Vinnick's raw, plaintive vocals and hurt-me-mama guitar riffs.

Jerome Godboo and David Rotundo @ Rex Hotel, Toronto (Dec. 20)
This duo, along with their diverse backing band members, should get speeding tickets in musical circles as their high energy and sense of fun consistently pack venues. Seemingly effortlessly, Godboo and Rotundo press that magical button, igniting the stage with their jet-fuelled harmonica playing and volcanic vocals to the delight of their dedicated fans.

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Laila Boulos
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