The beginning of summer festival season in Toronto is officially here. Muhtadi International Drumming Festival takes place June 8 & 9 at Woodbine Park in the East end near the Beaches.
Let me sum up this particular festival: It is for the rhythm inclined, with different forms of drumming and percussive music traditions and dance styles from around the world. It is a park, it is a beer garden, spaciousness, families, cool cat adults and artists. While some people may be sad at the move of the festival from the iconic Queens Park location, the move away from the downtown also means an expansion of the MIDF mission beyond the old school comfort zone of the Kensington hippies, CIUT fans and Afrofest die hards. This new location symbolizes growth, movement into new demographics and a fresh side of the city full of young cool people and close to our treasured waterside lands!
Featured this year are Benkadi, a West African collective, whose name in Malinké means “In unity lies strength.” They are high energy and keep the rhythms and dance going. While talking with founder/artistic director Muhtadi Thomas the other day, he mentioned to me that in some ways MIDF had “lost the white crowd.” While I disagree (the festival is super diverse and all are well represented) Muhtadi has made more room for many rock drummers to highlight their talents on the kit. This includes heavyweight Alexis Von Kraven doing a ‘DEMON-stration’ on the main stage Sunday.
Beyond that there are some old school favorites Samba Squad, Baro Dununba, Trichy Sankaran, Muthadi’s World Drummers, Samba Eleguá, Archie Alleyne’s jazz band, and of course the Maracatu groups, Maracatu Mar Aberto and Baque de Bamba. This year even features a return of the Escola de Samba of Toronto.
Here are some clips from last year:
So you west end T.O. lazy artists, hop on a bike or a streetcar and let’s get this show on the road! Out to Woodbine Park for some good times! at Muhtadi’s Drum Fest.