Jazz at The Lake by Popular Demand

If you’re a fan of jazz in Central Alberta, you’re in luck with the 17th annual Jazz at the Lake Festival just around the corner. The event takes place in Sylvan Lake from August 16th to 18th, with various shows and event locations around Sylvan Lake. 

This year, Juno award winning Laila Biali will be bringing her powerhouse vocals and soulful performance to Central Alberta for the second year in a row. 

“We’re very excited to have Laila back. She was our headliner last year and everyone who left her concert last year said to Cheryl (my wife) and me that she was incredible and they were going to brag to their friends who didn’t come that they had really missed out,” said Event Organizer Eric Allison. 

“Not only is she an amazing pianist and singer but she is so personable with the audience, she just draws them in. Her personality is just so warm – she kind of gives everyone a hug from the stage – that’s just Laila.”

This past year, Biali won a Juno for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Her other accolades include SOCAN Composer of the Year and Keyboardist of the Year at Canada’s national jazz awards. 

Biali isn’t the only big name to be taking over the Lake, however. This year Jack Semple returns to Central Alberta and will be showcasing skills that Allison said would be a shame to miss. Semple will be taking over for an afternoon concert with new addition this year, Gabriel Palatchi.

“Jack Semple is also a Juno award winner and has won a couple Western Canada music awards. We’ve had him at the festival before and he is really an incredible musician. He’s one of the best guitar players I’ve ever heard and is also a fantastic singer and the way he and his trio mix, they kick butt,” laughed Allison. 

“The combination of him and Gabriel Palatchi is just…wow. Gabriel played some of our pub shows last year and just blew everybody away with his combination of Latin, jazz and funk music. The way he played made us think, ‘Wow this guy really needs to be on a big stage.’”, Allison said.

This year the festival falls on the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, so organizers are encouraging attendees to dress in their favourite sixties-inspired threads to celebrate the historic festival. 

According to Allison, Sylvan Lake actually has a colourful jazz history, where dance halls and live music used to fill the streets and this festival is a nod to those days. A full event schedule is available at jazzatthelake.com.