CLASS ACT - Jack Semple

Master musicians featured at annual Jazz at the Lake

Event runs Aug. 14-17 at venues around Sylvan Lake

There’s a top-notch line-up for this year’s rendition of the 12th annual Jazz at the Lake Festival, which will be held from Aug. 14-17 in Sylvan Lake.

Jack Semple, who performs Aug. 16th, plays with the soul and fire of a Mississippi Delta blues man. He has spent decades honing his craft and establishing himself as one of North America’s premier guitar virtuosos. His CD In the Blue Light won a 2013 Western Canadian Music Award for Best Blues Recording.

He launched his musical career playing with various Regina-based bands, and later relocated to Toronto in the late 1980s to become the lead guitarist of The Lincolns, a popular funk and rhythm and blues band.

He left the band after two years and returned to Regina to pursue a solo career and to spend more time with his family.

He commenced a solo recording career that has resulted in the release of 10 albums. In 1992, he also came to national prominence through winning the MuchMusic ‘Guitar Wars’ contest.

Semple has been twice nominated, in 1999 and 2000, for a Gemini Award for his soundtrack work on the television series Incredible Story Studio. He also won a Juno award in 1991 for best roots recording. He has won two Western Canadian music awards for Qu’Appelle and In the Blue Light.

He continues to perform as a solo artist and with The Jack Semple Band across Canada.

Meanwhile, event organizers Eric Allison and Cheryl Fisher have lined up more than 100 international, national, provincial and local musicians to perform throughout the event.

“One of our goals is always to make jazz accessible to people, so we work hard to bring in a variety of highly-talented musicians, at a reasonable price for the audience,” says Allison. “It’s important to bring music to the community, and the community has really embraced the festival.”

Audiences will be treated to 14 events held at locations throughout Sylvan Lake. With everything from free outdoor performances to the Friday and Saturday night headliners, there will be swinging and sultry jazz for everyone to enjoy.

This year’s line-up includes the aforementioned Juno-nominated blues guitar virtuoso Jack Semple, international jazz legends Tuck and Patti and local favourites Johnny Summers, The Alberta Playboys and Caravana, among others.

The Johnny Summers Little Big Band, which performs Aug. 14th, is an eight-piece ensemble with a smoking horn section that has been the featured band by public demand for the last eight consecutive years at the festival kickoff Swing Dance.

Summers is a multi-faceted musician: trumpet player, vocalist, arranger and bandleader. He recently won the Global Music Award for Best Male Vocalist.

Tuck and Pattie perform Aug. 15th. Tuck Andress is a world-class guitarist, but he’s also imbued with the rare gift of good taste. His musical partner and wife, Patti Cathcart, is an soulful and inventive jazz stylist and among the best scat singers since Ella Fitzgerald.

On Aug. 17th, The Caravana Gypsy Quartet is slated to perform. Let the group transport you back to the Paris of the 30s and 40s with their authentic and infectious Gypsy swing.

The Alberta Playboys perform Aug. 17th. Flashy guitar licks played by Aaron Young, swingin’ beats brushed on skins by drummer Jon May, virtuoso melodies bowed by fiddler Jonathan Lewis and thumpy bass notes woofed by Jason Valleau on upright bass creates the province’s super group: The Alberta Playboys.

The Beatles Bash runs Aug. 16th.

With 2014 marking the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ only appearance on Canada’s west coast, Jazz at the Lake is celebrating the occasion by presenting a Beatles Bash 50th Anniversary Tribute.

The ‘Gala Under the Stars’ runs Aug. 17th, and will feature a select group of guests who will return to the heyday of Las Vegas in the 50s and the 60s when the Rat Pack was king. Held at the Meadowlands Golf Course in the big tent under the stars, this dinner, dance and silent auction event hopes to raise $10,000 towards the continuation of Jazz At The Lake, its performances and programs.

Another highlight this year will be ‘Project Discovery’, a provincially-recognized performance program. Through this project, students get to play in the festival and learn from Semple.

“This program is so important, because students get a chance to learn and gain confidence while doing something that they love,” said Cheryl Fisher, festival producer. “For some, it’s their first time performing on stage, and they’re just thrilled to have an audience.”

Program participants include winners from Alberta Kiwanis Festivals and from the Sylvan Lake Celebration of Music, as well as local students who are considered especially talented by their schools and teachers.

“There will be 12 performances this year, and one group will be a trio,” said Fisher.

“In the past, we’ve seen unbelievable things from students as young as six or seven years old. These young musicians can really break your heart – and bring the house down.”

For a complete list of performers and ticket information for this year’s Jazz at the Lake, check out

– Weber

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