15 Can’t-Miss Concerts in Kingston This May

By Jordan Whitehouse

When a month’s live music lineup kicks off with Tanya Tagaq and ends with a tribute to Johnny Cash, you know it’s going to be a prime month for concerts. Especially when legends like Sam Roberts and Charley Pride are peppered in between along with stellar up-and-comers like Close Talker and Lost Cousins. Such is the case for the concert lineup in Kingston this May. Here’s the lowdown on 15 to check out.

Tanya Tagaq Accompanies the Silent Film Nanook of the North
Photo via FlickrCC: LeviManchak

May 3, 7:30pm
The Grand Theatre
Seeing Inuk throat singer and Polaris Prize winner Tanya Tagaq live is unlike any concert experience you’ve probably had. Her intense, evocative vocalizations create a powerful emotional soundscape, and on this night she’ll use them to help reclaim the controversial 1922 film Nanook of the North. Tagaq, along with percussionist Jean Martin and violinist Jesse Zubot, perform a live accompaniment to the film’s silent images of life in an early 20th-century Inuit community in Northern Quebec. $19.50 – $39.50. kingstongrand.ca

 A Tribute to Elvis in Concert

May 4, 7:30pm
The Grand Theatre
Since The King’s death in 1977, tens of thousands of impersonators have tried to recreate his music and magic. Few have truly succeeded, but two that have are Toronto’s Pete Paquette and the UK’s Chris Connor. Backed by and eleven-piece band, this world-renowned duo has played to thousands of Elvis fans across the country. Now it’s your turn to put on your blues suede shoes and see what all the fuss is about. $49. kingstongrand.ca

Battle of the Bands

May 5, 7:30pm
Ale House & Canteen
The Juvenis Festival’s band battle is always a highlight of the week-long youth arts celebration. This year six local youth bands will play their hearts out on the Ale House’s stage for the coveted title of best band. The four judges include Paul Langlois (The Tragically Hip), Emily Fennell (Miss Emily recording artist), Michael George (Broken Charts Records) and Zane Whitfield (North of Princess Studios). $10. All ages. juvenisfestival.ca

Mark Herman Performs on Canada’s Largest Theatre Organ
Photo via Mark Herman Facebook

May 5, 7:30pm
Kingston Korean Church
Since 1981, some of the world’s best organists have visited Kingston to see and play Canada’s largest theatre pipe organ. Now it’s Mark Herman’s turn. Hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, Herman is one of the one of the busiest young theatre organists playing today, performing more than 30 concerts and silent film presentations each year across the world. $8 – $25. ktos.ca

The Mikado, Unstaged

May 6, 7:30pm
Sydenham Street United Church
The Mikado is a comic opera in two acts and one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most loved operettas. Set in the 1880s in the imaginary Japanese town of Titipu, the satire offers sharp commentary on contemporary English society. This concert version of the opera will be performed by Orchestra Kingston and the Kingston Choral Society. $5 – $25. kingstonchoralsociety.ca

HomeGrown Live Music Festival

May 6
Now in its ninth year, this one-day live music fest is all about celebrating the local music scene while supporting local charities and causes. As usual each of the 13 participating venues this year will feature performers in a similar genre. Sir John A’s Pub is all about folk music, for example, while at The Mansion expect psychedelic, at Blu Martini rock and at Musiikki electroacoustic. This year’s proceeds go to the Joe Chithalen Memorial Musical Instrument Lending Library. All-access bracelet: $10. homegrownlive.ca

Melos Presents “Da Roma a Venezia”: Baroque Music of Italy

May 7, 3pm
St. George’s Cathedral
This afternoon of choral, solo and instrumental works from the 17th and 18th centuries should be a fantastic tribute to Italy’s Baroque musical traditions. Expect to hear Allegri’s Miserere mei, Handel’s Dixit Dominus and the works of Marcello, Scarlatti and Vivaldi. Kingston’s renowned Melos Choir and Period Instrumental Ensemble will be your guide. St. George’s Cathedral, with its incredible acoustics and architecture, will be your setting. $5 – $25. melos-earlymusic.org


May 10, 9pm
Ale House & Canteen
Formed in 2007, Ottawa indie rockers Hollerado have gone on to tour the world, get nominated for three Junos and release three albums, including their latest, Born Yesterday, which came out in April. Expect a high-energy, power-pop show that, with the Ale House’s intimate but rollicking vibe, will make you feel like you’re rocking out onstage with the four-piece band. $20. thealehousekingston.ca

SaDunya Kingston Arts Festival Experience #001

May 10, 9pm
The Mansion
Think of this show as a teaser for the SaDunya Festival, a world music and arts fest set to take place in Kingston in 2018. One performance will feature Sengalese guitarist UMARO and Kingston percussionist Dough van der Horden. Another, a Latinos concert with the Son Latino Band and artists from Kingston and Latin America. The third, a drums and painting collaboration with Yessica Rivera Belsham and Ndate Sylla. $15 – $20. sadunyaartsfestival.com

Close Talker with Lost Cousins
Photo via Lost Cousins

May 10, 9pm
The Grad Club
The Grad Club’s stage area almost feels like a living room, so psychedelic soul rockers Lost Cousins should feel right at home. The four-piece band played their first shows in the living room of their Kingston student house before going on to reach the top 10 in the CBC’s Searchlight competition. Close Talker is an indie rock trio from Saskatoon with two releases under their belt and numerous tours throughout North America and Europe. Since becoming a trio in 2015, the band has honed their craft, creating a more vast and iconic sound that is turning heads and drawing crowds. $13. queensgradclub.wordpress.com

Sam Roberts Band

May 12, 8pm
Springer Market Square
This free outdoor concert should be the perfect closing to The Breakout Project, a three-day social innovation festival at Fort Henry. Like the cross-disciplinary nature of the fest, Sam Roberts Band has universal appeal for almost any rock fan. Since bursting onto the Canadian music scene in 2002, the Montreal-based band has won six Junos and five Much Music Video Awards. Translation: get to this show early — it’s going to be a big one. Free. thebreakoutproject.com

Charley Pride

May 15, 7pm
The Grand Theatre
Country music legend Charley Pride has been performing his own special brand of country music for over 50 years. He has 36 number one hits to his name, and his most memorable tunes include “Kiss an Angel Good Morning,” “Just Between You and Me” and “Is Anybody Goin to San Antone.” Pride has always loved touring Canada, saying this country has some of the greatest, most loyal fans in the world. Over 700 of them will likely be waiting for him at the beautifully restored Grand Theatre. $93.17 – $129.17. kingstongrand.ca

Songs from Les Misérables and Miss Saigon
Les Miserables in Kingston
Photo via FlickrCC: StevenPisano

May 26, 7:30pm
The Grand Theatre
Whether you’ve seen Les Misérables and Miss Saigon or not, you won’t want to miss this tribute to two of the most popular Broadway musicals ever. It’s rare that this calibre of world-class musical performers grace the same stage, and it’s even rarer that that stage is in such an intimate, acoustically-sound space as The Grand Theatre. $54.50. kingstongrand.ca

Kingston Community Strings Celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday at The Isabel

May 26, 7:30pm
Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts
This community-based string group meets weekly for the pleasure of making music together. In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, this concert will feature an all-Canadian program, including works by three Kingston composers: Cliff Crawley, John Palmer and Danielle Lennon. The performance of the Crawley piece, A Group of Seven, will include projections of paintings by the seven Canadian artists. $15. theisabel.ca

The Man in Black

May 27, 7:30pm
The Grand Theatre
Though Johnny Cash died almost 14 years ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was still alive after seeing this show. Shawn Barker is considered the pre-eminent Johnny Cash tribute artist today, and he’s a dead ringer to a young Cash. Expect to hear tunes from the Man in Black’s full library, including his early hits, those made famous with June Carter Cash and those he was making right up to his death in September 2003. $45. kingstongrand.ca