There are few people be can bestow the term iconic on, and Molly Johnson is one of them. A true advocate for music, culture and acceptance, her music, words and actions inspire the people/ city around her. It is that inspiration, that love of community that fuels the third annual Kensington Market Jazz Festival. As Molly says, “we are artist driven, volunteer fueled”. Overlooking the always eclectic Kensington market from her second-floor office, she notes that the market is always changing but continues to keep its vibe. It’s a safe haven for musicians, immigrants, students and those who value community.
Deemed by Brad Wheeler of the Globe and Mail as “wildly successful,” the 3-day Toronto jazz festival block brings together a schedule of over 300 musicians across 23 venues. This year also adds a new busking component where venues like EATIVE, FRESCO’S FISH & CHIPS, JIMMY’S COFFEE, WAFELS & MORE, WANDA’S PIE IN THE SKY who have never had live music will participate to showcase amazing talent.
“What makes the weekend so magical is the coming together of the Kensington Market neighbourhood and Toronto’s music community. Musicians, audiences, volunteers and participating businesses are what make this festival what it is,” says Johnson. “CASH ONLY at the door means an ENGAGED AUDIENCE. Our goal is to have sold out shows at every venue and we work very hard using social media and hard-working volunteers to stuff those venues with people who love live music as well as Kensington Market.”
In conversation with Molly, I may call her so, she brought up an example about Canadian’s love for live music and love for the places we live. With a desire to keep live music going – just need to know where and when and they will show up – remarks Molly – she and her band of festival cohorts realized Laura Hubert from Leslie Spit Treeo, an old pal of the festival, needed to release another album. So, they wrote some letters and in two days raised the money for Laura to record a new album that will be released at the festival.
This story is perfect example of the love Molly Johnson has for her craft, her community and our state of culture and music. “Engage our youth, give them purpose, show them they have a future and that there is a place for them. And you will create magic”.
Look for the purple blue & white balloons as you travel through the market this weekend. They’ll show you the way.