The year 2022 will go down in Middlesex bandstand history as that of international artists. The Martha Pellerin & Andy Shapiro Memorial Bandstand committee has created a program of music that features artists who bring a strong international flavor to their music. You’ll hear music from Africa, Latin America, Francophone countries and Celtic lands in this six-concert series Wednesday nights beginning July 6 and ending Aug. 10.
The bandstand is dedicated to the memory of Middlesex residents and Vermont musical legends Martha Pellerin, who nurtured traditional French-Canadian music in Vermont, and Andy Shapiro, the jazz, blues and gospel giant.
Kicking off the series July 6 is KeruBo, a Kenyan singer now based in Vermont. Her music offers a fusion of world music and Afro-jazz with songs full of hope, perseverance and the embracing of one’s own beauty, written in multiple languages. She has been a working musician for more than 20 years.
KeruBo’s musical influences range from traditional African music to gospel, blues and Afro-jazz. She was a background vocalist and dancer for Afro-Jazz artists such as the late Achieng Abura and Suzanna Owiyo. Seven Days called her debut album “Hali Ya Utu,” which she released with her husband, guitarist Michael Webster, “an exuberant blend of modern beats, Afro-jazz and … the ‘dressings of African music.’”
On July 13 Va-et-vient (Come and Go) brings its Addison County-based Franco sound to Middlesex. For over 20 years, this trio has performed the music of France, Quebec and New Orleans with lively dance numbers, touching love songs, kickin’ Cajun and Créole tunes and Québecois favorites. The group includes Carol Reed (voice, guitar and mandolin), Suzanne Germain (voice and percussion), and Lausanne Allen (voice, fiddle, flute, penny whistle, harmonica and mandolin).
For July 20 the music changes direction heading south with Mal Maiz, a hot East Coast Latin dance band, weaving Afro-Caribbean rhythms with Central American tunes. Front man Brujo Maiz Vargas Sandoval, a native of Costa Rica, blends traditional cumbia, Latin and reggae motifs into joyfully danceable world music. The Flynn has described Vargas Sandoval as “sharing (his musical) heritage and culture with an explosive dance party.”
On July 27, Ivory Coast native Dobet Gnahoré, a singer, dancer, percussionist and songwriter will bring her special brand of West African music to the Vermont hills. She sings in her native languages, primarily French. She is a 2010 Grammy winner for her collaboration with American singer India.Arie on the song “Pearls.” Gnahoré is one of the stars of the world of Afro-pop and last year released her sixth album “Couleur,” filled with danceable grooves, electronic beats and catchy melodic hooks. Bring your dancing shoes. You’ll want to move around a lot as she performs.
On Aug. 3, Vermont Public host Ray Vega, who presents Friday Night Jazz, brings his Latin-jazz band to the stage. He has been described as “a trumpet player extraordinaire” and “as an innovator in the international jazz and Latin music scenes.”
Vega hails from the South Bronx and is a veteran of the Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria and Mario Bauza bands, and has several albums to his credit. He is also a senior lecturer at the University of Vermont and the first creative artist to receive UVM’s distinguished title of University Scholar. Vega’s band consists of some of Vermont’s best jazz musicians as fitting this state’s premier Latin jazz musician.
The Middlesex Bandstand Concert Series concludes Aug. 10 with Trifolium. The band is made up of well-known Randolph-area musicians Justin Park (guitar, fiddle, mandolin and vocals), Chloe Powell (cello, fiddle and vocals) and Andy Mueller (guitar, mandolin, fiddle and vocals). The band, which draws on the music of New England, Ireland, Appalachia and Québec, gets its name from Vermont’s state flower, trifolium pratense (aka red clover).