Midem is nothing if not eclectic. Two shows on the opening night caught my attention. Canadian Blast has proven itself to be a good source of talent over the years. Morrison’s is again the venue this year.
Rime Salmi was first noticed in a Moroccan talent show with an audience of 20 million in 2006. Since then she has had a hit in Canada and Japan with “Yalla Habibi”. Signed to UP Records, she plays a tight R&B with a hint of Mediterranean vibes. She was appearing in semi-playback with two dancers. Someone mentioned Beyonce in the audience. It’s true Salmi is pretty and goes at her shows with incredible gusto, with everything choreographed to perfection. The Mediterranean pop vibe is huge in places like Lebanon but has yet to register elsewhere. God knows why, as it is very infectious. I’d recommend that Salmi add more of this, to lift her away from other R&B singers.
Executive summary: Great singing and dancing. If Salmi strengthens the Mediterranean vibe she could be the queen of her own genre. Could be great in Europe.
Meanwhile, over at the Armenian party, Mikayel Voskanyan & Friends Band were rocking the august chambers of the Carlton. Voskanyan plays an oud-like instrument called the “tar” in what sounds (to me) like a Balkan style.The Friends, meanwhile, play a very tight form of jazz rock. The two work together very well. Voskanyan’s percussive style was ably doubled up by the drummer. The band works at both the traditional and jazz level. Overall, a very tight, committed band. They have won the “Best Band of the Year” award at the Radio Van Music Awards, and also performed at the Kavkaz Jazz Festival.
Executive summary: Voskanyan & Friends would make an excellent addition to any jazz or world music festival.