This week I got the chance to check out Canadian R&B sensation Sean Jones at Casa Loma, and accidentally discovered the best summer date night in Toronto.
If you grew up in the 6ix in the late 90s and early 2000s, then, like me, you were probably a fan of In Essence. It was the Juno-award winning R&B and soul group that first propelled Sean Jones into the Canadian music spotlight. These days, Sean has broken out on his own but has never forgotten his musical roots; classic R&B and traditional soul. Earlier this summer, Sean turned that love of his influences into a beautiful album entitled Take Me, and all summer, he has been showcasing those stunning results in his Soul in the City residency at Casa Loma.
Now in its 4th year, Soul in the City is a musical experience unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The historic landmark of Casa Loma makes for a breathtaking backdrop for the vintage musical vibes that characterize Sean’s musical stylings. Drawing inspiration from musical heroes like Sam Cooke and Donny Hathaway, Sean has created a live show that transcends time and brings joy to audiences of all walks of life. He’s also created the most romantic date idea in the city; listening (and maybe even dancing) to soulful R&B under the starry summer sky, with a real-life castle behind you and a sexy singer on stage in front of you.
It was actually the Soul in the City concert series that inspired Sean to write Take Me. That and the birth of his daughter in October 2017. The album’s title track is an ode to the pure love and joy that his little girl brought to his life.
“I’m excited about this record because each of these songs is pretty much exactly how I heard it in my head when they were being written,” Sean says. “I stayed true to the initial inspiration instead of worrying about having things sound a certain way in an effort to please ‘more’ people. I couldn’t be happier with the result. It sounds retro in the best possible way and there are some great SONGS. I also got a chance to finally hit the studio with my Soul in the City band The Righteous Echo and record some of the material we’ve been performing for the last couple summers. This record came from my heart and now it’s time to share it with the world.”
This year’s residency started on June 18th, days before the release of Take Me, and will wrap up for the season on August 27th. Throughout the shows, Sean plays the classics that made him the artist he is, and the originals that keep fans coming back for more. Sean is the consummate performer, full of energy, passion, charisma and charm. He flowed easily between belting out ballads to crooning sweetly to the crowd (and one lucky fan – shout out to Xanet for being just as charming as the main attraction!). The music was irresistible, with the crowd flooding the dancefloor minutes after Sean and his band start their set. It’s an unforgettable experience that every Toronto music lover needs to check out this summer.
The fall will see Sean Jones releasing a second album that will be decidedly different than what we’ve seen with Take Me. For the new project, Sean has created an alter ego called Sav Blvd, and will feature some fresh new ideas that he can’t wait to surprise his fans with. But until then, you can check out Sean every Monday until the end of the month at Soul in the City at Casa Loma.
Check out more photos from this past Monday’s shows, and get your tickets here before the residency ends.