Kingston, Ontario is a national hot spot for live music. It’s the birthplace of numerous successful recording and touring acts, and home to hundreds of active, resident bands and artists. We like to consider Kingston as Canada’s First Capital of Music.
Looking to book a concert in Kingston?
Our city’s music economy wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for the tireless work of Kingston concert promoters, who go to great efforts to organize and advertise live music performances for local musicians, and who bring top national and international musical acts to play in the many live music venues in Kingston.
If you’ve been to a live music performance or concert in Kingston at a venue like Blu Martini, The Mansion, The Ale House, The Grad Club or Leon’s Centre, chances are it’s because of the work of a promoter.
Here at Kingston Live, we’re frequently asked about Kingston concert promoters. Here’s all that we can tell you…
If your booking and promotion needs are limited, many Kingston venues will accept direct bookings (subject to availability, of course). Some Kingston venues that book directly include Musiikki Café, The Mansion, The Toucan, The Merchant Tap House, The Caesar Co., and Spearhead brewery. Not sure which venue is the best fit for your act? Ask us here.
Founded by Marc Garniss as Kingston Punk Productions, KPP Concerts has been promoting and producing live shows in Kingston for over 20 years. Their sweet spot is emerging and established domestic and international indie, alt-rock, alt-pop and punk acts, with shows ranging from mid-sized venues to Kingston’s largest auditoriums and arenas. More recently, KPP has been promoting earlier, all ages shows at The Broom Factory in Kingston’s Inner Harbour neighbourhood. KPP sometimes co-promotes shows with Ottawa promoter Spectrasonic.
Since at least 2017, Jaden Côté’s upstart Grit & Grind has been booking and promoting concerts in Kingston. Grit & Grind mostly seems to book and promote punk, hardcore, ska, alt-rock and heavy metal acts, and past shows have included bands such as The Casualties, Like Pacific, The Creepshow and The Slackers, and are usually at venues like Overtime Sports Bar or The Mansion. Their shows have become a great showcase for local, emerging acts to play to larger audiences.
Chris Gaines hosts the popular Saturday Night Barn Burner radio show on Island Radio CJAI 101.3 FM, and promotes the occasional hard rock or alt-rock show featuring a mix of local and out-of-town acts, and usually at Overtime Sports Bar in Kingston’s west end. Chris knows how to put together a lineup!
Founded by local musician and rock fanatic, Joe Matthews, the annual Voodoo Rockfest outdoor summer celebration of live indie rock has grown into a series of multiple outdoor mini-festivals. Joe books all acts and promotes each of the Voodoo festivals heavily, which now take place on Joe’s own private property—the Voodoo Ranch—on the western outskirts of Kingston, which features camping spots for tents and RVs, as well as a massive outdoor stage equipped for pro-grade lighting and pyrotechnics too.
Under Flying V Productions, Kingston’s Virginia Clark curates the live music lineup for The Grad Club, but also promotes mostly folk, alt-folk, and indie acts in venues like The Spire, Kingston Grand Theatre and The Isabel. Established Canadian acts like Elliott Brood, Whitehorse and NQ Arbuckle to international artists like SYML and Alex Cuba.
Kingston’s notorious Laura Kelly (a.k.a. DJ Laura Kelly) promotes live music and dance events in Kingston under the Many Moons moniker, with a focus on inclusivity at venues such as The Grad Club, Musiikki Café and Hotel Wolfe Island. Past shows have included Bria (of Orville Peck), The Stephen Stanley Band, and Scott Hardware.
Formerly the artistic director for the long-running Blue Skies Music Festival, Alan Rankin promotes national and international blues, folk, and bluegrass concerts in Kingston under Rankin Productions, and as part of the ongoing Live Wire Music Series. Venues are typically the Octave Theatre and Kingston Grand Theatre, and Steve Poltz, Ray Bonneville and The Slocan Ramblers are examples of acts booked by Alan.
A member of Kingston’s The Goodnight Irenes and a long-time local, solo folk artist himself, Chris Morris is an independent promoter who is selective in the acts he books, and tends to work with a handful of Kingston area venues, including Doghouse Studios in Napanee. Chris is also been involved in the Homegrown Live Music Festival for many years, and helps to coordinate some of the venues of that annual, local music festival in Kingston.
Thomas Cody Shaver is the Kingston who seems to be behind the musical collective South Grouse Productions-Synergy (sometimes appearing as Synergy-SGP), as well as Stylin Flow Entertainment. Both entities have been promoting live hip hop shows in the greater Kingston area at venues like The Mansion, and mostly—but not exclusively—showcasing Kingston’s incredibly talented hip hop artists and emcees, like Hartman, Kaydence Brown, S-Cape Artist and Cory Ede.
The CCF is a centre for cultural promotion, education, production and entertainment in Kingston, and serves as a hub for Kingston’s sizeable francophone and francophile communities. Each year, the CCF curates a continuous program of French bilingual and English acts, usually spanning many styles from folk and pop to world music, and everything in between. Their venue, the Octave Theatre, is a wonderful mid-sized music venue with auditorium style seating. Recent performances include Mimi O’Bonsawin, Pandora Topp, and Christine Tassan et les Imposteures.
The Kingston Jazz Society promotes professional jazz performances, with an emphasis on young and emerging Canadian jazz musicians. They’ve hosted artists of national and international acclaim, bringing top-flight jazz talent to play live in Kingston. If you’re a jazz artist or band looking to play in Kingston, contact the Kingston Jazz Society by email here.
Some may tell you that musically, Kingston is a blues town. It’s hard to dispute, considering the number of blues acts who perform live in Kingston each year, and considering it hosts the annual Limestone City Blues Fest. Year-round, the Kingston Blues Society books and promotes blues acts into venues like The Standeasy at the R.C.H.A. Club, although not exclusively. Contact Frank Warnica at Kingston Blues Society if you’re a blues (or even jazz) artist who wants to perform live in Kingston.
Each year, the City of Kingston’s Arts & Culture Services department curates an entire season (September through May) of concerts, dance and theatre under the Grand OnStage banner. All performances take place at the city-run Kingston Grand Theatre, who also handles all ticket sales. Promotion for each season is done through a widely distributed printed program as well as online through the the Kingston Grand Theatre website, e-mail list, and City’s official social media channels. The Grand OnStage series is curated by Jayson Duggan, Performing Arts Manager for the City of Kingston.
In addition to its Grand OnStage series, The City of Kingston also books and promotes other live music events, including the annual summertime Rockin’ the Square outdoor, all ages concert in Springer Market Square. Concerts tend to take place in outdoor, public venues in close proximity to Kingston’s city hall. We’re unclear who books or how acts are booked for City’s outdoor concerts, but it’s likely through the Arts & Cultural Services department.
A long-standing Kingston grassroots not-for-profit group, each spring, Homegrown Live books dozens and dozens of strictly local bands and artists for their one-day Homegrown Live Music Festival, which typically takes place in early May in multiple indoor venues, typically centred in Kingston’s downtown area. Bands and artists are booked through an application process. If you’re an interested Kingston-based performing act or individual artist, watch Homegrown Live’s call for submissions, which they typically make in early February through their website.
Throughout the year, the Downtown Kingston BIA books and promotes live music events to draw residents and visitors to the city’s vibrant downtown area, which typically take place in public, outdoor venues. In the summer season, they promote regular, ongoing live music programs including Music in the Park, Downtown Country and Big Band Fridays, as well as the popular multi-stage, multi-venue annual Limestone City Blues Festival, which draws thousands of blues fans into Kingston’s core over a weekend.
Active throughout the year, the annual Skeleton Park Arts Festival in downtown’s McBurney Park has historically been timed with solstice in June. However, the organizers also book and promote Kingston concerts throughout the year, usually in non-traditional venues such as Next Church, and always with an eye to accessibility and inclusivity.
Are you a Kingston concert promoter, or do you know one who should be on the list? Please get in touch!