Sultans of String Bringing Twist on Holiday Music to Brantford

The holiday performance line-up at Brantford’s Sanderson Centre includes a unique instrumental performance by a diverse, and award-winning, musical group.

The Sultans of String are a Canadian folk music group who boast an array of nominations and wins within Canada’s independent, folk and JUNO music award scene.

Founding member, Chris McKhool explains, when they step on stage this coming weekend, they will bring the energy and drive of the music rhythms they love to the Christmas repertoire.

“Audiences are going to hear some flemenco from southern Spain, gypsy jazz from eastern Europe, Arabic rhythms, east coast fiddling…,” McKhool adds.

“So it’s a pretty eclectic show. Really fun. Very clap-able. Very singable.”

Chris McKhool, Sultans of String

The group was founded by members Chris McKhool and Kevin Laliberté who began performing together in 2004. At that time, they combined McKhool’s six-stringed violin and Laliberté’s flamenco guitar.

In 2007, the duo decided to grow. They began recording and touring with a full band that year, as well as performing at festivals and events around Ontario. The group also released their first album, Luna. In their first year together, they won an Ontario Independent Music Award for Best Song and Best Instrumental; named Best Latin Jazz Group by Exclusive Magazine; nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award; and nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award.

McKhool recalls the days when he had played a gig in North York with Laliberté. “We had three hours to fill and we only knew a handful of songs,” McKhool says. “So we spent most of the time just making music up off the top of our heads and a lot of those songs turned into classic Sultans of Strings songs that we still play today.”

“It has been quite a journey,” McKhool says. The group has toured with their music all over the globe and has played with a variety of ensembles from symphony orchestras to cuban trumpets.

“We played back here (Sanderson Centre), I think our first year we were ever together as a band as Sultans of String in 2007. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to come back and perform our Christmas Caravan here. We also played as part of the Jazz Series in the lobby which is also a great thing that happens here in Brantford and really glad to be a part of it.

Chris McKhool, Sultans of String

The Christmas Caravan performance will include many songs the audience will already be familiar with, but also some interesting re-imaginings of some traditional holiday pieces.

“What we decided to do with some of them was kinda rip them back to the studs, to figure out what’s so amazing about that song that’s been able to survive for 100, 200, 300, even 400 years,” McKhool says. “We took the Huron carol which is Canada’s first Christmas carol. What a lot of people don’t know is that the english words that people know these days are a complete re-write of the song that was done about one hundred years ago. We dug back into the archives and found the original Huron Wendat lyrics from the 1600’s. A university professor, who did a direct translation into english and then we changed it back into song form.” McKhool is excited to say the audience of this show will hear the original intention of Canada’s first Christmas carol for the very first time.

The Sultans of String will be performing at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts in Brantford on December 13th at 7PM. Tickets are $40 each and can be bought online at sandersoncentre.ca.