The Sultans of String brilliantly blend together Spanish Flamenco, Arabic folk, Cuban rhythms, and French Manouche Gypsy-jazz musical influences to create a wonderfully rich cinematic sound that is almost intoxicating. The band is lead by 6-string violinist Chris McKhool who grew up in a Lebanese-Egyptian (Makhoul) family and guitarist Kevin Laliberté who write much of the material. Always pushing boundaries, their latest album “Symphony” (2013, Sony/Red) was recorded with a full orchestra while their new release, “Subcontinental Drift” (due in September) will feature sitar virtuoso Anwar Khurshid. Whether playing as a duo, five piece or with a full orchestra, their live show is something to behold – a fiery violin dances with a rumba-flamenco guitar while a bass lays down a funky unstoppable world rhythm groove that can’t help but bring a smile to your face as an irresistible urge forces you to get involved whether that is by clapping along or getting up to dance. They’re out on the festival circuit this summer including a visit to the Hillside Festival on July 26. We caught up with Chris McKhool at home in Toronto. For more information visit sultansofstring.com. Music: Sultans of String “Road to Kfarmishki”, “Josie” (excerpt), “Luna” (excerpt) and “Monti’s Revenge” (excerpt) from “Symphony” (2013, Sony/Red).