August evenings in Montreal may be some of the most relaxing times of the year, when the pace of city life briefly slows down and everyone savours the end of summer. Combine the best of two summertime highlights – music festivals and the city’s green spaces – at the 16th edition of Festiblues International de Montreal, August 8-11 at Ahuntsic Park…
FestiBlues is the kind of outdoor festival to bring the family to, an eco-friendly environmentally sustainable event where lawn chairs are welcome, on-site food and drink satiate the body and soul, a night’s ticket costs a mere $7 and children under 12 get to see every show for free. The festival’s blues, folk, rock and jazz music comes courtesy of Quebec and European musicians: this year’s headliners include Quebec star Garou, rock musician Louis Jean Cormier of award-winning band Karkwa, Swiss pop-folk favourite Bastian Baker, and lauded local hip-hop group Loco Locass. In a sprawling, hilly park just minutes from Henri-Bourassa metro station on the orange line, FestiBlues begins every night at 6:30 p.m. with four different bands providing hours of entertainment, followed up by after party shows at nearby Maison de la Culture Ahuntsic-Cartierville and several local restaurants and bars.
Thursday’s opening night begins with Quebec’s The Trip In Blues, a band formed specifically to embody the FestiBlues spirit. Seasoned singer-songwriter and guitarist JD Slim follows with his acoustic and electric mix of country blues, and Switzerland’s Bastian Baker, whose first album recently went gold in his home country, makes his first appearance in Canada, playing pop-folk songs with a smile. Rounding out the evening is Quebec rap trio Loco Locass, revving up the crowds with their energetic conscious hip hop and a backing band.
One of Quebec’s biggest music stars, Garou, headlines Friday night’s concert, playing his own R&B tunes and covering songs by soul greats such as Otis Redding and Nina Simone. Warming up for Garou are Ontario blues-rock Juno-winner Steve Strongman, elite guitarist Paul Deslauriers, and French Chicago blues group Daddy MT.
Saturday night is a must for Louis Jean Cormier alone, a poetic indie-rock star, known for his leading role in Juno-winning band Karkwa, who recently released his first solo album — he’ll be joined by Montreal musicians Marie-Pierre Arthur and Vincent Vallieres. Earlier in the evening, don’t miss young French singer Rachelle Plas and newly discovered Quebecois singer Brian Tyler, considered “the Louis Armstrong of Quebec” by the Canadian version of TV show The Voice.
The weekend of music ends on Sunday with blues powerhouse Bob Walsh, one of this year’s honoured guests at the festival, soulful singer Melissa Bel and French vocal duo Beauty and the Beast, covering all manner of blues, country and swing hits, with a backing band letting loose on guitar, bass, ukelele, mandolin, harmonica and drums.
FestiBlues International de Montreal, August 8-11, 2013