The Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal is all about beautiful weather, beautiful tunes and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere – all of that is in full effect from June 14-17 as the Folk Fest celebrates its fifth year with an intimate show from folk legend Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary) and plenty of bands on the free-admission, Lachine canal-side outdoor stage too.
Similar to how the Montreal Jazz Festival plays fast and loose with the definition of jazz, the Folk Festival not only showcases some of the best Montreal singer-songwriters strumming guitars, but bands that tread the fine line between folk, rock, blues, country and, well, miscellaneous – and that’s why the fest can be so interesting, surprising even! Case in point, much-loved Montreal rock stars Plants and Animals play Saturday evening just as the sun goes down.
The festival is put together by Montreal’s Hello Darlin’ Productions, an arts company that knows its way around the Montreal folk, roots and bluegrass music scene, and entertainment company Hyperbole Music, and together they’ve packed the schedule with professional-grade good times. The festival officially starts on Thursday, June 14, with the aforementioned opening gala with Peter Yarrow, formerly of Peter, Paul and Mary (unforgettable for Puff the Magic Dragon alone, but Blowin’ in the Wind contends too), taking place indoors at the lovely Georges Vanier Cultural Centre (2450 Workman). The following night, Jim Kweskin and the Ever Lovin’ Jug Band take the same stage with their style of old-time (pre-40s) traditional folk blended with plenty of humour and singing along.
No folk fest is official unless part of it takes place outside, and Montreal’s Folk Fest knows it, scheduling two days of music, June 16-17, on their outdoor stage across from Atwater Market next to Charlevoix street in St-Henri – best of all, it’s free! Or, for those looking for a VIP experience, spend $30 for the day and get reserved seats, drinks and more. Performances start at 1 p.m. on Saturday with Gary Farrell, followed on the hour by The Custom Outfit, Bent by Elephants, Dala, Rob Lutes, Notre Dame de Grass, and ending the night with Plants and Animals. On Sunday starting at 12:30 p.m., see David Sherman, Folly and the Hunter, Friend of all the world, Simon Boudreau, Joey Wright and Carolyn Mark, Les Soeurs Boulay, Kevin Parent and, once it’s dark, a screening of film Café de Flore. Plus food trucks, beer and boundless socializing.
To make it all even more family friendly, the Folk Fest features the Lhasa de Sela stage, where younger musicians, singers, dancers, storytellers and other performers are welcome to show their stuff if they’re under 19 years old and ready get on stage. On Saturday, the fest teams up with Parks Canada for a night of camping, specially designed for camping novices but open to all. The Learn to Camp at the Lachine Canal event starts at 4 p.m. with tent set-up, a tour along the canal, snacks, fire-pits and more – a quality camp breakfast is even included.
Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal, June 14-17, 2012
Photos: Elida Arrizza