As you may well have noticed, most of Montreal’s festivals take place in and around the Quartier Des Spectacles. Therefore, when a fest like Festiblues (August 11th-15th) sets up shop outside of the downtown core, the story about it is almost as much about the area it’s being held as it is about what its got going on. The FestiBlues International de Montreal is entering its 13th year, a feat that’s entirely impressive on its own in this fest-crazy city.
And once again it returns to its home to Ahuntsic, a district in northern Montreal that is home to the city’s garment district, but entirely more famously, that of the legendary Canadien, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard. Festiblues offers a chance to get to know the area: all of the shows are held in Ahuntsic Park, the Maison de la Culture and several nearby bars: Le Bienvenu (920 Fleury Est), Bar St-Laurent (283 Notre-Dame) Le Terminus (10793 Millen) and Tonneau D’or (10295 Papineau) It’s a fest worth supporting.
Its Relève en Blues Contest features up-and-coming groups from the Quebec Blues scene and awards the winner a trip to play France’s Blues-sur-Seine festival. They’ve also set up La Route du Blues, a network that connects musicians to festivals across Canada and overseas. Moreover, they make it easy to want to support them with their incredibly reasonable ticket prices: a fest pass is $15, nightly tickets are $6 and kids under 12 get in free. Tickets can be purchased at Bofingers, where you should probably also grab a pulled pork sandwich, for research purposes.
But what about the music, Murphy? Well, I’m of the mind that if you don’t like the blues than you shouldn’t be allowed to like rock, r’n’b and all the other genres of music that wouldn’t exist without it. And, as one of the premiere Blues festivals in the country, they’ve got you covered. There’s the history of the blues retrospective coming from Martin Fontaine & The Groovy Good Times, a performance from the legendary Diunna Greenleaf & Blue Mercy , who rolls some gospel, soul and jazz into her blues, Lanaudiere’s King Melrose and an appearance from 18-year old blues phenom Nina Attal. There’s also the country and hip hop influenced (yes, you read that right) CAB and Dawn “Queen of the Montreal blues” Tyler Watson playing with longtime partner Paul Deslauriers, and really, so much more that you will probably get the blues if you can’t attend.