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LIVE AT THE JAZZ FESTIVAL: EMILIE SIMON

Emilie Simon, the French songstress that is taking the american indie music scene by storm is back in town. Before her Jazz Fest show on Saturday, June 26 as part of the fest’s late night series (show starts at 11:59 PM), I spoke to Emilie Simon, who has a musical background as eclectic and intriguing as her live show …

THE MONTREAL JAZZ FESTIVAL: WHERE TO DRINK

The Montreal Jazz Festival is the largest jazz festival in the world. Musical giants such as Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown have all captivated crowds since the festival’s debut edition in 1980. Today, more than 2 million people attend the Montreal Jazz Festival yearly. But the Jazz Fest is not just about music – it’s about life’s pleasures. And truth is, there’s nothing like a bit of jazz to awake my yearning for a glass – or two – of lilac wine. As famous saxophonist Steve Lacy once said: “Jazz is like wine. When it is new, it is only for the experts, but when it gets older, everybody wants it”. Well, the popular Montreal Jazz Festival is now 31 years-old and well above Quebec’s drinking age. Here are some cool places near the festivites to get your sip on!

KAYAKING THE LACHINE CANAL

As soon as summer hits, I dream of water. Thanks to revitalization efforts along Montreal’s shorelines, waterways, harbourfront and main Port, most of the water surrounding Montreal is now (gasp!) monitored, and in places, navigable. In fact, as of next summer, a new map, the Blue Route (St. Lawrence Water Trail) will help canoe and kayak enthusiasts chart a network of safe launches, shelters and rest areas along the St-Lawrence in/around Montreal.

DRIVE-END AT MONTREAL’S FINE ARTS MUSEUM

Remember drive-in movies? Today, many are abandoned. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts presents Drive-End, a collection of Martin Beauregard’s photographs, many of which show these mammoth screens sitting silently. No one is watching anymore.

MONTREAL NEIGHBORHOODS 101: DOWNTOWN

The downtown district of any major city often tops the list of things ‘to do’ for a traveler. Montréal’s downtown is a mélange of stores, restaurants, cafés, galleries, corporate headquarters, and yes, those famous “adult cabarets.” Yet the central business district of every metropolis can risk blandness. And a selection of discriminating Montréalers have accused the downtown area of being overly commercial, with a heavy emphasis on big-brand shopping. And we understand that one could feel blasé in any given retail area. But among the generic giants there are plenty of gems. You just have to know what to look for. Here are a few of our favourite things about Montréal’s Downtown district.

MONTREAL GRAND PRIX : THE PARTIES!

Get ready for some memorable partying! Montreal Grand Prix Weekend is around the corner and with it, illustrious nightlife! I’ve already given you a Grand Prix Crash Course 101 and I’ve offered you a variety of Montreal hotels to choose from.  Now here’s your guide to some of the best F1 parties happening in Montreal this weekend!

MUTEK: SENOR COCONUT’S OUTDOOR FIESTA

The free outdoor concert headlined by Senor Coconut and his Orchestra was the first one put on by Mutek. Several hundred concertgoers and I were there, and as you can tell from the videos, it was a huge success…

TURNER PRIZE LAUREATE RUNA ISLAM SHOWS IN MONTREAL

Montreal’s Contemporary Arts Museum, hosts its first solo show of British artist Runa Islam.  Prisms and Pantone! I first saw the work of contemporary artist Runa Islam at the 2005 Venice Biennale where her film of china tea cups slowly crashing to the ground was a hit.  Runa’s international reputation was enhanced by her nomination for Britain’s Turner Prize in 2008.  Islam is a world citizen: she was born in Bangladesh, she studied in London, where she now works, and is represented by the prestigious White Cube Gallery.

SIDIM: MONTREAL DESIGN SHOWS OFF

The Montreal Interiror Design Show, the SIDIM, has arrived!  It’s one of North America’s most prestigious design shows and features a three-day fest of fabulousness. Go to SIDIM’s website for a complete list of participants Look for:

NORMAN LALIBERTÉ: ODE TO JOY

Wow! What colour. What energy. What zest. Norman Laliberté’s show at Galerie de Bellefeuille is full of joy. This American artist with French-Canadian parents is famous around the world for his exuberant use of colour. He not only paints, but has produced beautiful banners – the most famous were for the Vatican Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. His wonderful work at the gallery is sophisticated, yet childlike. The bright shades almost make you smile. So if you are having a bad moment, pop over to Westmount, and add some cheer to your day.