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MONTREAL JAZZ FESTIVAL: BIG TICKETS

The organizers of the 31st Montreal International Jazz Festival, which takes place from June 25 to July 6, have just announced the bulk of the shows happening this summer. Herbie Hancock, Smokey Robinson, George Clinton, The Moody Blues, Cyndi Lauper are just the tip of the iceberg… Trying to come up with a comprehensive list of everyone you need to see this summer is near impossible. As is making a list that appeals to an audience as varied as the one that attend the Jazz fest. Plus, the Fest’s website lets you make up your own schedule. So all I’ll do here is attempt pull some shows out of the list that I think are worth checking out…

ELEKTRA, A FESTIVAL OF THE DIGITAL ARTS

Montreal’s Elektra Festival, which runs from this Wednesday to Sunday, has been exploring some of the coolest things in the world of digital arts for 11 years. I recently interviewed Edwin van der Heide, the artist behind one of the fest’s more interesting presentations……

MONTREAL GETS CLASSICAL IN MAY

The month of May in Montreal is all about classical music. Before the sounds of the Jazz Fest fill the city’s streets, parks and concert halls, it seems only fitting that we begin with the music that came first…

BARENAKED LADIES ON MONTREAL, ITS WOMEN, BAGELS…

Over the course of a 20 year career, the Barenaked Ladies have become one of Canada’s most beloved bands. When they touched down in Montreal before their April 30th, Metropolis show, I sat down with Jim Creegan and Tyler Stewart to talk about bagels, shopping, women and Mount Royal’s medieval fighters. We also got briefly serious and emotional, but it didn’t last long…

MONTREAL’S MUTEK: MATMOS, MOUSE ON MARS AND MORE!

In a city overflowing with festivals of all sorts, the fact that Montreal’s Mutek is now in its 11th year says something important about the electronic music and digital culture meet-up. That their overall attendance was up by 70% last year speaks to the same point. Let’s look at why that might be…

PLANTS AND ANIMALS AND POUTINE

Montréal group Plants and Animals have strong feelings about poutine and they’re not afraid to go on the record with them. “I’ve tried some of the crazy ones they have at Banquise,” says guitarist and lead vocalist Warren Spicer. “But honestly, it’s too much.” “They should institute something like the Bavarian Purity Law they have for beer,” chimes in drummer Matthew Woodley. “Fries, curds, gravy, that’s it. Tightly regulated. Free-range, sustainable curds only!”

HAWKSLEY WORKMAN PLAYS MONTRÉAL

“Montréal is a place that, when you’re driving out the next day, chances are you did something the night before that you shouldn’t have…” says Hawksley Workman, over the phone from a tour bus making its way towards Quebec. Workman, the Juno-award winning singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer, starts laughing and cuts himself off before saying anything more incriminating.

ROBERT LEPAGE DIRECTS CIRQUE DU SOLEIL

Last week in Montreal, writer and director, Robert Lepage, unveiled Cirque du Soleil’s brand new show, Totem. As cleverly explained by my colleague Daniel Baylis, Totem is a voyage through the evolution of the human species. Surprisingly, it was a long-time dream for the notorious playwright to finally direct one of the Cirque’s touring shows (Lepage had previously directed Cirque du Soleil’s Kà, which is presented at the MGM Grand in Vegas).

MAGNIFICENT MARIONETTES: RONNIE BURKETT PULLS STRINGS IN MONTRÉAL

“Ronnie Burkett is one of the geniuses of the world… seeing his troupe every few years has just become a necessity of civilized theatergoing.” – The Village Voice (New York, NY) —————————————————————————————————————— Puppetry is an under-celebrated art form. As children, many of us enjoyed gluing faces on popsicle sticks and acting out creative, comic scenarios. Then we grew up, and we seemed to lose track of our ability to play. Ronnie Burkett, however, Canada’s most celebrated puppeteer, never abandoned his sense of wonderment. For the past 30 years, Burkett has been giving life to marionettes, exploring various themes such as loneliness, beauty and happiness. His most recent creation, Billy Twinkle, is about a middle-aged cruise ship puppeteer who gets fired and is force to rekindle inner passions. Burkett has received critical and public acclaim in Australia and the UK, and his final stop with this production with be in Montréal. I chatted with Burkett about life as a puppeteer, the challenges of creating marionettes and some of his favorite Montréal haunts.

TOTEM: CIRQUE DU SOLEIL’S NEWEST SHOW DEBUTS IN MONTRÉAL

From April 22 until June 27 you can revel in the magic of Cirque du Soleil on its home soil. The Cirque du Soleil is arguably Montréal’s greatest export. The imaginative blend of acrobatic performers, emotive music and street-style entertainers has captured the hearts of dreamers for the past 25 years. Now with a new show, TOTEM, just unveiled in the Old Port of Montréal, us locals are buzzing with excitement, knowing that we are the first city in the world to enjoy the show. And you can join us.