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Montréal Ignites with Summer Festival Fun

Sunny days, high-energy nights and strikingly illuminated festival stages make the summer season bright in Montréal. The city ignites with a sparkling line-up of entertainment in July and August – get ready to laugh, dance, groove and be dazzled at these big festivals and more this summer. The one-and-only Montréal International Jazz Festival officially ignites the height of summer festival season June 26-July 5. Incredible talent graces historic night clubs and Place des Arts stages while downtown’s Quartier des Spectacles bustles with unmissable free outdoor shows, including the grand finale on July 5: a stylish, bluesy tribute to the late, great B.B. King. More music lights up the town as Festival International Nuits d’Afrique welcomes traditional and ground-breaking musicians from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and right here at home, July 7-19. Discover your new favourite indie, electronic and hip hop artists at MEG Montréal, July 23-August 2, and take a ride on the late-night MEG party boat. Osheaga Music and Arts Festival crams the biggest names and the brightest emerging artists in indie-pop, rock, hip hop and electronic music into three amazing days on Île Sainte-Hélène, July 31-August 2 – this year see Florence + The Machine, Kendrick Lamar,… / Read More →

Montréal’s Best Jazz and Blues Clubs, Events and Festivals

During her Sin City era, Montréal was home to some of the hottest jazz clubs on the planet and a wide-open scene fuelled by Prohibition. Gamblers, racketeers and the world’s greatest entertainers all came to Montréal at a time when the city’s most renowned musical export was jazz icon Oscar Peterson. His protégé was another jazz legend, Oliver Jones, who first performed at the fabled Café St-Michel at the age of 10 in 1944. “It was across the street from Rockhead’s Paradise, which was the first black-owned club in all of Canada,” says Jones. “The St-Michel was a little rougher. Rockhead never let anything get out of hand although there was always pressure from authorities to close him down. But I remember playing in the St-Michel and saw a lot of what I wasn’t supposed to see – girly girls and strippers. But the people there, there was always someone looking out for me.” Today, Montréal still has a thriving jazz and blues scene with concerts in nightclubs by popular local musicians, as well as superstar headliners at the city’s jazz and blues festivals. Here is a sampling of some of the best Montréal has to offer: Montréal boasts a… / Read More →

Your 2015 Montréal Jazz Fest Survival Guide

Your survival is important to us. Not surviving means not getting maximum enjoyment out of your visit to the Montréal International Jazz Festival’s 36th edition, and nobody wants that. To this end, we’ve devised a Jazz Festival Survival Guide that will eliminate, we hope, any uncertainties while breathing even more life into your festival experience. EVENT Montréal International Jazz Festival, June 26 to July 5, 2015 WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO In a nutshell, more amazing music and fabulous fun than should be legally allowed. From June 26 to July 5, Montréal’s downtown Quartier des spectacles hosts the largest Jazz Festival in the world. Get ready for 10 eye-widening and ear-pleasing days of ticketed indoor concerts – which this year features can’t miss blue-chip artists such as the Steve Miller Band, Erykah Badu, the Wayne Shorter Quartet, Huey Lewis and The News, and Dee Dee Bridgewater among many others – and approximately 350 free outdoor shows and activities that draw around 2 million visitors every year. Don’t be surprised if, when you go to enter the festival site, someone asks to look in your bag. This is for your safety and that of others to ensure that nothing dangerous or disallowed makes… / Read More →

Nine must-see shows at the Montréal International Jazz Festival

A comprehensive list of this year’s can’t-miss concerts at the Montréal International Jazz Festival could put some heavy mileage on the eyes. For the sake of your continued good vision, dear reader, we’ve shortened that to a very manageable 9 essential shows, a number of which are among the 350 free concerts and activities on offer from June 26 to July 5. In chronological order… Steve Miller Band (June 26) With quintessentially ’70s, classic rock songs such as Fly Like an Eagle, Take the Money and Run and Rock’n Me, the Steve Miller Band will time warp fans to another era. And with 15 albums under its belt, the hits will keep coming Floyd Mayweather style. (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier) Beirut (June 26) World-travelling, indie-folk rockers Beirut (Eastern European influences meet French pop with sojourns in Mexico and other warm locales) will open their latest tour with this outdoor Jazz Festival appearance, which will tease the September release of the new album No No No. (TD Stage – FREE) Erykah Badu (June 29) In a festival first, the Queen of Neo-Soul herself will be building a monument to jazzy R&B in Salle Wilfred-Pelletier where her lucky subjects may be afforded an opportunity… / Read More →

Your June guide to Montréal summer music festivals

When it comes to edgy, it doesn’t get more musically adventurous than the annual three-week Suoni Per Il Popolo festival, June 4-22. The now 15-year-old brainchild (brainteen?) of the founders of leading indie music scene venues Casa del Popolo and Sala Rossa, Suoni Per Il Popolo presents approximately 50 concerts featuring an eclectic range of experimental and avant-garde music and sound (think free jazz, musique actuelle, avant-rock, noise, etc.) that pushes boundaries into places where no boundaries should ever be. Operating under the very a propos motto “It’s classical… it’s cool,” the Montreal Chamber Music Festival (June 6-21) turns a very respectable 20 years old this year. From humble beginnings (the first concert, in 1995, was performed in the chalet atop Mount Royal) the much-expanded fest featuring several differently themed series now occupies many of the top concert halls in the city, including Place des Arts. When the Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal was born in 2008, it was a one-day event that drew approximately 500 folk faithful. The event was such a hit, with its picturesque park placement alongside Montréal’s historic Lachine Canal, that it now draws close to 10,000 for five days of folk, roots and bluegrass featuring both emerging artists and folk royalty. This year’s fest takes… / Read More →

2015 guide to Montréal summer music festivals

It’s beginning to sound a lot like summer in Montréal, as evidenced by the almost paralyzing array of music festival options – Osheaga, the Jazz Fest, Piknic Electronik, MUTEK and Heavy Montréal among them – featuring failsafe mainstays and some righteously exciting newbies. Getting wired and being plugged-in don’t always mean the same thing, but you can certainly do both in style at digital arts festival Elektra. From May 13 to 17, Elektra showcases new creations in electronic music, video, cinema, performance, gaming and more, in combination with the inventive use of next-level digital technologies. Conversely, bringing music fun back to the basics is the annual Pouzza Fest of all things punk rock, May 15-17. Steadily making a bigger and badder name for itself over the last five years, Pouzza returns with over 200 punk bands that span generations of punk fans, including 80s punks the Dwarves, Chicago hardcore unit 88 Fingers Louie, and L.A. pop punks The Muffs. Summer is synonymous with picnics, and summer in Montréal has become synonymous with Piknic Electronik, the wildly popular weekly outdoor electronic music dance party. Typically held in Parc Jean-Drapeau (on Île Ste-Hélène, across from Montréal’s Old Port), this year’s Piknic Electronik… / Read More →

Your 2015 Montréal summer festival guide

With every major summer festival and event in Montréal comes the impetus for a holiday getaway in our great city. The F1 Grand Prix du Canada, MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE, the Jazz Festival and Osheaga, for example, are but drops in a whole bucket of fun awaiting all ages and tastes in the coming weeks and months. Blue Metropolis Montréal International Literary Festival (April 20-26) The theme at Blue Met this year is “The Power of Words,” and this large-scale celebration of reading and writing across cultures once again brings in a raft of heavy hitter authors and literary-minded figures for readings, discussions and other special events. ELEKTRA (May 13-17) ELEKTRA is a yearly digital arts festival showcasing new creations in electronic music, video, cinema, performance, design, gaming and interactive installation in combination with the innovative use of new technologies, and, in particular, those of the digital kind. Festival TransAmériques (FTA) (May 21 to June 4) The Festival TransAmériques (FTA) celebrates new works in contemporary dance and theatre. Showcasing both established and emerging artists, choreographers, writers and directors, this ninth edition of the FTA also aims to foster dialogue through a stimulating range of workshops, debates and roundtable discussions. Chromatic (May… / Read More →

Meet a Montrealer: Laurent Saulnier

Laurent Saulnier is arguably one of Montréal’s most powerful musical tastemakers. It’s a notion that would doubtless make the amiable and unassuming Vice-President of Programming and Production for three of the city’s largest festivals – MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal and Les FrancoFolies – erupt in a fit of his signature laughter. Saulnier began working for the festivals 15 years ago after sharpening his skills as a music connoisseur at French-language alt-weekly Voir where he was music editor. Now Saulnier applies those same discerning tastes to the selection of the hundreds of artists of all genres who perform at the festivals’ indoor and outdoor stages. He is, in short, the VP of your good time. Job: Vice-President of Programming and Production at MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal and Les FrancoFolies. What exactly do you do? “I’m responsible for all the stages and what’s on those stages, both indoors and outdoors. So it’s about choosing the artists, but it’s also about the lights, the sound and everything that’s on the stages themselves.” What’s the coolest thing about your job? “The coolest thing is being able to bring new faces, new talent, new… / Read More →

Guide to the 2014 Montreal International Jazz Festival

The 35th edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival lights up the city with hundreds of live music concerts, June 26 to July 6. Let our festival guide lead the way through some of the fest’s top-billing sweet sounds and an array of dining, shopping, late-night entertainment, and family-friendly options too…

Experience Some Jazzy #MTLMOMENTS in Toronto on May 9-11

Attention Torontonians: if you happen to be walking by Queen & Soho this weekend in Toronto, make sure to stop by our Jazz Fest inspired #MTLMOMENTS experience and catch some live music, great food, free lemonade, and maybe even win a trip to Montreal…