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Memorable moments at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

Patience and quick thinking are job requirements for Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (FIJM) organizers dealing with divas, egos, cancellations, no-shows and the inevitable musician being held up at Canada Customs. Here are some memorable anecdotes from the FIJM, the biggest and grandest music festival on the planet: After the FIJM fronted reggae icon Bunny Wailer $10,000 for his 1998 gig at Métropolis, Wailer pocketed the cash and blew off the show. FIJM co-founder André Ménard was outraged. Twelve years later, when Wailer was booked to headline the Montréal International Reggae Festival in August 2010, Ménard told me, “We’re not taking any action against Wailer because we don’t want to give him an excuse not to come a second time. Bunny Wailer posed to me as a man of integrity and principle. I still think he is a great artist. But a man of integrity? F–k it! I’m still waiting for his personal invitation to see him at the reggae festival. That will be the most expensive concert ticket I’ve ever paid for.” In the end, Wailer was a no-show at the Montréal International Reggae Festival that year too. When Tony Bennett headlined Théâtre St-Denis in 1985, his band took off with his… / Read More →

Worldbeat festivals and happenings in Montréal

From bossa nova to celtic folk, reggae to zydeco, the musical rhythms in Montreal are as diverse and exciting as its people. The city is a hotbed of world music year-round, but goes into high gear during the summer festival season. Here are some highlights for 2016: The organizers of Les Francofolies de Montréal, which showcases music from the French-speaking world from June 9 to 18, as well as the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, the world’s biggest music festival which runs from June 29 to July 9, regularly feature world-music performers. One of Montréal’s most colourful and exciting parades, Carifiesta, is a tradition born of slavery in Trinidad and Tobago, when French colonial masters hosted huge masquerade balls three days before Ash Wednesday. Slaves got a day off and mimicked their masters at their own parties, a tradition that morphed into Trinidad’s famed Carnival. That tradition migrated north to such cities as Miami, New York and Montréal. Each year Montréal’s competing floats “play mas” (as in masquerade) at Carifiesta. This year’s 41st annual parade is expected to draw 100,000 spectators along downtown Rue Ste-Catherine on Saturday, July 2. Each summer the City of Montreal hosts its hugely popular Week-ends du… / Read More →

Your ultimate 2016 guide to Montréal’s many summer music festivals

The word “summer” is always music to our ears in Montréal, and not just because of the impending warming of the weather. It’s also when the city is beset by a veritable onslaught of amazing music festivals, everything from Osheaga to the Jazz Fest, and from MUTEK and Île Soniq to the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s Classical Spree. For four sunny, summery months, Montréal is truly a music lover’s paradise. 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 series runs every weekend from May 22 until Oct. 2. To see their 2016 programming, check here after May 10. Speaking of living life on the edge, it doesn’t get more musically adventurous than the annual Suoni Per Il Popolo festival, June 2-20. The now 16-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.)… / Read More →

Things To Do in Montréal: August 14 to 20

Take a bite out of August this week with an international food festival, a fashionable feast for the eyes (and your shopping bag), a grandiose Pride Parade and more world-class live music than anyone would know what to do with. Talk about a full plate! Music in the air ÎleSoniq is upon us! For the third week in a row, Parc Jean-Drapeau is the site of great musical happenings. On the weekend of August 14 and 15, you can take in the sun as you bop to headliners including Die Antwoord, Azealia Banks, Deadmaus, Black Tiger Sex Machine, Blasterjaxx, Kiesza, Prince Club and more. Catch more world-class performances in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu for the last two days of International des Montgolfières, on until August 16. Beautiful hot air balloons from the world over cohabitates with hot music including performances of Jonas and the Massive Attraction on Friday night, Moist on Saturday, Caravane and Our Lady Peace on Sunday and Sally Folk and Sylvain Cossette with Andrée Watters on Monday. Yet another unmissable music even this weekend might draw your attention away, though: August 14 to 16 is also the Montreal International Reggae Festival! Right in the heart of Old Montreal, the island… / Read More →

Montréal’s Best Reggae and World Beat Clubs, Events and Festivals

Montréal has a thriving world beat music scene with concerts in nightclubs by popular local musicians augmented by music festivals with superstar headliners from around the world. Here is a sampling of some of the best the city has to offer: The iconic Club Balattou (4372 Saint-Laurent Blvd.) was opened in 1985 by showbiz legend Lamine Toure. A who’s who has played in this small and intimate venue over the years—many making their North American debuts—including Papa Wemba, Baaba Maal, Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour and Angélique Kidjo. Congolese entertainer Dally Kimoko even wrote a song about the famed nightclub, called Balattou à Montréal. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 p.m. to closing. Info: 514-845-5447 or http://balattou.com/. A block away is another Montréal institution, Les Bobards (4328 Saint-Laurent Blvd.), which boasts live entertainment by the city’s best local world beat performers, music from Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. Reggae, ska, salsa, compa—you name it, you will hear it here. Also daily Happy Hours. Info: 514-987-1174 or http://lesbobards.qc.ca/. Montréal’s Festival International Nuits d’Afrique has been showcasing entertainers from across Africa and the African diaspora each July since 1987. Some of the hundreds of headliners over the years include music legends Miriam… / Read More →

Montreal Reggae Festival’s 10 year anniversary features Shaggy, Yellowman, Morgan Heritage and more

Whether dub or dancehall, reggae might just be the perfect music for August’s hot, sunny, chilled-out days. So it’s no surprise that the Montreal International Reggae Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary, August 16-18 outdoors in the Old Port of Montreal, with live music from Shaggy, Beenie Man, Morgan Heritage and many more, as well as activities for kids, a marketplace and delicious Caribbean food…