THINGS TO DO IN MONTREAL (JUNE 23-26)

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 by .

From festival heatwaves to dance-party downpours to perfect days in the park, June in Montreal has seen it all this year – and this weekend might just see it all too. The Montreal Jazz Fest sets its purple phasers to stun as it kicks off with none other than Prince, followed by a weekend of bee-bop, hip-hop, reggae, experimental and regular ol’ fun times. Friday is officially reserved for feting the Francophone culture that, unarguably, makes this city and province so fun, while Saturday night sees the sky above amusement park La Ronde light up in style. Plus there’s a festival on the Lachine Canal and plenty of art and music to keep us busy, indoors and out…

(jazz fest fever) If you’re one of the lucky ones at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, you’ve got a Prince ticket for June 24 or 25. Or maybe you paid the big bucks for Robert Plant’s show June 24. Or, for that matter, Diana Krall’s appearance. Whatever the case, you can bet that someone is jealous of you, because these are some seriously sold-out shows. On the other hand, it’s freakin’ Jazz Fest, so there are about a thousand other shows going on all weekend.

On Saturday, June 25, these ladies own the night: Angélique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright, sing a tribute to continue the legacies of Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln and Odetta. Brazilian jazz great Milton Nascimento amazes, avant-jazz fans howl for Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, while Mark Bérubé and The Patriotic Few bring the folk and The Unsettlers have a good (and free!) time at Club Soda. On Sunday, June 26, British reggae legends Steel Pulse break it down and Chick Corea’s Return to Forever IV fly high. Outdoors, ska-reggae masters Fabulous Lolo sets the crowd a’ skankin’ while inside The Glenn Miller Orchestra takes on the Artie Shaw Orchestra. Later, Canadian hip-hop stalwart Buck 65 rules the roost at Club Soda.

(nights on the canal) Escape the downtown core of Montreal for the even more relaxed summer vibe of the Festival de théâtre de rue de Lachine, a festival of theatre, dance, music, circus and more designed to take place in the street and other public places, from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. each night, June 23–25. See Swiss group Öff Öff Productions’s Orbite, a performance that takes place in a metal structure 20 metres above the ground. The Joseph K group leads spectators on a burlesque tour. The always inventive and accessible Le Grouped’ArtGravelArtGroup offers new concepts of public dance. And much much more, of course, plus music from Panache, We are Wolves, Alaclair Ensemble and Galaxie. It all takes place at 2901 boulevard Saint-Joseph, in Lachine. See the festival site for full schedule and easy-to-understand directions.

(quebec-wide party) June 24 has confused more than a few visitors to Montreal. The lights are off in every office, half the shops are closed, the parks are filled with people and everywhere, yes, everywhere, some kind of party is underway (often involving a barbeque). This is St-Jean-Baptiste Day, known also as Fȇte Nationale du Québec, known also as a celebration of Quebec’s indomitable Francophone culture. Get a crash course in that culture at the parade, where prominent Quebec stars can be seen alongside crazily costumed giants of Quebec history, starting at the corner of Fullum and Sherbrooke at 1 p.m. and marching East to Parc Maisonneuve, where an afternoon of family activities turns into a night of music, hosted by Guy A. Lepage and featuring, among many, Les Porn Flakes, Damien Robitaille, Vincent Vallières, Robert Charlebois, Éric Lapointe, and Rufus and Martha Wainwright!

(fire in the sky) Ah, fireworks. Yes, they’re expensive and loud and ultimately kind of frivolous, but who can resist the urge to “ooh” and “aah” as the sky lights up with the explosive combination of potassium nitrate, carbon and sulphur? I’ve tried to not feel that joy; it is impossible. Gaze upwards this Saturday night at 10 p.m. for the first night of The International des Feux Loto-Québec – and every Saturday night until July 30, for that matter –  as a new team of pyrotechnic masters from around the world competes to put on the best fireworks show possible. This weekend, it’s China’s turn: Panda Fireworks, the pyrotechnic supplier for the 29th Olympic Games puts on a martial-arts-themed light show.

(rainy-day art) Since June weather can be unpredictable, an indoor back-up plan is a good idea, making a little bit of rain into a good excuse to go see some great art. The Parisian Laundry (3550 St-Antoine W.), opens Summertime in Paris, featuring fire-starting work from artists Jaime Angelopoulos, Chloe Desjardins, Luc Paradis, Rachel Shaw and William Villalongo, who tackled the theme of “kindling” for the exhibition. Choses Simples: Works from the Battat Collection, at Battat Contemporary (7245 Alexandra, Suite 100), shows playful, experimental works on paper from the gallery’s extensive collection. Artist-run collective/gallery Articule (262 Fairmount W.) holds their annual garage sale and fundraiser Rotation Rotation on June 25, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Catch master artist, printer and painter Louise Bloom’s mindbending work, inspired by Alice in Wonderland, at Maison de la culture Mercier (8105 Hochelaga), until June 26. And the often-shocking (always in a good way), Kent Monkman shows us his artistic process in L’Atelier, at Pierre François Ouellette (#216–372 Ste-Catherine W.), until June 25.

(fruit & veg) Get fresh with our local farmers at Marché Fermier, re-opening this week at Parc Lahaie (St-Dominique and St-Joseph) in the Mile End neighbour. Peruse – and feel free to ask questions about – the fresh fruit (strawberry season is upon us!), vegetables, jams and jellies, sauces and smoothies available on site every Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. (and every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.). There’s also a crêpe van and music from some fine neighbourhood buskers.

(mid-june music) Contrary to popular belief, there’s musical life outside the Jazz Fest this weekend. On June 25, Montreal’s own Handsome Furs (featuring Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner), USA Out of Vietnam and Tops at Cabaret du Mile End (5240 Parc), while prolific American folk singer-songwriter Joe Purdy hunkers down at Petit Campus (57 Prince Arthur E.). On Sunday, June 26, if the sun doth shine, metro or bike over to Parc Jean-Drapeau for Piknic Electronik with Untold, Komodo, Hosta and more starting at 2 p.m. And maybe catch some Jazz Fest shows later on. Resistance is futile.

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