The last weekend of the Montreal International Jazz Festival is upon us – and it’s a big one. Rain or shine (looks like shine), the fest starts off Canada Day weekend with jazz standards and not-so-standards and caps it off with our own version of 4th of July celebrations: a massive outdoor concert from the B-52s. All that jazz plus a visit from Will and Kate, a fest just for teenagers, and some truly beautiful, truly challenging art from American painter (and celeb in his own right) John Currin…
(jazz fest finale): I give a lot of leeway to the Montreal Jazz Fest’s definition of jazz because the influential fingers of jazz are everywhere, and hey, it’s summertime and fun is fun, but even this one raised my eyebrow: Poirier Sound System (June 30 at 10 p.m. on the TD Stage). I love these guys; they’re guaranteed to get your bump n’ groove on, but jazz? I guess we’ll see! Also June 30, see Colin James, Montreal’s great The Dears, Holly Cole, Katie Moore, plus none other than Sade at the Bell Centre. July 1 (Canada Day!) go for Norwegian Ninja Tune artists Jaga Jazzist, Montreal rock stars of the 80s and beyond Men Without Hats, or the classic crooning of Tony Bennett. On July 2, Afrodizz heats up Club Soda, on July 3, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones drop some science on us at Theatre Maisonneuve.
On July 4, showing that even us Canadians can’t help but celebrate American Independence Day, we’ve brought in Georgia’s B-52s for a massive, free outdoor show with the always fun Rich Aucoin joining the party on the smaller nearby stage. And the indoor options aren’t too shabby either: Blue Rodeo, Marianne Faithful and Ron Sexsmith.
(party like a canadian) Canada Day! If we are to believe the advertising hype, most people in this country are firing up barbeques and cracking open cans of Molson, but here in Montreal, July 1 is also known as Moving Day. This is not only the day to celebrate Canada being an independent nation, save for one or two of Mother England’s apron strings, but the day when a majority of rental leases are up. Why this logistical nightmare is still allowed to happen remains somewhat of a mystery, but since it’s basically tradition now, all tourists to the city should feel free to sit back and watch the parade of U-Hauls, blood, sweat, tears and the inevitable end-of-day beer, pizza and friendship break-ups. But it’s not all moving mayhem, I mean, there’s a real parade for Fête du Canada, starting at Fort and Ste-Catherine at 11 a.m., marching down to the Quays of the Old Port, with activities (like music, games, yoga and dancing!) and, of course, fireworks.
(the royal we) Yes, hot on the heels of our nation’s birthday and the wild-mannered celebrations thereof, comes a visit from our previous rulers. On July 2, the British monarchy swings by Montreal in the much-celebrated form of newlyweds Prince William and Kate Middleton. In town for a stop on their North American tour, the Royal couple will visit Ste-Justine Hospital and learn how to whip up Quebec-style French pastries at the Quebec government’s Hotel and Tourism Institute. There will be waving from afar.
(guitars galore) If the Jazz Fest isn’t quite specific enough for your musical tastes, maybe the 5th edition of the Montreal Guitar Show will sate your appetite for licks and riffs and pedals and whatever it is the guitar-obsessed are into these days. (I am into distortion, just fyi.) The fest-within-a-fest (because what isn’t a part of the Jazz Fest right now?) starts Friday at the Hyatt Regency Montréal and runs until July 3, with concerts, workshops and discussions from luthiers and other specialists from around the world. Just try not to drool too much over the 500 acoustic and electric guitars on display, unless you plan to purchase, then by all means drool away.
(teenage spirit) Sometimes the best thing to do with teenagers is put them in a massive room with other teenagers and a whole lot of hip hop. That’s what Montreal Teenfest organizers Music with Meaning think anyway – and they’re right in this case. The one-day fest and fundraiser (July 2, noon to 10 p.m., at Palais des Congres de Montreal) pairs musicians such as Gudda Gudda, Jae Millz, and Short Dawg (from Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment label), Danny Fernandes, Poirier, M’City Solo and more with a job fair and workshops on issues facing teens, from staying in school, to bullying to finding jobs and figuring out what the future might hold in the best sense possible.
(celebrity skin art) The newest exhibition at DHC/ART, two solo shows from two stars on the international art scene, is both a delight and a challenge. A chronologically set up show by American painter John Currin takes us through his evolution as a painter tackling certain obsessions – with media images, relations between men and women, and painting itself. Belgian sculptor Berlinde De Bruyckere tackles issues of life, death and love in her life-size sculptures of deformed – in a poignant way (just go if only to see whatever it is I mean by that) – horses, human bodies and trees. Both shows are controversial in their own ways, but ultimately thoughtful and thought-provoking.
(summer sounds) The Jazz Fest once again dominates the music picks for this week, but there’s always something going on in the realm of rock in this town. More pop than rock, on July 2, Katy Perry dreams a teenage dream at the Bell Centre. Or opt for something a little lower-key with the pop-folk of Ruby Jean & The Thoughtful Bees, with locals Sean Nicholas Savage and Hexes & Ohs at Divan Orange. And the one-and-only The Roots dig deep at Metropolis as part of the wind-down to the Jazz Fest. Sunday, as always is all about Piknic Electronik, though headliners at last year’s Osheaga festival Weezer might make a trip to to the Bell Centre worthwhile.