Montreal includes parts of the world that make Bangor, Maine seem like Times Square. If you’ve not been to Bangor, Maine, just imagine Times Square in 1900. The middle third of the drive involved a complete lack of phone service but provided a gorgeous view of trees
and the road ahead.
A friend would be house sitting 15 minutes outside of downtown Montreal and she offered a free room. Luckily, her dates spanned the opening days of the 39th Annual Montreal Jazz Fest. Sadly we missed the Just For Laughs comedy festival (maybe next year). Jazz Fest runs from June 28th through July 7th and each day if full of terrific music. Many events are free and the rest are priced in Canadian dollars (i.e. $0.75).
Headliners this year included premier acts from varied corners of jazz. Bobby McFerrin, Ani DiFranco, The War On Drugs, Ian Anderson, !!!, George Thorogood, Ben Harper, Al Di Meola, and many many more. The schedule is a minefield of amazing acts you love and ones you’ve never heard of (but will probably love) scattered around the Place des Arts and Place des Festivals in the heart of downtown. This is the Montreal equivalent of Lincoln Center. Multiple music venues, outdoor concert/ event space, and the contemporary art museum all nestled in a pedestrian area of a top commerce street. Three outdoor stages here, one around the corner and two around a different corner. Food trucks, sponsor booths, restaurants galore, and not enough shade. Perhaps I should mention the heat wave. There was a heat wave.
Sweaty dripping from our snapping fingers throughout four days of free events. We broke up the time with hookah bars, restaurants, and walks towards shade or air conditioning just to remain hydrated. Sunday was Canada Day and we made our way to the old port away from the jazz to see an 8-10 minute fireworks display that left many wanting more. Doesn’t this town host an international fireworks competition? I guess they don’t compete.
I would absolutely return (in hopes there is no heat wave next time) and probably buy tickets for some of the big acts. It would certainly be nice to see a show from a seat in the air conditioning after a day of sitting on hot concrete. Damn I sound old.
Here are some musical highlights from bands you may not know:
The Royal Pickels
Davina and the Vagabonds