Five Highlights of the Montreal Jazz Festival – posted 7/3/2014
It has been nine years since I was lucky enough to go to the Montreal Jazz Festival. Fortunately, I made it back this year. (For anyone who still can make it, the festival runs until July 6.)
The festival is such a great event. I am not sure which is better – the food in Montreal or the music at the festival. Both were wonderful. Since I went in 2005, the festival seems bigger. I think there are more shows with a wider diversity of international music being played.
For those who have never been there, there are a number of big stages set up downtown. From early evening til almost midnight, there are live shows. Most shows are free. There are some paying concerts for bigger name performers. Montreal is an excellent venue for young unknown musicians who get a chance to play before large crowds so they can make a name for themselves.
i thought I would highlight some of the acts and food places which wowed me. The food places are not connected to the festival but I wanted to mention them anyway:
- Ester Rada – I had never heard of this Israeli artist before the festival. She is a very lively performer and singer. There are jazz, funk, soul, and reggae sounds in her music and her band is tight. I think she has released a CD entitled Ester Rada. Check out her song Nanu Ney.
- Mai Xiang Yuan – This hole in the wall, totally unpretentious Chinese restaurant is located at 1084 Boulevard St Laurent in Montreal. It is the place for dumplings. They are made from scratch. You can get them boiled or fried. I thought the boiled were better. My wife Debra and I tried the shrimp, coriander and pork. We also tried the shrimp, egg and leek dumplings. The dumplings are to die for. The place has a limited menu – dumplings and soup with dumplings but what they do, they do great.
- Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite – These guys don’t need praise from me but their concert was terrific. Charlie seemed to be loving playing with Ben. I liked “I’m in I’m Out and I’m Gone”. Also, “You Found Another Lover (I Lost a Friend)”. There is no better blues harmonica player out there than Charlie.
- Au Pied De Cochon – My friends Mike and Sue suggested this restaurant. It was a treat. Debra and I split a duck special. The duck was thinly sliced in a very flavorful sauce. We also shared yummy poutine au foie gras. Debra had codfish fritters for an appetizer. She thought it was better than any she had eaten on Cape Cod which is high praise. We split sugar pie for dessert. It had a creme sauce and it tasted like luscious pecan pie. The place is not cheap but it is a find. I definitely would love to go back sometime.
- Diana Krall – She did a hugely attended free show at an outdoor stage. There was no room to move it was so crowded. Fortunately they had big screens set up so you could see even from faraway. I have always liked her music and it appeared thousands of Montrealers felt the same way. I liked her version of Temptation. Also her version of the Band’s Ophelia. She did a tribute to Neil Young and sang a fine version of Man Needs A Maid. Her husband Elvis Costello came on to sing a few songs with her at the end. I think she did more covers than usual, quite a bit of Dylan. I give her credit for doing Subterranean Homesick Blues, not a song I think she ever would have tried to do.
This is the 35th year of the festival. It is an annual event. If you can swing it, this is always a tremendous event. Go in the future if you can…