3 days in Montreal: Part 4-Montreal Jazz Festival
While planning our trip, we had no idea that we chose the same dates as the Montreal International Jazz festival. There was also an unexpected extreme heat wave with temperatures of 95 F/35C during our stay there. After looking at the forecast I was immediately saddened that our trip would be pretty much ruined by the weather.
I’d take a cold day as long as there is no rain or snow any day over a very hot day with high humidity. You can dress appropriately for a cold day with many layers while there is nothing you can do if you have to be outside on a super hot day.
The only way to offset this unpleasant turn of events for me psychologically was to enjoy the festival. I’d heard of the festival but never planned to attend. Neither my husband Brian nor I are huge jazz music lovers. I do listen to latin jazz while painting when it’s on shuffle with other latin music like salsa, chachacha, boogaloo and some rock music but that’s it. Some of the jazz styles I can’t even stand! I’ve always liked blues music so I figured since we were going to suffer through the heat wave the only way to compensate for such bad luck being there during July was to enjoy the Montreal Jazz Festival. With so many shows being absolutely free there was no way to be disappointed.
I looked up the festival’s calendar and wrote down the blues performers that I thought we would both enjoy. I didn’t imagine how much fun we would have at the festival (it was the best part of our trip for me) and how much our hotel choice was spot on for it’s perfect location not only for the festival venues but also for it’s accessibility to Old Town and other nice areas.
We booked a room in Marriott Courtyard Downtown because it was reasonable for what it offered. We had no idea that it was the perfect location to Quartier des Spectacles where most venues of the festival were. After exploring Montreal all day long and mostly on foot it was nice to walk only a mere 5 minutes to the festival.
We could see one of the venues - Club Jazz Casino de Montreal from our hotel window.
Shopping Center Complexe Desjardins was also practically across from our hotel. We got tasty baguettes, cheese, berries for breakfast there in the supermarket IGA Louise Ménard. It was also a nice short way to get to the Jazz festival venues on the other side of it.
You can have a meal, or a bathroom break, or an AC break there.
Beautifully lit wall of the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan greets you in the entertainment district of Quartier des Spectacles. The building has the images of many famous musicians, out of which I know of and listen to B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Paco de Lucia, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Astor Piazzolla.
Along Rue Sainte-Catherine, one of Montréal's main shopping streets, there are bars and restaurants. One can have a drink or a meal while listening to the music as there are several stages right there.
Many concerts were happening during the day but we only went for evening shows, the earliest one at 7pm.
A rare moment when the area in front of the Rio Tinto stage is not crowded yet. The organization of the festival was great. Every show started exactly on time, so that performances were coordinated seamlessly between the stages in the main area.
The same area in front of the Rio Tinto stage looks packed with people later in the evening.
The fountain in front of the Place des Arts looks lovely at night.
The largest stage is Scene TD but somehow we never watched a show there.
Blues performances were at Scene Hyundai/CBC/Radio-Canada. We enjoyed listening to Lachy-Doley group who created a wonderful moody groovy atmosphere with a Hammond organ.
Another excellent performance we liked was by Christone Kingfish Ingram, a blues guitarist from Mississippi.
Right next to Hyundai stage (Les Soirees blues) was Scene du Monde with world music. I am so happy that we watched the performance by Congolese Jupiter & Okwess. It was so much fun that despite having walked around 15 miles in the heat before I was dancing and jumping to their songs as it was impossible to stand still.
Another musical discovery was Montreal based group Clay and Friends. Their mix of hip-hop, reggae, jazz and funk made our night so much fun!
We had great time at the Montreal International Jazz festival! it was amazing to listen to live music of diverse styles right in the heart of Montreal. The festival was the highlight of our trip. We can’t wait to return.
The sounds and colors of the festival inspired me to paint a series of abstract paintings.