Jazz fest started last week and now Place des Arts is bumping on all stages. There are (as always) an amazing selection of free concerts to check out if you’re short on cash but up for musical journeys. Here are some of our picks for the week ahead.
Monday. June 29
Franky Selector. Scene Bell. 10 p.m.
Interesting bands collaborate with musical personalities who might otherwise escape the notice of the general public. Franky Selector’s groovy, smooth sound has an easy ’70s vibe with a good feeling to it. He works with aRTIST oF tHE yEAR, members of Bran Van 3000, and the where-are-they-now National Parcs, among others.
Speakeasy Electro Swing at L’Astral (305 St. Catherine W) 11:59 p.m.
Well worth waiting in line, or show up early and head on in for the dj dance mash up of fun that is Speakeasy Electro Swing. Eliazar, Don Mescal, and Khalil get better and better and they already started close to unbelievably the best time you can have. It’s great to dance to this hard pounding swing music. Take a nap if you have to.
Tuesday June 30
Busty and the Bass. Rio Tinto Alcan. 8 p.m.
We’ve been loving this McGill funk band with its nine members since the early days of Rampage. Make no mistake that where Busty goes, the good time goes too! You’ll be dancing and dancing and dancing. (Busty and the Bass return to play the Nightcap shows at Metropolis, July 2-4, at 11:59 p.m., also free!)
The Barr Brothers. Scene TD. 9:30 p.m.
Every jazz fest has its big shows. I still can’t get over that I saw Stevie Wonder a few years ago. The Barr Brothers are a local act that has shot through the stratosphere with their swamp folk Americana, Delta blues sound. Their shows sell out often in Montreal, so find a way to get to St. Catherine and check them out, even if it’s only on one of the giant screens of Jazz Fest.
Wednesday July 1
Filly and the Flops. Lounge Heineken. 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Rockabilly anyone? Filly and the Flops go for the original swinging hep cats and kittens kind of sound. They command a loyal following and checking them out at this venue instead of say, Brutopia, might be an all too pleasant way to swing.
Novalima. Scene Bell. 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
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This Peruvian band is about as progressively world beat as you can get. Novalima mix Peruvian sound with afro-funk, dub, reggae, electronica, salsa, hip hop. Their cheerful, celebratory upbeat sound is addictive. Go for the first set, return for the second.
Thursday July 2
Face-T. Scene Bell. 8 p.m.
Face-T brings the dub tropics with his reggae-dancehall music. Turns out he’s sitting on a debut indie EP and raps in Jamaican patois. He’s better known as He’s a Canadian who grew up in the much nicer clime of the islands. Around Montreal, he has worked with Poirier, and he’s also probably better known as half of Kulcha Connection.
The Mavericks. Scene TD. 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Another jazz-fest party band, the Mavericks are appearing for their first time at jazz fest. They’ve been around since the ’80s, led by Raul Malo. This time, they bring with them their new album Mono and are sure to ska-Hammon organ-guitair us into foot stomping bliss.
Friday. July 3
Elizabeth Shepherd. Scene Rio Tinto Alcan. 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
You can’t make a list of picks for jazz and not choose at least one female vocalist. Elizabeth Shepherd is a little more pop-jazz, making her accessible to many. She has a lovely voice, warm and playful. Her personality is both soulful and hip. She’s been praised to the skies by the critics.
Emmanuel Jal. Scene Bell. 10 p.m.
Emmanuel comes to us from the Sudan. Once a child soldier, now a hip hop icon. His music is very much a victory for a better world. If you like hip hop, don’t miss this rare chance to see him. Emmanuel Jal also plays July 2 at 10 p.m.
Saturday. July 4.
Jungle By Night. Scene Bell. 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
They’re young and from Amsterdam, a city known for its tolerance and fascination with world culture. No surprise that this nonet is mixing funk, rock, and AFro-beat.
Adam Cohen. Scene TD. 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Another Montreal Rampage favourite, the son of Leonard (celebrated at a Jazz Fest not too long ago), shows that the apple don’t fall far from the tree. With each album, Adam Cohen matures and becomes an ever-more formidable force among Canadian singer-songwriters.
Sunday. July 5
BB King Tribute. Scene TD. 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
It’s the last night and a chance to see the big BB King blues-out. So go and see a who’s who of who’s around that night: Bob Walsh, Jordan Officer, Kim Richardson, and on and on and on.