What to See For Free at the Montreal Jazz Fest

heartstreets jazz fest 2015 photo Julie santini heartstreets jazz fest 2015 photo Julie santini

Free. Free. Free.
Yes, Place des Arts abounds with music during the summer. Jazz Fest is the highlight of the outdoor free programming. Take the metro and weave your way from stage to stage until you hear a performer that clicks. The stages generally host a specific type of music at a certain time of night through the duration festival. The 7 p.m. Bell Stage is all about the blues. World beat sounds are found at the Turkish Airlines Tropiques programming on the CBC/Radio Canada stage at 8 p.m. The CBC/Radio Canada stage is the place to get loosey-goosey with groove and genre-bending dance and hip hop sounds at 10 p.m.

It always helps to know where those free stages are. Every year, there are some slight changes where you can find the free shows. The map below is the official map. The main ones are Scene Rio Tinto at Jeanne Mance and St. Catherine, the Turkish Airlines/CBC/Radio Canada stage at Rue Clark and Rue de Montigny, the Bell stage which is at Rue de Maisonneuve and St. Urbain, the Hyundai stage at Maisonneuve and Jeanne-Mance, and the Heineken stage at De Bleury and St. Catherine. Other shows are at L’Astral (305 St. Catherine W), and Metropolis (59 St Catherine E). The two biggest stages are the TD stage on Rue Jeanne Mance between Rue de Maisonneuve and Rue St. Catherine, and  the Rio Tinto stage on Rue St. Catherine between Jeanne Mance and St. Urbain.

Jazz Fest Map

Jazz Fest Map 2016

To help pick and choose what to catch out of the 10 plus free shows per night, here are some of our picks for what to catch.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

June 20 — 9:30 p.m. — Rio Tinto Alcan Stage

Retro funk/soul sounds are the staple of this lauded band.


June 30 — 9 p.m. — Turkish Airlines CBC/Radio-Canada Stage

This is music that can only be made in Montreal. Hip hop melds together with afro beats and creole. It’s an electrifying, booty-moving mash.


Busty and the Bass

July 1 — 9 p.m. — TD Stage

A made in McGill band that blares its horns and gets people to groove. This is a party band that has everything going for it.



Mariachi Flor de Toloache

July 2 — 8 p.m. — Hyundai Stage

Four ladies take mariachi music and give it their flair and gusto to perfect effect.


July 3 — 8 p.m. — Turkish Airlines CBC/Radio-Canada Stage

Blues, rock, and reggae come together.

Jamie Cullum

July 4 — 9:30 p.m. — TD Stage

If you can believe, he covered Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?”  Cullum is a jazz-pop songwriter from the UK, and we adore him.

The Campbell Brothers

July 5 — 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. — TD Stage

Gospel group that depends on a lap eight string pedal steel and usually makes African-American music for the good Lord. Well, tonight they’re including Catholic Montreal on their list of places to spread the good word and are also doing a special performance of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme

Dj Touski Balkan Gypsy Party

July 6 — 11:59 p.m. — L’Astral

DJ Touski is the king of Sarajevo swing, jazz, rock and all other Balkan beats in Montreal. Once a month he hosts the Balkan Gypsy Party. Tonight, join in a massive one for jazz fest.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

July 7 — 9 p.m. — T.D. Stage

Swing revivalists from America, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy brings back the feel of the 1940s and 50s.

Carlos Placeres

July 8 — 10 p.m. — Hyundai Stage

Great Cuban music to dance to.

The Darcys

July 9 — 10 p.m. — Turkish Airlines CBC/Radio-Canada Stage

While most people will be at the major event of West Trainz, art rockers The Darcys will help bring your ear up to the most current music coming out of Canada’s scene.

About Rachel Levine

Rachel Levine is the big cheese around here. Contact: Website | More Posts