Montreal Jazz Fest ready to groove


The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, a group of eight brothers from Chicago, won over fans with their 2014 show at Metropolis, one of the many venues that stage Montreal Jazz Fest shows. (Adrian Brijbassi/

Story by Adrian Brijbassi Columnist

Staying young and relevant is clearly an ambition for the Montreal Jazz Fest. Canada’s leading annual music festival has been fighting with upstarts like Osheaga and Piknic Electronik for the share of attention and ticket sales in recent years. Its answer has been to spotlight young talent to draw concert-goers to the plethora of free shows that it stages for two weeks each year.

The 36th edition kicks off this week with Beirut, a New Mexico band that started in 2005 and has won wide acclaim for its blend of American alternative music and world beats, with a strong foundation in jazz. Beirut, who headlines the festival-opening show on Friday night, follows the youth movement for headliners that began in 2013 with Feist and was followed last year by a wonderful performance from France’s WoodKid.

[box_light]Read About WoodKid’s Montreal Jazz Fest Performance[/box_light]

Last year, festival co-founder and music promoter André Ménard told me “the average age of the festival attendee is 40 so we do have a preoccupation to bring younger people in.”


A mural of Ray Charles adorns the facade of a building on Sainte-Catherine Street, overlooking the main Montreal Jazz Festival site. Charles headlined the first edition of the festival in 1980. (Adrian Brijbassi/

Along with Beirut, Montreal’s Barr Brothers (June 30, 9:30 pm) will also be one of the younger bands spotlighted on the festival’s main stage. But perhaps the most anticipated performance at the 2015 event will be a remembrance of a master. The tribute to B.B. King on July 5, the festival’s closing night, is being billed as a Grand Blues Evening and the quality of the musicianship is expected to be at a peak as the jazz fest honours the great bluesman who passed away this spring.

That show will be among the more than 600 performances, many of them free. The jazz fest annually features a multitude of shows that are open to anyone to enjoy at no cost as well as ticketed shows at clubs and concert venues close to the festival centre at Quartier des Spectacles, just outside of Place des Arts.

Music Brings Tourists to Quebec’s Big City

The 11-day festival costs organizers approximately $30 million per year and contributes about $125 million in economic activity for the city. It employs 2,500 people and brings 2 million visitors to Montreal each year, including numerous attendees from the United States and Europe. Musicians not only adore playing the festival because it is filled with jazz fans and other fine musicians, but they view it as an influential event that can make their careers.

“For so many reasons, it’s the most important jazz festival in the world. If it wasn’t for the Montreal Jazz Festival, I honestly don’t know what I would be doing,” Diana Krall said last year prior to performing her first outdoor show at the festival.

This year, emerging acts like Foxtrott, Bears of Legend and Will Driving West could be among those benefitting from the festival’s cache. For fans, catching the music acts is only one part of enjoying the festival. Being in Montreal in summer, means the opportunity to take in all kinds of activities in many of the city’s most distinct neighbourhoods, as well as the chance to dine at some of Canada’s finest restaurants.

There are numerous deals related to the jazz fest that visitors can take advantage of, including hotel packages at properties close to the event’s headquarters.




Hundreds of free shows on a variety of stages can be seen each year at the Montreal Jazz Fest. In 2014, Hollie Smith wowed audiences with her performance. (Adrian Brijbassi/

Dates: June 26-July 5, 2015
Headliners: Beirut (June 26), The Harry Manx, John Mayall and James Cotton (June 27), The Stanley Clarke Band (June 27), Chris Botti (June 27), Erykah Badu (June 29), Barr Brothers (June 30), Rodrigo y Gabriela (June 30), Madeleine Peyroux (July 2), and Grand Blues Evening in Memory of B.B. King (July 5).
The Jazz Package: Fans can purchase a special package that includes accommodations at participating hotels, tickets to specified shows, breakfast daily, and more. Click here for pricing and more details.
Tickets: Tickets, as well as bookings for your hotel, can be purchased online on the Jazz Festival website. The outdoor shows are free, but performances indoors — including notable shows featuring some of the names mentioned above, as well as performances by Colin James, Foxtrott and others — will cost money for a ticket. Recommends: Along with the big-name musicians, you’ll also enjoy: Dana Fuchs, who starred in “Across the Universe” (June 26, 9 pm and 11 pm, CBC Stage, free);, UK-based blues singer who has earned wide acclaim (July 4, 9 pm, L’Astral, $35 and up); James Vincent McMorrow, Irish singer/songwriter known for his emotive vocals (July 2, 8:30 pm, Metropolis, $40 and up).


Diana Krall Seranades the Montreal Jazz Fest
Good Times Keep Rolling at Jazz Fest
Woodkid Is Golden in Montreal


Adrian is the editor of and Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing, travel photography, and fiction, and has visited more than 55 countries. He is a former editor at the Toronto Star and New York Newsday, and was the social media and advocacy manager for Destination Canada. His articles have frequently appeared in the Huffington Post, Globe & Mail, and other major publications. He has appeared on national and local broadcasts, talking about travel, sports, creative writing and journalism. In 2019, he launched Trippzy, a travel-trivia app developed to educate consumers about destinations around the world. He also edited "Inspired Cooking", a nutrition-focused cookbook featuring 20 of Canada's leading chefs and in support of the cancer-fighting charity, InspireHealth. "Inspired Cooking" was created in honour of Adrian's late wife and co-founder, Julia Pelish, who passed away of brain cancer in 2016.

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