Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 8, No. 3, 2009
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Robert Rotondo
Dan Stefik
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Diane Gordon
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Contributors
  Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somverville
David Solway
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward



© Denis Beaumont

For the occasion of Longueuil’s 8th International Percussion Festival (LIPF), more than 100,000 people converged in Old Longueuil, doubling last year’s tally. Spend a couple of hours on site, and it doesn’t take long to figure out why this 4-day event is getting bigger and better every year. First and foremost among these reasons is France Cadieux, the expert organizer of the festival, who combines vision, empathy and an ability to assemble a highly competent, energetic team dedicated to skillfully programming and pu© Denis Beaumonttting in place what I call ‘the complete festival,’ that combines four days of concerts and non-stop cultural events – and all of it for FREE.

What distinguishes the Longueuil festival from the many that take place in Quebec during the summer is its emphasis on participation.

Starting with the kids, there are planned activities all day long, including supervised, organized games and athletic competitions, painting classes, music instruction and everyone’s favourite, the 20-foot slide that has been constructed beneath the majestic, leafy cupola of St. Mark Park. For everyone else, there’s instruction in samba, belly dancing, conga playing with Mario Roy (one of the South Shore’s best percussionists). There are daily costume parades which© Denis Beaumont encourage massive local participation. During the last day of the festival, the participants get to put on a talent show.

The main street that has been shut down to traffic features clowns, acrobats, magic shows and the occasional watering hole for those looking to slake their thirst. Three music stages showcase concerts from mid-afternoon until late at night. The sum of which translates into there’s something for everyone, and all of it taking place in a provincial atmosphere where the living is easy along the hip-hopping main street (pedestrians only), rue St- Charles, (6 city blocks worth) which includes a cornucopia of restaurants offering the equivalent of world-music for a menu.

It’s called a percussion festival but in point of fact it’s much closer to a celebration of world culture through music and dance. Last year, the LIPF highlighted what was © Denis Beaumontbest from Brazil; this year, the island countries of Guadeloupe and Martinique provided the sound and substance. If traveling to any one of these countries is either financially prohibitive or unrealizable due to time constraints, the exotic market place that was set up in St. Mark Park was the next best thing to being in the heart of the Caribbean: improvised stalls featured all sorts of island inspired goods, such as colourful native dresses and shawls, jewellery, masks, percussion instruments, beautiful wood statuary large and small, and of course mouth watering food.

But beyond any of the scheduled events, the most endearing aspect of the Longueuil Percussion Festival is its laid-back pace and setting comprised of century old trees, the local architecture, and last but not least, the relentless hospitality offered by the people of Longueuil. For four days, people of different colour, ethnicity © Denis Beaumontand culture fell into a groove that could be summed up in one word: tolerance, made manifest by acts of kindness a thousand gestures deep.

The musical highlights that took place on the principal stage were too numerous to mention, only to say that festival spokesman Luc Mervil and harmony providing sidekick Pierre Mervil delivered a great set © Denis Beaumontof butt-engaging song. Colectivo found a way to be creative inside music that in lesser hands might have worn thin. Caribbean Report raised their game a notch or two from last year while K’Koutik, with guitar, bass, two congas and superb vocals, was the perfect conclusion to four days of ‘get up and stand up’ that not even the least capable dancer could refuse.

At a smaller, more intimate stage was the no less impressive electro-funk group Papa Groove that completely wowed a crowd that had tripled by concert’s end, thanks to highly inventive horn arrangemen© Denis Beaumontts, beautifully dissonant harmonies and catchy time signatures. Fronted by a contingent of saxophones and awesomely dynamic, charismatic lead singer Sebastien Francisque, the latter combined rock-star swagger with Michael Jackson contempt for gravity in a performance that was as incandescent and pagan as a twilight of the idols’ sunset. Mark my words, this group is going places.

Next year, Spain will be dropping anchor in Port Longueuil. From the high sierras of Andalucia, I can already hear the plaintive sounds of flamenco -- both the guitar and foot work -- on a summer breeze, and at ground level, the tantalizing aroma of scrumptious paella simmering over a flame. Hasta el año proximo.




If you have already decided that Old Longueuil is where you want to spend more time, don’t forget the free summer concerts that take place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in St. Mark Park (2010 schedule).

2010 June 23, Fête Nationale (St-Jean-Baptiste Day) = Dan Bigras & Marina Orsini (FREE outdoor concert St. Charles Street, City Hall)

And don't forget the FREE 2010 August 5th Longueuil Symphony with Marc Hervieux, at Parc de la Cité (St. Hubert), 6201 Davis Blvd., at 7.30.


Report filed by Robert J. Lewis
Photo Credits: © Denis Beaumont

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