2008 INTERNATIONAL FESTIBLUES
Report and Photos by Marcel Dubois
ancient Greece it was once said: “Give them bread and
games.” The Quebec variation would include – and
‘mucho music,’ since most of the many festivals
that punctuate Quebec’s short summers revolve around music.
you’ve ever attended or seen footage of the Newport Jazz
festival, you’ll know that there’s nothing like
the great outdoors for a concert: cool grass under the feet
(or rolled up into a joint), an easy ocean breeze musing at
the back of the neck; you’re laid back in a posture-wrecking
lawn chair, the musicians are doing what they love to do –
and as far as you’re concerned, nothing could be finer.
were the vibes for Montreal’s International
Festiblues festival that ran from August 7 to
10th in the very green and majestic Ahuntsic Park that is served
by the Metro and is the focal point for many restaurants and
bars. The park features benches in front of the main stage,
shaded picnic areas, as well as monitors and activities for
children. And for the duration of the festival, the Ahuntsic
Community Library across the streets lends its concert hall
for four blues shows per day.
surprise that Festiblues is getting bigger and better and better
attended with each passing year since the city’s most
celebrated festivals, Montreal Jazz Festival, Les Francofolies
and Nuits d’Afrique all take place in the downtown area
where instead of natural turf and tall trees you have skyscrapers
and wind tunnels.
year, despite rains that spared no one, downpours were brief
and not one show was cancelled. Among the musical highlights
were Vic Vogel’s Big Band and invited guest, John McGale.
Harp player Rick L. Blues, who makes a point of not skipping
breakfast, put on show that few will forget, as did local legend
Michel Pagliaro. And don’t let anyone ever tell you that
don’t have or can’t play the blues – after
all, they have to deal with men. Anik Jean, Pascale Picard and
Lise Hanick made their 12-bar sound like it had been born in
the DNA of heart break, hard times and a double dose of bad
allowing the festival programmers their well deserved due, Papa
Groove set the opening night on fire with a unique blend of
Afro-beat, hip-hop and blues-rooted funkadelic.
the first time in its 10 year history, Festiblues featured a
France- sponsored (double juried) competition for up and coming
blues artists. This year’s winner were Slim Woods who
will be appearing in November in Blues Sur Seine Festival, and
Power Stroke Blues Band that won a much coveted recording contract.
Now that the festival is drawing fans from outside of the province
as well as south of the border, much needed support is now coming
in from local, regional, provincial and federal governments.
Thanks to their support, Festiblues is almost free, costing
a token $5.00/day.
you haven’t already figured it out, Festiblues International
of Montreal has earned its place among the big music happenings
that take place every summer in Quebec. Best said by legend
Sonny Boy Williamson who was said to be spitting blood on stage
during his last aborted tour: “I love the blues cause
I’ve got the blues and there ain’t no cure for the
blues but singing the blues.” And for that memorable 4-day
result, kudos go to Festiblues planners that "can't do
it all by myself" without the many volunteers that lent
a helping hand.