Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Montreal: Folk Festival on the Canal June 12-16

Montreal’s Folk Festival on the Canal will open this year with three stellar indoor concerts in venues near the Lachine Canal and then continue outdoors with a weekend of free music on its banks. The artists at the three indoor concerts would be among the headliners at any major folk festival.

The first concert features the great Roger McGuinn on Wednesday, June 12, 8:00 pm, at the Corona Theatre (2490 Notre Dame St. West).

Roger – originally known as Jim McGuinn – came out of the Chicago folk scene as a teenager in the late-1950s and early-‘60s and gained attention as a sideman for groups like the Limeliters and the Chad Mitchell Trio and for singers like Judy Collins and Bobby Darin. In 1964, he co-founded a band which became The Byrds, one of the most influential American bands of the 1960s. The Byrds were seminal to the birth and development of both folk-rock and country-rock. Roger was the key member of the Byrds through all of their history and permutations.

I saw Roger perform for the first time in 1975 when he was one of the featured artists in Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue and I chatted with him at the after-concert party (I was a guest of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, one of the other artists on the show). Then, in the 1980s, I produced a couple of intimate acoustic concerts with him at the Golem. In 1998, Roger was my guest on the Folk Roots/Folk Branches radio program when he returned to Montreal for a concert with Richie Havens.

Always a great performer, Roger’s concerts are a fascinating and entertaining walk through some of the most significant musical times of the past 50 years.

The second concert will feature Tim O’Brien on Thursday, June 13, 8:00 pm, at the Georges Vanier Cultural Centre (2450 Workman).

Tim, a multi-instrumentalist and fine singer and songwriter began his career in the 1970s and ‘80s as a member of Hot Rize, one of the best bluegrass bands of the day. With Hot Rize – and their offbeat country alter-egos Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers – and as a soloist, Tim has built a substantial body of excellent work encompassing both the folk roots of traditional music and the folk branches of contemporary music.

The third concert features the Travelin’ McCourys on Friday, June 14, 8:00 pm, at the Corona Theatre.

Fronted by brothers Ronnie McCoury on mandolin and Rob McCoury on banjo, and also featuring Jason Carter on fiddle and Alan Bartram on bass, the Travelin McCourys backed bluegrass legend Del McCoury – Ronnie and Rob’s father – for many years developing into one of today’s premiere bluegrass units.

Tickets for the three indoor concerts are available at this link.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 14 and 15, the festival shifts to Ilot Charlevoix (corner of St. Patrick and Charlevoix) for two full days of concerts and other activities – all free of charge – featuring a diverse selection of artists highlighted by Old Man Luedecke on Saturday and The Once on Sunday. The complete schedule is available at this link.

I like to refer to Montreal’s Folk Festival on the Canal as the little folk festival that could. Founded and still run by Matt Large and Rebecca Anderson of Hello Darlin’ Productions and Carl Comeau of Hyperbole Music, the festival has slowly, but surely, developed into an important part of Montreal’s busy festival calendar.

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--Mike Regenstreif

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