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Montreal Jazzfest wrap up review and thoughts

July 8, 2012

It’s over… well technically there is still the Battle of the Bands this afternoon but unless you’re 90 and want something familiar, that doesn’t count.

Here’s something I love about the fest:  two weeks ago I didn’t know who Tord Gustavson was, now I’ve seen him three times.   Last night he was with Solveig Slettahjell, a singer who can only be described as “haunting”.  

I had to leave that early as I was taking my mom to see the Free Flamenco trio in the new Maison Symphonique.  Truthfully, I only went as an opportunity to see the new room. 

You can still smell the fresh wood, and the fresh white seats are still comfortable even at the end of the show.  I can only imagine how filthy the place is going to get in the winter… slushy February is gonna be nasty in that place.  Classic Montreal architecture, looks really impressive the first time you walk in but gets functionally less great as time goes on.  The sound is very boomy, lots of reverb.  Probably very good for symphonies but for jazz it sounds awful.  Unfortunately I’m not surprised.

I wanted to pass by the big closing party so I watched about 45 minutes of Chromeo.  Their electro-funk was lots of fun, however when you compare them to last year’s B52s or even last Tuesday’s Escort they fall a little short.  The billions of people in the crowd loved them so what do I know?  Like I said, I had lots of fun.

My 2012 jazzfest ended with one last Jazz Dans La Nuit in the Gesu which I found very fitting.  Seeing Lorraine Desmarais mad it feel like a combination of Jazz D’ici, Jazz Beat and Jazz Dans La Nuit.  She’s great, her trio is awesome and the songs from the new album are very satisfying. 

Here’s some random thoughts and observations from this year’s fest:

I can normally tell which metal bands are popular with the kids by seeing which t-shirts are most prominent.  This year’s most popular t’s were Ghostbusters and superhero shirts from jackofalltrades.

When I see someone I dont know in a Motorhead shirt, they no longer give me the metalhead nod of acknowledgement.

20 years later, no matter how crowded the fest is, no one is ever sitting in my “spot” when I get there.

At first I was concerned about writing this blog rather than doing my regular on-air updates but truthfully, I really prefered this in the end.  Being able to get enough sleep and arrive when I wanted was a very nice luxury.  When I do radio hits I’m always being reminded to mainstream my picks which is the exact opposite reason  of why I got into radio in the first place.  I know less people are reading this but you are truly paying attention to what I’m writing rather than just having it on in the background.  If I can turn one person on to some hip music then I’ve done my job. 

Finally, if this happens to be my last jazzfest as a Montrealer (insert ironic foreshadowing music here) then I’m really glad I documented it.  Thanks to all the awesome press staff for putting up with my daily requests.

I truly enjoyed writing this blog so I’m going to keep it going – not nearly as often as I did during the fest but I will randomly add entries.  I’m also thinking of moving the metal file here in the future (insert ironic foreshadowing music here) so follow this thing and like my facebook page.

So long suckers!



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  1. Mike, I did miss your CJAD updates, but did enjoy reading this blog. Please do keep it going, post something every now and then.

  2. If the prophecy of you departing my fair Ville to be with your much prettier half in Van City is indeed true than I have to insist to my Metal Guru to continue to blog just to keep his friends and yes…his fans up to date on all things Babins. Really nice work on the Jazz fest front I enjoyed every word.

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