I’m still thinking about The Derek Trucks Band last July in Montreal. I went to Toronto and then Montreal early July and saw DTB in both places.
Toronto was primarily to visit some friends who are unable to go to amplified music, and since all the shows at Toronto Jazzfest cost $, I just went to DTB. It was Canada Day weekend, over 7/1, and it was pretty dead. I was told I can’t really judge the town over that weekend. Still, I think it was pretty dull. I had a good time hanging out on my friends’ porch and chilling, though. I had just missed a heat wave and it was very nice weather. The DTB show was in a tent with seats. I had expected Canada to be more dance-friendly. It wasn’t so, at least at this festival. The venue people actually were policing any area in front of seats. I had scoped out the best standing spot, though. It was dead center, behind most of the sitters, right in front of Derek, but not in front of the other few rows of seats in the back. Whenever someone went to stand to the right of me, they got kicked out, but I was fine. I started liking the seat factor because I could see the band so well and I had enough room to move a bit. The show itself was great, but mainly just playing songs. It felt a little stiff, which was probably a reflection on the place.
After a few days, I got on the train and went to Montreal for jazzfest. I’ve been there about 4 or 5 times. I only skipped last year and now I wonder why. I love that city. It was also fun to see it from the perspective of knowing I was going to France in a couple of months. It has a nice French flair, but not quite as much arrogance.
The jazzfest itself is free, but there’s plenty of night shows that you need to buy tickets to. I had my DTB ticket and wasn’t planning on doing any more night shows. I ended up going to a few more after I got there and found the night shows to be the best. As far as the free stuff goes, I saw some good gypsy music and I a good latin band. I saw a great Belgian trio I can’t remember their name. I also saw a couple of great jazz films during the day that had Billy Holiday, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Dizzy, and a bunch of others. They were awesome and well worth the $10 (Canadian).
I saw a phenomenal Han Bennick and Anthony Coleman show. Avant-garde drums and piano. Bennick is quite a comedian in his playing as well. He throws boxes at the audience and is a lot of fun to watch as well as being a stellar musician. That was worth staying up for.
DTB!!!!! Wow was that one of the best DTB shows ever! It was at Le Spectrum and there was a huge floor area with no seats. That’s the way that band should be playing, always. It drives me up the wall that they usually play the theatre with seats circuit. I’d prefer it if they did Roseland or Hammerstein or Fillmore even though I don’t like them as much. The audience was wonderful and added great energy to the show. Very little dancing, except for me and a few others, of course. Still, the band was loving that audience. They actually jammed quite a bit. It was so different from the show a few days ago, yet they played mainly the same stuff. It just felt more loose. They had an awesome time. Kofi even gave the audience a big round of applause. They kept saying they’d be back to Montreal. I hope it’s at a time when I can run up there to catch it.
I also saw Toumani Diabate Symmetric Orchestra at the same venue the next night. That was amazing. He spoke to the audience in French, but he spoke slowly, so I could kind of understand what he was saying. He called the band a “pan-african” band as each member was from a different country. They all wore the traditional dress from their country. Toumani played Koru, a string instrument that looks kind of like an oud, from Mali. He made it himself, from a melon and other stuff. His brother played a home-made vibraphone-looking thing. There was an incredible djembe player and a sabar player from Senegal. There was a drum kit and electric guitar as well. There was another guitar-looking African instrument and keyboards and a sax. There were a couple of different singers from time to time as well. I may not be remembering the band exactly, but I was very impressed and loved it. They also skipped the seats on the dance floor that night and the crowd at Le Spectrum was really into it.
I also ended up being able to get a ticket to Robert Glasper Trio late night at a wonderful tiny theatre. That was excellent and the space was perfect. The guy who sold me the ticket was from the Midwest and we talked a lot about Tonic and Vision Fest. He mentioned Victoriaville is the Vision Fest of Canada. I’m going to have to make it up there sometime.