Canal folk festival launches city’s big summer party

Montreal’s Matt Large continues to fight for the city’s own particular folk tradition with the ‘Folk Fest sur le Canal’.

Eleven years after a few hundred fans came out for Hello Darlin’s first canal-side folk festival, thousands of people from all over the island are now coming out to spend sunny days in St. Henri’s canal-side park where they can still get to hear some of the best folk, roots and bluegrass music in the nation. Produced by Montreal’s Matt Large and Hello Darlin’Productions, Montreal’s Folk Fest sur le Canal continues to draw some of the biggest names in the nation’s folk scene – including Montreal’s own Rob Lutes, Tom Rush and Roger McGuinn — as well as established local musicians who are always happy to put on a show for the hometown crowd.

“It’s still a big family event, and the kids are always a big part of the festival’s success,” said Montreal’s Matt Large as he described the festival’s early days when everything was possible as long as it didn’t rain.

During an interview that took place in St. Henri’s Bar De Courcelle – the festival’s unofficial club house — Large told The Suburban that the festival took on a life of its own after both he and Rebecca Anderson – his wife – made their decision to “...concentrate on the good stuff” that continues to define both the music and their summer festival by the canal.

“The Lhassa de Sela Youth stage is now a big piece of the festival,” said Large. “It provides a stage for young musicians, dancers and other artists, as well as their chance to perform in a semi-professional environment.”

The canal-side ‘Folk Fest’ also sets the stage for a lot of adult fun that includes a square dance along with some ‘Cajun two-step’ dancing that always draws a crowd. Aside from all the food trucks, the crafts fair and lots of sweet summer fun in the park, Large told The Suburban that the music, as ever, lies at the heart of the festival’s success.

Large said that he is looking forward to Saturday night’s ‘Plants and Animals’ concert. As a leading figure in the Canadian music scene, Montreal’s Rob Lutes will be playing late Sunday afternoon just before the Mandolin and Oranges band begins to work up some real ‘cry to heaven’ music that’s just in time for Sunday’s setting sun.

Following a decade’s worth of experience in the American folk tradition, Large said that he’s pleased to see how the music’s deep roots are already beginning to work their way into the city’s own particular cultural traditions.

Folk Festival on the Canal continues to June 17, 2018. For schedule and directions : montrealfolkfest.com

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