Folkfest on the canal: John McEuen, Sharon and Bram, Joel Plaskett

John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on June 15. Photo: Courtesy Folk Fest sur le CanalJohn McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on June 15. Photo: Courtesy Folk Fest sur le Canal

We came of age with folk music, and still love what it has to offer – lyrics about life, love, loss, history and her story, mystery and adventure, with melodies that mean something, can be hummable, and often memorable.

June 15 to 19 is the time Montrealers can not only relive that era but also get to hear all the budding talents that are giving the form new shape, at the Ninth Annual Folk Fest sur le canal.

I’ve gone a few times, to the big-ticket shows in the evening, and to spend an afternoon checking out the cavalcade of new voices on the outdoor stages next to the Lachine Canal, corner Pitt and St. Patrick, and it’s been nothing less than a thrill.

A major surprise is that Sharon and Bram are booked for a Saturday afternoon performance and Joel Plaskett for the evening slate, while Shtreiml, and Socalled and Yves Lambert are booked for Sunday night, all free at the outdoor stage, Esplanade du Centenaire, beside the Lachine Canal!

The big-name opening act and full concert will be with John McEuen, who became known as a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He plays banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and piano and is a respected studio musician in Nashville and Los Angeles.

McEuen is featured Wednesday at 7:30 pm at the intimate Georges-Vanier Cultural Centre, 2450 Workman, and tickets cost $40. While you’re there check out an exhibition of paintings and drawings by G. Scott MacLeod titled The Lachine Canal: Past and Present. Après-show action with AUG is at Bar de Courcelle, 4685 Notre Dame. W.

The Thursday night focus is on New Talent, a concert titled The Future is Bright, presenting Stefanie Parnell, Alexander Brown, and Tamara Weber-Fillion. It’s on at 7:30 at the Maison de la culture Marie-Uguay, 6052 Monk Blvd., and tickets cost $20. The after-hours show at Bar de Courcelle features The Holds.

Friday’s feature concert is A Long, Strange Trip: The Songs of the Grateful Dead, with one tune each from an array of artists: Joe Grass, Andre Barr, Brad Barr, Steve Hill, Katie Moore, L’il Andy, Peter Mike, Colin Perry, and Notre Dame de Grass. That’s on at 8:30 pm, Théâtre Paradoxe, 5959 Monk Blvd. and tickets cost $35. Later, DJ Haggard Bastard spins at Bar de Courcelle.

The free outdoor fun begins Friday afternoon at the Esplanade du Centenaire, corner St. Patrick and Pitt, where there are three stages: the Lhasa de Sela Youth Stage for younger performers, Montel and Emerging Artists Stage, and the Main Stage for beter known groups. You can swing your partner round and round with Old Time Square Dancing, 9 pm, at the Lhasa Tent.

It continues Saturday starting at 2 pm, with an array of youth performers, local and emerging artists and such better known performers as Sharon and Bram, Notre Dame de Grass, and Joel Plaskett, culminating at 9 with a musical after party.

Sunday’s music kicks off at 2 pm at three stages, with the klezmer group Shtreiml at 2 pm on the main stage the first of seven acts that end with a joint performance by Socalled (Josh Dolgin) and Yves Lambert. The after hours show at Bar de Courcelle presents Gern f. and the Left Wingers with Ryan Shearing.

For the full lineup click on

A $125 all-access pass covers all-indoor shows, reserved space in the outdoor VIP area, 5 beverages, snacks, a chair and other perks. The $85 pass offers the same perks, but access to only one indoor show. A $65 weekend pass offers the same perks, but no indoor tickets. A $35 pass offers a reserved spot on a day of your choice, 2 drinks, a chair in the shade, and other perks.

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