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The festival begins slowly on Wednesday, June 27, with two opening shows before a torrent of 500 shows over two weeks.

The backbone to the festival this year is a theatrical odyssey called Slav, with 16 showings lined up, a handful of which have already sold out.

Slav was created by artist Robert Lepage as a theatrical and musical odyssey through slave music of the 1930s, incorporating work songs, call, railroad, field and prisoner songs while incorporating theatre and visuals.

It is strange that a white singer, Betty Bonifassi, however talented, is the core female vocalist of this performance. I’m hopeful that Black artists will play a prominent role in this production. My intention is to wait for reviews before buying tickets ($60-$90).

The only other opening act on Wednesday is Charlotte Gainsbourg, and maybe my Anglo is showing, but her music doesn’t interest me much. Still a noteworthy opening act.

Thursday, June 28
Thursday then unleashes a stream of continuous programming from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day for two weeks.

Thursday sees big names like Seal, Sam Tucker and Jill Barber, but it’s the less-known acts that interest me. Strap in. Here’s my Thursday shortlist:

7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Wilsen. $26.
Nice melodic folk-pop with wistful female vocals.

7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Christine Tassan et ses invités. Voluntary donation.
Charming female guitarist playing swing, jazz, pop and other styles. Cute and not costly.

7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
The Heavyweights Brass Band. Free.
Because brass bands can be repetitive but are always fun.

8:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Chano Dominguez, Flamenco Sketches Quintet. $51.75.
One of many exceptions to my distaste for jazz, the famed Spanish pianist would be a treat with his legendary flamenco-jazz and backing flamingo dancers reinterpreting Miles Davis classics. Go for the music and dance.

8:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Cécile McLorin Salvant. $45-$60.
Having won a Grammy in 2016 and 2018, comparisons have been drawn between Cécile and legendary female jazz vocalists like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.

8:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Shake Stew. Free.
This is a great free option for the 8 p.m. slot with a large jazz band playing afrobeat and high-intensity, funky jazz that will get people dancing rain or shine.

8:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Banda Magda. Free. (Also at 10 p.m.)
It’s difficult to place this music, but there are touches of samba and Middle Eastern flair in another free show with two sets in one night. Worth catching one of them.

9:00 – 10:00 p.m. (Also at 11 p.m.)
!!! (Chk Chk Chk). Free.
Funky, weird, poppy band from California that will get people dancing.

10:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Guillaume Perret. $34-37.
Very cool modern solo saxophonist playing some funky and psychedelic stuff with a loop pedal and lots of talent. Worth it.

10:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Boogát. Free.
Solid Latino hip hop mixing in reggaetón, salsa and other styles. This will be cool fun.

10:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Papagroove. Free.
Great local talents Papagroove play a brand of afro-funk that will get people dancing.

12:00 – 1:00 a.m.
Israel Proux. Free.
Because I love to sweat it out to Rockabilly as a form of catharsis.

12:00 – 1:00 a.m.
Dunes. Free.
An eclectic mix of local artists blending African grooves and guitar. This should be good.

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