World rhythms at Nuits d’Afrique

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

Multi-cultural Montréal is a hotbed of world music year-round, but goes into musical overdrive during the Festival International Nuits d'Afrique. This year’s pandemic-friendly 34th annual edition features 25 indoor concerts from September 27 to October 31.

Health and safety first

The top priority of Nuits d’Afrique is the health and safety of its audiences, performers and staff. All events are being given under the strictest sanitary conditions, in adherence with Québec Public Health directives.

Also in accordance with Public Health directives, venues can accommodate up to 250 live spectators per concert or public event, and the wearing of a face mask indoors is mandatory.

Montréal world music explosion

FINA was founded by legendary Montréal promoter Lamine Touré, who opened the city’s iconic Club Balattou in 1985. Club Balattou also hosted the first edition of FINA in 1987. This year, the festival presents 125 artists performing in six series of concerts in four different venues: Le National, Le Gesù, Le Ministère, as well as Club Balattou.

While concerts by international and national touring acts are currently on hold because of the pandemic, artists from Montréal’s world music scene are at the heart of this special scaled-down edition.

Les Grands Événements series

Ilam unveils the Afro-blues and pop of his new album Néné at the historic Le National theatre in the Village on October 3.

Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra blends Afro-Colombian rhythms, melodies from the Andes and the Balkans, with theatre and circus direction by Ricard Soler Mallol and Patrick Léonard, also at Le National, on October 17.

Montréal griot Zal Sissokho, virtuoso of the 21-stringed kora, headlines Le Gesù on October 24.

The Voix du Monde series

The Congolese Afro-pop of Naxx Bitota showcases Sebene rumba, with long improvised guitar sequences, and flirts with soukous (October 1); Senaya shares her Senegalese and Guadeloupean origins from her upcoming album (October 4); the Beninese traditional rhythms of Carine au Micro blends the freedom of jazz, spirit of soul, power of gospel and authenticity of hip-hop (October 18); and the voice and music of Joyce N’Sana (Congo) has been baptized “Afrobluehop” (October 29). All Voix du Monde concerts are being held at Club Balattou.

Les Révélations series

Oluwa Banjo is faithful to the Bantu tradition at Club Balattou (September 29); Mateo mixes Afro-Colombian rhythms with rock’n’roll, also at Club Balattou (September 30); Dakka Dembélé brings his joyful Mandinkan reggae to Le Ministère (October 9); and kora virtuoso Diely Mori Tounkara headlines Club Balattou (October 21).

Les Étoiles Nuits d’Afrique series

Blaise LaBamba brings Kinshasa’s vibrant nightlife scene to Montréal with Congolese rumba and soukous veteran Kotakoli (October 11); Les Francbâtards celebrate their 10th anniversary (October 25); and JUNO and Félix Award-winning guitarist Wesli returns with a much-anticipated concert of reggae, funk, rock and Kompa (September 27). All these shows are at Club Balattou.

Urban Africa series

Sonido Pesao rap in Spanish with a good dose of electro-funk at Club Balattou (October 13), while Montréal’s flagship hip-hop band Nomadic Massive will raise the roof at its blow-out concert at Le National (October 23).

Syli d’or de la musique du monde

This year’s grand finale of the Syli d’or de la Musique du Monde competition will be held at Club Balattou on October 15, with performances by the three group finalists.

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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