A bit of Montréal magic

by Frédéric Cardin

You had to be in the know. A Facebook post, maybe a couple of others on competing networks, that’s about all a small magical concert got to announce its presence. Or maybe you just had to pass by on Duluth Street East in Montreal to get an idea that it was coming and notice the handwriting on the wood border surrounding Stromboli Square, announcing the show of a band called Kolonien, identified as doing Swedish folk-pop. In short, you had to be lucky, or almost. I was, and what chance!

First of all, let’s introduce the protagonists: Kolonien, a Swedish folk-pop quartet (yes, we said it). A family affair, two brothers, a cousin, and a childhood friend who lived in the same hippie commune near Stockholm (in fact, he and one of the brothers mixed blood as Vikings do in movies when they were kids; so they are now eternally related, really). The organizer: Jacob Edgar, founder and committed head of the Cumbancha label, a favourite of any self-respecting world music lover. Jacob, now a Canadian citizen living in Montreal, wanted his band (their album Till Skogen was just released on his label) to come to the metropolis, even though it had not been planned. Ottawa and Sherbrooke were all that was in the cards. Not Montreal? Jacob wrote to the agent and remedied the situation some two weeks before, knowing that the band’s vibe, on such a beautiful and mellow evening, would curl up like a silk glove on the Montreal audience, especially the one on the Plateau. And oh, how right he was!

The band’s unpretentious repertoire, largely taken from Till Skogen and played with precision and musicality, immediately seduced the multicultural ears of the crowd (a given in this city) that quickly gathered around the small square recently set up as an outdoor stage, animated every Saturday and Sunday evening in the summer (did you know that? I didn’t!). The band members (Anna Möller, new mother, was replaced by the exuberant Thea Åslund… another cousin!) clearly enjoyed the intimate and spontaneous atmosphere of the Montreal street and they showed it. They generously played for over an hour, moving from upbeat, folkish-sounding dances to moments of introspective, even contemplative sweetness, where the four artists performed in rustic, but utterly charming vocal harmonies. They have fallen in love with Montreal it seems. Jacob told me so. No doubt about it, the feeling was mutual!

 

Montreal is thirsty for world music, not only from elsewhere but also from within, thanks to its own numerous artists, and the arrival of Jacob Edgar, an immigrant already well rooted in the spirit of this city, is a good omen. Till Skogen, which came out last April, was in my (stratospheric) pile of albums to listen to and review. Lacking time, I eventually forgot about it. Well, yesterday’s inspiring encounter forces me to come back to it. In a few days, I’ll come back to you with a text on the album in question. Better late than never, as the saying goes. So stay tuned. And above all: take a trip to Duluth East, right next to Mollie, a Portuguese resto-bar, on the remaining Saturday and Sunday evenings of the summer: moments of pure magic await you.

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