If there’s a distinct lack of français in Make Music Vancouver, the same can’t be said about the Festival d’Été Francophone de Vancouver. For its 25th year, the festival has scored easily one of the most exciting new artists out of Montreal, singer-songwriter Philippe Brach.
“His music style is very, very, very unique,” said Pierre Rivard in a call to the Straight, noting that the Montreal sound that brought us Arcade Fire also has an overlooked francophone side. “It’s going to be his first concert outside of Quebec, really. Bringing artists that have never been here before is a very important criteria for us.” Whistler resident Aude Ray opens when Brach kicks off the first night of the festival on Thursday (June 19) at the TV5-UNIS Stage (1551 West 7th Avenue).
On Saturday (June 21), another insurgent Montrealer, the “alternative soulman” Alexandre Désilets, headlines the outdoor Air Canada Stage (West 7th Avenue between Granville and Fir streets), joined by Paris-based Caribbean party-starters La Compagnie Créole.
For the festival’s residency program, now three years old, Rivard has paired Vancouver’s relentlessly inventive clarinetist François Houle with Ivory Coast–born guitarist Aboulaye Koné. The music curator clearly isn’t kidding when he talks about an “openness in the artistic vision that has allowed us to be a lot more experimental and a lot more eclectic in our choice of artists”. Their joint efforts can be heard for free next Wednesday (June 25) on the Radio-Canada Stage (700 Hamilton Street) and again next Thursday (June 26) in front of the Roundhouse (181 Roundhouse Mews). “The result has been outstanding every year,” said Rivard. “We’re looking at the crème de la crème, I would say.”