Must-See Montreal Events in September 2018

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Here are my choice Montreal arts and culture highlights for September 2018:


Many top touring acts are headlining various Montreal concert venues this month. Highlights include hip hop superstar Drake (Sept. 4 and 5), Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Chicago (Sept. 13) and pop icon Paul McCartney (Sept. 20) – who launches his 22-date “Freshen Up” world tour in Quebec City on Sept. 17 – all at the Bell Centre.

Other legends headed to Montreal this month include Interpol (Sept. 12 at the Olympia), 77-year-old activist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Joan Baez (Sept. 17 at the Maison Symphonique), Chris de Burgh (Sept. 24 and 25 at Theatre St-Denis) and 1980s Brit-pop icons Simple Minds (Sept. 28 at MTELUS). The last time Simple Minds headlined MTELUS (then called Metropolis), they put on an outstanding show.

The same night Simple Minds are in town, neo-soul man Leon Bridges headlines Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier (Sept. 28).

But the craziest night for music lovers will be Sept. 18 when the The Gipsy Kings headline the Maison Symphonique, Hozier performs at the Olympia, the great Steve Earle & The Dukes take over MTELUS, and MC50 – the supergroup led by MC5 founding guitarist Wayne Kramer who will be joined by Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, King’s X singer/bassist Dug Pinnick, Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty and Zen Guerrilla frontman Marcus Durant, on the “Kick Out the Jams: The 50th Anniversary Tour” – will raise the roof at the Corona Theatre.

Meanwhile, the Festival de Jazz de Montréal year-round series presents reggae scion Ziggy Marley at MTELUS on Sept 19, cross-promoting his seventh studio album, Rebellion Rises, on his Rebellion Rises 2018 Tour. The last time Ziggy was in Montreal, we talked about the business of reggae, which isn’t as popular as it used to be.

Ziggy Marley headlines MTELUS

Ziggy Marley headlines MTELUS

“Most of the work has already been done by people like my father, Burning Spear and Dennis Brown,” Ziggy told me. “The establishment of the music has been completed. I think what we have today doesn’t take away from its roots, but keeps it fresh. I also think reggae music does not get radio airplay or promotion as we would like. But we keep making the music so the message will be there for eternity”

As for seeing his father’s iconic face looking back at him on T-shirts around the world, Ziggy said, “It’s nothing. My father is my father. Him being on a T-shirt doesn’t really impact me. I don’t think about it.”

You can be sure Ziggy and his band will play a couple of his father’s songs at his Montreal concert.

Another show that caught my eye is British singer and X Factor finalist Katie Markham who stars in the world’s top Adele tribute, Someone like you – The Adele Songbook, which headlines Théâtre Maisonneuve on Sept. 21. Markham was handpicked by Adele herself, they built this show around Markham who performed with Adele on the BBC before launching this UK touring show.

The 17th annual POP Montreal International Music Festival runs Sept. 26 to 30 at various venues. Highlights includes concerts by The Proclaimers (Sept. 26 at the Corona Theatre), Little Burgundy’s very own Nate Husser (Sept. 27  at the Fairmount Theatre), The Charlatans UK (Sept. 28 at the Fairmount Theatre), and the legendary 80-year-old Queen of Rockabilly Wanda Jackson (Sept. 29 at the Fairmount Theatre).

40009863_1817311294990011_5946929151037407232_nLocal shows of note:  The MTL vs Racisme free three-hour outdoor concert at Parc NDG (corner of Sherbrooke and Girouard) on Sept. 15 to protest racism and discrimination. The concert features some 18 acts including Malika Tirolien, AIZA, Paul Cargnello, Jah Cutta, The STOMP All-Stars, Osmosis Unlimited and Ms.Holmes. Showtime is 5 pm.

A who’s who of Montreal’s RnB community will pay tribute to the late legendary bass player Orson Clarke at the annual We Got The Funk : Orson Clarke Memorial Jam Nite 2018 on Sept. 22 at Rosewood in Old Montreal.

And NDG-CDN’s 13th annual Hip Hop You Don’t Stop 2018 festival runs Sept. 19 to 23 and “reunites rap, graffiiti, muralism, DJing, beatmaking, breakdance, streetdances, barbers, young entrepreneurs, photographers, community workers, cooks, and a diversity of humans passionate about creation and sharing.” Click here for details, and check out the video below recapping their 2017 edition.


The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal kicks off their 85th season with two of its signature works: Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Ravel’s Boléro, at the Maison Symphonique on Sept. 6 and 8.  The OSM will be conducted by Grammy-winning Maestro Kent Nagano, and will be joined by tenor Owen McCausland and baritone Geoffroy Salvas.

Anthony Roth Costanzo Sings Handel and Glass at the Maison Symphonique

Anthony Roth Costanzo Sings Handel and Glass at the Maison Symphonique

The McGill Chamber Orchestra launches its 79th season with Dompierre at the Movies, showcasing  the music of world-renowned film composer François Dompierre who composed music for The Decline of the American Empire, Jesus of Montreal and many other films. Dompierre’s evocative scores dominated Quebec cinema in the 1980s. Dompierre will animate this concert, Sept. 22 at the gorgeous Bourgie Hall downtown.

Les Violons du Roy launch their 35th season with a pair of very promising concerts: their Soiree Vivaldi at Bourgie Hall on Sept. 21 revisits the works of Antonio Vivaldi with mezzo-soprano Maude Brunet; and celebrated out American countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo headlines the much-anticipated Anthony Roth Costanzo Sings Handel and Glass concert at the Maison Symphonique on Sept. 29.

The Opéra de Montréal opens its 39th season with Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi. The cast brings together exceptional Canadian singers and stars of the opera world in a work that explores such highly topical subjects as the abuse of power and a man’s complete control over a young woman’s fate. Last presented at the Opéra de Montréal in 2010, the three-act opera will be presented at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier on Sept. 15-18-20 and 22 at 7:30 pm nightly.

The Opéra de Montréal will preview Rigoletto with its popular Parlons opéra / Let’s talk opera – Rigoletto hosted by musicologist Pierre Vachon (in English) at Victoria Hall in Westmount on Sunday, Sept. 9 at 10:30 am; and at the Grande bibliothèque (in French) that same Sunday, Sept. 9 at 2 pm. Let’s Talk Opera! will feature guest singers and explore plot, music, voices, cultural context, the composer – in short, everything you ever wanted to know about Rigoletto! Free admission, but make reservations here.


Visitors can reflect on the ‘decolonization of the colonial gaze’ and perceptions of identity, aesthetics and culture through two exhibitions presented side-by-side in a continuous layout at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-Face Picasso, Past and Present and Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Head of a Bearded Man, 1938 (?), oil on canvas. Musée national Picasso-Paris, gift in lieu Pablo Picasso, 1979. © Estate of Picasso / SODRAC (2018). Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Head of a Bearded Man, 1938 (?), oil on canvas. Musée national Picasso-Paris, gift in lieu Pablo Picasso, 1979. © Estate of Picasso / SODRAC (2018). Photo ©
RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

The Pablo Picasso exhibition explores changing views of the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas from the end of the 19th century to the present day via the life and work of Picasso (1881-1973). Throughout the show, works by contemporary artists of African descent provide a counterpoint. The exhibition features 300 works and documents, including some 100 works by Picasso (30 of them being exhibited in Canada for the first time) – paintings, sculptures, ceramics and works on paper.

In a complementary layout, the Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art exhibition (included in the entrance fee) challenges preconceived notions of Blackness in Canada through the work of 11 contemporary artists: Sandra Brewster, Sylvia D. Hamilton, Chantal Gibson, Bushra Junaid, Charmaine Lurch, Esmaa Mohamoud, Michèle Pearson Clarke and Gordon Shadrach, as well as Montrealers Eddy Firmin a.k.a. Ano, Manuel Mathieu and Shanna Strauss. The artists express a multitude of viewpoints on the place of Canadians of African descent.

Both exhibitions continue at the MMFA until Sept. 16.

Since 1955, the World Press Photo Foundation has recognized the world’s best photographers and producers in its annual World Press Photo Contest that drew 73,044 submitted images from 4,548 photographers from 125 countries for their 2018 edition. A group of internationally recognized professionals in the fields of photojournalism and documentary photography convened in Amsterdam to judge all entries. The prize-winning photographs and the best of the rest are assembled into an exhibition that travels to 100 locations in 45 countries, including at World Press Photo Montréal which runs at Bonsecours Market until Sept. 30. The Montreal stop also displays Alexandre Champagne’s photographs of the aftermath of the January 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting.


The Compagnie Jean Duceppe kicks off their 2018-2019 season with the French-language adaptation of the Tony Award-winning play Oslo which recounts the real-life back-channel negotiations that gave the world the 1990s Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The play runs at Duceppe from Sept. 5 to Oct. 13.

Blue-TrialLuc Plamondon and Richard Cocciante’s blockbuster musical Notre Dame de Paris – with 4,000 performances in 20 countries in nine different languages for more than 10 million people – is based on Victor Hugo’s eponymous novel (The Hunchback of Notre Dame in English). It returns to Theatre St-Denis from Sept. 5 to 30, fully 20 years after its Quebec premiere.

Over at the Dawson Theatre, the public is welcome to attend the production of Blue Stockings starring the second-year students of the Dawson Professional Theatre Program, from Sept. 19 to 22. Written by Jessica Swale, this British play takes an inspiring and comical look at early feminism in the 1890s at Cambridge University where a group of brave women fight for the right to earn a university degree. Admission is Pay-What-You-Can.

Finally, the Montreal School of Performing Arts holds free trial acting workshops on Sept. 8. Click here for more info.


Montreal’s top dance series Danse Danse launches their 2018-2019 season with the much-anticipated production of  South African choreographer Dada Masilo bold reinterpretation of yet another classic ballet, Giselle. The production runs at Théâtre Maisonneuve from Sept. 25 to 29 at 8 pm nightly.


The 17th annual POP Montreal International Music Festival is screening two films of note, director Kevin Kerslake’s documentary Bad Reputation which follows the trajectory of trailblazing rock star and feminist icon Joan Jett, founder of the all-female rock band The Runaways and frontwoman of Joan Jett and the Black Hearts. The film also features Jett’s first-hand accounts of what it was like to pick up the guitar at a time when girls weren’t supposed to, not giving a damn, and surviving all that came with it. Bad Reputation screens at Cinéma Moderne on Sept. 26.

Also screening at POP Montreal is the Sept. 27 premiere of the gay “erotic” film The Housesitter starring up-and-coming porn stars Valentin Braun (Germany) and River Wilson (Canada) with live piano accompaniment by Montreal musician (and the film’s co-producer) Socalled and guests at Cinema L’Amour on the Main. A first-time visit to the cinema alone is worth the price of admission!

Meanwhile, the 14th annual Montreal Black Film Festival runs from Sept. 25 to 30. I am member of this year’s film jury, and the festival will announce this edition’s programming on Sept. 5 at 2 pm live at this link.

The Cinema du Parc midnight-movie series continues in September with screenings of George Romero’s cult classic 1968 zombie flick Night of the Living Dead as well as The Hunger starring David Bowie, Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve.


Renowned Montreal writers H. Nigel Thomas, Horace Goddard and Maguy Métellus co-host Lectures Logos Readings, the monthly bilingual reading series of poetry, fiction and spoken word at the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A. Hall at 2741 Notre Dame St. W.) in Little Burgundy, September 10 from 7 to 9 pm. The guest readers this month are Janet Yensen, N Oji Mzilikazi, Leila Marshy, Katharine Beeman, Martine Fidèle and Josiane Ménard, followed by an open mic. The event is free, but a small donation is welcome.

The Dawson Peace Centre presents acclaimed author Robyn Maynard & Policing Black Lives on Sept 14 at 10 am at Dawson College.  Maynard will “address the vital themes in her latest book Policing Black Lives such as deeply embedded institutional racism, the false narrative of the benevolent Canadian state, historical and continued culture of anti-blackness in Canada and violence against women and LGBTQ+ POC.”


The Golden Square Mile Tourism Development Society (Golden Montreal) presents its second annual Golden Montreal Restaurant Week where restaurants in the historic downtown “Golden Square Mile” district offer brunch, lunch and dinner with a “prix fixe” from Sept. 17 to 23.

Golden Montreal presents its second annual Golden Montreal Restaurant Week

Golden Montreal presents its second annual Restaurant Week

Participating restaurants include Le Beaux-Arts Restaurant (contemporary cuisine), Colette Grand Café (modern French cuisine), Iberica Restaurant (Spanish cuisine), Gustave Restaurant (French Mediterranean cuisine), Restaurant XVI XVI (contemporary cuisine), SLK RD Restaurant (flavours of the world).

Click here for participating restaurants, menus and prices.


The Official RuPaul’s Drag Race World Tour returns to Montreal with the all-new 2018 RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq The World show hosted by Bob The Drag Queen and co-starring Season 10 finalists Aquaria, Asia O’Hara, Eureka and Kameron Michaels, along with fan favorites Kim Chi, Valentina and Violet Chachki, Sept. 7 at the Olympia.


Also, don’t miss the Oh La! La! Special Drag Queen Cabaret in support of Montreal AIDS hospice Maison du Parc, Sept. 13 at Cabaret Mado. The show stars Montreal drag legend Manny, Tracy Trash, Kelly Torielli, Marla Deer, Kitana Sweet and Gisele Lullaby. The $50 ticket includes a drink and a charitable donation receipt for $25.

That same evening, Sept. 13 from 5 to 7 pm, the Pointe-a-Calliere museum’s latest instalment of their ADN MTL Désert urbain will be hosted by Ubisoft Montréal, partner of the museum’s excellent Queens of Egypt exhibition (which continues to Nov. 4). The benefit will be held on the Ubisoft rooftop terrasse. The $45 ticket includes food, booze and door prizes, plus a charitable donation receipt for $25.

38084945_1923402941050230_7721064743833698304_nThe 2018 edition of Ladyfest – showcasing the hilarious and talented female comedians of Montreal – runs Sept. 3 to 9 in various locations. Click here for the complete line-up.

Montreal comedy legend Joey Elias headlines the seventh annual edition of Joey Elias and the Comedy All-Stars: An Evening of Hilarity in Support of On Our Own (O3) on Sept. 26 at Club Soda. Hosted by local comedian Lawrence Corber, this 7th edition will raise money to support for On Our Own (O3), the Montreal-based organization that provides affordable transitional housing and critical life skills for young, underserved families to help them live independently in our community. Joey has booked some of Montreal’s brightest comedy all-stars for the occasion, including Wassim El-Mounzer, Sarah Quin and Pantelis. Showtime is 7 pm.

Spend an Evening With Tommy Schnurmacher

Spend an Evening With Tommy Schnurmacher

I attended opening night of Cavalia’s acclaimed show Odysseo under the world’s largest big-top tent on St-Catherine Street near the Jacques Cartier bridge. The show has been extended to Sept. 30. I liked this show a lot, especially the jaw-dropping multi-media set. Blending equestrian arts with imaginative stagecraft, acrobatic feats and cutting-edge technical effects, this multi-million dollar extravaganza truly expands the concept of the theatrical experience.

A choice summertime destination, the Jardins Gamelin returns to Place Émilie-Gamelin at the western end of the Gay Village, just outside the Berri-UQAM metro station, to September 30.  Les Jardins Gamelin is essentially an oversize patio (or “terrasse” as locals call them). The site opens daily at 7 am and features bar services at its snack bar, which opens weekdays from 11 am to 11 pm and from 9 am to 11 pm on weekends. Click here to check out the daily cultural programming, including renowned DJs and live performances. Free admission.

And last but not least, Spend an Evening With Tommy Schnurmacher, the Montreal media legend who will reveal what really went on behind the scenes, from his days as a showbiz gossip columnist for The Montreal Gazette, to his more than 20 years on CJAD Radio. The evening will take place at the Gelber Conference Centre on Sept. 5 from 7 to 9 pm.

About Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett self-syndicated his national column Three Dollar Bill in over half of Canada’s alt-weeklies for 15 years, has been banned in Winnipeg, investigated by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary over charges TDB was “pornographic”, gotten death threats, outed politicians like former Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair, been vilified in the pages of Jamaica’s national newspaper The Gleaner for criticizing anti-gay dancehall star Sizzla (who would go on to write the 2005 hit song “Nah Apologize” about Burnett and UK gay activist Peter Tatchell), pissed off BB King, crossed swords with Mordecai Richler, been screamed at backstage by Cyndi Lauper and got the last-ever sit-down interview with James Brown. Burnett was Editor-at-Large of HOUR until the Montreal alt-weekly folded in April 2011, is Editor-at-Large of The Charlebois Post (Canada), is a columnist and writer for both Fugues and Xtra, writes the POP TART blog for The Montreal Gazette, and is the pop culture pundit on The Barry Morgan Show every Friday from 8:30 – 9 pm on Montreal’s CJAD 800 AM Radio. Burnett was named one of Alberta-based Outlooks magazine’s Canadian Heroes of the Year in 2009, famed porn director Flash Conway dubbed Burnett “Canada’s bad boy syndicated gay columnist” and The Montreal Buzz says, “As Michael Musto is to New York City, Richard Burnett is to Montréal.”

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