12 FREE Concerts At Montreal's International Jazz Festival You Cannot Miss

It's the most wonderful time of the year in Montreal! It's beautiful outside, minus the storm we had yesterday, that was intense, huh? The streets are alive again! 

Festival season is on. I don't know about you but I'm still riding the high from the past week(s) with F1, MURAL and Francos Des Montreal all happening simultaneously. 

I am enjoying laying low and thinking about what's to come. 

READ ALSO: Montreal Is Hosting A Huge "Japanese Street Food" Festival

We're 9 short days away from the kick-off of Montreal's International Jazz Festival, and the 2018 edition of the Montreal classic is going be huge! 

This is by far my favourite Place Des Arts festival out of the year, with so many international artists and big names it just speaks to me as the best free festival Montreal has to offer.

It's always a little tough, though, to figure out exactly what you want to see. There are over 150 shows at the festival! Sure, you could wander aimlessly and take it as it is (no hate, this is fun), or you could stick with me and do a little digging for those rare sonic gems you can check out FREE in 2018. 

Here are x FREE concerts to check out at Jazz Fest 2018

1. Jessie Reyez

Canada's new golden child, Jessie Reyez has been on my radar for a while now - and it seems like people are finally waking up! Jessie Reyez just won the JUNO Award for Best New Artist - and trust me, it's well deserved.

July 3, 2018 - 9:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

2. The War On Drugs

The big, grand finale event of Montreal's International Jazz Festival! The War On Drugs needs no introduction. The Philadelphia rock outfit. These guys just won a Grammy for Best Rock Album, and they will shut it down at Jazz Fest this year. You don't want to miss it!

July 7, 2018 - 9:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

3. Hannah Williams and the Affirmations

This show I am thoroughly excited for. If you don't know Hannah Williams, you'll want to listen up. Some of you might already recognize her as being the inspiration to and sampled on Jay-Z's 4:44 title track in which he apologizes to Beyonce. The song is labeled one of the best songs in his career, and it all came from the sultry soulful sounds of Hannah Williams and the Affirmation's Late Nights & Heartbreak.

Somewhat of a new protege to Jigga - you'll want to see her for free at Jazz Fest this year. Mark my words, this incredible talent will soon blow up! She has a handful of free shows at Jazz Fest this year.

July 4, 2018 - 9:00 and 11:00 p.m.

July 6, 2018 - 8:00 and 10:00 p.m.

4. !!! (Chk Chk Chk)

Sacramento's dance-punk-new wave fusion rock group !!! (Chk Chk Chk) is known for their outlandish, Avante-guard style. They are sure to get your feet moving with a total hype performance at Place Des Arts next week!

June 28, 2018 - 9:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

5. Nomadic Massive

A terrific example of multiculturalism and creativity. This Montréal-based collective assembled members from around the world to create a unique rap-jazz fusion unique with lyrics in English, French, Créole, Spanish, and Arabic. Their latest album, The Big Band Theory, rockets us straight into orbit.

July 2, 2018 - 9:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

6. Boulevards

That cool urban moniker is really singer-songwriter Jamil Rashad, originally from North Carolina. The artist embodies the modern funk revival, in the lineage of Prince or Rick James, as heard on his two albums, Groove!, a clarion call to the dancefloor, and his latest, Hurtown, USA.

June 29, 2018 - 9:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

7. Megative

A new project from former singer of The Stills, Tim Fletcher, and former bandleader of Me Mom and Morgentaler, Gus van Go (also producer of Les Cowboys Fringants, Trois Accords and many more), Megative draws its inspiration from the famed London Two Tone movement of the ’80s, with an added musical touch as personal as it is contemporary. Nobody else is making music like Megative right now!

July 6, 2018 - 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.

8. The Suffers

Experience authentic jazz soul-funk from this group straight out of Texas. Charismatic lead singer Kam Franklin not only shares a surname with the illustrious Aretha, she also has the voice. This Gulf Coast soul band is here to relentlessly spread its contagious groove.

July 1, 2018 - 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.

9. Da Cruz

Da Cruz is the surprising and unexpected collaboration of bossa nova singer Mariana Da Cruz and beatmaker Ane H — former member of Swiss group the Swamp Terrorists. With a wild sound blending such varied styles as electronica, funk, dancehall, Afrobeat, kuduru, jazz and samba, Da Cruz travel the world getting every crowd up on their feet and grooving. Now it’s our turn!

July 5, 2018 - 10:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

10. Florence K

This one's a no-brainer. While I'm not a huge fan, many people in my world talk to me about Florence K often.

At her piano and accompanied by her loyal musicians, Florence K transports us to the Caribbean on the wings of her new Cuban- and Latin-influenced album, Estrellas, written and produced with Alex Cuba. Groove to salsa, bachata, and boleros as music lights up the sky of an ineffable June night.

June 30, 2018 - 8:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

11. Too Many Zooz

Bringing the street vibes from NYC to Montreal!

In 2014, they ignited a major buzz in the New York Subway with their super-volted jazz fusion and wild look. Since then, the trio and their brass house have taken the world by storm, racking up concerts and releasing the dynamic Subway Gawdz, a perfect representation of their crazed style.

July 5, 2018 - 9:00 and 11:00 p.m.

12. Fredy V

Because I will always support local Montreal, or made-in-Montreal art - Fredy V is someone you might want to check out this year. Impossible not to fall for the charms of Fredy V once he takes over the stage. On his debut album, #ItTakesAVillage, the multi-instrumentalist born in Washington DC and now living in Montréal unfurls a danceable, inspired electro-funk.

Fredy V has two performances this year.

July 6, 2018 - 10:00 p.m. and July 7, 2018 - 10:00 p.m.

Now, remember folks -Montreal's International Jazz Festival is a MASSIVE event, with over 300 shows and many of which are entirely free.

This list is just a personal selection of stand-out artists, as deemed by yours truly!

There is far more here to check out, and my opinions just scratch the surface of what you should experience. Did I miss someone amazing? Are you choked to not see a favourite on the list? Let us know!

I welcome any opportunity to learn about someone new.

Jazz Fest will take over Montreal's Place Des Arts from June 28th - July 7th. You can find more information on their website right here, and follow the official Facebook page for more details here.