As you may have read in a previous post, the summer festival is a monstrous success, which follows a Woodstock like formula, where a pass allows you to see all the performances, held outdoors on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City during the summer. Quebec Music Festival Hits the Right Note
The two week festival has been growing each year, bursting out from a 'local' affair, to become a national and international event that attracts tourists from across Canada and the United States.
The formula used by the festival is to bring world class talent, such as the Black-Eyed Peas, Santana Ramstein, Iron Maiden, etc, etc. which drives attendance, subsidizing the less popular shows, mostly local francophone acts.
Last years event played before 1.5 million concert-goers, 75% more than in 2006, a remarkable achievement for a city of 400,000 people.
French nationalists have been squealing for years that the event should restrict itself to Quebec talent only, in order to promote culture and offer support financially to local artists.
The case has been made, that since the festival receives a government subsidy, French language restrictions should apply.
Festival directors deflected these arguments by pointing out that without the international English artists, the deficit would skyrocket. The jam packed audiences for name acts, contrasts sharply with the more restrained crowds that greet Francophone headliners.
The people have spoken.
Recently windbag Louis Plamondon has called for the firing of Dominique Goulet for her unwavering support of excellence over language. For Prefontaine, ramming francophone artists down the throat of an unwilling public is more about a language crusade, than entertainment.
Ms. Goulet shocked language sensibilities by making some provocative statements which disparaged Quebec talent, sending militants into a letter-writing frenzy.
She had stated in the past that there is not one Francophone artist who could fill the massive outside venue at the Plains of Abraham. She further shocked the francophone artistic world by opining that modern groups, regardless of their native tongue need to sing in English if they want to achieve international success.
Quebec's hottest artist is Bobby Bazini, a francophone who sings exclusively in English and who is building an international reputation and is typical of this phenomenon. Barzini was excluded from running for an industry prize for best Quebec artist because he sings in English.
So groups like Arcade Fire are also banned, leaving the floor to mediocre groups like Loco Locass
That's what militants want. French at any cost. Too bad for them the public is of another mind.
The latest flap comes from the over-the-hill and decidedly passé, singer MARJO who demanded that festival organizers give her a firm commitment and date for next summer's show. When the festival demurred, claiming it was too early in the game, her agent hit the roof and accused the organizers of firming up the English talent before they would make commitments to the francophones.
Very likely true.....
Nathalie Petrowski, writing La Presse, tells the story of how she dragged her offspring to see Marjo perform at the Bell Centre, in order to expose her son to a little Quebec culture. In a venue where he had seen Lady Gaga and Madonna, it was no contest. He left at intermission.....
Now before everyone jumps on me, telling me I'm a racist, let me say that there's some very good talent coming out of Quebec.
Trouble is, there's not enough to fill a first class festival. It's just a question of numbers. Quebec's eight million in population cannot hope to compete against the world, but fans who shell out hard-earned money aren't expecting, nor will they pay for second class acts. They can get that for free at any St.Jean Baptiste concert!
Many Quebec artists enjoy more success than they deserve and it's based solely on language.
If you need convincing try watching this dreadful rap song by Loco Locass celebrating the Montreal Canadiens. It's a hit! No way can you finish watching it to the end, it really sucks! YouTube
Compare that to this bunch of Anglo amateur nobodies. Link.
The stink put up by the Montreal artistic community is strange, given that the Montreal Jazz festival is not targeted in the same way. Many are calling it a Montreal/Quebec thing, but it just comes down to money, not language.
Quebec artists have had their hands out for years, blackmailing authorities to pay up in order to protect Quebec culture. They don't want to, nor can they compete on a talent level with the world, so they play the culture card.
This time it didn't work.
Quebeckers have voted with their wallets, so bring on the Black-Eyed Peas!!