Mon­treal Art Cen­tre be­comes per­for­mance venue bring­ing live mu­sic to Griffin­town

Montreal Times - - News - By Al­lan Di­a­mond Mon­treal Times

Grow­ing up in Mon­treal in the 1960's as a young mu­si­cian it was all about mu­sic. But not about all kinds of mu­sic. For my­self and for my fel­low band mem­bers of The Fab­u­lous Fas­ci­na­tions, it was only all about "Rhythm & Blues".

Dur­ing the 1960's in Mon­treal, there were 3 fab­u­lous boom­ing hot spots in town bring­ing the best in "Rhythm & Blues" and Jazz. The Esquire Show Bar lo­cated down­town at 1224 Stan­ley Street op­er­ated from the 1950's through the 1970's. Nu­mer­ous in­ter­na­tional artists per­formed there, in­clud­ing James Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner,

Otis Red­ding, Lit­tle Richard, Fats Domino and many oth­ers.

The 2nd great club of the era was Mon­treal's most fa­mous jazz club of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury Rock­heads Par­adise, lo­cated at 1254 St An­toine Street. Dur­ing its 50 year ex­is­tence a wide range of renowned jazz play­ers were drawn to the Rock­heads Par­adise in­clud­ing Duke Ellington, Louis Arm­strong, Bil­lie Hol­i­day, Ella Fitzger­ald, Dizzy Gille­spie, Sammy Davis Jr., amoung count­less oth­ers.

The 3rd leg­endary Mon­treal soul mu­sic club lo­cated di­rectly across the street from Rock­heads was Mervyn Dash's Har­lem Par­adise at 772 Moun­tain Street. Ri­valling Rock­heads as Mon­treal's best black club.

It was an ex­per­ence of a life­time for our band with our amaz­ing lead vo­cal­ist Skip­per Dean to work at the "Har­lem Par­adise for sev­eral weeks over the sum­mer of 1964, open­ing for the great Philadel­phia R&B group The Hot Ta­males".

With the ad­vent of top­less clubs emerg­ing in the 1980's, vir­tu­ally all the live mu­sic show bars closed in Mon­treal. Now it's a half cen­tury later and we now find our­selves bring­ing reg­u­lar af­ford­able live mu­sic per­for­mances to The Mon­treal Art Cen­tre. For the past 6 years many of our city's great­est visual artists have found their home in Griffin­town at 1844 Wil­liam Street in our his­toric 19th cen­tury pa­tro­mi­nal build­ing.

Since Fe­bru­ary of this year we have opened our doors to Mon­treal's finest up and com­ing mu­si­cians, by in­tro­duc­ing reg­u­lar per­for­mance con­certs, on Thurs­days, through Sun­days where Rock, Pop, Folk, Reg­gae, Hip Hop, Swing, Jazz, and clas­si­cal mu­sic artists can be seen per­form­ing live at the art cen­tre.

The area of the bor­ough of Le SudOuest, in­clud­ing Griffin­town, Point St Charles, St Henri, and es­pe­cially Lit­tle Bur­gundy, that brought us two of the city's best known mu­si­cians, Os­car Peter­son and Oliver Jones was the district that was the home to Mon­treal's English speak­ing black pop­u­la­tion.

These neigh­bor­hoods have en­dured sev­eral phases of gen­tri­fi­ca­tion first in the 1980's with the con­struc­tion of town­houses over the for­mer rail­way yards and af­ter the re­open­ing of the La­chine Canal to pub­lic plea­sure boat­ing in 2002.

Today the en­tire area is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing tremen­dous growth with large scale con­do­minium devel­op­ment aimed at al­low­ing young pro­fes­sional fam­i­lies to ob­tain homes closer to the down­town's cen­tral el­e­ments: the busi­ness district and the In­ter­na­tional district.

The Mon­treal Art Cen­tre lo­cated at the core of re­vi­tal­ized Griffin­town is a most wel­com­ing at­trac­tion for all art and mu­sic lovers of our city. Mu­sic comes alive again in Griffin­town. De­tails are avail­able on the cen­tre's web­site: mon­tre­alart­cen­ter.com

Al­lan Di­a­mond is the Founder of the Mon­treal Art Cen­tre in Griffin­town .Al­lan can be reached at (514) 726 3623 or drop by the art cen­tre at:1844 Wil­liam Street, Mon­trel Que­bec.

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