Montreal Art Centre becomes performance venue bringing live music to Griffintown
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.