By Jason Magder - Members of the Lake of Stew, a 6-piece acoustic string band based in Montreal, have been told they cannot appear at a festival celebrating St. Jean Baptiste because they are English-speaking. The band says its melodies and instrumentation harken back to older times, but its lyrics are firmly planted in the now, with songs about everything from graffiti to the Dalai Lama to armadillos to satellite spy systems.
Photograph by: Roger Aziz, Courtesy of lakeofstew.ca
Two local performers say they have been barred from performing in a June 23 festival to mark the St. Jean Baptiste holiday because they are English.
Bloodshot Bill, and the band Lake of Stew were informed last week by organizers of the event called l'Autre St-Jean that one of the event’s sponsors is upset that there are English performers and has threatened to pull out from the event unless the English bands are cancelled.
The event, to be held in Pélican Park in Rosemont, is billed as an alternative to the big celebration at Maisonneuve Park. It’s intention is to promote home-grown bands. All the talent comes from the Plateau Mont Royal or Rosemont/Petite Patrie area.
“We did a press conference for the event on Wednesday, and then I got an email on Thursday saying one of the sponsors had a problem with English bands,” Bloodshot Bill said Sunday. “The reason they set up this event was for it to be different, so why are people freaking out because it’s different.”
Bloodshot Bill said the email from the event organizer said there would be a follow-up email confirming if his appearance was cancelled, but he never got that email.
Event organizers, C4 productions, have not returned numerous phone calls and emails.
Born and raised in Montreal, Bloodshot Bill said he was excited to play at his first St. Jean concert.
“I was going to go up there with Lake of Stew and we were going to play some songs in French.”
While he performs mostly in English, he says he’s comfortable in front of a French-speaking crowd.
“I go to lots of small towns in and around the province. I speak French to the crowd, and then the songs are English. But it doesn’t really matter anyway, because most people don’t really understand what I’m saying in the songs anyway. They’re kinda English, and kinda my own language.”
Anglo musicians ousted from St. Jean fête
“The reason they set up this event was for it to be different," band member says