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A Feast of Fests - Summer Music Festivals in 2013

A Feast of Fests - Summer Music Festivals in 2013

Summer in France is often referred to as ‘the Festival Season’, and there’s certainly a whole lot happening around the region. Roger Moss reveals just some of what’s in store...



Throughout the dark winter months we’ve mainly devoted this page to profiling some talented working musicians. Now, though, it’s time to come out of hibernation, get right back out there and have a ball seeing and hearing them (and many more) delivering their own brand of great live music, as some of the big headline grabbing events are getting ready to roll. By the time you read this, Angoulême’s Musiques Métisses will have delivered another colourful edition of its annual Afro, Caribbean and World Music extravaganza, but on the last weekend in June the nearby village of Mornac will be hosting the Festival Rock n’Flore, featuring among others the dazzling Thomas Ottogalli with his trio line-up.

Already, though, countless eyes and ears are focused on the Big One: Cognac Blues Passions, which this year runs from 2-6 July. Currently celebrating its 20th Anniversary, headline acts for 2013 include Beth Hart, Sinead O’Connor, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite – a characteristically eclectic line-up unified by blues influences, and destined to broaden the appeal of this long popular flagship event. And lest you imagine that concerts on the main Blues Paradise stage are all that’s on offer, check out some of the less widely publicised supporting events like the Groove au Château sessions, the piano themed 1715 Blues Avenue Experience, Tonic Day morning shows, nights at Le Voodoo Club and Experience Cognac, which showcases younger talents – not to mention Jarnac au Coeur du Blues.

For blues fans based a little further north, around the same time (4-7 July) Avoine Zone Blues will be featuring The Commitments, Kool & The Gang, BB Brunes and many other acts in the 14th edition of this upbeat festival sited south of the Loire between Chinon and Saumur.

If, on the other hand, your taste extends to more overtly French popular culture then from 6-13 July the Théatre du Cloître in Haute-Vienne will be presenting the 60th edition of the Festival National de Bellac. The programme includes theatre and music, with free open-air concerts each evening in the Jardins du Cloître. Or for something rather more full-on, Les Francofolies de La Rochelle are definitely not to be missed. Just days after the stage-lights have faded in Cognac, it’ll be the turn of the chic Atlantic Coast town to get into party mode for its annual celebration of contemporary French and Francophone music. Between 12th -16th July you’ll see and hear just about every genre represented somewhere around town, including big-name acts like Olivia Ruiz, Patrick Bruel, Axel Bauer, Tryo and (injecting an anglophone note or two) Rufus Wainright.

The 26/27 July finds nearby Rochefort presenting its Festival Résonances 2013, with free world music concerts staged guinguette-style in the elegant Place Colbert and on the lawns beside the famous Corderie Royale. Meanwhile, inland on the same weekend you’ll find Civray’s Au Fil du Son Festival, whose 2013 edition is aimed squarely at younger audiences, and whose artist line-up this year includes Olivia Ruiz, if you missed seeing her in La Rochelle.

Meanwhile, as you’ll soon discover, away from the big crowds, big stages and vast sound and lighting systems, live music is very much alive and well in many more intimate settings around the region. Many of the events (including the annual Nuits Romanes concerts staged in atmospheric settings around Poitou-Charentes during July and August) are totally free, and present some very talented performers.


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