The Shows de ruelle: step out of your comfort zone


For quite a while now, I’ve been thinking about the traditional way music shows are presented. It seems as though the formula hasn’t changed in eons: an artist, songs, a hall, lighting...

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I love seeing an artist step out of his or her comfort zone. If a guitarist has to suddenly improvise a solo due to a technical snafu, if an insistent crowd succeeds in coaxing a band into play a song that wasn’t on the set list, or if a surprise guest comes on stage to give an impromptu performance, I’m all ears.

As a musician, I can assure you that performers get a buzz from these spontaneous moments, too!

So there I was, hoping to find a show where anything could happen, where conventional frameworks disappear, where artists and spectators share the feeling of being together in the same place, at the same time.

And I discovered the Shows de ruelle (Lane shows) event. Presented annually for the last three years in the Gaboury laneway, in the heart of the vibrant Hochelaga neighbourhood, they are all about busting convention. The non-traditional setting makes for a completely unique ambience, and anyone who turns up for one of these concerts is in for an evening they won’t forget!

According to Patrick Legault of the Société de développement commercial Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, and organizer of the Shows de ruelle, the goal is to “give back the laneway to residents” and to “raise the profile of the Hochelaga neighbourhoods.” He makes the interesting point that because music brings together a wide range of people who simply want to enjoy an uplifting, entertaining and enriching cultural experience, these events encourage social diversity.

For those wanting to get an early start on the evening, organizers set up huge barbecues starting at 5 p.m., and, thanks to a collaboration with the Quebec brewery Farnham, thirsty music lovers can purchase beer on the site. At around 7 p.m., under the last rays of sun, the amps are turned on, the artists climb onto the modest stage, and, to the delight of the assembled crowd, the show gets underway. This intimate heart-to-heart with the public goes on until 8:30 p.m.

Some big names have passed through the Shows de ruelle since its inception: Yann Perreau, Alaclair Ensemble, Fred Fortin, Bernard Adamus and many more. Legault, who can’t make any official announcements until June 18, confided that he’s thrilled about the artists taking part in the 2018 edition. He hinted about a surprise appearance at the end of August by a “Quebec music legend.”

This event promises a magical experience for music buffs, families and friends, in the Gaboury laneway!

Thursdays: June 28, July 12 and 26, August 9 and 23

The whole family is welcome!