Located in Quebec, the same province as Montreal, Quebec City’s origins date back to 1608, making it one of the oldest continuous cities in North America. Its fort and castles exude European sensibilities. The popular Old Quebec’s fortified walls are the only ones on the continent north of Mexico, and has earned the area UNESCO World Heritage status. As I discovered, there are few ways to thoroughly enjoy this city other than attending its annual Festival d’été de Québec (FEQ), or the Quebec City Summer Festival.
Held every year in July, this year’s FEQ, which spanned from July 6th through 16th, was the 50th edition. I attended the first weekend, arriving the first Friday of FEQ and leaving that Monday. Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, and The Free Nationals, Pink, Nick Jonas, and the Backstreet Boys were the big musical highlights, but I am getting ahead of myself.
I arrived in Quebec City via Toronto from Atlanta. Airports tend to be interesting, and the Toronto one is undergoing some renovations. I did notice Tim Hortons everywhere. Apparently the chain is like Canada’s McDonald’s. Instead of food, I went the juice route, ordering a refreshing Cool Cucumber, with cucumbers, apples and pineapples, from Booster Juice.
In Quebec City, it took a few minutes to connect with my driver but, yes, we finally found each other. As we made our way to the hotel, I was struck by how orderly Quebec City is. For the OCD set, it’s the perfect city because every single building looks expertly placed. It’s just a gorgeously planned and neatly laid-out city. Even for a free spirit like myself, the order is impressive.
About 20 minutes later, we were at the Hilton Quebec City, which is also where the FEQ media room was located. Myriam, one of my primary contacts, was full of life. Her ability to flip effortlessly between French and English made me a little jelly. OK a lot, but I was also relieved. Let’s just say I stayed close to Myriam.
Once upstairs in my room, I relaxed a bit. And the great view had a lot to do with that. Old Quebec is walking distance from the Hilton and FEQ was right there too. Literally, I could see the street and traffic below, as well as glorious buildings, some water, and a beautiful sky.
Before meeting up with the crew to check out Kendrick Lamar, I got awesome, awesome news that master drummer Tony Allen, who created Afrobeat with Fela Kuti, granted me an interview! Myriam whisked me over to his hotel and, right there, in his hotel room, we chatted with only Myriam to hear us. At first he gave one-word answers, but he opened up as we kept talking, discussing how he functions as a musician and why Tribute to Art Blakely means so much to him. I can’t wait to share the conversation. After all, I don’t speak to legends every day. Just sometimes.
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[Images: Ronda Racha Penrice, except where noted]