by Marco Chown Oved
Article published on the 2009-09-09 Latest update 2009-09-09 10:22 TU
Originally conceived in 1930 as a way to raise money for the French Communist Party’s daily newspaper, l’Humanité, the festival has grown in inverse proportion to party’s electoral fortunes. The Communists, who had their worst score in the 2007 presidential election with less than two per cent of the vote, attracted more than half a million people to their festival in the same year.
The 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Jaurès, the Socialist founder of l’Humanité, will be celebrated at this year’s festival. Jaurès, once considered to be a radical left-winger, has, like the festival, recently enjoyed something of a renaissance in popularity in France. Some of his better-known quotes have been creeping into political speeches across the political spectrum, even including those of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is firmly on the political right.
For the 2009 festival, you can check out the likes of Manu Chao, Deep Purple, The Kooks, Julien Clerc, Keziah Jones and more at this unbelievably affordable festival – a steal when compared with most music festivals at only 18 euros.
The festival, which runs for the 11, 12 and 13 September at Courneuve Park just north of Paris, has invited Manu Chao to headline Friday night. The wildly-popular Franco-Spanish artist played the festival in 2001, in front of a crowd of more than 60,000 people.
The singer says playing the festival holds great significance for him because his communist grandfather was forced to flee Spain and went first to Algeria and then to France, where Chao himself was born.
This forced migration is the basis for the musician’s much-praised cultural mix of Spanish and French influences.