Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band, Beck, Jethro Tull, Courtney Barnett, and more to headline Ottawa Bluesfest 2018
RBC Ottawa Bluesfest has released its initial 2018 lineup, which will hit the stages July 5 – 15, 2018. Many whispers of Dave Grohl and his band of Foo Fighters being added were making their way around town, and the explosive rock band is one of many exciting inclusions in this year’s edition. The Dave Matthews Band, which was confirmed a few weeks back, will also headline the festival and give festival-goers a reason to get excited.
Other notable acts include Jethro Tull, Beck, Zeds Dead, the War on Drugs, Courtney Barnett, BROCKHAMPTON, Chromeo, Colin James, Shaggy, Oh Wonder, Ghostface Killah, Passenger, Machine Gun Kelly, Shawn Mendes, Naughty by Nature, the Strumbellas, Keys N Krates, Grandtheft, Hanson, Benjamin Booker, Noname, Dear Rouge, Kimbra, and more.
Some stellar Ottawa acts were also announced, including Catriona Sturton, Alanna Sterling & The Silvers, Amos The Transparent, Cody Coyote, Graven, Her Harbour, Okies, TAPAS, and many more.
A one-day pre-sale will begin early on February 15 at 10 a.m., with an adult festival pass starting at $209 (+ HST). A full-festival pass will start at $139 (+HST). All tickets will go on public sale February 16 at 10 a.m.
Check out other options and more details on the Bluesfest website. Have a look at the line up (so far) below.
We’re getting excited to present Sight & Sound: An Audiovisual Experience on March 4 featuring the music of Ottawa veterans Amos The Transparent and the prodigy known as Trails. This will all be going down at The Record Centre in Hintonburg (1099 Wellington St.) and LES666 will be providing a visual art installation that is sure to create the a fully immersive experience for audience members. Needless to say, we’re pretty honoured to be working with the JUNO host committee and OMIC for this special night.
We’re giving away a couple passes for this event, so be sure to enter today!
It began as any stress-filled night of a student in finals week, in an exam room. As I anxiously scratched out my final exam of the semester, I anticipated what my night would bring. Deciding relatively last minute that my final night in Ottawa before heading home for the holidays should be spent bringing in the break with gusto, the annual Amos the Transparent Holiday Show seemed like my perfect solution. Although somewhat unfamiliar with the groups, I was excited to head out with friends and kick off the season with a bang!
Mere moments before arriving at Zaphod Beeblebrox, I ran into a friend who was quick to amp me up on Amos the Transparent. An Ottawa native, he was familiar with their sound and show’s energy and assured me I was in for a time.
When I did finally arrive, Mountain Eyes was ramping up. He was sporting a carefully selected mountain-themed sweater, which made it easy to confirm exactly which artist he was. Mountain Eyes brought his unique vibes through his original tracks. I snapped a couple pictures, grabbed a beer and got myself ready for what was now set to be a good night of music. After a quick turn around, The Stringers took to the stage. The crowd started to fill the floor and it was nice to see a mixed crowd all there for the same reason, good music and holiday cheer. The Stringers brought energy to the crowd with their own original tracks from their album, which features an alternative indie rock sound. They also treated us to what they explained to be their first song, which was an unexpected, yet well received, Amy Winehouse cover.
When it finally came time for Amos the Transparent, they took the stage with more energy than I could have expected. Bringing out a number of their original tracks, each musician plays to their own talent and strengths, putting power behind each song. Recently, the band has been covering influential songs of each of their personal music journeys, which has been dubbed the Undercover Sessions on YouTube. These songs included anything from Radiohead to the Beatles. They kicked off the evening with Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” and also brought to the stage Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” and Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.”
Needless to say, as a Haligonian, my new life in the Ottawa music scene is still very much in its “toddler years.” The world is new and exciting, and I have the chance to experience anything and everything Ottawa has to offer for the first time. This Holiday Show put on by Amos the Transparent was no different, as once again I went in, blind to their music, aside from the few YouTube videos and rave reviews from friends, and I left far from disappointed.
Usually we try to do a post for each new video when we can, but July has been crazy hectic with festivals, vacation, new music and new videos. So we decided to highlight five recently released videos by some great local bands. They are posted in alphabetical order for you viewing pleasure.
Amos the Transparent — “That’s the Life for Me “
The video begins with the orchestral folk-inspired indie six-piece on stage of a high school gym playing to what looks like a good ol-fashioned sock hop. The video is super cute and perfectly follows the lyrics, a story of growing up, falling in love, starting a family and growing tired of television. My favourite scene is when the singer and his love fall for each other in the back kitchen of a pub, very well shot. The song is from Amos the Transparent‘s latest album This Cold Escape. Like what you hear and see, check them out August 15th at the Blacksheep Inn with special guest Cody Allen.
BlakDenim — “One Hit”
BlakDenim‘s latest video is more on the simplistic side, but you can afford to do that when you have so much going on musically. The group delivers hip-hop infused with jazz and soul elements, and also features a really impressive brass section. The video is black and white and bounce between Precise Kenny Creole spitting the rhymes, the band singing as they chill by the water near Mooney’s Bay and the band on stage performing. You don’t always need an epic video, sometimes it is best to let the song speak for itself. “One Hit” appears on BlakDenim’s new EP Vanguard(en).
Buck N’ Nice — “What Was Wrong With Me”
“What Was Wrong With Me” is the third video single from the debut album, Us Versus Them, from Buck N’ Nice. The video is dimly lit and often in black and white for the powerful and introspective song about growing up the victim of ruthless bullying. Once again this is another example of deep lyrics not needing the flash of intense visuals, just the words and the look of pain in his eyes. Buck N’ Nice are among the many local hip-hop acts making a lot of noise in the nation’s capital and putting Ottawa on the hip-hop map.
The Souljazz Orchestra — “Shock And Awe”
Veterans of the Ottawa scene, Souljazz Orchestra are at it again with a video for the super infectious and dancey track “Shock and Awe”. The video is set on the very familiar pedestrian bridge that goes over the Queensway near Island Park Drive. I love how the video begins with a shot of traffic below and then pans to the band. The camera then focuses on one member at a time and their name scrolls across the stage. Nice touch. The video also features great moving shots of Ottawa landmarks including the graffiti wall near the Albert Street Education Centre and the decommissioned rail bridge near the water treatment plants. My favourite is when they pause to let a woman walk by on the bridge. Great work by Souljazz as always.
The Superlative — “High Anxiety”
The Superlative have a history of releasing some pretty funny videos (check out “Life is Good“) and their latest release is no exception. The video revolves around quite possibly the worst talent search in history. They frame it as a “video star search,” and they got everyone: a breakdancer, mad scientist and workout junky. The poor judges, played by singer Charles Lapointe, guitarist Kiel’s wife Heather and local musician Richard Barrie (Rich Chris, The Valveenus and Pistols at Dawn), provide the most entertaining with their hand drawn sings showing their rejection of the contestants. Special shout out to the sign that read “- ∞”(minus infinity) I laughed quite hard. “High Anxiety” will appear on the band’s third album, In Love & Debt, which is expected to drop later this year.
Owen Davies – “Mystic”
Owen Davies is at it again, collaborating with director Pascal Huot for his latest video “Mystic” off his new album of the same title coming out August 1. Although Davies isn’t technically Ottawa-based, he works closely with Huot (member of Pony Girl) and the new label So Sorry Records which is based in the nation’s capital. If there’s one thing you will learn about Davies and Huot in their creative endeavours it is that they are unrestrained and unflinching when it comes to the unordinary. Davies refuses to maintain a specific folk “sound” – he’d rather experiment with textures and electronic elements while keeping the folk essence at the core. Be warned – this video starts out nice and peaceful, but the ending is PG-13 due to blood and gore. Stream Owen Davies’ new album Mystic exclusively here.
Again, 2014 was quite the year for music in Ottawa. We realize that it’s next to impossible to say which album was better than the others, but we do have a list of the albums that seem to come up on our playlists more often. These are not the “winners” of the year but they are dear to our ears and we’d like to tip our hats to those that made them happen. Check out these sweet full-lengths and EPs, support these locals if you can, and enjoy the weather by putting these tunes in your pocket. Vive le six un trois!
Saturday marked a highly anticipated night at the esteemed Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield, QC, as Ottawa’s favourite indie rock band Amos The Transparent released their third LP This Cold Escape. The intimate, cozy vibe of Blacksheep was the perfect fit for Amos’s release party, as the crowd reflected what we love most in the band – some calm and unwound, others lively and full of spark. The room was alive and ready for what was to come.
HIGHS at Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield, QC.
Opening things off were a great band from Toronto called HIGHS. I interviewed lead singer Doug Haynes last year upon the release of their (then) new s/t EP, which I have since really come to love. Although only containing five songs, the EP really paints a picture of how good this band is. I know that’s not much to go on, but I liked how there wasn’t much production interference on the record. By that I mean when listening to it, one feels as though they are sitting right beside the band and hearing exactly what they sound like in “real” life. When David Byrne said, “The better a singer’s voice, the harder it is to believe what they’re saying,” I believe he meant that much can get lost between the moment a note is played in the studio to the moment the album is pressed. With HIGHS, nothing is lost – and their live performance on Saturday night proved just that.
First of all, something has to be said about this band’s chemistry and ability to play/sing off each other. Karrie Douglas not only plays keys with precision, her voice is an equally important addition to HIGHS’s music. She and Doug craft their lyrical melodies and phrasing such that they both layer perfectly and weave in and out like a comfy quilt. In no place is this more evident than in their song “Nomads.”
HIGHS lit up the room with their flaring and intricate guitar riffs shared by Doug and Joel, which seem to guide the spirit and feel of most of their songs. Their music has a Graceland-esque quality to it, which may be a result of the afrobeat influences and infinitely catchy rhythm and melody. They also played a surprising cover of Talking Heads’s “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).” The song started off with Joel on synth playing an indecipherable intro that flowed into a unique version of the song that the band really made their own. Not everyone can cover Talking Heads, not well at least. But the crowd joining in on the words with smiles on their faces meant that it was a hit. Hell, I’m surprised the bar didn’t erupt into an all-out dance party during that one. Don’t forget to catch HIGHS on November 7 as they stop at Mavericks here in Ottawa on their tour supporting Twin Forks (featuring Chris Carrabba, ex-Dashboard Confessional).
Amos the Transparent got on stage not long after, and the room seemed to take on a distinct energy. The Blacksheep Inn is one of those little corners of Canada that will bring out the best in musicians. Its dim, candlelit lit interior and pristine sound creates an atmosphere unparalleled anywhere in the region – visually and aurally.
You know those bands that have certain songs that you wish would just be a little different? Perhaps the band tried too hard to achieve something and got lost along the way. Or maybe they made a bad chord change or phrased the lyrics in a way that made you cringe. I have never heard a song by Amos that is like this. Each song is crafted with strong hands and constructed in a way that keeps people hooked, like a good book. There is a simplicity to the music that is refreshing – not too over the top or pretentious in any way. But there’s also a depth to it that allows listeners to be immersed, particularly a concept album such as this. Since becoming a band in 2007, Amos The Transparent has learned how to draw listeners into their grasp better and better with each album.
This was exemplified a couple of years back when I saw Amos for the first time at Zaphod’s. I knew that Amos had garnered a following and received generous airplay across national radio, however it wasn’t until I got there and saw the sold out crowd interacting with the band on stage that I realized how special they are. This is Ottawa’s band. There was a love that existed between the crowd and the band that night in 2012, and that same love was present this past weekend.
Their performance, much like their new album This ColdEscape, exuded emotion and demanded listeners’s attention. At the end of the title track we hear screams anda voice fading out, as if going further into the void until out of view. And then there’s hard-hitting, powerful lyrics:
I lay my love down, as she whispers to me – You’re just as much a part of life to me, as death and his certainty.
Seeing the band play the album front-to-back added to my interpretation of it, as the atmosphere and ambiance fit with its presentation beautifully. Opening with what has grown to be one of my favourite tracks, “Out The Window,” Amos dove right into their new material and reinforced to all of us why that love still exists.
The band had projectors set up on either side of the stage, showing random videos from the past that worked well with the old-time feel of Blacksheep. There were also radio broadcasts included in the recording between songs, which feature local Ottawa radio personalities Jen Traplin and Andrew Elliott from Live 88.5 FM.
Amos The Transparent performing their new album This Cold Escape at Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield, QC.
The album has a range of songs, none of which sound too similar. The folk-roots feel of “That’s The Life For Me” or the twangy “Bury My Bones” was contrasted with the darkness felt in songs such as “Death & His Certainty” or aggression of “Out To Sea.” The closest Amos comes to the playful catchiness of past hits “Says the Spark” or “Sure as the Weather” is the title track, which had us all wanting to sing along.
Lead singer Jonathan Chandler’s distinct voice was right on, and in perfect harmony with Olenka Reshitnyk’s backing vocals throughout the set. Lead guitarist Dan Hay showed the degree to which he has mastered his instrument and technique, particularly when taking on elaborate solos and playing difficult fills with ease. I also recall watching drummer Christopher Wilson playing so fast that he almost blew a vein in his forehead, without missing a beat.
It should also be mentioned that another adored local musician, Kalle Mattson, was featured on the song “City of Ghosts.” This came as a surprise to me when listening to the record, and it’s so good to see musicians who have played lots of shows together team up and collaborate in the studio. Both Kalle and Amos are having career years in 2014, as both of their recent releases are their strongest, most impactful works (at least in my estimation). The album was also produced by Chandler himself – it’s always so impressive to me that an entire album can be made with the help of a direct-to-fan album funding campaign (PledgeMusic) and then also take care of aspects such as production on top of actually writing and recording the music. Oh, how the industry has changed!
Amos ended things off with not one, but two encores. The crowd burst into smiles and song as the band played favourites “Lemons,” “Sure As The Weather,” and “Says The Spark” from previous records. In fact, as I was by the door watching, I could see a local guy in his mid-twenties doing a very interesting interpretive dance to the songs just outside the bar. I’m not sure the band could see him, but anyone who was there to witness this impromptu routine surely had their night made after that.
Check out their first single and title track off This Cold Escapehere.
The first day of RBC Ottawa Bluesfest began much like it has in previous years – a flood of humans hoarding towards Lebreton Flats to feast on the biggest festival of the year in Ottawa. The clouds were ominous and it had rained intermittently throughout the day, so many were surely nervous about the prospect of getting poured on all night (especially since it was pretty chilly out). But that didn’t stop the hoard. With the Claridge Homes Stage now at the far end of the flats taking up the space where the entrance normally is, the lineup was an absolute nightmare. *TIP* – GET TO BLUESFEST EARLY. SEE LOCAL ACTS. BEAT HELLISH LINES. But concert-goers were in good spirits and mother nature was cooperating as the festivities got under way.
Let me make an observation about this year’s festival. The sheer number of people on the grounds is staggering. I’m saying this as a good thing, mostly. I am starting to get the feeling that Bluesfest is outgrowing the space at Lebreton Flats. And as exciting as it is to see our little city have one of the best music festivals in the world, the bottlenecks are getting worse, beer lines are a bummer, and the hoard at the entrance was jaw-dropping. More than ever before, I looked out into the crowd and realized that the pants Bluesfest used to wear simply don’t fit any more. Not a bad problem to have I suppose.
Amos the Transparent on Day 1 of RBC Ottawa Bluesfest 2014. Photo: Matías Muñoz
I missed Danny Brown because of work, and the world did not end. But I was lucky to catch most of Amos the Transparent‘s set at the Black Sheep Stage as I wormed my way through the crowds. They played some great songs from their catalogue, including one of the catchiest tunes ever written in Ottawa, “Says the Spark” off 2011’s Goodnight My Dear, I’m Falling Apart (download it free here). Amos is releasing their new concept album This Cold Escape later this year, and I was lucky enough to catch up with Dan Hay a few months back to talk a bit more about it. With all the mystery surrounding their new release, it was a treat to hear new tunes like “This Cold Escape” and “Death & Uncertainty.” With Jonathan Chandler’s rich beard in full force, the band dominated the stage and played to their strengths to old fans and new listeners in the crowd. It was nice to see some of the younger high school kids getting into it as well, as Amos has been a staple here in Ottawa for years. The band’s newest member Olenka was on point with her vocals, meshing with the rest of the band really well and demonstrating that a little chemistry can go a long way. Once again, Amos proved why they are one of the leading bands to come out of Ottawa.
Tegan and Sara performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Thursday, July 3, 2014. Photo: Mark Horton, RBC Bluesfest Press Images
Once again I slithered through the crowd, past some bright pink urinals, past delicious smells from the food vendors, past a few asshole lawn chairs in the middle of the busiest thoroughfares between stages, over a few high school kids inexplicably laying down, and so forth. When I made it to the Claridge Homes Stage for Tegan and Sara, they had already opened with their song “You Drove Me Wild”… at least I think that was the first song. I have never been one of those Tegan and Sara super fans. I was never super excited to see them live or be on top of new releases from them over the years. I was just never that excited. But now it was my turn to finally see them live. I tend to reserve my final opinions about a band until I see them live in order to get a real idea of what they’re all about.
I was really impressed with their stage setup, the lights, and the sound of the whole performance. I liked that they took the time to talk to the crowd in between songs, messing around and having fun. There was no pretension or sense of “we’re doing you a favour by being here” that sometimes happens at these types of festivals. They were cool, laid back, and extremely entertaining.
Earlier on in the set, one of the ladies mentioned that Ottawa Bluesfest 2013 was their best show last year, and that this year’s crowd had a lot to live up to. The audience responded with a wave of cheers and applause, making sure that Tegan and Sara enjoyed themselves this time around. With the clouds parting and the beautiful orange and purple colours beaming from the west, Tegan and Sara played great songs one after the other. One of my favourites was “Walking With a Ghost” off their 2007 album So Jealous. They told us that they were going to play a few older songs, that one included, from back in the day – joking around that maybe they would even dig into their demos from 1998. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but their set was stuffed with fun, upbeat tunes as well as a few slower, more serious ones. I realized how good these ladies were the moment I looked around and saw kids, teenagers, 20-somethings, middle-aged men, mothers, and grandmas all singing the hook to the song “I Was a Fool” together.
They ended with the international mega-hit song “Closer” and everyone went wild. I have to admit, it’s one hell of a fun and catchy song. Now that I’ve finally seen Tegan and Sara live, I can honestly say I appreciate their music much more. I had never given them a fair chance, but their charming antics on stage along with their incredible performance made me realize why they are as big as they are. They’re hard workers and it shows. I think that this goes to show the importance of live music to a band’s career – there has to be a separation between what happens in the studio and what happens on stage. If a group can captivate an audience on stage without simply trying to reproduce their studio sound (i.e. incorporating other ‘entertaining’ elements) then that, to me, is the sign of true artists. Tegan and Sara wrapped up the night for me, as I didn’t stick around for Blake Shelton. Why? Because a) don’t get me started on country music, and b) The Voice is the epitome of what is wrong with the music industry today.
Ottawa’s RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest begins on July 3rd and will feature 30 great local groups. Here is a list in alphabetical order to help you support local at this year’s Bluesfest!
Métis singer-songwriter Amanda Rheaume is a powerful vocalist with just a touch of grit and an instantly-accessible roots-pop-Americana sound. She has been impressing concert goers for around a decade in Ottawa and throughout North-America with her music and her infectious personality. Her latest release Keep Fire has earned her a Juno Nomination in the category Aboriginal Album of the Year. You can be swoon by Amanda July 11th at 6 PM on the River Stage.
Amos the Transparent
A six-piece band that plays wonderful folk-inspired, indie-pop which Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC’s radio show Q, referred to as them as “Canadian Wilco.” Amos the Transparent can really dazzle a crowd with their excellent musicianship. They will be playing July 3rd at 5 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
Angelique Francis Angelique Francis is a singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist (piano, drums, key board, harmonica, upright bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and the electric Bass). In July of 2011, after a country wide search, Angelique was selected by Ottawa Blues Festival as one of three next emerging female Canadian Artists ( The She’s The One Competition), she was only 13 years old at the time. Angelique plays July 4th at 6 PM in the Barney Danson Theatre.
Atherton Atherton is one of Ottawa’s finest hip-hop talents and most entertaining MC’s. In 2012 he released his third album No Threat, which features a tonne of great tracks chalked full of references to Orleans where he grew up and other neighbourhoods around town. Atherton is also the host of one of the city’s best monthly events, Hip-Hop Karaoke. Atherton performs on the hip-hop heavy day July 12th at 2 PM on the Claridge Homes Stage.
Average Times For fans of high energy garage rock and punk rock. Average Times are coming off an awesome set at Ottawa Explosion Weekend, which you can read about here. Their self-titled debut, full of energetic quick hitters, made our list of the best local releases of 2013. Head bob and rock out with Average Times July 9th at 6:15 PM on the River Stage.
Bella Cat Bella Cat is a rarity at the Bluesfest, as she actually plays the blues. Playing blues, soul, and jazz with very catchy melodies which will bring you back to the 50s and 60s. Not only do they play beautiful music, but Bella Cat’s booming and powerful voice will amaze. You can catch Bella Cat on Thursday, July 10 at 6 PM at the Barney Danson Theatre.
BlakDenim BlakDenim will fill the stage with nine members on stage and fill your ears with very dancy funk music with hip-hop vocals overlaid. They infuse hip-hop, funk, rock, soul and jazz with lyrical content that ranges from the serious to the absurd, their tone from sweet to heavy, all connected by head-nodding and hip shaking melodies. So go shake your groove thang and get down with your bad self with BlakDenim Saturday July 5 at 2 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
Boyhood Boyhood is one of Ottawa’s most intriguing bands with there very outside the box psych-pop sound. If you are into strange and quite creative music, then don’t miss out on this project. Boyhood is really just Caylie Runciman, who does all of the composition, writing and recording herself. But has a few musicians join her when she plays live. Come get lost in Caylie’s musical vision July 6th at 2 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
Cold Capital Taking their cue from classic blues and rock traditions, Cold Capital‘s guitar driven music mixes blues, roots, soul and country into a boiler pot of rock n’ roll. With influences spanning from Wilco to the Rolling Stones to Gary Clark Jr., the band is a perfect fit for the Bluesfest. Catch them July 4th at 6 PM on the Blacksheep Stage.
They are a four piece indie rock band draws influences from artists such as The Black Keys, Tokyo Police Club and Jack White. Farewell Davidson‘s music has great hooks and many sing-a-long opportunities which is always fun. Come sing with Farewell Davidson July 13th at 1 PM on the River Stage.
Formed from the ashes of Crash 13 in the latter stages of 1999, Fiftymen play country rock through and through, with dusty twang surging through its veins. Beyond the twang are strong lyrics about hard luck, heart ache, jealousy, revenge and redemption. Get your stomping shoes on and go check them out July 6th at 6 PM on the River Stage.
A modern combination of blues and roots, Firebelly add some sweet sweet harmonica play and strong vocals. In true blues fashion the four-piece does not shy away from other genres such as elements of funk, swing, jazz and country. They play July 10th at 6 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
James Leclaire From fis- pumping, stomp your feet working-man anthems to soulful ballads of love, heartache and loss, James Leclaire’s songs are all about storytelling. He is backed by a band called the Cable 22’s and just released his third studio album Of What is Left and has been compared to Steve Earl. James and the Cable 22 will be playing July 3rd at 6 PM at Barney Danson Theatre.
John Allaire and the Campistas John Allaire is an experienced, award-winning singer/songwriter , including American Songwriter Assoc. “Best Lyrics” Award in 2009 for “Magnets” (Nashville, TN). He has been making music for over 30 years and has a gift for weaving captivating musical stories. Drawing on his experiences and surroundings John’s musical repertoire includes songs with sincere, intelligent lyrics that are introspective and deeply personal, as well as tunes that are light-hearted and humourous. Check out this local talent on one of the main stage, July 12th at 3 PM on the Bell Stage.
Jonathan Becker and The North Fields Jonathan Becker and The North Fields play rock and roll with roots in folk, country, and post punk. Jonathan’s voice was an instantly recognizable rasp that delivers very heartfelt lyrics. The five piece released a wonderful five-song EP early this year and are just coming back from a tour which took them through Ontario, Quebec and some stops on Canada’s East coast. Check them out with a cold brew on July 12th at 3 PM on the River Stage.
Probably one of the happiest and most excited people in Ottawa right now as he was named to the Polaris Prize Short-List for his latest album, the wonderful Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold. The amazing accomplishment is well deserved for the absolutly talented Kalle Mattson and his band. The folk rockers often remind me of Winnipeg based The Weakerthans, as they can play super uplifting tunes that get you up and dancing and then follow it up with a beautiful gut-wrenchingly powerful fingerpicking soft songs. Go see what all the buzz is about July 5th at 2 PM on the Claridge Homes Stage.
Keturah Johnson Band Keturah Johnson has one of the most powerful and beautiful voices I have ever heard. She has spent most of her music making career as a solo artist, but late last year added a great group of talented musicians around her to take her sound to the next level. Their is so much soul and passion that flows through her lyrics and her incredible voice, that is now complimented by a full band sound. Don’t miss being blown away July 11 at 6 PM in the Barney Danson Theatre.
The Mackenzie Rhythm Section
One of the most fun get out of your seats and shake your hips band playing the entire festival. The Mackenzie Rhythm Section describe themselves as Soulstep, soul sang from the heart and rock solid funk. To be honest I could not say it any better myself. Shine up your dancing shoes, practice your best moves and come get jiggy with it July 5th at 6 PM in the Barney Danson Theatre.
Back with the blues, Old Stereo play very funky soulful blues music. The four-piece has been greatly influenced by Gary Clark Jr. so fans of his should not miss them July 5th at 1:30 PM on the River Stage.
Old Whiskey Road
Six-piece americana and country style band with a wonderful balance of male and female vocals. Old Whiskey Road draw influences from Wilco to Neil Young and to Ryan Adams, a great bunch of excellent singer songwriters. They hit the stage July 6th at 2pm on the Claridge Homes Stage.
Pith and the Parenchymas
Probably one of the youngest acts playing the festival, Pith and the Parenchymas play very interesting experimental folk that is mature beyond their years. It is quite exciting to see the younger generation add twists to a style that has been around for decades. Pith and the Parenchymas just released their debut full length album, Songs of the Neverending Ugly Lizard. Go experience something you have never heard before July 8th at 7:30 in the Barney Danson Theatre.
Scattered Clouds Scattered Clouds‘s psychedelic rock will channel the ghosts of Lebreton Flats past. Brooding rhythms and precise noise from this experimental 3-piece underline film noir imagery. Get taken away on a psychedelic journey July 3rd at 7:30 pm in the Barney Danson Theatre.
No it is not our beloved national Olympic rowing hero. It is a group of very talented artists from Ottawa who formed an 80’s style dance band. Silkken Laumann‘s lead singer Rolf Klausener’s voice is hypnotic and the music is very much a blast from the past. Their amazing debut album Not Forever Enough is available for free, here. Kick off your Friday night in style and in dance with Silkken Laumann July 4th at 6 PM on the River Stage.
The “Northern-fried” rock and soul band made their debut in 2006 at Bluesfest and have since made big waves around the country. Silver Creek has had such highs as playing the main stage at Bluesfest in 2009 and have back Blue Rodeo on tour. Silver Creek get the honour of once again rocking the main stage (the Bell Stage) July 5th at 3 PM.
Sound of Lions Sound of Lions were the winners of “Best New Act” and “Album of the Year” in the Ottawa XPress’ readers’ poll back in 2011 and have carried that momentum with them. They have an amazing combination of a beautiful female vocals teamed up with a very strong emcee rapping over trip-hop beats. They will take their unique sound and high level of energy to the stage on July 12th at 1:30 PM on the River Stage.
Still Winter Hills
Five-piece country band that channels the days of old. Sill Winter Hills sounds like a band that could have opened for Neil Young during his heyday. They have perfected the sound of those who came before them, while carving out their own unique sound. Check out these country boys and go back in time with them on July 13th at 2pm on the Claridge Stage.
The Split Speaking of going back in time, let The Split teleport you back to when funky-soul bands laden with brass ensembles were king. Fans of Lee Fields, Charles Bradley and James Brown cannot afford to miss out on this talented act. You can catch this soulful act July 5, at 3:30 on the Black Sheep Stage.
Female fronted alternative rock band who’s influences range from The Pixies, Arcade Fire and Nina Simone. Tindervox is a four-piece but you would never know from the great depth of their sound and their haunting songs. If you are brave enough, check them out July 6th at 3 PM in the Barney Danson Theatre.
They play traditionally-based Ukrainian style music merged with punk rock power chords. Ukrania is perfect for fans of Gogol Bordello and gypsy style rock. They are up-beat, fun, dancy and sing all their songs in Ukrainian. Come learn a new language, gain international travel and have a party with Ukrania July 10th at 6PM on the River Stage.
Last but not least, the 30th local act, Wicked Grin. Since 2003 Wicked Grin have been playing their full-tilt blues with a groove that just won’t quit much to the enjoyment of concert goers. Wicked Grin recently won the Ottawa Blues Society “Road To Memphis” Challenge and represented Ottawa at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, in January 2014. You can catch their blues with bite July 12th at 6 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
It’s that time of year again. I’ll be packing up shop once again and heading down to NXNE in Toronto this week to cover the festival. There are plenty of Ottawa bands playing this year, including some of our local faves. Don’t forget to tune in later this week to see what’s going on in the big city! Check out the bands below:
It has been a few years now since Ottawa’s Amos the Transparent released their last album Goodnight My Dear, I’m Falling Apart back in 2011. They’ve played countless memorable shows, garnering the love and appreciation of fans across this great nation and a reputation as one of the best acts for live music in Ottawa. The album was one that you could listen to in many different contexts or moods – it’s balance between radio-friendly hooks and melodies along with strong, captivating lyricism helped propel them to the ranks of Canadian indie rock stardom (whatever that means). For everything that it was, the album left us wanting.
Without revealing too much, we know that their new album will be a concept album called This Cold Escape.
We started working on a story about a man’s desire to distance himself from the world he’s crafted for himself in order to stay close to those he loves. The idea is loosely biographical. […] This is the concept we wanted to explore through our new record – the consequences of trying to completely remove yourself from the world you’ve created.
Last year, I wrote a post about PledgeMusic, a company that is taking a somewhat familiar concept in today’s music industry and reworking it. In that post I interviewed the company’s CEO Benji Rogers, who helped to clarify why PledgeMusic’s model was unique and totally different from crowd funding enterprises such as indiegogo or Kickstarter. It’s a worthwhile read for those who like to keep up with how musicians are finding new ways to disseminate their music to the world and providing fans with new ways to consume that music.
Well, Amos the Transparent has teamed up with Benji and his team at PledgeMusic for their upcoming record this year (go to their campaign page here). With family lives and commitments outside of their band, the members of Amos recognize that the traditional way of going about making a record might not be in their best interest this time around. Instead, why not give fans (and there’s a lot of them) a chance to participate in the process? Oh yeah, I should also mention that the band is giving 3% of all money raised to CHEO, which is so great to see. I caught up with guitarist Dan Hay to discuss what the band is up to, and their new direction for their upcoming release.
Interview with Dan Hay, guitarist of Amos the Transparent
Matias: So it’s been a while since your last album Goodbye My Dear… I’m Falling Apart but it looks like exciting times for the band. What drove you to get back together and continue making music?
Dan: Essentially, it’s kind of hard to write a record and do shows all at once. When we’re in tour mode we don’t just choose a set for a year ,we switch it up every few shows or every few months. So every time we’d sit down and try to write this record something would pull us back a bit. With every record we want to try to do something different and with this one we wanted it to be very different—and that’s where the concept record came about. John had a rough idea of a storyline he wanted to tell over the course of the record. We decided we couldn’t work on shows or rework old material for a little while if we wanted to do this properly. That was the biggest catalyst to get this record written. And it’s also just difficult for six people with full-time jobs who have lives and kids to get together as much as we’d like. Those two things combined and the fact we wanted this to be a cohesive piece of music, lyrically and musically, meant it was going to be a longer process and take a lot more time fleshing it out.
M: Now that most of the members have kids or other responsibilities, has the band found a balance of life and art that works well for all of you?
D: I guess it’s everyone being aware of the others having their own things outside of the band, be it career or family—everyone has to understand that other things have to take priority sometimes. If we have to cancel practice or a show for a family emergency, no one’s allowed to lose their shit about it, they have to realize other things come first. At the same time everyone realizes we’ve worked really hard to get to this point and we have to make sacrifices. Sometimes we’d only be able to get together after 9:30 p.m., because of my work schedule, but one of our members works at CHEO and another is a schoolteacher so these people have to get up at 6 a.m. even after practicing until midnight or 1 a.m. It’s them saying, “I’m willing to do this because it’s the only way to make it work with your life.” I think it’s that trade off and a mutual understanding of others’ circumstances.
It’s really the only way we’ve been able to exist this long. Cause in other bands it was our whole existence and that can be too much time together. We’d just get cabin fever. I think by giving each other a lot more space it makes the experience a lot stronger when we come together.
M: For this record, you decided to go the Pledge Music route, what about it worked for the band and what initially attracted you to it?
D: We’ve always had a pretty strong connection with our fan base and we’ve operated almost entirely without record labels so this just seemed like the next logical step to try to include them as much as possible. So we looked at the way that Pledge structured everything. The way it was organized, to be able to offer cool prizes and nurture a deeper connection to the people who come buy our records at our shows. With a lot of our shows there’s usually a point where our fans will come on stage and do a sing-a-long, a lot of our fans are close fans. And I like how it’s set up, not like asking people for donations because everything is based around the idea that if you pledge something you’ll get a copy of the record. And they’re part of the process, they contribute to the record, which is really cool for a lot of fans. As soon as they pledge they get updates from us in the studio and the feeling is that we’re all doing this together. It’s beneficial to not have to rely on a record label, to be making a record for the fans, with the fans.
M: What are some of the things you’re offering when fans pledge?
D: There are things like the record, a signed copy of the record, special t-shirts and some of the cooler prizes are a private party with us, there’s a custom guitar with the record artwork painted on it, or John (our singer) will write a personal song for the pledger and record it for the purpose of having their own theme music for the rest of their life. There’s also handwritten lyrics to the full record and a spot in our next music video. We’re doing a pretty exclusive show in May at the Herb Garden in Almonte with limited seating but it’ll be the first playing of the full record, and we’ll be filming a DVD during that show. We look at some other pledge pages to get ideas for cool ideas and to think of things that no one’s done before.
M: Can you tell a little bit more about the album and what’s special about this record for the band?
D: Every song connects and ideally it would be listened to in one sitting as a 45-minute song, essentially. It’s a story from beginning to end so it’s not that different from albums we were influenced by: Ziggy Stardust, Abbey Road, and Pink Floyd records. To get back into the things that we got really excited about when we were younger: art that is directly related to the story or actually reading the lyrics and following the storyline. I think there’s always an evolution in our sound and we’re not necessarily going to do something like what worked for us in the past. Cause you definitely get both end of the spectrum on this. People in higher positions in the music industry say don’t make a concept record, that’s death, you’ll never get on the radio. But we’re willing to make one and if it completely fails then at least we tried it, if people like it then it’ll be a high point for us and we’ll do something different again next time.