I’ve been in Ottawa for five years and believe it or not, this year’s Bluesfest was my first. Despite it being Friday the 13th, this day was anything but unlucky. The crowd at the City Stage was treated to three amazing shows by artists who have all had considerable success worldwide.
Starting off the night was Juno Nominee J.W Jones. The Ottawa bluesman, who’s played with the likes of Buddy Guy and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith, is known for his high energy shows and improvisational skills. He sure did not disappoint the crowd. Up next on the City Stage was Sturgill Simpson, who’s 2016 release “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” earned the Grammy for the Best Country Album and a nomination in the Album of the Year category. He played tracks off his most recent major label release, some classics from his independent days and a surprising amount of covers, including Willie Nelson’s “I’d Have To Be Crazy”.
Finishing off the night was the incomparable Beck. I discovered Beck as a child. I was going through my family’s then “state-of-the-art” Windows ME and found the track “Beautiful Way” from 1999’s “Midnite Vultures”. This track was used as a demo track for Windows Media Player at the time. Later in my teenage years, I dove into his extensive and eclectic discography. I became a huge fan of Beck and his way of mastering which ever music genre he touches.
Before the show, I had heard a lot of people say that the Beck show would either be hit or miss. I kind of felt that way too. Having seen a few of his live shows online. I had friends ask me if I was excited to see Beck and I told them “It’s just Beck—I’m just going to the show to say that I saw Beck.” Boy, was I ever wrong.
Beck arrived on stage around 9:35 pm. The crowd was filled with people of all ages. It seems as though people have forgotten the amount of hits this guy has pumped out over the years. He started off with “Devils Haircut” from his 1996 album “Odelay” and then went straight into his breakthrough single “Loser” soon after. I was afraid that tracks from albums like 2002’s “Sea Change” and 2014’s “Morning Phase” wouldn’t exactly fit in with his upbeat repertoire in a live setting, but I was wrong again. In the middle of his Bluesfest show, his band got their acoustic instruments out and they played “Lost Cause,” “Debra” (with a medley into Prince’s “Raspberry Barret”), and “Blue Moon.” The crowd sang along, and it was definitely an intimate moment. One of he best moments of the show.
Beck finished off the night with yet another hit and quite possibly one of his biggest—“Where It’s At”. Mid-way into the track, he introduced his band, which featured studio musician and ex-Jellyfish member Jason Falkner.
Beck was definitely a highlight for me. It was a highlight for a lot of people at Bluesfest this year. I believe it was a highlight for Beck himself, who stated mid-way into the show that it was his first time in Ottawa and that he would love to visit the nation’s capital.
Beck has such a Beautiful Way of showing off his genre-bending discography. One could say I was completely WOW-ed by what happened at the end of the show: I was lucky enough to pick up one of the setlists from the stage. It was then time to Say Goodbye. Setlist in hand, I walked off and told myself that the Beck show—That’s Where it was at… Good one right?
Beer: Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Broadhead Brewing Company
Style: Stout – Other
Pairing: A “Holiday” Playlist
About the Beer: Candy cane lovers rejoice! It might not pair well with a steak but it’s not supposed to. I had it with chocolate and it paired well. They currently have it at the brewery and I suggest you add it to your beer advent calendar.
It is however a challenging beer for the novice. My playlist for MKSC reflects that. You won’t find these songs in your everyday holiday playlist just like you won’t find this beer in your typical beer fridge.
Jim Bryson “Mary New Year’s Eve”
Starting off with this sweet song by #Ottband Jim Bryson. A reflection on how much we consume this time of year.
Tom Waits “Christmas Card to a Hooker in Minneapolis”
I like how his Christmas story is so much different than mine…
Julie Doiron “Heavy Snow”
My formative years were spent in the same region as Julie Doiron in New Brunswick. She knows about heavy snow.
Clarence Carter “Back Door Santa”
Yeah santa, please come through my back door. It’s a lot easier!
James Brown “Hey America”
Hey!!!!!! If you want your dose of James Brown HEYS!, look no further.
Dana Dane “Dana Dane Is Coming to Town”
Hip hop has come a long way since Dada Dane came to town.
De La Soul – “Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa” or The Roots “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa”
Take your pick! Same song, different vibes…
Beck – “Little Drum Machine Boy”
When Beck wrote good songs… Not saying this one is…
Fucked Up “David Christmas”
He’s and angry elf…
El Vez “Feliz Navidad”
Also known as the Mexican Elvis, El Vez performs a spirited version of Feliz Navidad.
Moar Treeverb “PS Xmas Dood”
My Fav on this list… #OttBand
The Ramones “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”
How many of us dread the family business of the holidays?
Pointed Sticks “Power Pop Santa”
Power pop kids the same as a hipster?
The Visit “Offering”
I want to leave you with a gift. An “offering” if your will. This #OttBand is one to watch for. The Offering is not like anything I have heard before. Enjoy and happy Holidays!
Contact me on twitter @danielbordage or at email@example.com for suggestions, comments or just to say hi.