The beautiful and talented Kathleen Edwards. Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune
Ottawa’s very own and amazing Kathleen Edwards might be leaving music. The 11-time Juno nominated folk singer song-writer has four excellent and passionate albums under her belt spanning over a decade. I am so glad to have seen her this past year at Beau’s Oktoberfest, she blew me away. We here at Ottawa Showbox wish her the very best no matter what she decides to do. We feel that life is too short to do things you are not passionate about, and one must be true to one’s self. Go get ’em Kathleen. Here is the post from her Facebook account today:
What better way to bring in a new year than plan a long-awaited album release AND have a big, loud, and sweaty New Year’s Eve bash at the same time? Well, the guys in the Ottawa dance-pop group Silkken Laumann thought of it, and they sure know how to throw a hell of a party.
My first day of the Ottawa Dragon Boats Festival was it’s third. The line-up alone would have made the festival the non-stop summer party it promised to be had the thunderstorm forecasts not persisted. I missed The Balconies & Sam Roberts the night before, but still biked there with my mother to the muddy lawn of Mooney’s Bay.
We arrived at the fourth set for melancholy folk rock in the rain. From start to finish Kalle Mattsonmade us music-lovers smile through the showers. The band comprises of three Ottawans Kyle Woods on drums, JF Beauchamp on trumpet, flugelhorn & percussion, and Jon Chandler on bass & back-up vocals, and the two from the Sault: Rory Lewis on guitar & synth and lyricist/guitarist Kalle. Just poised to give into a summer of first-ever European tours, the four-year-old band was stoked to be at the festival.
Kalle ended every single song with a beaming “Thank you very much everybody!” You can give this modest Sault Ste. Marie native’s new album Lives in Between a looksee with the video to his new track for “Water Falls” below.
Liam Cohl of The Treasuresdeftly covered the absence of The Matinée’s Mike Young. Cohl learned the latter’s bass lines while on the two bands’ road tour together. With close to matching beards to prove it, the hectic summer tour was clearly still at a raging high note. As The Matinée’s vocalist Matt Layzell put it, “We’ve done something like 28 shows in 22 days.”
In the fifth set’s last song, The Treasures brought out three floor toms and bashed out the bridge, as a tip of the hat to dragon boat drummers. If these instruments were the heartbeat of the festival then The Treasures’ Mike Eckert on a bird’s eye maple pedal steel guitar was the brain firing off synapses.
Ironically the awards ceremonies ended with the rain, although organizers still moved the live performances to the beach stage. Toronto-based Great Lakes Swimmers lit a fire under our soggy bums, asking us to get up and dance. Tony Dekker’s is a music that nourishes your sentiments, if not you soul. Cross-dressers and medal-winners let in the melody of banjo, harmonica and violin with songs themed by daily events and human disasters.
Just before the blaze of Born Ruffians, there was an actual fire show by the Fire Weavers — attractive gymnasts with hula-hoops afire. There are three things that humans can’t look away from easily: fire, running water & people working. This was a rare instance that all three things worked in unison.
When Born Ruffians finally found the beach stage, I watched four tracks and left, burnt out. I can’t be certain if frontman Luke Lalonde played “Retard Canard” but it would have been fitting: “Oh I don’t wanna start a flame in your heart! Oh I just wanna set the world on fire!”
For the first time in a long time, the four-person Midland, Ontario band played without their guitar & keyboard player Andy Lloyd. This left Lalonde and bandmates Mitch Derosier & Steve Hamelin to whip the crowd into hooligans without back-up strumming. They did well, although they confessed it was weird to be playing without their fourth counterpart.
After selling out three nights in a row in Halifax to start the tour, and playing some shows in Quebec, Ben Caplan rolled into Ottawa Sunday night, February 10 for a show at Mavericks.
“The driving was good, we seemed to arrive in every town just after the storm had hit,” said Caplan. “I brought a booklet of CDs full of old mixes I made in high school. So that helps for the drive also.”
With luck and nostalgia on his side, he took to the stage with a guitar, a piano and a Mason jar. He opened the show with Birds with Broken Wings. After this, there was never a moment where the crowd was not either singing along or laughing at Caplan’s banter between songs. If music does not work out for him, which I strongly doubt for someone nominated for two East Coast Music Awards and who is about to tour Australia and Europe, there will always be stand-up comedy.
Caplan soon revealed the mystery content of the Mason jar. He explained it was tea, Tabasco and whiskey to cure the strep throat that he caught the day before the tour began. “Tabasco is your friend.”
The Nova Scotia Music Awards Entertainer of the Year got the crowd involved early with his sing along “I Got Me a Woman.” As he tried to explain the sing along, the crowd sang right back on the first try and blew Caplan away. “YouTube is fucked. I haven’t put that song on an album and you guys know it — It’s the best.” The crowd was hooked.
It is hard to hear Ben Caplan’s voice and not draw connections with the iconic Tom Waits. Caplan made it even harder as he sat down at the piano and delivered a wonderful cover of Waits’ “You Can Never Hold Back Spring.” He then flowed into two new songs “Nights Like This” and “Belly of the World,” delivering on the promise he made me during a pre-show interview. In that same interview Caplan said that we should expect a new album this year.
The highlight of the night might have been when Caplan helped the crowd set themselves free with “Ben Caplan yoga”. “Living within the rules of society is a lot like winter; you gotta put on your parka before going out into public. What that means is you are all bundled up and sometimes you just want to go crazy… Walking around in society you can’t just scream out loud.” He then invited everyone to “unbutton the metaphorical parka and scream at the top of [their] lungs on the count of three… and remember don’t be shy, if we all scream together no one can hear you scream.” The crowd screamed and then joined in and repeated after Caplan’s “ra-dadada-dadadadada-dada” at the beginning of “Conduit.”
To close out the set Caplan played two fan favourites off his 2011 album in the time of the great remembering, “Down by the River” and “Stranger.” During the crashing end of “Stranger,” Caplan had his entire leg pressed on the keys as he threw himself off his bench to the floor.
After regaining his feet he said, “I’m going to kibosh the encore and play one more song.” He then summoned Taryn Kawaja, who had been his trusted merch girl for the evening. She joined him at the piano with a second mic to play a brand new song he wrote a week ago, the eerie “Under Control (far as anyone’s seen).”
Before Ben Caplan was Her Harbour, an Ottawa singer-songwriter you will surely be reading a lot about over the year. Gabrielle Giguere’s voice, which ranges from soft and sultry to harrowing with emotions from deep within, sang her poem-like lyrics that danced over the playing of her autoharp. Be on the lookout for her upcoming album, Winter’s Ghosts in a few months and don’t miss out on a chance to hear her live.
Opening the show was J.P. Hoe. He started his set off with a very catchy track that got the crowd swaying and paying attention from the get go. Throughout the set he interchanged between acoustic, electric and a ukulele. He sang songs about an uncle the family never talks about because he joined a cult and a song he wrote about the real back story of Ms. Claus. A very entertaining way to begin the evening.
‘Tis the season to look back on the year and recall some of the best music. Before we enter 2o13 (provided the world doesn’t end in a few weeks, which is so very likely) and wait in anticipation for new releases to come, we should reflect on the hard work, time and craftsmanship that went into so many of this past year’s albums. I often find lists arbitrary, because they are completely subjective and don’t always represent the best all-round music. In any case, these are my picks for 2012 — the albums that had the biggest impact on me throughout the year. There are so many other albums that came out this year that are worthy of mention, and I’m sure many different blogs throughout Canada will give them some well-deserved attention. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but enjoy anyways!