Megaphono 2018 was a banner year for the festival, and last weekend delegates from all over the glob descended on the capital for a weekend full of shows and panels. There were visibly more people out than previous years, and the programming brought crowds out to venues from deep in Hull and Gatineau, to Centretown, Hintonburg, Chinatown, Old Ottawa South, and more. Here are some of our photographer Els Durnford‘s best shots from Megaphono 2018.
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.
On February 3, 2008, The Balconies took to the stage for the first time here in Ottawa. The band probably didn’t know what the future held at that time, but they quickly jumped down the rabbit hole into the unknown. Shows led to tours, tours led to funding, funding led to albums, which ultimately led to more tours. Their fan base grew from being their Ottawa friends to friends around the world, playing stages from SXSW to Europe.
Saturday night’s show was one of two for the band’s final send off for those loyal hometown friends and fans. Friday’s show appeared packed from the many Snapchats and Instagram stories floating around, and a line quickly grew outside The 27 Club despite the snow beginning to fall. The Love Machine reunited and opened up the night, and they too drew many familiar faces which were easy to spot as they wore shirts clearly reading THIS IS LOVE. Sing-a-longs of their early songs solidified that fans were in the house, and even those who weren’t familiar were able to sing and dance along to their catchy songs.
Finally the time had come for the much anticipated final show for The Balconies. The stage presence of lead singer Jacquie Neville energized the crowd, getting them to jump along to their favorite songs along with her signature hair flipping throughout the set. Though the small venue made for an intimate final evening, she was quick to point out the family support in the room, letting everyone know her grandmother, and other family members were in the house continuing to support them. The set began relatively early for a headliner, which meant the audience was in for a 90-minute set to tie-off the ten year journey of the band. During the final song (pre-encore) Jacquie hopped off the stage into the audience to have a sing-a-long, hug it out with some family and friends before hopping back on stage pointing out that everyone looked like they had cut onions before coming out.
As the band re-entered for the encore, they took a moment as they emotions of the room hit the stage and reality set in that these were the final moments for the band. A slow song to capture that emotion first, before getting the energy back up to end the night. Joined on stage by The Love Machine, they danced it out with the crowd before giving Ottawa one final bow.
Once in a while a concept album comes along that moves us, emanating stories and experiences that we can somehow connect with. In the case of Winnipeg’s Heavy Bell, Matt Peters (member of Royal Canoe) and Tom Keenan (actor and singer-songwriter) dig deep into the past with their audacious debut, By Grand Central Station.
Both Peters and Keenan bring different artistic perspectives to the table, having each composed music in the more traditional sense, but also for stage productions of A Winter’s Tale and Richard II. The avant-chamber-pop album contains songs that were inspired by Canadian writer and poet Elizabeth Smart’s 1945 novel By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, a work that has been touted as “one of the half-dozen masterpieces of poetic prose in the world.” In doing so, the duo creates a bridge by which we can take a stroll back in time and experience the story told by Smart in a new way. By Grand Central Station is beautifully crafted, and its orchestral overtones flood the album. In some respects, Heavy Bell took a similar storytelling approach as Neutral Milk Hotel did on 1998’s In The Aeroplane Over the Sea.
Smart’s novel is considered to be a pseudo-fictional autobiography in which she recounts her turbulent love affair with writer George Barker. In their music, Peters and Keenan draw from the book’s highs and lows, the ecstasies and calamities associated with complicated love stories.
“The novel is a poem written in prose form,” Peters explains. “Rather than describing action, she describes her internal response to action; it is a journey through the emotional extremes of a love affair: anticipation, exhilaration, guilt, joy, jealousy, grief, pity, righteousness… But though she is tossed around on the sea of her emotions, her dazzling intellect remains intact: in fact she is constantly examining her emotions even as she experiences them.”
“She weighs her experience against the whole of poetic history: the book is full of reflections on the Bible, Shakespeare, Greek mythology, and more recent writers. It is a very rich read: every time I come back to it, each chapter strikes me in new ways,” said Peters.
“There is no specific structure to the songs, or the album for that matter. The passages that are included create an impressionistic composite that layers and weaves with the music, guiding the direction of By Grand Central Station as a whole. The emotion embedded in Smart’s story is what guided her book, and is the connective tissue that guides the direction of the album. In fact, Elizabeth Smart’s own voice appears in the songs “The Pain Was Unbearable” and “I Am Not The Ease,” which was retrieved from a 1982 archival recording from CBC’s Morningside,” added Peters.
“We are certainly not trying to summarize the plot, or adapt the novel to music,” Peters clarifies. “The album is a collection of responses to moments in the book. There are several themes that struck us and made it into the record. Fate is a big one: she is constantly aware that her deed is going to (and does) wreak havoc on herself and everyone around her, spilling “poisonous tides of blood,” but she is helpless to stop it.”
“It is greater than she, greater than pity, greater than remorse: her ultimate moral duty is to this Fact of love; ‘Jupiter has been with Leda… and now nothing can avert the Trojan Wars.’ This theme resounds through all the emotional extremes of the book and the album. Love is “claiming its birth at last” and changing her entire world forever.”