About the Beer: For this Saint Patty’s Day, I’m forgoing the traditional Irish music playlist and opting for a dedication to the lovely redheads in our lives. We traditionally see green as the official colour of Saint Patty’s. I vote we make red the second official colour. Even the Lucky Charms mascot has red hair.
Many associate red hair with Ireland but, in reality, it’s very dispersed around the world. Growing up with red hair, I’ve been asked many questions about my origin or where I got my head of hair. In my case, it’s the Irish and Scottish blood seeping through. Ten per cent of Ireland’s population had red hair. I know! I thought it was way more too. But it is a recessive gene after all and 46% of the population there carries it. Please feel free to read more about redheads on Wikipedia.
Nita brewed a nearly perfect ginger spiced ale. The ginger is present but not overpowering. The colour is a nice amber that matches my beard. So you know it’s good! ☺
I’ve already finished the beer and I just started writing.
Lone Wolf McAle is a tribute to another ginger we all love… Chuck Norris! Lone Wolf McQuade was made in 1983 where Chuck squares off against David Carradine. What more could you ask for? If you want to watch the movie, go get yourself a few Lone Wolf McAle’s at the brewery. They are open Wednesday, Thursday & Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The playlist will include at least one redhead in the band presented.
Bluesfest 2013 is now just a memory, but I thought it would be fun to put together a bunch of top 5 lists about the fest. I had an absolute blast this year and am already very excited for next year, which will be the 20th anniversary. So here you go a bunch of lists… and who doesn’t love lists?
The Specials performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Monday, July 8th, 2013 ~ RBC Bluesfest Press Images PHOTO/Mark Horton
Top 5 performances (click on the band for a link to the review)
Top 5 moments (personal events, not directly related to a band’s performance)
Seeing Wu-Tang Clan live with my little brother, Philip, who sang every single word.
Assisting in popping my friend Tanya’s proverbial Bluesfest cherry on July 7th.
Running into my friend’s mom, Joan, on a daily basis and talking about all the awesome bands we had seen.
Spending the first weekend of the festivals with my guests, Marianne and Russel, who came all the way from Abitibi-Témiscamingue for the Bluesfest.
Talking with the bass player for Flogging Molly and then having him remove a bug from my sleeve and drown it with beer.
Blues royalty, B.B. King rocked Bluesfest. Yes, there was blues at the festival. PHOTO: Joseph Mathieu
Top 5 things I would change about Bluesfest
Making rules on lawn chairs. Enforcing a time ban (all chairs folded after 7 pm) or making a section in the back near the sound tent a designated chair area. These chairs suck, and ruin the experience for everyone who is not sitting in them. If I truly had my way I would ban them from the festival completely.
Hire local venue sound guys. Once again there were several days of hit or miss sound at Bluesfest. I would love to see local sound people from bars and clubs hired instead of a sound company that works for the NAC and events. The locals, like the guy at Babylon, has experience doing all kinds of various styles in the same night, which by the sound of it is too much for Wall of Sound to handle.
More water stations. The two stations with free water were amazing, but it would be great to have one at every stage just like there are porta-potties.
Keep the electronic acts to the side stages. Sure Dog Blood is fun and all… but he almost completely drowned out Los Lobos (a much better act in my mind) on the River Stage. It’s insulting to the acts and the fans when all you can hear are the beats from someone’s laptop. I know I sound like an old crusty (I am not) but why even have Los Lobos playing at this point? Fix the sound balance or stop putting overly loud EDM on the main stage.
Adding a couple of misting stations. Most big summer festivals in North America have these. It allows people to cool off and also is a great place to meet like-minded people while refreshing. This also encourages people to stay at the festival or show up earlier.
A mist tent used at various Warped Tour locations.
Top 5 things I really liked about Bluesfest
Outdoor urinals. Sorry ladies go get yourselves a wiz-it. It is excellent to not have to go lock yourself in an overheated plastic shit-scented dungeon. I was peeing with a breeze at my back, it was great.
Excellent variety of food at a reasonable price for a festival. My shout outs go to Friday’s for their Organic Bluesfest Burger, which had caramelized onions and bacon on it, azs well as Casey’s for their always awesome Tornado Potato.
Free sunscreen from the first aid tent. This is an amazing idea considering there is almost zero shade. They should probably advertise it a little more.
Six dollar beers are very reasonable for a festival, as well as offering three kinds (granted all from Mill Street).
The fact that a few local acts got to play the main stage. I think it is wonderful of the organizers to give local acts a shot on the Bell Stage. Give them a taste of the big time. It must be quite the thrill compared to playing the 50-200 person venues most of them are use to.
Best covers performed during Bluesfest (Because I freaking love covers!)
Mother Mother – Pixies: Cactus/Gauge Away, and then later in the set Nirvana: In Bloom
Justin Towne Earl – The Replacements: Can’t Hardly Wait
Frank Turner – The Weakerthans: A Plea From a Cat Named Virtute
Everlast – Johnny Cash: Folsom Prison Blues
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – Neil Young: Cinnamon Girl
Top 5 bands I would like to see next year (A man can dream, right?)
Neko Case performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Saturday, July 6th, 2013 ~ RBC Bluesfest Press Images PHOTO/Mark Horton
With the rain nowhere in sight and the heat blaring, day three belonged to the ladies, well mostly. I was busy on Saturday, making it to nine different acts.
First up was Cold Specks. Opening with the whole band on stage, Al Spx sang the first song with not an instrument playing but her magical voice. Her booming voice was center stage of all songs, with all the instruments turned way down. I really liked the song “Blank Maps,” and a new song they played that she introduced as “this song is new, it doesn’t have a name yet. It is fucking loud.”
Off to the River Stage I went to catch up with Steve Earl’s son, Justin Towne Earl. He plays some sweet folky rock, perfect for fans of his father and Jason Collett. He made my day by covering The Replacement’s “Can’t Hardly Wait.” He also played some pretty nice originals like “Single Mother” and “Black Eyed Suzy.”
Needing to take a shade break, I sauntered over to the Black Sheep Stage for some jams by Adrian Lux. Not my favourite style of EDM, but it was good background sound for a little relax and a beer.
Re-energized and ready to go, it was time to see some blues. Yes, I saw blues two days in a row at Bluesfest, I am impressed. Nick Waterhouse, was delivering smooth blues rock with some beautiful backup singers. His grooving guitar playing on “You Been On My Mind,” made me glad I stopped by to check him out.
It was then time to completely change speeds and see the super dancy styling of Fitz and the Tantrums. They have some pretty sweet ska reggae undertones that force you to move around. And if somehow you could hold back, they covered “Sweet Dreams” which had every age group into it. Fun stuff but I had to leave before the end of the set to go get close for the one and only Neko Case.
She won my heart when I was younger thanks to The New Pornographers, and her voice still always made me melt. What could make seeing Neko Case any better? Having my old friend Amelia and new friend Elsie in front of me going nuts for every song. “I love this song!, “Oh my god no way!” could be heard as the first chord of every song was played. Neko is hilarious between songs and amazing during. She played a handful of good songs off the new album which is not released yet and several of my favourites, including “People Got A Lot of Nerve,” “I Wish I Was the Moon” and “Hold On.” The latter is when Amelia and Elsie really lost their minds.
Unfortunately the sound man had some trouble with the mic and laid some feedback on us every once in a while, and I was insulted by the amount of stubborn party poopers with their lawn chairs all set up. By the looks of it they were all camping out for Dixies Chicks over two hours in advance, and taking away space from the Neko fans. At least they got to hear some amazing music from Neko, but I am not sure they deserved it though.
Once again I desired a change of pace and headed back to the Black Sheep Stage for Toronto’s Dubstep, Drum and Base and all around awesome, Zed’s Dead. I don’t care how most feel about dubstep, don’t care if it can be predictable at times, for me it is punk rock techno. The crowd was in an absolute frenzy from start to finish. Hands in the air, dancing, crowd surfing and hollering, someone even threw some panties on stage. The duo sampled Prodigy’s “Breath,” Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shouder” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” They have grown a lot since the days of seeing them at Babylon with 100 other people. In that time they have also evolved to not get corned into being just full of womp womp and drops. Their integration of old school reggae sounds and new dance creates a great atmosphere. They closed out with some of my favourites from their older stuff, playing their remix of Blue Fountain’s “Eyes on Fire” and then Massive Attack’s “Paradise Circus.” Zed’s Dead Baby!
On my way to Sharon Van Etten I decided to give the Dixie Chicks a chance for a few songs. I have to admit I don’t give them the credit they deserve as musicians. They have an excellent band with them, and the girls hold their own on their instruments. It’s just really not my thing.
So with that experiment done I could go catch the smooth soulful rock of Sharon Van Etten. The very cute and so overly thankful Sharon and her band played some wonderful tunes. Her song “Serpents” really caught my attention, lyrically and musically. Check it out. As they prepared to finish their set, she said “This is our last song,” which the crowd responded to with boos and unrest. “Let’s see what happens,” she responded with her cute little voice and a smile. They then launched into “I’m Wrong,” which was absolutely beautiful, especially with the bass player using a bow on his bass. They did return for an encore and that spelled the end of my evening.
Saturday was a lot of fun, and I can not wait for Sunday. Let the madness continue and the good times roll.
With Bluesfest kicking off tonight I thought I would share the one or two acts a day I consider must-see performers. I avoided naming headliners and went with lesser known acts, hidden gems and good alternatives to hopefully introduce our readers to some new talents. Agree/Disagree? Who do I need to see that I did not list?
Supporting local acts is always great and these three all offer something a little different. Adamyk with their rock, Fevers with their electro-synth-pop and Her Harbour with her dark and soulful songs. Adamyk, 1 PM Bell Stage, Fevers, 2 PM Claridge Stage, Her Harbour 4:30 PM Barney Danson Theatre.
Just one of, if not the, most influential Ska bands of all time! This is not only my must-see of the day, but my must-see of the entire festival! I am so excited to dance like no one is watching. 7:15 PM, Claridge Stage
More locals being plugged. Roberta Bondar have a dark space rock sound to them, while Mehdi Cayenne Club can only be defined as a lot of energy and a lot of fun, no genre can handle them. Roberta Bondar, 1 PM Bell Stage, Medhi 2:45 PM River Stage.
Alejandro is an excellent guitarist and writer who has been doing it for quite some time. Perfect for fans of Bruce Springsteen, The Hold Steady and Bob Mould. Dog Blood on the other hand is something completely different. It is the combination of two of the biggest names in dubstep, Skrillex and Boys Noize. Things will get loud and your heart will pound. Escovedo, 5:45 PM River Stage. Dog Blood, 9:15 Bell Stage.