Beau’s Oktoberfest kicks off this weekend, Sept. 22-23, in Vankleek Hill, just under one hour outside of Ottawa. It is an epic two day celebration of craft beer, local food and of course music.
We have been going for years now and having the best time year after year. Last year members of Showbox entered the team challenge and came out victorious. We will be defending our title this year if you happen to be around early Saturday morning.
More importantly, we figured that this year you should get to know the bands that will tickle your ear drums while we suggest beer pairings, suds, that will also tickle your taste buds. Here are some of our recommended pairings:
Flight Distance with Three Knocks
Friday – 7:00 PM on the Black Forest Stage
Flight Distance seem like the odd band out as the only hip-hop act playing the festival. This makes them a rare breed in the midst of all the rock and roll, which makes pairing the trio with Three Knocks, a special, rare version of a German-style altbier perfect. I know they won’t be intimidated at all and will carry the flag for Ottawa hip-hop with pride when they hit the stage. So while they spits slick bars you should hit the bar yourself and get wild and freaky with Three Knocks.
NOBRO with Spiced Principle
Friday – 8:20 PM on the Black Forest Stage
My favourite song by these rockers is “Call The Doctor.” Spiced Principle is a complex and lively beer which features a mortar and pestle on the label, tools traditionally used in pharmacies to crush various ingredients to fill your prescription after your visit to the doctor. So take a trip to the Black Forest Stage to come rock out to NOBRO and sip on some Spiced Principle to cure what ales you.
John K Samsom and the Winter Wheat with Maple Rush Porter
Friday – 8:45PM on the Main Stage
Sure pairing the Winter Wheat with a wheat beer would make a lot of sense here, but John K Samson, formerly of The Weakerthans and Propaghandi, is Canadiana and Canadian-indie music at its core. And what is more Canadian than maple coffee beer? Nothing. So Friday night when the sun goes down and you’re ready to be swooned by the lovely musical stylings of John K, order yourself a Maple Rush Porter and toast this living legend of Canadian music.
Dead Tired with Vambrace
Friday – 9:15 PM on the Black Forest Stage
A Vambrace is a piece of armour, most specifically a piece that protects the arm. Now I don’t know how much a pilsner will protect you, but you certainly might need some armour to survive the onslaught from this hardcore band lead by former Alexisonfire frontman George Petit. I do however know that this crisp, refreshing and easy drinking beer won the 2016 Beau’s Oktoberfest homebrew contest and will make for a great late night drink while you headbang to Dead Tired.
Jon Creeden and the Flying Hellfish with Lug Tread
Saturday – 3:45 PM on the Black Forest Stage
The Lug Tread is Beau’s flagship beer, tried tested and true. This makes it the ideal pairing for Jon Creeden and the Flying Hellfish as they are an Ottawa Showbox favourite who are always refreshing, never disappoints and great at anytime of the day, just like Lug Tread. So make sure to be there early enough on Saturday to enjoy this pairing under the hot afternoon sun.
Partner with Farm Table: Hopfenlager
Saturday – 4:30 PM on the Main Stage
The Hopfenlager is taking something common, like a crisp and refreshing lager, and spicing it up with herbal flavours and aromas. Partner have taken rock and given it their own original fun take, while breaking down barriers and also spicing it up with some herbal aromas from time to time (check out their song “Everybody Knows You’re High”). So try a new beer while enjoying a new twist on an old classic.
Julie and the Wrong Guys with Jänis
Saturday – 5:30 PM on the Main Stage
First off a juniper beer named Jänis just has to be paired with Julie given that I’m a sucker for alliterations. Julie is of course Julie Doiron, an award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter from the Maritimes, who along with her band will continue to rock the main stage following Partner. The music will make you bob your head and even hop up and down, possibly like the rabbit on Jänis’s label.
The Planet Smashers with Parliament of Trees
Saturday – 6:45 PM on the Main Stage
Parliament of Trees’ label has a space ship on it and the beer has a hint of campfire in every sip. The Planet Smashers are one of Canada’s greatest and longest standing ska bands around. Their super fun approach to ska will make you want to dance and sing, the perfect activities for around a camp fire with friends.
The Creeps with Sergeant Stripes
Saturday – 7:50 PM on the Black Forest Stage
This export stout is dark as the night and deep in flavour. It promises to keep you warm while the ghastly punk rock stylings of The Creeps give you shivers under the moonlight. This beer and band pairing might just have you howling at the moon as you cap off your Oktoberfest 2017.
For more information on the beers themselves, click here.
We hope everyone attending has a wonderful, safe and responsible time at Beau’s Oktoberfest. And for anyone that doesn’t have a ticket yet, I believe some are still available here.
It is that beautiful time a year again where Lebreton Flats transforms into one of the worlds biggest music festivals. Yes, Ottawa Bluesfest is back and ready to rock the capital from July 6th to 16th.
With so many days of music and so many bands, we wanted to highlight some of our must-watch acts. We decided this time around to focus on some of the traveling acts that have us excited. We may not be highlighting them this time around, but we don’t want to mention that there are a lot of amazing local bands gracing the stage almost every day (we’ve included some local mentions at the bottom of this article). Don’t skip the openers as they could very well be the next act to explode out of the city. See the full schedule here.
Top Picks for Bluesfest 2017
Death From Above
Thu, July 6, 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM – Black Sheep Stage
Death From Above have dropped the “1979” suffix and will make their return to the Bluesfest stage this year after having to drop out in 2016. The duo brings a rush of bass, drums and piano that some times makes you want to mosh and other times makes you want to slow dance. They surprisingly dropped a couple of new singles this year so this set may also be a chance to hear some new music they are trying out. Check out their new track “Freeze Me” below.
If Death From Above isn’t really your thing, Pokey Lafarge will hit the stage at the same time and brings a more country-blues musical styling rooted in American folk music. Lafarge who has been releasing music since 2006 got his big break in 2012 when Jack White invited him to sing on the song “I Guess I Should Go to Sleep” from his critically acclaimed album Blunderbuss. Lafarge is a songwriter through and through and beautiful crafts lyrical content to be deep and catchy all at once. His is also quite the entertainer so you are surely in for a treat between songs as well.
Sat, July 8, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM – Bluesville Stage
If you are one of those rare (yet awesome) people who actually go to Bluesfest for the blues, you can do much worse than to go catch a set by the big man of blues Sugaray Rayford. Rayford is surrounded by world-class musicians who will take you on a ride well before he even has a chance to sing. But once he sings, oh boy, are you in for a time. You can feel the pain from his past spent in Texas in his powerful soulful which bellows out of his 6’5” frame. I have never seen him live, but I am told he moves with the grace of a much smaller man. Go see him live to have all three senses tickled, hear his songs, feel his voice and watch him dance.
Tue, July 11, 8:00 PM – 9:15 PM – Claridge Homes Stage
With all their success over the last couple of years, July Talk have been called up to the big leagues finally making the move from one of the side stages to one of the main stages. The bands music is great, don’t get me wrong. But a July Talk show is about much much more than their catchy lyrics and smooth musicians, it is about the chemistry between the singers. Watching singer and guitarist Peter Dreimanis and singer Leah Fay interact on stage is a show in itself. Fay’s energy is electric as she dances around the stage, gets in Dreimanis’ face and usually drags him around the stage by his tie. Dreimanis sings with a voice that will remind people of Tom Waits and does his very best not to miss a beat when Fay comes around. Last time they played Bluesfest, our buddy was crowd surfed on stage and Fay took his hat and had him take his shirt off and even gave him a little bit of mic time before pouring water all over him in front of thousands of people. Thanks for the memory, Nick!
Do you love singing? Do you love karaoke but are a little too shy to get in front of a crowd? Do you love big sing-a-longs? Well, if you answered yes to one or all three of these you will love a Choir! Choir! Choir! set. Nobu Adliman and Daveed Goldman, the founders of Choir! Choir! Choir!, take a very non-traditional approach to forming a choir…they simply make the audience the choir. Coming off playing Parliament Hill on Canada Day, they play popular songs and old-time classics and will teach you the words and your part to make it a fun and interactive experience.
Wed, July 12, 7:55 PM – 9:10 PM – Claridge Homes Stage
After singing for a bit with Choir! Choir! Choir! go check out the multi-Grammy winning band The Shins as they hit the main stage. The band has been wowing audiences and indie rock fans worldwide for over 20 years now. The band will take you on an emotional roller coaster with their beautiful music and vocalist James Mercer will impress with his range. This show will bring many of us back to high-school or early university days sitting in our rooms with our headphones on taking it all in.
Wed, July 12, 9:10 PM – 11:00 PM – City Stage
Yes another act on Wednesday July 12th…what can we say? It’s a stacked bill that day. LCD Soundsystem are celebrating 15 years since forming in 2002, and front man James Murphy is sure to wow and entertain. Having seen them headline at Way Home music festival last year—let me tell you that this is the must-see can’t-miss act this year. Bring your dancing shoes and get ready to shake your groove thing when LCD hits the stage. Their music blend of electronic and dance with rock is sure to bring the most lawn-chair of fans to their feet. It’s a great way to cap off a night and help soften the blow of partying on a Wednesday night.
Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals
Fri, July 14, 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM – Claridge Homes Stage
Anderson .Pakk is a songwriter, rapper, virtuoso drummer and producer who has been making beats since his early teens. Rolling Stone Magazine has called him “one of the most amazing vocalists in R&B today” and he has drawn praise from Dr. Dre, Talib Kweli, The Game and many more. And for those who don’t get into rap for the “lack of instruments and musicians,” .Paak’s live performances feature a full band who can really play and sometimes he even jumps behind the drums and show off his skills. So go get down, funky and rock out with Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals and get a taste of one of the biggest rising stars in hip-hop today.
Fri, July 14, 9:30 PM – 10:45 PM – City Stage
Yes, the same Live that dominated the charts with songs like “Dolphin’s Cry,” “I Alone” and “Lightning Crashes” has reunited for a world tour and are stopping by Ottawa. The band released their first album Metal Jewelry 25 years ago, so what better time to help us all reminisce. Ed Kowalczyk (vocals, guitar) has always been quite the entertainer and someone who leaves it all on the stage, even with some time away, I can’t imagine this performance will be any difference. This show is a can’t miss for all those fans of the golden days of the 90s when alternative rock was king.
Busty and The Bass
Sat, July 15, 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Black Sheep Stage
Busty and the Bass are a nine-piece band with jazz roots and soul topped off with an MC adding that hip-hop flare. They feature a super talented brass section that will really get you moving on a Saturday night. This is one of the most out of the box bands that will grace the festival stage this year.
Telecomo – Thu, July 6, 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Black Sheep Stage
Eddie Quotez – Fri, July 7, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM – Black Sheep Stage
ERU ERA – Fri, July 7, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM – Barney Danson Theatr
Sparklesaurus – Sun, July 9, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM – City Stage
Les Prix Trille Or est une semaine riche en activités parfait pour les artistes, les professionnels de l’industrie ainsi que le public du se déroule du 1 au 6 mai. Pendant la semaine, il y a plusieurs activités et évènement au programme, tel que des vitrines musicales, des panels, une conférence, des laboratoires de travail, des cocktails de réseautage, la Soirée industrie et plus encore. Tout cela culmine avec le Gala des prix Trille Or.
Si tu cherches à chanter et danser, tu pourras assister gratuitement à deux soirées de vitrines musicales qui mettront en scène des artistes de la francophonie canadienne au Théâtre Richcraft du Centre des arts Shenkman les 1 et 3 mai 2017 dès 20h00. Mclean, Raton Lover, Gabrille Goulet et Réglement 17 participerons à la première vitrine le 1er mai et Justin Lacroix, Janie Renée, Pierre Guitard et Yao participerons à la deuxième vitrine le 3 mai.
Finalement le festival conclue avec la 9e édition du Gala des prix Trille Or au Centre des arts Shenkman le 5 mai à 18h00. Le Gala des prix Trille Or est l’occasion de souligner l’excellence artistique et de célébrer la musique franco-canadienne. Artiste de la région, Mehdi Hamdad avec son groupe Mehdi Cayenne a obtenu 11 nominations! Tel que la nomination du meilleur interprète masculin, du meilleur album pour Aube et du meilleur spectacle pour Les heures impossibles.
Il y aura plusieurs performances musicales pendant le Gala, incluant: Mehdi Cayenne, Céleste Lévis, Andrea Lindsay, Anique Granger, Ponteix, Shawn Jobin, Kelly Bado, LGS (Le Groupe Swing), Hey Wow, Dans l’shed et Joey Robin Haché. Des billets sont encore disponibles via le site web du Centre des arts Shenkman.
This year’s CityFolk festival has arrived, and we’re happy to bring you our picks for the 2016 edition. In this one, we’re exploring a variety of artists – some more established and in their prime, some that have been around for ages and still conquering the big stage, and others that are emerging and creating jaw-dropping new music ready to explode onto the scene.
We implore you to have a listen to the artists we’ve carefully chosen, however it is also important to do a little exploring. Sometimes the best part of a big music festival is seeing an intimate performance on a smaller stage, discovering hidden gems on your own. So here they are, our picks for CityFolk 2016.
CityFolk takes place at Lansdowne Park September 15–18, and artists play on multiple stages around the grounds. See the full schedule and purchase your passes here.
City Stage Thu, September 15, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM
There’s no way that we were going to make this list without giving some love to The Acorn. The brainchild of Ottawa’s Rolf Klausener, The Acorn is easily one of the greatest musical exports the nation’s capital has to offer. Although Klausener began this project as a series of home recordings in 2002, he has shown no sign of slowing down having just released the acclaimed album Vieux Loup last year. While dabbling in other ventures, Klausener has always stayed true to The Acorn and its intimate, textural, and poetic underpinnings.
Guided By Voices
RavenLaw Stage Fri, September 16, 10:00 PM – 11:15 PM
If there’s one band that has been relentlessly putting out music since the 1980s, it’s Guided By Voices. Mind you, the lineup has changed a lot over that time – however principal songwriter Robert Pollard has been the rock that has kept GBV’s creativity flowing. These guys are influenced by a lot of the British invasion garage rock (our kind of shit), psych, prog, and even post-punk, but no matter what you have to appreciate their gritty, DIY approach to music. This band is as genuine as it gets, and a breath of fresh air in today’s current mainstream music industry climate.
City Stage Fri, September 16, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
At just 19 years of age, Illinois’ Kwenku Collins has made a big name for himself not only as a songwriter, but as an MC and producer as well. His unique style and approach to making music have garnered him praise from major music critics around the globe – and he’s just getting started. 2016’s Nat Love LP has launched Collins into the big leagues, with ear-melting tracks like “Ghost”, “Vanilla Skies”, and “Stupid Rose” capturing listeners and never letting them go.
The New Pornographers
City Stage Sat, September 17, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
When you think of the Canadian indie rock renaissance over the last decade and a half, there’s one band that everyone agrees is a staple – The New Pornographers. Forming in 1999, this band is on an esteemed list of bands like Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, The Weakerthans, The Constantines that poured a tank of gas on a national music scene that was largely barely smouldering embers as the millennium came to a close. In 2009, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the band’s second studio album, Electric Version, No. 79 in the “100 Best Albums of the Decade.”
City Stage Sat, September 17, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Basia Bulat has become a household name in Canadian music, proving over the years that she is as talented with her lyricism and songwriting as she is versatile in her sound. Cutting her teeth in the Ontario indie folk scene, she has separated herself from the pack as an artist that consistently outdoes herself. She’s shared the stage with Arcade Fire, The National, Nick Cave, Daniel Lanois, St Vincent, and her Juno/Polaris-nominated LP TallTall Shadow achieved national recognition and regular airplay on CBC. Her 2016 album of sorrow and redemption called Good Advice is shortlisted for the Polaris Prize this year.
BMO Stage Sat, September 17, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Julia Jacklin in an emerging artist that you should definitely keep your eye on. Her debut album Don’t Let the Kids Win is an introspective examination of life in your 20’s, and the minimalism in instrumentation contrasts beautifully with the lyrical depth that Jacklin explores so eloquently. At 25, she is sure to make some big waves, following the footsteps of musicians such as Courtney Barnett and Angel Olsen in her honest and intimate style.
RavenLaw Stage Sat, September 17, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM
We love Northcote. Why, you ask? Matt Goud a.k.a. Northcote is a hard working and relentless guy with a tough exterior, but on the inside he’s got a spectrum of emotions that spill out through his music and into our ears. This small-town Saskatchewan songwriter brings a wealth of life experience to the table, and tapping into his influences which range from country to hardcore and punk rock. Whether they are anthems or lullabies, his songs of loss, love, small-town living and growing up are themes most of us can connect with. Springsteen and Gaslight Anthem fans are sure to fall in love with this guy.
BMO Stage Sun, September 18, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
At 20 years old, don’t think that youth makes Julien Baker naive. Growing up in the Memphis DIY scene, Baker has faced the challenges of coming of age as a queer person in the South. Moreover, she unapologetically discusses topics such as drug abuse and depression on her debut album Sprained Ankle. Through the bigotry and hate that swells in that part of the US against marginalized LGBTQ communities, Baker’s beautiful, powerful voice and songwriting shines through as a ray of hope. She’s the kind of artist that makes writing such emotional, intricate songs look easy. Although short in stature, she is without a doubt one of the most inspirational artists to hit the stage at this year’s CityFolk festival, standing tall amongst the rest in our mind.
In its second year running, MEGAPHONO has upped the ante and significantly expanded its scope and size. The festival, which takes place February 2–5, 2016, brings industry professionals to Ottawa and gives local artists and delegates the rare opportunity to connect with those who are working in the music business.
Last year saw the release of the Connecting Ottawa Music report on the city’s status in the music industry, which presented some revelations about the challenges Ottawa faces with respect to its lack of music infrastructure and connectedness to the wider industry in Canada and North America. We at Showbox were very proud to contribute to this report by providing important data on 2014 album releases.
This unprecedented report not only outlined the barriers that are preventing Ottawa from moving forward as a “music city,” but it also offered a glimmer of hope by providing recommendations and a strategy based on core principles. One of the most critical recommendations from the report reads as follows [p.65]:
3. Connect Ottawa’s music community to the global music industry.
Advocate for Ottawa’s music community at national institutions
Facilitate exchanges with more prominent music clusters
Lead delegations to trade shows and festivals (e.g. MIDEM, SXSW)
Promote Ottawa’s music cluster to outsiders
MEGAPHONO is doing something that has never really been done in Ottawa before. Not only are the organizers tirelessly reaching out to important industry personalities in places like Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, New York City, and London (UK), but they are actually bringing them to Ottawa over the course of the festival. This affords Ottawa artists the opportunity to have an audience with the people that might be able to advance their careers – or at least get on their radar. This includes booking agents, record labels, music publishers, film/TV music supervisors, managers, publicists, and more. Like any other business, music is about connecting with the right people, and just as the report recommends, Ottawa needs to bring industry personnel together so that coalescence can happen.
“MEGAPHONO is about getting the right people in the room to see our artists,” says festival director Jon Bartlett. “The best way to tell the story of Ottawa music is to drag industry folks here to see and hear it for themselves. If we put our best artists on stage with key music people in the room, I’m confident good things will happen.”
Attendees will enjoy four solid days of music, with all performances open to the public. Over those four days, 60 artists will be performing in Ottawa at various locations, 47 of which are local acts.
Noted music critic and author Jessica Hopper (MTV, Pitchfork) will kick things off at the launch on Tuesday, February 2nd with a keynote speech at St. Alban’s Church; MEGAPHONO will also screen a film this year called Terminal Device, directed by Ross Turnbull, edited by U.S. Girls‘ Meg Remy and with music composed by Slim Twig.
Additional panels and networking opportunities with industry reps are available to those purchasing a delegate pass. Fan festival passes are $50; delegate passes run for $100. Both are available at http://www.megaphono.tv/passes/.
Highlights of this year’s festival include:
MEGAPHONO Meltdown — MEGAPHONO after party in Hull, QC at AXENÉO7
PANELS — daytime talks focusing on music industry-related topics and conversations focused on our local music community
FREE SHOWCASES — Wednesday & Thursday afternoon showcases in the Centretown & Hintonburg neighbourhoods
Over 30 visiting delegates from LA, NYC, London (UK), Toronto & Montreal
Tuesday, February 2nd
4:00 – 6:30pm
MEGAPHONO FESTIVAL OFFICIAL LAUNCH
w/ keynote by JESSICA HOPPER
@ ST ALBANS CHURCH Event Link
THE ACORN / EMILIE & OGDEN / PIPAHAUNTAS
@ ST ALBANS CHURCH Event Link
THE VISIT / HEAVY BEDROOM / NOVEMBER @ BLACK SQUIRREL BOOKS
The second annual Glowfair will take place June 19th and 20th across 10 city blocks on Bank Street from Slater to James.
The festival, launched in 2014 by the Bank Street Business Improvement Area (BIA), is a collaborative effort by all merchants and members of the BIA. Each block will feature a different theme with completely surprising, mesmerising and fantastic free activities. Themes include a phosphorescent enchanted forest, circus, Kids’ Zone, Pinball Wizard skateboarding park, and a Glow Zone.
There are also two stages set up during the festival, one for live music and one for DJs. With that in mind here are Ottawa Showbox’s top 5 musical acts to catch in chronological order:
The Strain (June 19, 7 p.m., Main Stage) — The electro-pop group from Wakefield, QC, is made up of two siblings, their cousin, and a childhood friend. Their pleasing dance music will get you moving like no one is watching. Who knows, you may even channel your inner Mick Jagger. Have a listen below and prepare yourself to be “Tearing Up the Streets”.
DJ VILIFY (June 19, 10 p.m., DJ Stage) — Originally from Montreal, but now performing out of Berlin, Germany, DJ VILIFY is a master of many styles. She refuses to be cornered into one genre of DJ. Heavy bass may be her first love, but she does not shy away from producing producing house, dancehall, hip-hop and more. Check out this thumping and bumping hour of dancehall and get ready to dance close with someone.
Jokers of the Scene (June 19, 11:30 p.m., DJ Stage) — Toronto’s techno-synth master will take you into the wee hours of the night with their non-stop creativity. And how will they be playing so late, you ask? Once the early birds in the city go to bed and noise restrictions come into place at 11:30 p.m., festival-goers can use a Bluetooth-enabled headset so they can hear the music and dance until 2 a.m. This is perfect for Jokers, as their new album is described as music “crafted for modern listening from the analog echoes of cybernetic dreams… headphone music made to move bodies, at once familiar and confounding fresh.”
The PepTides (June 20, 8 pm, Main Stage) — Ottawa’s very own eclectic The PepTides draw from funk, soul, jazz and electronic influences. They gel them all together for high energy sets with layered vocals, thanks to five vocalists, and infectious rhythms that get your moving. The band is as fun and funky musically as they are visually, usually dressed in vibrant and neon colours and outfits. This will be more than just a musical set, their will be choreography, visual effects, and the overwhelming feeling of a party. Get yourself in the mood and listen to their gleeful track “I Love You Made in China”.
Lowell (June 20, 9:10 p.m., Main Stage) — Probably the highlight of the festival is Toronto’s Lowell. If you want to see energetic stage presence and an explosive dedication to live sets, then you cannot miss Lowell. On top of all that, her music addresses very serious subjects like sexual abuse, rape, abortion, women’s rights, the lack of LGBTQ rights in our society, and ignorance towards homosexuality. But fear not, she is not preachy nor grandstanding—she just covers very serious subjects over fun and accessible pop melodies. Lowell is not to be missed, we guarantee it! Watch a live performance of “Cloud 69” at a faux-birthday she through herself in Toronto, and the super fun video for “The Bells” below.
Check out what is happening at the 20th annual edition of the Folkfest which will be taking over Hog’s Back Park starting today.
The festival runs from September 4th to the 8th at Hog’s Back Park. And even though Neil Young is no longer playing, there is plenty to see and do. Here are some of Ottawa Showbox’s daily recommendations.
Day 1: Wednesday September 4th
The first day is your chance to see one of the most influential female performers of all time, the ”Godmother of Punk,” Patti Smith. She is also a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and holds the title of “Commandeur des Arts et Lettres” from the French Ministry of Culture. Her amazing fusion of rock and poetry is not to be missed. Patti and her band take to the stage at 7 pm. Here is a taste of what you can expect Wednesday night, aka tonight.
Thursday is the tale of local vs big name. There are four great local acts rocking the park that day; Little Stella (6-7 pm), Three Little Birds (6:30-7:30 pm), Shannon Rose & the Thorns (7-7:45 pm) and Amos the Transparent (8-9 pm). I have seen all of these bands several times and let me tell you, you are in for a treat with each one. Also you can feel good about supporting local, as it is always a great decision. Therefore I would recommend stage-hopping from local to local and then cap off the night with Vampire Weekend, who take to the main stage at 9:30pm.
Day 3: Friday September 6th
Friday is a battleground which will see folk and hip hop thrown down. First the challenger, hip hop, will be represented by the ridiculously talented Canadian rapper Shad and Compton, California’s amazing Kendrick Lamar. Folk is firing back with Ottawa’s Amanda Rheaume (6-6:45 pm), Canterbury High alumni Tall Trees (6:15-7:15 pm) and Canadian singer-songwriter-guitarist Matt Andersen (8-9:15 pm). Also worth noting, the referee for all of this is indie-rock, championed by Toronto’s Born Ruffians (6-7 pm).
There is a lot going on over the weekend portion, with over 18 bands a day and a bunch of workshops. I picked out three or four artists a day and a few workshops I would recommend.
Day 4: Saturday September 7th
Music-wise I would strongly recommend finding the time to check out 21-year-old Mac DeMarco from Montreal. His smooth-flowing rock sound will be just what the doctor ordered for your late afternoon. He goes on at 4 pm. The next must-see is Vancouver’s Hey Ocean! They are touted as one of Canada best up-and-coming bands and they play with a ton of dancy energy on stage. Lastly, The Avett Brothers are closing out the night, and will be the perfect period to the sentence. Two of the members, Scott and Seth Avett, are actually brothers, and there is something very special about watching two brothers harmonizing on stage. The boys are a blend of folk, country, bluegrass, rock and pop, check them out at 9 pm.
Two of the workshops that I would recommend on the Saturday are Femme Fatale, with Ottawa’s own Shannon Rose and Catriona Sturton. A group of fabulous female artists share stories and songs in an intimate workshop setting. Second, although it is not really a workshop, but rather a freaking cool opportunity, check out an interview with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Listen in on a conversation between Danny Michel and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield as they discuss space and music. The conversation will be accompanied by music performed by Danny, Chris and his brother Dave.
Day 5: Sunday September 8th
On the last day of the festival there are some delicious treats lined up for you. I don’t really need to convince anyone to go see Gordon Lightfoot or The Wailers, because it’s freaking Gordon Lightfoot and The Wailers! So here are some other bands you should definitely check out. Ottawa’s Dave Norris & Local Ivan kick off the day at 1 pm and have been described as ”sublimely jangles its folk-pop cacophony of organ, wind instruments, percussion, and perfectly-layered vocals” by Amanda Putz of CBC Radio 3. Not much else to say there. Also from Ottawa, Claude Munson and the Storm Outside will be serenading you with ambient folk-rock at 2 pm. Another Ottawa great, singer-songwriter Lynn Miles plays at 7 pm. My final musical recommendation is Carolina Chocolate Drops, winner of the 2010 Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album. If you don’t believe me, take a look at what the New York Times said about them: “They dip into styles of Southern black music from the 1920s and ‘30s—string-band music, jug-band music, fife and drum, early jazz—and beam their curiosity outward. They make short work of their instructive mission and spend their energy on things that require it, like flatfoot dancing, jug playing, and shouting.” You will thank me after you see them.
Workshop-wise, I would suggest Guitar Masterclass at 4 pm with Ottawa’s John Carroll. The workshop is a combination interview / workshop highlighting the masterful guitar skills and songwriting of Chris Smither. And lastly, The History & Evolution of Reggae Music at 5 pm, hosted by Danny Michel and members of The Wailers.
I hope this helps you all figure out what to do this week, for the complete schedule click here, and if you are looking for tickets please follow this link.
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.
Here is the second installment in our series of previews of the awesome local talent playing this year’s Ottawa Bluesfest. We’re hoping to do this weekly, to help you discover your new favourite Ottawa band or musician to see at the festival!
FEVERS are an Ottawa-based five-piece who make sweet sweet electro-pop. Their sound is a fresh take on indie rock and electronic music. FEVERS is poised to release their first full length on May 25th at Ritual, details here. In the mean time you can download their EP, Passion Is Dead, for free right here. The video for the band’s title track “Passion is Dead (Long Live Fashion)” won First Prize at the Ottawa International Film Festival. FEVERS take to the Claridge Homes Stage at 2:00 pm Sunday July 7th.
Her Harbour is the moniker of indie-folk songwriter and musician Gabrielle Giguere. Gabrielle’s voice, which ranges from soft and sultry at times, to harrowing with emotions from deep within, sings beautiful songs while playing the autoharp. Her Harbour’s album release party for Winter’s Ghosts is Saturday April 27th at St. Luke’s Church, more details here. Catch Her Harbour at the Barney Danson Theater (inside the War Museum) at 3:00 pm Sunday July 7th.
These Ottawa bad-boys have been delivering full throttle in your face rock in the Nation’s Capital and beyond for over a decade. There newest album, Are We Dying, released in 2012, was nominated at the Toronto Independent Music Awards for Best Alternative Album. Iconoclast play the River Stage, Monday, July 8th at 6 pm, a perfect appetizer before Canadian rock legends Rush. Their hard-hitting live shows have been enjoyed by many, it is time for you to become one of those. If you can’t wait until Bluesfest, Iconoclast will be rocking at Zaphods, Friday, April 19th.
Mehdi Cayenne Club are quite the act to see. Consider this, you never know if the song will be in French or English or both, their lead singer/guitarist has slam poetry experience and is not afraid to dance around on stage, and the whole thing is held together by a very talented drummer and a groovy keys player. The group is led by the eclectic and energetic Mehdi Hamdad and it radiates with intense passion and diversity drifting between post-rock and pop rock, with hints of punk, folk and funk. Mehdi Cayenne Club hit the River Stage at 2:45 Saturday July 13th.