Ottawa’s soulful, enduring wordsmith and frontman of The Acorn, Rolf Klausener, doesn’t play as many shows as he used to in town. But once in a while a gem pops up out of nowhere and takes us by surprise. This Thursday’s show at Babylon presented by Spectrasonic is no exception, and it features talented guests Taylor Knox and Trails.
Last year’s release of Vieux Loup illustrated that Klausener is as in touch with his music as ever, bringing together the new and the old to craft an album that was on our Top Ten releases of 2015. Those of us who have lived in Ottawa for a long time know how intimate and electric The Acorn are live, and newbies still have a chance to find out.
We’re giving away a bunch of tickets to this show (in pairs), and if you aren’t doing anything on Thursday night, Babylon is the place to be.
How To Enter
Answer the question below.
Q: Klausener’s other project Silkken Laumann is the adapted name of a Canadian Olympian. Which sport did Silken Laumann win Silver Medal in at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games?
Choose the correct answer and you’ll be entered to win a pair of tickets to the show on Thursday. The draw will happen at noon on Thursday, Nov. 10. Good luck!
About the Beer: In the beginning of my beer crusade, breweries were going for strong drinkable beers. The trend in the last few years is to bring down the ABV so that we can enjoy a bit more beer and still be able to walk without compromising flavour. Lumbersexual is a prime example. At 3.5%, they were able to get the iconic IPA bitterness with only 23.6 IBU’s (International Bitterness Units).
If you are reading this, or know of Ottawa Showbox, you most likely know what a Lumbersexual stands for. We all have noticed that beards are the facial hair trend du jour. And dressing up like a lumberjack without having picked up an axe is bleeding into our urban landscape. I’m enjoying this movement as I fall in this category. I finally fit in! But I do swing an axe. I also stream Netflix nightly and have a 7.5 hour a day sit-down job.
Like its namesake, the session IPA is not what it appears to be. At first glance, you’ll be drawn by its scent – a pleasant hop flavour and aroma, mimicking that of a big, bold IPA. On closer inspection, you’ll find that the hops provide approachable bitterness. It has a refreshing, low alcohol content while maintaining a certain calculated ruggedness. This urban woodsman is a very palatable, easy drinking summer beer.
The term prolific comes up too easily when describing a productive beat-maker. So instead of slapping it on Jean-Paul Tyo, also (if not only) known as Jeepz, I’ll call it something else. He is productive, sure—last year he released 18 beat tapes and this fall he’ll release his 50th—but he should be called passionate. The sound engineer of “vintage futuristic boom-bap” searches wide for music to give MCs their fix, and he clearly loves his work.
Today he released Campus Radio, a culmination of new tunes gleaned from campus-run radio stations. It’s full of soulful and heavy instrumentation lapped over rap lyrics, sometimes song lyrics, and radio announcers describing their programs. CKCU & CHUO figure prominently on a tracklist based on their weekly shows, with more than a few local flairs. The third track uses the root of “Dubai, Bye Baby, Dubai” by Silkken Laumann. A whole joint is dedicated to CHUO’s Cypher hosted by DJ So Nice, Killa Kambow and CIRCA Beatz. It’s nice to hear Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” in there too.
Jeepz keeps people with the same passion close. The work he’s done with G.Grand alone really speaks to what he contributes to an MC’s rhymes, not to mention Just Poets and Kay Flow. And there are many new projects on the way too, all currently hiding in his hard drive.
Stream Campus Radio while you check Jeepz’s insightful answers to questions I put to him last week. The roots of his producing, his favourite Ottawa musicians, and his thoughts on labels all figure prominently here. Respect.
From what I can see on Bandcamp you’ve been making beat tapes since 2011, but how long have you been sampling and tweaking sounds?
I started releasing beat tapes in Spring 2012, but had been making beats for a few years prior. I first started off dropping occasional beats on Soundcloud but preferred the approach of making cohesive projects to be released as quasi-albums which led to the switch in method of release.
Did you have an “oh shit” moment with a certain record or artist that made you want to produce music?
I can definitely attribute my beginnings directly to one singular album: Blu & Exile’s Below The Heavens. This was the album that made me fall back in love with hip-hop, the same way I did when I first got into Talib Kweli in the early 2000s, or hearing “Nas Is Like” in the mid-90s. These were the three big moments for me as a fan… But Exile’s work fascinated me and I listened to it front to back every day for about a year. I needed to learn to do what he was doing. That was the moment I wanted to be a producer.
Who are your favourite acts/musicians in Ottawa these days on top of your collaborators?
I am a big fan of Buck N’ Nice. They set a bar in talent & work that makes me increase my compete level. City Fidelia is a really talented dude as well. Production-wise, I think Goldstripes is extremely slept on. Outside of hip-hop, I really enjoy Claude Munson & The Storm Outside, Thrifty Kids, Loon Choir. The AK-47s were sweet as well, though I don’t think they have done anything of late. I’m also a big fanboy of Leif Vollebekk. He is originally from Ottawa, and I went to high school with him as well as did my Philosophy undergrad with him, but now he’s out touring the world sharing his Dylan-like brand of genius.
What are your aspirations in the beat-making game?
A few things. To eventually produce for rappers I’ve looked up to. I’d love to produce a track for Blu, Versis, or J.Cole. I’d really just like for my name to someday be spoken in conversations alongside other greats. For heads to talk about Dilla, Madlib, and Jeepz as influences would be something else. I’ll know I made it when Nardwuar calls me for a interview! I’d like to say I’m trying to build a legacy, but without it sounding so narcissistic. Beyond that, my angle is now to try and learn sound engineering on a greater level, where I can eventually treat it as an art form and not just science.
Campus radio stations have provided you with a lot of good material, are there other places you look for eclectic music?
Vinyl, first and foremost. Just buying dollar bin gems because of the cover art or list of instruments on the back can lead you to some pretty awesome stuff. There are also crate-diggers online that expose their finds which is so dope. For example, the two Parisian crate-diggers, Jero and Cottich, who I collaborated with on “From Paris, With Love”. All the samples were dug up on dusty records five timezones away for me to chop up. That was really fun to work on. At the end of the day, whether it be a record shop, a Youtube channel, or a radio station, the best and most interesting music will always be found wherever a ridiculously passionate person is curating the selection.
Is there a music genre you won’t touch?
I prefer not touching new music (post-1990) but at the end of the day, everything is fair game to me. As long as I believe I’m creating something new with it, and I like the sound, I’m in. I do however, prefer the dynamic, warm, analog, and unquantized sounds of earlier music… I tend to lean towards whatever has heart, emotion, and grit to it.
When are you going to start your own label?
Ha! My MCs ask me the same question. I prefer just being part of a loosely affiliated collective of like-minded artists. Think Soulquarians. I just want to stick to the music. As I develop my sound and grow the catalog, it becomes more evident when something is “Jeepz-produced” and I am blessed to have found artists with whom my sounds mesh.
But unless there is a label that is funded and paying the projects and everything affiliated to it (marketing, touring, merch, recording), I think creating “labels” for the sake of it is nonsense and a vain attempt at legitimacy. Shots fired. Oops.
Hopes and dreams for the Ottawa hip hop scene?
Whether they are from Ottawa or not, I just want all hardworking, talented, and unique artists to get their shine. I try to not look at things from a city standpoint. I just believe in good music. But the last little while has been very positive for the local hip-hop scene and it seems to have more and more credibility and exposure. This is apparent in increasing media coverage, and involvement with bigger platforms like Arboretum and Bluesfest.
There is no reason for anyone to feel restrained by the “small-city” issue. Just make good music and seek/seize opportunities. We are seeing that happen right now and I’m trying to do my part by providing the tools for talented people to make their bars into reality.
“Hold My Fire” is a single off Gold and Marrow‘s debut album Forever. This acoustic version keeps away from the pop version on the album, accentuating clean guitar matched to Shannon Rose’s beautiful voice and heartfelt lyrics. The video is shot in Rose & Steven James’ living room by Ottawa Indie Hotspot‘s Christina Speziale.
Their website has now billed Gold and Marrow as just the duo of Rose and James, instead of the full band that was their previous incarnation. They also proclaim their romantic relationship very matter-of-factly. It’s refreshing to see a duo/couple “come out” in a way that just honestly says that there wouldn’t be music without there being an us.
Together, they play their hopeful track with the symbiosis of a steady partnership. Their musical efforts have been blooming for a while and are now bearing fruit in these earnest pieces of indie folk.
An aide-mémoire to watch for more to come from Rolf Klausener’s The Acorn was The Pink Ghosts & Blankets EP rerelease on Kelp Records for the label’s 20th anniversary last year. Since 2012 there’s been mention of a new album in the works, and although Klausener’s latest efforts have focused on the flourishing Arboretum Festival and his dance-dream band Silkken Laumann, it seems like 2015 will be the year of Vieux Loup.
“Influence” elaborates on electronica with guitar evocative of older tracks. The sound of the vocals here is more contemporary than in “Erster Tag” from The Pink Ghosts but still just as musing and harmonious. The upbeat drums are entrancing, keeping blood pressure high. The song is absorbing on its own but made enthralling by the slow motion of the video.
Shot by Travis Boisvenue, the video features local sculptor Marisa Gallemit on her day-to-day. She works her craft, spends time with her son at Pressed Café, keeps the bar at the Manx, and runs into friends Rémi Thériault & members of Silkken Laumann along the way. Klausener is an understated presence in the second half of the video, Gallemit being the focus here.
The smiles and deadpan looks that figure in any hard worker’s quotidian find a balance here.
Again, 2014 was quite the year for music in Ottawa. We realize that it’s next to impossible to say which album was better than the others, but we do have a list of the albums that seem to come up on our playlists more often. These are not the “winners” of the year but they are dear to our ears and we’d like to tip our hats to those that made them happen. Check out these sweet full-lengths and EPs, support these locals if you can, and enjoy the weather by putting these tunes in your pocket. Vive le six un trois!
Pairing: Pink Fuzz with songs that have a Fuzz (distorted) sound.
About the Beer: Made in Hintonburg, this beer is the first one I tried from Beyond the Pale when they first opened. I was instantly impressed and knew they’d be successful. Subtle in hops yet has that grapefruit flavour that you would expect from a very hoppy beer. For a 6% beer, it feels like a light 4%. It stands up to a chilly winter as well as a hot summer. Have it delivered by Brew Donkey or go see them directly. I bought a 32 oz growler from their brewery and was instantly inspired for the playlist by a song from Low.
The commercial description goes as follows:
Not your Bavarian grandfather’s wheat beer. We use grapefruit zest and pulp at different points in the process to insert the character of the fruit into the beer, and hops are carefully selected to emphasize the citrus notes. But don’t expect this to taste like the first course of Sunday breakfast; the fruit flavour is subtle, and the bitter quality of the grapefruit is balanced nicely by a bit of sweetness in the finish.
Ottawa is full of strikingly talented musicians, many of whom have made themselves very comfortable beneath the under layer that we call Ottawa’s music community. It should come as no surprise that many of these creative types take on more than one project, whether in the same artistic field or something completely different.
Heavy Bedroom is the side project and brainchild of Alex Maltby, who you may recognize as guitarist of local experimental noise rock band Roberta Bondar (soon to be name-changed due to their name’s resemblance to an astronaut, to whom the band is completely unrelated). A few years back we heard about a new act in town that was an offshoot of Bondar, and something different altogether… mind you, with the same experimental aesthetic and mysterious, fatal undertones. Thus, Heavy Bedroom was born.
The band also consists of Maltby’s Bondar counterpart, drummer Tyler Goodman, ex-New Teeth and still HAMILTON bassist/supporting vocalist Matthew Gilmour, and Cory Lefebvre on synth & guitar. Collaborations, I would argue, are an incredible way for artists to explore the depths of their creativity and unhinge themselves from any artistic confines they may find themselves in at times. Hearing I Saw An End for the first time really blew my mind, as you can hear their forces all coming together to create this short, yet masterful album.
Maltby released some demos and performed as Heavy Bedroom, but never fully released anything serious until now. That, of course, doesn’t go to say that the self-titled release a couple of years back wasn’t worthy of its own release and praise. I was a huge fan, and had it on repeat. To hear the mixed and mastered versions of I Saw An End is exciting, as it embodies a project that is no longer just a “side project,” but something that more people will hear in full and surely enjoy.
As mentioned, the album has a distinctly mysterious and affected feel to it, one that admirers of Chad VanGaalen will savour. Maltby’s vocals are delicate and subdued, which compliments the melodic, clean reverb guitar heard on songs such as “Hell Is Not” and “I Ate Apples,” as well as darker, heavier songs such as the title track and the consuming, haunting finale “I Left It.” However, there is also a dissonance that emanates from the album as well, with episodes of discord and tension that balance with the moments of peace and subtle beauty. This is where the greatness of not only the album, but Heavy Bedroom lies. There is no fear to pursue both the dark and the light, and to make the listener balance on a tightrope between the flight to heaven and the fall to hell. The band allows us to become attached, but not too comfortable. The next turn in any given song can never be anticipated. This can be heard no better than in the song “The Sun And Its Glare,” which begins with noisy havoc and ends in melancholy:
Goodbye, my friend. I’m leaving you here.
The album was recorded and mixed by another Bondar co-conspirator Gary Franks (Roberta Bondar, Silkken Laumann, CEREMONY, ex-As The Poets Affirm) and mastered by Sam Seguin. The incredible cover artwork was done by Penny Davenport, check out more of her work on her website.
A Friday table d’hôte menu that starts with three local acts at the same time is torture for those inclined to stay in to eat. It can be hard to avoid gorging on the radio’s snacks or travelling to the smorgasbords of neighbouring metropolises, but once in a while there are feasts to be had here too. RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest opened the kitchen at 1800 hours and set locals Silkken Laumann, Cold Capital & Angelique Francis to begin feeding us.
Ottawa’s own Silkken Laumann (from Detroit, MI) played both sides of the border at RBC Bluesfest on the River Stage on July 4, 2014. Photo: Mark Horton, RBC Bluesfest Press Images
Silkken Laumann could easily be from Detroit, MI as Rolf Klausener introduced his newest band, but I swear I’ve seen that bassist Gary Franks before in another eponymous band of a female Canadian… And Pat Johnson & Adam Saikaley? We have two guys in Ottawa named exactly the same! Silkken proved pop EDM is good at any time of day, even though they ended their set slightly early. There’s something uplifting about Saikaley beaming as he buttons and Franks making love to his bass guitar as Klausener offers info: “This song is about not fucking it up,” and, “this song is about going on a post-breakup fuck-spree.” Peppered swear words and social commentary on American quality of life are also for any time of day! And cheers to the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” cover.
Cold Capital opening the Black Sheep Stage at RBC Bluesfest on July 4, 2014. Photo: Joseph Mathieu
I caught the middle of Cold Capital‘s set, playing some bluesy rock with a country twang for the patrons of the Black Sheep Stage. The local five-piece band have been featured at the Canadian Music Week in 2013 and are plowing through the country rock waves with lyricist Erik Hertzberg at the helm, his brother Nick on keys, John Cote on drums, Matt Muir on guitar & Andrew Erlandson on bass. We checked out their debut EP late last year, which is available for free download on their bandcamp page.
Inside, Angelique Francis, a young up-and-coming talent from the west end, filled the Barney Danson Theatre. This 16-year-old has a stage presence for which many performers strive perhaps because she’s already had nine years to practice on stage! Her voice ranges from warm to delicate, and from quirky to refined and she writes with a look into the life of a teenager that a lot of adults should and do appreciate. The effects of peer pressure (“Come on, baby”) and the increasing issue of homeslessness are just two examples of her subject matter. She was backed up by Michel Medrano Brindis on drums, Miguel de Armas on keys & the ubiquitous Marc Decho on bass guitar. She played an hour for the full theatre and for those of us lucky enough to have a closed circuit TV outside on a busy weekend for this local gem. Good luck tonight in T.O. Angelique!
Before I could make it back to the River Stage, I thought to exit the front of the Canadian War Museum but was blasted with solo act Darius Rucker of Hootie & the Blowfish fame singing about driving on the highway, not wanting to be a DJ and finding that perfect spot on the “Radio.” This, his third single from his third country album, was enough for me. I’ve read it rumoured on the wikis that he wrote an R&B album before going rural but I wasn’t going to wait around to find out if he played any.
Bonobo, AKA Simon Green, played with vocalist Szjerdene & a four-piece band on the River Stage at RBC Bluesfest on July 4, 2014 Photo: Joseph Mathieu
Possibly the most anticipated act for me that evening was a fine Brit by the name of Simon Green, better known to the world as DJ & producer Bonobo. Is there anything better than watching something you know to be good turn out to be great? The man on the bass & buttons was flanked by five other artists who added dimension to his downbeat electronica but who also let him play solo so we could meet the hard-working multi-instrumentalist he truly is. See “Cirrus” from The North Borders & “All In Forms” from Black Sands for some solid chill out tracks.
Szjerdene, the finespun voice on his newest album The North Borders, held sway over the audience from her first appearance. The sun setting on the River Stage, the weather so beautiful as to be completely unnoticeable, and her dress the likeness of a nebula only made us love the set even more. Her spectral voice sang her own songs from Bonobo’s fifth studio album and my favourites by Andreya Triana from Black Sands (“Stay the Same“).
Loose rock rubadub reggae from music legends Sly & Robbie and The Taxi Gang at RBC Bluesfest on the River Stage on July 4, 2014. Photo: Joseph Mathieu
The stage was set for Sly & Robbie and The Taxi Gang, the hardest working dream team of legendary rhythm producers from Jamdown. Holy crap, you guys. Find a list of their collaborations and you’ll come across their well-rounded estimate of 200,000 songs played or produced. If we use the well-rounded estimate of 40 years of their work together (since they joined forces mid-70s), we can suppose that they would have had to work on 13 and a half songs a day for the last 14,610 days… This is only possible because percussionist Lowell “Sly” Dunbar & bass boss Robert “Robbie” Shakespeare are a maelstrom of creativity, and because they are sought after by thousands of artists who know their sound to be the sickest. Their hypeman Nambo Robinson fulfilled his duty without putting his trombone down all night. When he wasn’t pumping us up with his horn he had it in the crook of his arm, introducing the Taxi Gang and special guest Bitty McLean. Their road manager Peter G made his way to the stage as a prime vocalist with a penchant for serenading the prettiest lady he could find in the crowd. “I don’t like how far I am from the people right now,” he cooed, probably to the relief of that prettiest lady’s boyfriend.
After a history lesson in the evolution of roots, reggae & rock you’d think the night would be over… but over at the Black Sheep Stage Jeff Tweedy started playing his own “blues.” The charmer from Illinois quipped: “Blues isn’t about making yourself feel better, it’s about making the other guy feel worse. And that’s how I can call my music blues.” His position as an alt rock household name is secure and so is his dynasty now that he’s begun jamming & producing tunes with his son Spencer. The scion Tweedy drove the drums behind his father last night, as they are practicing their songs from their collaborative album Sukierae, which will be out in September. Once the crushing electronica bass from the Bell Stage started to make its way over the Museum, the sire Tweedy pulled out the big guns: Wilco & Uncle Typelo tracks. The rolling hills of the crowd were alive with many sighs and cheers that night…
Zedd crushing it on the Bell Stage at RBC Bluesfest on July 4, 2014. Photo: RBC Bluesfest Press Images
What I missed on the Bell Stage were two superstar deities cut from very different cloth: Journey, the demigods of arena rock from an era past, and Zedd, the daemon prince of EDM sent from the future. Crowd-pleasers to be sure, but since I’m not pleased by crowds I settled for hearing & seeing their shows from afar. Frankly, I didn’t really have the option to avoid them completely because the one thing they do have in common? Ils font du bruit en tabarnac!
Ottawa’s RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest begins on July 3rd and will feature 30 great local groups. Here is a list in alphabetical order to help you support local at this year’s Bluesfest!
Métis singer-songwriter Amanda Rheaume is a powerful vocalist with just a touch of grit and an instantly-accessible roots-pop-Americana sound. She has been impressing concert goers for around a decade in Ottawa and throughout North-America with her music and her infectious personality. Her latest release Keep Fire has earned her a Juno Nomination in the category Aboriginal Album of the Year. You can be swoon by Amanda July 11th at 6 PM on the River Stage.
Amos the Transparent
A six-piece band that plays wonderful folk-inspired, indie-pop which Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC’s radio show Q, referred to as them as “Canadian Wilco.” Amos the Transparent can really dazzle a crowd with their excellent musicianship. They will be playing July 3rd at 5 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
Angelique Francis Angelique Francis is a singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist (piano, drums, key board, harmonica, upright bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and the electric Bass). In July of 2011, after a country wide search, Angelique was selected by Ottawa Blues Festival as one of three next emerging female Canadian Artists ( The She’s The One Competition), she was only 13 years old at the time. Angelique plays July 4th at 6 PM in the Barney Danson Theatre.
Atherton Atherton is one of Ottawa’s finest hip-hop talents and most entertaining MC’s. In 2012 he released his third album No Threat, which features a tonne of great tracks chalked full of references to Orleans where he grew up and other neighbourhoods around town. Atherton is also the host of one of the city’s best monthly events, Hip-Hop Karaoke. Atherton performs on the hip-hop heavy day July 12th at 2 PM on the Claridge Homes Stage.
Average Times For fans of high energy garage rock and punk rock. Average Times are coming off an awesome set at Ottawa Explosion Weekend, which you can read about here. Their self-titled debut, full of energetic quick hitters, made our list of the best local releases of 2013. Head bob and rock out with Average Times July 9th at 6:15 PM on the River Stage.
Bella Cat Bella Cat is a rarity at the Bluesfest, as she actually plays the blues. Playing blues, soul, and jazz with very catchy melodies which will bring you back to the 50s and 60s. Not only do they play beautiful music, but Bella Cat’s booming and powerful voice will amaze. You can catch Bella Cat on Thursday, July 10 at 6 PM at the Barney Danson Theatre.
BlakDenim BlakDenim will fill the stage with nine members on stage and fill your ears with very dancy funk music with hip-hop vocals overlaid. They infuse hip-hop, funk, rock, soul and jazz with lyrical content that ranges from the serious to the absurd, their tone from sweet to heavy, all connected by head-nodding and hip shaking melodies. So go shake your groove thang and get down with your bad self with BlakDenim Saturday July 5 at 2 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
Boyhood Boyhood is one of Ottawa’s most intriguing bands with there very outside the box psych-pop sound. If you are into strange and quite creative music, then don’t miss out on this project. Boyhood is really just Caylie Runciman, who does all of the composition, writing and recording herself. But has a few musicians join her when she plays live. Come get lost in Caylie’s musical vision July 6th at 2 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
Cold Capital Taking their cue from classic blues and rock traditions, Cold Capital‘s guitar driven music mixes blues, roots, soul and country into a boiler pot of rock n’ roll. With influences spanning from Wilco to the Rolling Stones to Gary Clark Jr., the band is a perfect fit for the Bluesfest. Catch them July 4th at 6 PM on the Blacksheep Stage.
They are a four piece indie rock band draws influences from artists such as The Black Keys, Tokyo Police Club and Jack White. Farewell Davidson‘s music has great hooks and many sing-a-long opportunities which is always fun. Come sing with Farewell Davidson July 13th at 1 PM on the River Stage.
Formed from the ashes of Crash 13 in the latter stages of 1999, Fiftymen play country rock through and through, with dusty twang surging through its veins. Beyond the twang are strong lyrics about hard luck, heart ache, jealousy, revenge and redemption. Get your stomping shoes on and go check them out July 6th at 6 PM on the River Stage.
A modern combination of blues and roots, Firebelly add some sweet sweet harmonica play and strong vocals. In true blues fashion the four-piece does not shy away from other genres such as elements of funk, swing, jazz and country. They play July 10th at 6 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
James Leclaire From fis- pumping, stomp your feet working-man anthems to soulful ballads of love, heartache and loss, James Leclaire’s songs are all about storytelling. He is backed by a band called the Cable 22’s and just released his third studio album Of What is Left and has been compared to Steve Earl. James and the Cable 22 will be playing July 3rd at 6 PM at Barney Danson Theatre.
John Allaire and the Campistas John Allaire is an experienced, award-winning singer/songwriter , including American Songwriter Assoc. “Best Lyrics” Award in 2009 for “Magnets” (Nashville, TN). He has been making music for over 30 years and has a gift for weaving captivating musical stories. Drawing on his experiences and surroundings John’s musical repertoire includes songs with sincere, intelligent lyrics that are introspective and deeply personal, as well as tunes that are light-hearted and humourous. Check out this local talent on one of the main stage, July 12th at 3 PM on the Bell Stage.
Jonathan Becker and The North Fields Jonathan Becker and The North Fields play rock and roll with roots in folk, country, and post punk. Jonathan’s voice was an instantly recognizable rasp that delivers very heartfelt lyrics. The five piece released a wonderful five-song EP early this year and are just coming back from a tour which took them through Ontario, Quebec and some stops on Canada’s East coast. Check them out with a cold brew on July 12th at 3 PM on the River Stage.
Probably one of the happiest and most excited people in Ottawa right now as he was named to the Polaris Prize Short-List for his latest album, the wonderful Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold. The amazing accomplishment is well deserved for the absolutly talented Kalle Mattson and his band. The folk rockers often remind me of Winnipeg based The Weakerthans, as they can play super uplifting tunes that get you up and dancing and then follow it up with a beautiful gut-wrenchingly powerful fingerpicking soft songs. Go see what all the buzz is about July 5th at 2 PM on the Claridge Homes Stage.
Keturah Johnson Band Keturah Johnson has one of the most powerful and beautiful voices I have ever heard. She has spent most of her music making career as a solo artist, but late last year added a great group of talented musicians around her to take her sound to the next level. Their is so much soul and passion that flows through her lyrics and her incredible voice, that is now complimented by a full band sound. Don’t miss being blown away July 11 at 6 PM in the Barney Danson Theatre.
The Mackenzie Rhythm Section
One of the most fun get out of your seats and shake your hips band playing the entire festival. The Mackenzie Rhythm Section describe themselves as Soulstep, soul sang from the heart and rock solid funk. To be honest I could not say it any better myself. Shine up your dancing shoes, practice your best moves and come get jiggy with it July 5th at 6 PM in the Barney Danson Theatre.
Back with the blues, Old Stereo play very funky soulful blues music. The four-piece has been greatly influenced by Gary Clark Jr. so fans of his should not miss them July 5th at 1:30 PM on the River Stage.
Old Whiskey Road
Six-piece americana and country style band with a wonderful balance of male and female vocals. Old Whiskey Road draw influences from Wilco to Neil Young and to Ryan Adams, a great bunch of excellent singer songwriters. They hit the stage July 6th at 2pm on the Claridge Homes Stage.
Pith and the Parenchymas
Probably one of the youngest acts playing the festival, Pith and the Parenchymas play very interesting experimental folk that is mature beyond their years. It is quite exciting to see the younger generation add twists to a style that has been around for decades. Pith and the Parenchymas just released their debut full length album, Songs of the Neverending Ugly Lizard. Go experience something you have never heard before July 8th at 7:30 in the Barney Danson Theatre.
Scattered Clouds Scattered Clouds‘s psychedelic rock will channel the ghosts of Lebreton Flats past. Brooding rhythms and precise noise from this experimental 3-piece underline film noir imagery. Get taken away on a psychedelic journey July 3rd at 7:30 pm in the Barney Danson Theatre.
No it is not our beloved national Olympic rowing hero. It is a group of very talented artists from Ottawa who formed an 80’s style dance band. Silkken Laumann‘s lead singer Rolf Klausener’s voice is hypnotic and the music is very much a blast from the past. Their amazing debut album Not Forever Enough is available for free, here. Kick off your Friday night in style and in dance with Silkken Laumann July 4th at 6 PM on the River Stage.
The “Northern-fried” rock and soul band made their debut in 2006 at Bluesfest and have since made big waves around the country. Silver Creek has had such highs as playing the main stage at Bluesfest in 2009 and have back Blue Rodeo on tour. Silver Creek get the honour of once again rocking the main stage (the Bell Stage) July 5th at 3 PM.
Sound of Lions Sound of Lions were the winners of “Best New Act” and “Album of the Year” in the Ottawa XPress’ readers’ poll back in 2011 and have carried that momentum with them. They have an amazing combination of a beautiful female vocals teamed up with a very strong emcee rapping over trip-hop beats. They will take their unique sound and high level of energy to the stage on July 12th at 1:30 PM on the River Stage.
Still Winter Hills
Five-piece country band that channels the days of old. Sill Winter Hills sounds like a band that could have opened for Neil Young during his heyday. They have perfected the sound of those who came before them, while carving out their own unique sound. Check out these country boys and go back in time with them on July 13th at 2pm on the Claridge Stage.
The Split Speaking of going back in time, let The Split teleport you back to when funky-soul bands laden with brass ensembles were king. Fans of Lee Fields, Charles Bradley and James Brown cannot afford to miss out on this talented act. You can catch this soulful act July 5, at 3:30 on the Black Sheep Stage.
Female fronted alternative rock band who’s influences range from The Pixies, Arcade Fire and Nina Simone. Tindervox is a four-piece but you would never know from the great depth of their sound and their haunting songs. If you are brave enough, check them out July 6th at 3 PM in the Barney Danson Theatre.
They play traditionally-based Ukrainian style music merged with punk rock power chords. Ukrania is perfect for fans of Gogol Bordello and gypsy style rock. They are up-beat, fun, dancy and sing all their songs in Ukrainian. Come learn a new language, gain international travel and have a party with Ukrania July 10th at 6PM on the River Stage.
Last but not least, the 30th local act, Wicked Grin. Since 2003 Wicked Grin have been playing their full-tilt blues with a groove that just won’t quit much to the enjoyment of concert goers. Wicked Grin recently won the Ottawa Blues Society “Road To Memphis” Challenge and represented Ottawa at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, in January 2014. You can catch their blues with bite July 12th at 6 PM on the Black Sheep Stage.
The 18th annual Ottawa Fringe Festival, widely known as the nation’s capital’s largest theatre event of the year, will debut on Thursday June 19th with almost 400 performances during its ten-day run. But first the kick-off begins on June 18th at the Downtown Rideau Stage near the Arts Court. Should you walk into the area, you’ll feel the pull of the Fringe Courtyard in Waller Park, which will be open as early as 4pm tomorrow for the christening of the peripheral party.
(Let it be known that this autumn the Arts Court will be undergoing a major reno involving a new building to be erected where Waller Park now lies. Consider yourself warned that this might be the last time you can drink St-Ambroise legally on this turf…)
Every year the Fringe Festival has offered free concerts for all patrons, volunteers & rubberneckers who find their way past Waller Park in the evenings. Tomorrow, local acts Stillnative & 2React will open the festivities with their respective raw beat rock & hip hop jazz dub for all present. They are the starting gun bullets for this year’s sick line-up of free shows that include ’30s gypsy jazz Django Libre, juke jazz Adam Saikaley 5tet, a night of folk pop with Halifax-née, Windsor-based Crissi Cochrane & Ottawa’s Three Little Birds, indie pop from HIGHS & dance synth-pop from Silkken Laumann. On top of this every Thursday, Friday & Saturday night there will be Fringe Late Night,a midnight late night show hosted by comedian Deborah Ring and accompanied by the Jeff Kingsbury Trio (spoiler: this is approximately Pony Girl minus the vocalists).
Check out the full free programming schedule here!
What’s better than free live music in Downtown Ottawa? When it’s right smack in the middle of dozens of theatre groups & performers who are chomping at the bit to execute their drama & comedy for us. If only we had time to see them all… We raise our glasses to all present anyway, and to the end of Spring, and to the hot mess that is Ottawa Festival Season. Now let’s live on the edge a little bit — happy fringing to all and to all a good Fringe!