CityFolk returns to Lansdowne Park once again September 12-16, 2018, for their 25th anniversary, and they aren’t pulling any punches with this year’s lineup. The festival normally does a good job of balancing the old and the new, as well as mixing in different genres to appeal to wider audiences. The five-day festival will see many stand-out acts hit the stages—most notably of whom is David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. Byrne is bringing his American Utopia tour to the capital for the first time since he played Ottawa Jazz Festival along with St. Vincent in 2013. Known for his stage antics and stunning visual performances, the much anticipated return of Byrne to Ottawa is sure to bring out the crowds. Let’s just hope the thunder and lightning stay away for his set this year.
Other well-known acts playing this year’s CityFolk are Hozier, Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker), Belle and Sebastian, The Decemberists, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Steve Earle & the Dukes, Lindi Ortega, Tune-Yards, Whitehorse, and Andy Shauf, among many others. There could be more acts announced, too, so we’ll update this post as more information gets released.
Also returning this year is the free local music programming, called Marvest. While that lineup has yet to be announced, we can certainly expect a lot of great Ottawa acts to be playing this September.
Pre-sale tickets go on sale May 24 at 10 a.m. and regular passes for the general public go on sale on Friday, May 25. More ticket and festival info can be found on the CityFolk website.
After a successful first weekend of the Rideau Canal skateway, many in Ottawa are gearing themselves for this year’s Winterlude. Organizers are attempting to build a bit of heat for this year’s festival with their Sub-Zero concert series, taking place over three weekends at Confederation Park. Beginning on Jan 30th there will be live music on Fridays and Saturdays with a variety of Canadian artists. In typical government fashion, several bases of diversity are represented – you’ve got your strong female singers with Terra Lightfoot and Whitehorse; racial diversity with A Tribe Called Red; and linguistic duality through Misteur Valaire.
Saturday, Jan 30
A Tribe Called Red
Friday, Feb 5
Saturday, Feb 6
Friday, Feb 12
Saturday, Feb 13
*All shows begin around 7:30 PM at Confederation Park
The thing about outdoor winter concerts is that dancing is pretty key to avoid frostbite. So rather than a chronological preview, each musical act will instead be ranked through their anticipated warmth factor using the spicy Scoville Scale.
1. SCOTCH BONNET PEPPER: A TRIBE CALLED RED
Ottawa success-story A Tribe Called Red are a sure bet to keep the dance-floor moving, with infectious beats and a dedicated local following. In lieu of their usual month Electric Pow Wow, they’ve kept busy in recent months with a spotlight at the NAC’s #FOMO 5th Anniversary Party and other high-profile shows. While they haven’t had a studio album in a few years, they’ve released a few tracks and an EP in 2015, keeping their material fresh.
Scoville Scale heat ranking: 100,000–350,000 SHU
2. HABANERO CHILI: MISTEUR VALAIRE
The only band in this line-up that isn’t from Ontario is Montreal’s Misteur Valaire. Making waves on Quebec’s music scene, the band are instantly catchy and are sure to put on a great show. Boasting a repertoire of modern danceable beats held together by a little synth, they have several members who play instruments and will find a range of musical fans. Their songs vary from EDM inspired funk to rock-rap. Also, their mix of French and English lyrics will captivate audiences speaking both languages.
Scoville Scale heat ranking: 100,000–350,000 SHU
3. CAYANNE PEPPER: WHITEHORSE
The melodic folk-rock of Whitehorse might not inspire a dedicated dance-floor, but the well-composed tunes will certainly encourage the audience to bob their heads along.The moody folk-rock mixed with an occasional upbeat piece will reverberate beautifully onto the McKenzie King bridge and the Rideau Canal, providing a fitting end to the concert series.
Scoville Scale heat ranking: 30,000–50,000 SHU
4. SERRANO PEPPER: TERRA LIGHTFOOT
Terra Lightfoot and her band have a few different styles – they vary between catchy guitars riffs where I want to sing along, to slow melodic songs with poetic lyrics that pack an emotional punch but might have the audience dissipating on a cold night. That being said, the indie-rock-blues front woman is all sorts of badass and she sure can carry a tune.
Scoville Scale heat ranking: 10,000–25,000 SHU
5. JALAPEÑO PEPPER: HILOTRONS
Local veterans the Hilotrons will be rocking on the upbeat with heavy bass and solid instrumental synergy. They’re funky and will get some people moving, but their slightly off-center music would probably fare better in a dark concert hall than a cold outdoor venue.
A couple weeks ago the world was apace with gift hunting and a great checking of lists. Ottawa’s The Haig, meanwhile, gifted the world not one, not two but three music videos from Dec. 20 to 24th.
Two acoustic renditions of their own “Chinese Maria” and “Devil’s Got a Gun” by Whitehorse were filmed at the Ottawa Marriot Hotel’s penthouse during dusk. The videos were filmed by Mike + Ness Photo in only one or two takes, judging by the light. Both videos were released the day before the solstice and can be viewed here:
The Haig’s “Chinese Maria”
The Haig’s cover of Whitehorse’s “Devil’s Got a Gun”
In the spirit of Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey, The Haig has created From the Crawlspace, a series of short videos that will be featured inside a crawlspace somewhere deep in the bowels of a haunted asteroid. The first of these videos was released on Christmas Eve, wishing us a merry one and a “Haigy New Year.”
I recently traveled up to Yukon and Alaska for two weeks and decided to check out some cultural and musical events in the various towns that I visited. Here is the second part in a mini-series of my Northern Adventures.
When in Whitehorse, Yukon, I asked my friend Alex about what bars had good beer and music. He said right away, “Scharf, we’ll go to Paddy’s. It’s Whitehorse’s rock bar and there’s always something happening. On top of that it’s next to a dive bar that is opens at 9 a.m.”
Paddy’s Place was an open space concept bar. No divisions or sections, just four walls, a bar on the right and a stage at the far end. We sat down to have a drink and there were some great 90s rock gems playing through the speakers. Mid-beer, the owner got on the drums and a guitarist joined him. Instantly a guy sprang from his bar stool, ran across the room, and grabbed a bass to join them. It was Jam Night at Paddy’s and I was excited.
There was something a little strange about the evening though. On the wall across from the bar was a big flat screen TV with the news on mute. It was odd to listen to a rocking jam session while seeing images of useless and unexplained destruction from all around the world. On a lighter note, one of the scrolling headlines read “Police say a toddler crashed a jeep into an Oregon home then walked to his house to watch cartoons.” With my brew in hand, friends by my side and so much on my mind there could be few better places.
The walls were covered in paintings of Tupac, Bob Marley, Notorious B.I.G., Louis Armstrong, John Lennon, Jim Morrison, and more gazing upon the three-piece. The boys did a good bunch of covers, the ones that stood out were their renditions of “Foxy Lady” and “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
With the jammers taking a break and a big day ahead for us, we decided to call it a night. The designated driver took the wheel of the 1986 Landcruiser as I popped in the latest cassette from The Yips. Just one of many local tapes I brought up for Alex and his Landcruiser that only plays tapes. A great night out in the North.
A sign on the wall as you exit the washroom to return to the bar.