John Carroll, one of Ottawa’s premier storytellers, wowed a jammed packed Pressed Cafe, Saturday March 9th.
The boisterous cafe grew eerily silent as soon as John struck his first chord. Opening with the title track from his new record, “Everyone smokes in hell,” he set the tone for a great night of blues and folk rock.
The night was not all about John Carroll though. Joining him on stage throughout his set was Catriona Sturton (renowned harmonica player) and Philippe Charbonneau (on bass).
Never one to be shy about rambling on between songs, John shared stories ranging from crossing the border through farmer’s fields to commenting on how you can’t be cool in Kemptville without owning a truck.
With a telephone patched in and duct taped to his mic stand he created a very cool effect on his voice for songs like “The Devil Comes Quick When You Call His Name” and “When the Robots Come”. “When the Robots Come,” was one of my favourite parts of the evening since Catriona interlaced playing the harmonica with slow-motion robot dance moves while attacking John.
After John’s set, Catriona took to the stage. The Ottawa multi-instrumentalist traded in her harmonica for an electric guitar and played original pieces, such as her song about her love for S & G Fries between Carling and Maitland. Catriona may very well be the cutest person in the entire music industry. With her soft voice, cute and funny rhyming lyrics, you can’t help but have a smile on your face during the entire set. My highlight of her set was a gorgeous piece where she looped several harmonica blasts (imagine Final Fantasy/Owen Pallett with a harmonica) while strumming along on her guitar. Catriona is a complete treat to see live as a solo artist and as a harmonica player adding great depth to someone else’s sound.
To conclude the evening John and Philippe returned on stage to play “I Put a Spell on You,” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, an instrumental jam and finished the night with a the blues classic “Baby, Please Don’t Go” by Big Joe Williams.
You can catch John Carrol every Wednesday night at The Lafayette for free, which will feel like stealing for any of you born before Napster.