Ottawa Bluesfest preview #1: Local acts you shouldn’t miss

Ottawa Bluesfest, local music, indie

Ottawa Bluesfest has made its name as one of the best music festivals in Canada, if not North America. Over two weeks, the festival attracts over 300,000 people to Lebretton Flats where top musicians form all over the world play. Festival organizers have done a reasonably good job at getting a good mix of musicians and genres, particularly this year where headliners range from Rush to B.B. King. As the festival continues to grow in size and popularity, the number of big-name acts seems to increase as well.

However, Bluesfest organizers have also succeeded in another way. A number of local artists are included on the bill every year, giving those attending the opportunity to get to know some of Ottawa has to offer. Not only is this really important for the musicians to have a chance at getting some more exposure, but it also gives them a chance to get out of the small clubs and play a set on a larger scale. While participants and winners of The Big Money Shot normally get a spot, there are so many other great acts from Ottawa that get a shot at playing.

In the months leading up to Bluesfest, we here at Ottawa Showbox will be previewing some of these local acts and giving you some samples of their stuff to listen to. We’re hoping to do this weekly, so we hope you find your new favourite  Ottawa band or musician to see at the festival!

A Tribe Called Red

One of Ottawa’s top musical exports at the moment, these “Pow-wow step” innovators hardly need an introduction. When Ian Campeau (a.k.a DJ NDN) and Bear Witness started throwing epic dance parties (Electric Pow Wow) in 2008, little did they know that their music would be nominated for the Polaris Music Prize Long List in 2012. Now with DJ Shub on board, ATCR shows no sign of slowing down.

Roberta Bondar

This 4-piece noise rock outfit is one of my absolute favourites in Ottawa. They are one of those bands that have the ability to transform a normal space into a sweaty, eardrum-ruining mess. Their recent release of  the Hiss EP, a 6-track cassette of monumental proportions, as well as playing festivals like Arboretum and Bluesfest, marks the next phase for this band who have made big waves in Ottawa’s underground scene.

Loon Choir

Started in 2009, this 7-person band has gained a lot of momentum with their two albums Expansion Forces (2010) and Fire Poems (2012). They charted at #2 on CBC Radio 3’s R3-30 weekly playlist and got spots at POP Montreal, NXNE, JUNOfest, Ottawa Bluesfest, and have toured extensively in light of their recent success.

Jack Pine & The Fire

One of the most talented, soulful acts Ottawa has to offer, Jack Pine & The Fire brings foot-stomping roots music that bleeds originality. The band has gained some notoriety in recent months as having recorded the Movember anthem “Mustache is King”. You may find yourself drinking sips of whiskey through a mustache listening to these guys.

HeroHill review here