On Wednesday April 1, a crowd of people gathered to witness the exceptional talents of Acadian “trash folk” artist Lisa LeBlanc at The Record Centre. I had heard a lot of good things about LeBlanc over the last few years, mainly how her French songs have resonated strongly with many Franco-Canadians since her debut in 2012, and that her fully English EP from last year is being just as well-received with Anglophones.

As Ottawa’s music scene continues to find new homes in venues like House of TARG, Pressed CafĂ©, Gabba Hey! and LIVE on Elgin, another somewhat unconventional venue has emerged in Hintonburg. The Record Centre has quickly become known as one of the best record stores in Eastern Ontario since opening in August 2012. You won’t find many places in Ottawa that offer such a selection of quality records, turntables, and accessories. If you’ve ever had the chance to go you might agree it’s easy to fall in love with it. It’s heaven for music lovers — you want to stay for hours, even days.

The record Centre, Ottawa
The wall of equipment at The Record Centre (photo: Facebook)


The Record Centre has quietly made a name for itself as a really cool spot to see live, intimate sessions. The newly renovated space has hosted a few great shows recently, including the “Hintonburg Hang” featuring Jim Bryson, Future States, and Silver Creek during the inaugural three-day MEGAPHONO Festival. One gets the sense that this is just the beginning, with each session drawing more and more people into the room.

When it comes to raw, foot-stomping folk, it’s hard to think of others who do it better than Lisa LeBlanc. She wrote her first composition when she was 15 years old, singing in both French and English (and sometimes Franglish) while blending powerful and intelligent lyrics with incredibly technical instrumentation. She played an intimate set in the afternoon before her late show at Ritual Nightclub.

It’s all fun and games with LeBlanc. As she finished up soundcheck, the atmosphere was relaxed and smiles filled the room. With the spring sun shining bright, the trio of LeBlanc and her two companions filled the store with tunes. The set was a great mix of French songs off her 2012 self-titled debut album and English songs off Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted. They kicked things off with the ferociously upbeat tracks “Gold Diggin’ Hoedown” and “Cerveau ramolli,” and LeBlanc showed off her banjo skills, making it look like the easiest instrument in the world to play. Her fast-moving fingers and raspy, explosive vocals had the crowd in awe.

I met owner John Thompson at the show with my new purchase of The Black Lips self-titled in-hand. John is unlike many jaded record store employees, not unlike those you might have seen in the movie High Fidelity. He’s a mild-mannered, genuinely nice guy who is clearly still excited about music and the live experience. When speaking to him, he was almost lost for words as dozens of us gathered between the record shelves to catch a glimpse of Leblanc. “I was hoping a few people would show up on a Wednesday afternoon, but this is amazing,” he said. Well John, you’re onto something here.

The short set also contained a few other songs including “J’pas un cowboy,” which saw the drummer put down his sticks and pick up a couple of wooden spoons. This came as a surprise to LeBlanc as she looked back at him with a huge smile. The spoons sounded like horse trots, which seemed appropriate given the song title. Things ended off with my favourite song off the new album “You Look Like Trouble (But I Guess I Do Too)”, which you can watch below.

The smell of your old cigarettes has stayed on my coat
And even though I find it kinda gross, it somehow comforts me

The great thing about us is that we’re practically the same
And you know that’s what scares me the most

My heart’s always traveled with me in my suitcase
And I guess I don’t wanna see it ending up in yours

Well, you look like trouble
But I guess I do too

You and I both know a gypsy’s heart can’t settle down
So, if you don’t mind me asking, what do we do now?

Cuz I have to admit, even the highways don’t look the same
Since you’ve been around

Well, you look like trouble
But I guess I do too

Well, for some odd reason, I’d like you to be more than just another song to sing

Well, you look like trouble
But I guess I do too