RBC Bluesfest 2015: Local Preview


Featured photo by Steve Gerecke / Bluesfest

It’s hard to believe that another year has passed and the RBC Bluesfest 2015 is upon us. Bluesfest has been getting better and better at including great local acts in their programming on the big stage, which for many artists is a dream come true. This year is no exception, as the festival has gone one step further to bring in more artists that are sure to rock the grounds at Lebreton Flats. Let’s dive right in with some previews of Ottawa-area musicians playing this year’s festival.

DJ Acro

“DJ ACRO has opened for and shared the stage with a number of major artists including the likes of The Beatnuts, Mac Miller, Onyx, K.R.I.T, M.O.P, Smoke DZA, XZIBIT and a slew of other up coming and iconic Hip Hop artists.”

Saturday, July 18 @ 7 p.m.
The Fort DJ Booth

Al Wood and the Woodsmen

Al Wood is a true bluesman, touching on various blues styles and sounds. A veteran on stage, his wailing guitar riffs and unhinged harmonica solos are sure to blow audiences away.

A must-see for fans of: Stevie Ray Vaughan & Eric Clapton

Saturday, July 11 @ 5 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage

Bella Cat

Bella Cat’s unique musical style has roots in soul and blues music, fusing genres and creating a sound that is distinctly her own. Her music will appeal to a broad audience, spanning all ages and tastes.

A must-see for fans of: Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings

Wednesday, July 15 @ 6 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage


If there’s one band in Ottawa that transcends genres, combines a myriad of musical styles, and has engaging and intelligent lyrical content, it’s BlakDenim. This eight-piece ensemble exudes energy on stage and are fan-favourites at Bluesfest, having played the festival in the past. Infusion of hip-hop, funk, rock, soul, and jazz.

A must-see for fans of: A Tribe Called Quest & The Roots

Thursday, July 9 @ 7 p.m.
Canadian Stage

Blues & Company

B&C is a three-piece high-energy, crunchy riff-driven roots blues band that are from the nation’s capital, but could just as well be from the heart of the Mississippi Delta. If you’re into raw vocals and let-loose blues instrumentation, these guys are the ones you want to see live.

A must-see for fans of: Jimi Hendrix & John Lee Hooker

Saturday, July 11 @ 3:30 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage

Bluestone & the Memphis Moonshine

Straight-up rock n’ roll with a dose of some soul, doo-wop, and horns. This band deliver’s it all – four-part harmonies, duelling instrumentals, and thunderous percussion.

A must-see for fans of: Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

Thursday, July 16 @ 6 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage


If you follow Showbox, you’ll know that this group is one of our local faves. Since enlisting some of Ottawa’s most talented musicians and reforming as a full band, this experimental “future folk” group has captured the hearts and minds of many in Ottawa. Pure brilliance.

A must-see for fans of: Bon Iver & Sigur Rós

Sunday, July 12 @ 5 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre

Brandon Allan

Brandon Allan writes simple, heartfelt songs about everyday feelings and experiences. His brand acoustic folk/country rock is the kind that you can turn on and close your eyes to, as his soft yet searing melodies and lyrics leave nothing uncovered.

A must-see for fans of: The Weakerthans & The Tallest Man on Earth

Saturday, July 18 @ 3:30 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre

Brea Lawrenson Band

Brea Lawrenson’s music will appeal to lovers of pop country, which is a lot of people here in the Ottawa Valley. Her voice can go from soft and warm to powerful and penetrating on a dime, so keep your ears out for her at the Flats.

A must-see for fans of: Carrie Underwood

Friday, July 10 @ 6 p.m.
Canadian Stage

Buck N’ Nice

This hip hop duo consisting of SawBuck and DJ So Nice has beatmaking and production of crowd-pleasing bangers down to a science. If you’re familiar with the club circuit or hip hop scene around Ottawa, you’ve probably moved your body to one or both of these guys.

A must-see for fans of: Jurassic 5 & Run the Jewels

Saturday, July 18 @ 7 p.m.
Canadian Stage

Catriona Sturton

Sturton has made a name for herself nationally as a musician and worked with artists such as Joel Plaskett, Al Tick, Rolf Klausener, John Carroll, as well as members of Sloan and Blue Rodeo. From Japanese garage rock venues to American juke joints, she’s got a pretty interesting rap sheet.

On top of being a very strong singer and songwriter, Sturton has become well-known for her proficiency playing the harmonica – she derives her style straight from the Mississippi of old, cutting her chops at local blues establishments and learning from harmonica masters such as Larry “The Bird” Mootham and Carlos del Junco.

A must-see for fans of: Howlin’ Wolf, Feist

Friday, July 17 @ 8:15 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage

Drew Nelson

This veteran has been making music since 1989 and has recently started writing new material after a hiatus. Raw blues rock inspired by the Chicago greats is the only way to describe the kind of music that Nelson makes.

A must-see for fans of: Bo Diddley & Buddy Guy

Friday, July 17 @ 6 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage

DJ Dusty

HipHop, Downtempo, House and Chillout.

Sunday, July 12 @ 7 p.m.
The Fort DJ Booth

Eddie Quotez

“In a room full of rappers, Eddie Quotez is a standout. With his unique style, exciting energy, and eclectic sound, Eddie Quotez is quickly becoming a name to look out for.”

A must-see for fans of: Shad

Saturday, July 11 @ 3 p.m.
Bell Stage


This band is a truly special part of Ottawa/Hull’s music scenes. The band consists of members of Timber Timbre, Last Ex, and Scattered Clouds, creating disoriented and experimental art-punk with fractured arrangements.

A must-see for fans of: music that pushes boundaries, free jazz/post-punk

Thursday, July 16 @ 7 p.m.
Canadian Stage

Flight Distance

Calkuta, Bender & Patience have done it again, demonstrating why they’re one of the top hip hop acts in Ottawa. Their latest album, the 18-track High Priests of Low-Life, is another example of how talented this group is. Their music has an underground aesthetic with samples and production that are anything but amateur.

A must-see for fans of: Immortal Technique & Atmosphere

Wednesday, July 15 @ 8:15 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage


Grantly Franklin a.k.a G.Grand is a Showbox favourite. We just can’t get enough of his rhymes, especially when he collabs with his partner-in-crime producer Jeepz or other incredible Ottawa MC’s like Hyf the Gypsy Sun. If you’re into smooth, intelligent, and beat-laden hip hop then G.Grand is someone you don’t want to miss.

A must-see for fans of: Mos Def/Black Star

Saturday, July 11 @ 4 p.m.
Claridge Homes Stage

Gold and Marrow

Shannon Rose has been making music for a few years now, and her full-band project – now called Gold and Marrow – is making serious waves in Ottawa. Rose has proven herself to be one of the foremost songwriters in the region, alongside others such as Amanda Rheaume or Catriona Sturton.

A must-see for fans of: Feist 

Tuesday, July 14 @ 7:15 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre

Grime Kings

Callum Runciman and his band Grime Kings prove that music runs in the family – his sister Caylie’s band Boyhood has also turned heads in Ottawa. Grime Kings’ brand of lo-fi esoteric, fuzzy experimentations pushes the sonic limit and defies genre boundaries.

A must-see for fans of: Mac DeMarco & Ty Segall

Wednesday, July 15 @ 6 p.m.
Canadian Stage


There is no other way to put it – HILOTRONS are a quintessential Ottawa band. Lead songwriter Mike Dubue’s influences are as diverse as they are obscure. The end result is album after album of relentlessly funky and imaginative songs, proving that Dubue is Ottawa’s musical mastermind.

A must-see for fans of: Talking Heads

Thursday, July 16 @ 8:15 p.m.
Canadian Stage

Iggy Smalls

The man behind the epic FRENZY parties at Babylon, Iggy Smalls knows how to get things going. Don’t miss him play Diplo/Skrillex’s afterparty at Ritual tonight (July 8).

Friday, July 10 @ 7 p.m.
The Fort DJ Booth

Joe Gaspar Band

Joe Gaspar and his band put the “blues” in Bluesfest. Drawing on blues rock influences from the ’70s such as Cream and Led Zeppelin, the Joe Gaspar Band plays songs containing heavy riffs and intricate guitar solos of that era.

A must-see for fans of: Jimi Hendrix, Cream & Led Zeppelin

Sunday, July 12 @ 3:30 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage

Kaleigh Watts

Ottawa-based singer-songwriter Kaleigh Watts finds beauty in simplicity by writing emotional and intense songs that create a truly incredible soundscape. Watts, who has been mentored by Juno and Canadian Folk Awards winner Lynn Miles, blends intricate acoustic fingerpicking with stirring vocal melodies.

A must-see for fans of: Lynn Miles

Friday, July 10 @ 6 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre


“2009 Ottawa Red Bull Threestyle Champion, 4 Time Ottawa DMC Dj Battle champion, First title coming at the age of 15 years old. 2006 Canadian Team DMC Dj battle champions ( w/ Stylusts ) and competed at the DMC World Championships in London, England.”

Saturday, July 11 @ 7 p.m.
The Fort DJ Booth

Kira Isabella

“Kira Isabella has been performing her brand of up-tempo country music across Canada for more than a decade. Kira began dabbling in guitar and writing about love, life and boys. Initially, Kira delved into a variety of music, but when she discovered the likes of powerhouse country vocalists Shania Twain and Faith Hill, she knew she was hooked on country.”

A must-see for fans of: Shania Twain

Thursday, July 9 @ 7 p.m.
Bell Stage

The Lucas Haneman Express

Blending jazz, blues, and folk, Lucas Haneman has created his own sound and won many awards for his compositions. As an acclaimed fingerstylist and songwriter, Haneman and his band will be sure to get crowds moving at Bluesfest this year.

A must-see for fans of: Don Ross

Tuesday, July 14 @ 6 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage

Lynne Hanson and The Good Intentions

The best way to describe Lynne Hanson’s music is gritty, raw, and honest. It’s no surprise that she’s played shows in places like Memphis, Nashville, and Austin. With vocals that are on-point, songwriting that strikes to the core, and instrumentals that capture the soul of roots music, Hanson fits perfectly in such a stacked local lineup at Bluesfest.

A must-see for fans of: Caroline Herring

Thursday, July 9 @ 6 p.m.
Claridge Homes Stage

DJ Matt Tamblyn

Matt Tamblyn creates parties. If you’re one that scours town for places to get down, you’ve probably seen Tamblyn behind the decks at places like Parliament Pub or Mugshots. His repertoire includes SILK, Open Air Social Club, King of the Beach, and more.

Thursday, July 9 @ 7 p.m.
The Fort DJ Booth


MonkeyJunk are a Juno Award-winning modern blues rock band, proudly representing the nation’s capital across Canada. They have garnered a strong fan base internationally, touring Canada, the US, and Europe relentlessly. In just seven years, this band has become a Canadian staple.

A must-see for fans of: The Black Keys & Muddy Waters

Sunday, July 19 @ 8 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage

Musk Ox

This band takes neo-classical folk to another level, and have made a name for themselves internationally by creating beautifully textured and emotionally charged songs. Musk Ox create a rare brand of atmospheric, evocative, and harmonious music that resonates with our very core. This is a powerful, must-see chamber folk act.

A must-see for fans of: Current 93 & Empyrium

Saturday, July 18 @ 5 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre

Myers Brothers Band

This band plays the delta blues that would more typically be found in the deep heart of the Mississippi. A whaling harmonica, twangy hollow-body electric guitars, and raspy vocals – these guys are another band that keep the blues in Bluesfest going strong.

A must-see for fans of: John Lee Hooker & RL Burnside

Saturday, July 18 @ 3 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage

New Swears

Ottawa’s #1 party punk band, when New Swears perform mayhem ensues. Blow-up dolls, crowd surfers, whipped cream – these are all typical sights at a New Swears show. Do yourself a favour and strap on your seat belts, because this is one ride that’ll give you a concussion if you’re not ready.

A must-see for fans of: The Black Lips & WAVVES

Tuesday, July 14 @ 6 p.m.
Canadian Stage


These Ottawa veterans kick out serious jams, perfecting their crunchy proto-punk and garage rock sound that explodes from the stage. This three-piece band take us back to the CBGB’s era of early punk rock gods, and describe them selves as a cross somewhere between The Who and The Buzzcocks.

A must-see for fans of: Iggy & The Stooges, Fugazi

Thursday, July 16 @ 6 p.m.
Canadian Stage

Pony Girl

Another favourite of ours, Pony Girl creates intricate and consuming soundscapes. This is art-rock at its finest and it’s difficult to imagine a higher caliber of musicianship in this band. They will be playing many new songs from their upcoming epic Foreign Life, which has been about 10 years in the making.

A must-see for fans of: Broken Social Scene, The XX

Saturday, July 11 @ 7:30 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre

River City Junction

This power trio is yet another Ottawa Valley blues rock band that is making waves in the region. I first heard of this band when I came across their cover of “Dust My Broom,” the perennial classic tune written by blues legend Robert Johnson (and also happens to be one of my favourite blues songs). Get your blues fill with RCJ.

A must-see for fans of: ‘7os Blues rock

Thursday, July 9 @ 6 p.m.
Monster Energy Stage

Saint Clare

The layered and intricate instrumentation, high-energy orchestral nuances, and Matthew Saint Clare’s unhinged vocals that can only be compared to those of Frank Black of The Pixies. All of this melds into the distinctive sounds that Saint Clare create together. However motley a crew they may seem, their heterogeneity makes for a potent combination when such strong band chemistry exists.

A must-see for fans of: The Pixies, The Killers

Thursday, July 9 @ 6 p.m.
Canadian Stage

Silvergun & Spleen

If you want catchy, sexy, danceable rock music, then Silvergun & Spleen is the band for you. With an electric stage presence and an attitude that will smack you in the face, this band is ready to let loose and take on the big stage for the first time.  Get close, but not too close – S&S will set the stage ablaze.

A must-see for fans of: Metric, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Sunday, July 12 @ 3 p.m.
Canadian Stage

Tara Holloway

“Tara Holloway’s voice can stop you dead in your tracks. It’s a towering instrument: raw and soulfully weathered, yet capable of precise runs and pitch-perfect delicacy.”

A must-see for fans of: Sass Jordan, Sheryl Crow

Thursday, July 9 @ 7:30 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre

The Haig

The Haig have a sound that is not easy to describe, and that’s why we love them. It’s a little bit of ’90s alt-rock/grunge mixed in with a twisted horror film. Their full-throttle rock has taken Ottawa by storm and propelled the band to great heights.

A must-see for fans of: Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead

Tuesday, July 14 @ 6 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre

The Jivewires

“Formed in 1989, The Jivewires have jumped many musical and national borders. Taking their music from the jazz and satire of the ’40s and ’50s greats Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway, Wynonie Harris, and Louis Prima, The Jivewires throw a new spin on the Jump Blues tradition.”

A must-see for fans of: ‘Swing’, Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five

Friday, July 17 @ 6 p.m.
Claridge Homes Stage

The Reverb Syndicate

The Reverb Syndicate are Ottawa’s premier, and maybe only, instrumental surf and go-go band. The band’s bio perfectly describes them as “reverb-drenched surf/spy-fi sounds to accompany ’60s spy films, westerns, sci-fi films and old school video games that don’t exist.” You have to see to believe.

A must-see for fans of: Dick Dale, Link Wray

Saturday, July 11 @ 3:15 p.m.
Canadian Stage

The Superlative

“A rock band with few genres barred, The Superlative mix their rock with reggae, ska, pop, punk, funk, blues and more. They consistently surprise crowds across Canada with their genre-bending shows. The band embrace the rock elements many of us know and love, while putting a unique new spin to each song they write.”

A must-see for fans of: Sublime, Foo Fighters

Sunday, July 19 @ 3 p.m.
Bell Stage

The Visit

“The Visit is Heather Sita Black, a vocalist unchained, and Raphael Weinroth-Browne, a powerful cellist. Together they form a self-described defiance of genre, so terms like chamber or polystylistic don’t really fit the bill. The closest long-winded definition might be experimental/avant-garde classical.”

A must-see for fans of: Yo Yo Ma, 2 Cellos

Sunday, July 12 @ 3:30 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre

Thrifty Kids

Thrifty Kids are one of the most exciting new bands in Ottawa, and have received high accolades for the few releases and shows they have played so far. Their atmospheric and relaxed sound makes them a perfect summer band, the kind of music you want to listen to when the sand is between your toes. Keep an eye out for this band, as they are getting set to do big things.

A must-see for fans of: ALVVAYS, Vampire Weekend

Thursday, July 9 @ 6 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre

Winchester Warm

If there’s a list of bands that keep deep Ottawa’s folk roots going strong, Winchester Warm would be on top. Following in the footsteps of local greats such as Snailhouse, Jim Bryson, and The Acorn, WW’s beautiful vocal harmonies, irresistible arrangements, and heartfelt lyrics make them another addition to this city’s incredible list of folk greats.

A must-see for fans of: Wilco, Blue Rodeo

Wednesday, July 15 @ 6 p.m.
Barney Danson Theatre

The Yips

The Yips are another favourite of ours, playing loud and fuzzy “ouija rock” – a term they coined for their distinctly creepy, overdriven garagy sound. The Yips’ shows are wild, with “rave ghosts” always appearing with sheets over their heads and letting loose. Don’t miss out on what one of Ottawa’s best bands has to offer.

A must-see for fans of: FIDLAR, Thee Oh Sees

Friday, July 17 @ 6 p.m.
Canadian Stage

DJ Zattar

“Specializing in soul music from the past, present & future from the world over, Zattar has been moving ‘soles’ since the dawn of the 21st century. Syncopated drums with a touch of nostalgia are his sounds of choice. Bringing many years of music knowledge and crate digging to every gig, expect the unexpected.”

Wednesday, July 15 @ 7 p.m.
The Fort DJ Booth