Exploring Ottawa: The music scene on any given weekend

mineta – bella (3)
Photo credit to Pierre Stj @ le Chateau Cyr

Photo by Pierre Stj

This past weekend was a dream. A warm breeze blew across the city, carrying a promise of the sun-soaked summer to come. Not only that, but in the space of three days I was able to attend three distinct events featuring live music. Here are the results of my scouting, three artists you should know: Mineta, Alanna Sterling and the Silvers, and The Visit.

The thing that humbles me about these artists is their diversity. The variety of music that the people of Ottawa are able to appreciate on a regular basis is amazing, and I’m happy to be a part of this scene. As I was finalizing this list, I noticed that each group features a female vocalist… It was fully a coincidence, I promise!

First pick: Mineta

April 14 brought Toronto’s Mineta to House of Targ, along with local support the Sick Sick Sicks and The Owl Eyes Project.

Mineta, circus ska-punk from Toronto, were headlining the show and played second. Trust me, these clowns will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget! The group exhibits real chemistry and and each band member is essential to the overall sound. Their live show feels like a performance, and each musician has created their own character to play. But where does the clown stop, and the person begin? It was an interesting comparison to see them for a second time, following their appearance in February at le Chateau Cyr. They totally rocked the Chateau, and even with the smaller crowd at Targ, folks were keeping pace with the contagious and energetic beat.

Honourable mention: The Sick Sick Sicks closed the evening after a period of hiatus on the Ottawa scene. Their brand of ‘djangobilly’ is catchy and fun to dance to, and I hope to see play again in the near future. As for the opening band, the Owl Eyes Project, my primary impression was their impressive collection of beards. Facial hair aside, their music featured some interesting instrumentation and appeared to be well composed.


Pick Two: Alanna Sterling

April 16 brought me to a house show located near Lees. I wasn’t really familiar with the artists that were performing prior to seeing them that evening, and I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the sound and the caliber of the musicians. I’d like to highlight Alanna Sterling and the Silvers: their set was on-point, they played original material, and Alanna’s voice is absolutely incredible. Upon further investigation I’ve learned that she does a lot of acoustic/piano work, though it was her performance with the full band that really had the “wow” factor for me. Still, an artist like Alanna is worth listening to, and her talent can carry itself even without a sweet back-up band.

Honourable mention: Shout out to the Latch Key Kids for their incredible cover of the RATM classic “Killing in the Name Of”.

Pick Three:

Many of you vinyl enthusiasts probably know that April 16 was Record Store Day, which was celebrated by some of Ottawa’s record stores.

I was in Hintonburg and decided to check out the bands that were playing at The Record Centre, one of which was The Visit. I had heard cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne play at an Artistic Showcase several years ago, and I vividly remembered the effect his music had on me. I decided to see him play again with this different project, and I’m glad that I did. The acoustics of the shop were perfect for the complex and ethereal melodies strung together by the combination of cello and vocals. It was both traditional and contemporary, meditative and complex. The Visit create music that presents an opportunity for listeners to be totally absorbed in it’s complexities, or, it also makes great background music for writing a blog post.