Chateau Lafayette has been a fixture of Ottawa’s Byward Market, serving suds to the man on the street and the politician alike, since 1849. John Carroll, while a century and change younger than 170, has become every bit of a fixture in The Laff for the past 15 years.
Every Wednesday night for a decade and a half John Carroll has been performing covers and four albums’ worth of original music for the patrons of The Laff until the bartender gives last call.
“Sometimes it feels like two years and other times it feels long for sure,” Carroll said. “but it’s not the same as when I started. I’ve developed and the room has changed a lot and the crowds have changed a lot.”
The show is a combination of older folk and blues covers and the odd, more current tune, but the highlight is Carroll’s original music. Carroll has falbums to rely on, and I’m partial to “Lafayette Blues” if you’re looking for something to request.
Carroll is old school, with the kind of sound you might expect to hear coming out of the radio as your car drives down a two lane desert road in the early ’40s, especially when he’s using his DIY voice modulator made out of an old rotary phone headset.
Not only is Carroll a fantastic musician, but his stage presence is also the clear product of someone who has spent decades perfecting his craft and still absolutely loves what he does. Carroll is a pro not only during his performances but also in between, constantly interacting and bantering with the crowd. He’s pretty funny too.
Armed with only a guitar and drum pedal, Carroll provides a very laid back, classic, live bar show, he’s center stage performing some incredible music, but he never demands your attention. If you want to just sit with your friends, enjoying a few beers and some nice background tunes, Carroll’s bluesy-folk riffs and vocals are fantastic ambiences to pair with whatever is in your pint glass.