• The Darby Mills Project

    Sometimes I have to step outside my musical comfort zone and last night I’m glad I did just that.  The Darby Mills Project was in town at The Brass Monkey, and they certainly rocked our socks off.  I really didn’t know what to expect when I bought my ticket as the only songs I knew were from The Headpins peak in the 80’s and her iconic voice, but I was fairly certain it would be a great show.  With a good mix of tunes from the Darby Mills Project, some covers of women who influenced her as well as tunes from The Headpins, it was a fantastic show from start to finish and well worth the cost of admission and the late night out.

    Opening up the night was local cover band Sussex, who did a fantastic job getting everyone rockin on the dance floor and leading the way for Darby Mills.  I am definitely going to watch out for future shows from them.

     

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  • Kemptville Live Music Festival Day 3

    I have to admit that Kemptville Live Music Festival has become my favorite outdoor festival for many reasons, although it’s difficult to say exactly why… it just has a really good vibe. Maybe it’s the location; maybe it’s the consistently fantastic mix of music and vendors; maybe it’s the “homey, we’re here to enjoy some music” feel; maybe it’s something else entirely. Add in another beautiful day yesterday (and the fourth in a row without ran, which was the longest stretch we’ve had this year), and the result is pure heaven. I have no idea how Bob and the rest of the committee have managed to put such a great event together in three short years, but I can certainly applaud their results.

    The day started off with a great Blues set by Three Times Lucky. I missed them at Bluesfest due to conflicts with other acts, so I was glad I could make up for it. This time they somehow managed to convince Kaz Kazanoff (from the Texas Horns) to stick around the area after his annual Bluesfest gig to join the band and kick it up a notch for the appreciative fans.

    Next up was Angelique Francis who showcased her beautiful voice and her many talents playing various instruments. I’m sure we’re going to hear a lot more from her in the coming years (although I think she needs to loosen up a little as it was almost a word-for-word copy of her set at Bluesfest and I prefer the less scripted moments, which I find more memorable.

    Bill Durst then stormed the stage with another fiery hard rockin Blues set that had me dancing in the hot sun the entire time. The more I hear him play, the more I want to see him again, but since I can’t do that, I came home with another of his CD’s to keep me company until the next concert he plays in town.

    In addition to having a passion for the Blues, I also love good old-fashioned Rock and Roll, and the Weber Brothers certainly delivered with a high energy Rock performance. Following them was Sue Foley with some more great Blues (seriously, an entire hot sunny day filled with Blues and Rock, it just can’t get much better than this).

    Finally, the moment the large crowd had been waiting for arrived when Burton Cummings and his band took over the stage. For someone who’s nearing the age of 70, he certainly hasn’t slowed down. As with the show I saw last year, he prefaced many of his songs with some memories – either about how it felt to achieve the Gold Record or where/how some of the songs came to be, and there were a lot of songs that he has had success with over the years. For me, it was the perfect end to a great day, and the best way to cap off five weeks of Sumer music festivals.

     

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  • Kemptville Live Music Festival Day 1

    When I heard that Angel Forrest and MonjeyJunk would be returning to the festival to play the first night, I immediately bought my ticket. I am a huge fan of both groups and would hate to miss an opportunity to see them play live.

    What a great kickoff party to this year’s edition of the festival. The afternoon started off in the right foot with warm sunshine and a fantastic set by Soulstack. Angel Forrest (what a voice!) was back this year and performed an amazing set along with fiery acoustic guitar playing by Ricky Pacquette and Denis Coulombe. Monkeyjunk absolutely killed it (don’t they always?) and finally seeing David Wilcox play live was the icing on the cake.

    I have been a strong supporter of this festival since the first edition and with the Thursday and Saturday acts they signed up, as well as some tweaks to the site (a decent video screen, more potties and a water refill station to name a few), my love for this place continues to grow. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s shows!

     

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  • #Ottawa Bluesfest Day 10

    What a great way to close out 10 jam packed days of this year’s edition of Ottawa Bluesfest. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers put together a fantastic two hour long set and had the crowd signing along to almost every single one of the songs. It’s been a long wait to see them in Ottawa, but they certainly made up for it last night.

    Earlier in the day I saw a great set by Ottawa’s Souljazz Orchestra. I loved seeing them last year and I have to say the same with their Bluesfest show this year. Their fusion of latin jazz, afrobeat and funk made for a great counterpoint to all the Blues and Rock I’ve seen over the past two weeks.

    I now have a couple of days to rest up before I attend Kemptville Live Music Festival this coming Thursday and Saturday.

     

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  • #Ottawa Bluesfest Day 9

    Finally, a hot sunny day without any risk of rain or thunderstorms! It was a great start to the final weekend of the festival and a day filled with Blues. My day started with a sampling of Jump blues from The Jivewires. As much as I wanted to stay until the end of their excellent set, I had to leave as my goal for today was to see Thornetta Davis again. I last saw Thornetta at the 2011 festival and was very impressed. With the release of her new album, Honest Women, she has taken it up a notch and yesterday she delivered a spellbinding “get up on your feet and dance away your Blues in the hot sun” performance.

    Next up it was back under the shade of the Bluesville tent for a very impressive Blues/Rock performance by Hamish Anderson that showcased his amazing talent. This was followed by a rousing Gospel/Blues show by The Campbell Brothers (I would have never believed that pedal steel and Gospel would go together but they put any and all doubts to rest).

    The day closed out in the Theatre for the last Blues Revue of the festival, hosted by Ottawa Soul band The Split along with Red Young on keys and support from The Texas Horns. With special guests Thornetta Davis, Sharon Riley, Miss Lavelle White and TJ Wheeler it made for a perfect end to an amazing day of Blues.

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  • #Ottawa Bluesfest Day 7

    Yesterday was a triple-header of Blues, Blues and more Blues.  The evening started with a great set by local Rock/Blues band Murray Kinsley & Wicked Grin who I am certain I will be seeing again in the near future.  Next up was Coco Montoya who set the tone for the nights headliners – The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

    It has been 15 years since I last saw the Fabulous Thunderbirds and. to be honest, all I could remember was that it was a fantastic concert.  Since then, the band members have changed a number of times, with Kim Wilson the only original member remaining.  In spit of this (or perhaps because of it), the show last night was fantastic.  After seeing him play with Gary Clark Jr. the previous night, I already knew that Johnny Moeller would showcase his talents with some fabulous and furious guitar solos.  Add in Kim Wilson playing harmonica and vocals along with some great keyboard work from Kevin Anker, and you end up with another Outstanding show at Ottawa Bluesfest.

    Tonight, I’m going to take the evening off as I need to recharge my energy for the final weekend, which includes some more great Blues performers and will be capped off with a show by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

     

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  • #Ottawa Bluesfest Day 5 & 6

    The last two days have been all about the Blues for me.  I was looking forward to seeing Carolyn Wonderland on Tuesday as I haven’t seen her since 2012. Unfortunately, she was unable to perform due to illness, so Nick Schnebelen was brought in to replace her, and he turned out to be a great (last minute) replacement.

    Last night, Anderson East kicked off the party with a powerful set from the depths of his soul. The Blacksheep stage headliner of the night was Gary Clark Jr. who gave his all with a set that was oozing with his special brand of Texas Blues. To make it even better, Johnny Moeller from The Fabulous Thunderbirds joined in for a number of songs. I saw Gary Clark Jr. play in 2014, and knew he would blow the roof off the stage this year. Needless to say, the only disappointment for the fans was he had to close his set at the 11pm cutoff. What an amazing show that will be one of my treasured highlights of this week’s festival.

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  • #Ottawa Bluesfest Day 4.

    I can’t think of a better way to end the first week of this years festival than to party with P!NK. Not only is she an amazing singer, she gave us a fantastic show that included choreographed dancers, fireworks, flames and, to top it off, P!NK flying over the crowd during her encore. I really loved the stage catwalk extension into the crowd, which brought her closer to many of her enthusiastic and adoring fans. The fact that she continued playing the duet with her guitarist while sitting at the end of the extension even while the rain pelted down showed us what a dedicated performer and amazing person she is. Even better was the fact that I managed to accidentally end up in a spot that was near the end of the extension and beneath her encore flight was the icing on my P!NK cake.

    Earlier in the day I managed to satisfy my Blues cravings starting with a rare acoustic guitar and harmonica show by Jimmy Bowskill and Carlos Del Junco (Jimmy has been too busy playing with The Sheepdogs and Blue Rodeo to promote the album they released a year ago), followed by some more great blues by The Clint Everson Band and topped off with a blistering set in the Bluesville tent by Slam Allen. The only downside was the fact that I had to miss many other great acts due to so many wonderful shows to choose from. After some much needed rest today, I’ll be back at the festival tomorrow for another five days of fantastic music.

     

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  • #Ottawa Bluesfest Day 3

    Saturday was another great day at Ottawa Bluesfest.  The day started off with a foot stomping, hard driving, Blues/Rock set by Too Slim and the Taildraggers.  Next up was a Bluesville tent bursting, blistering blues set by SugarRay Rayford, although I missed half of it due to the inevitable conflicts with another act.

    The highlight of the day for me was finally seeing Brandi Carlile live and she certainly made the effort to treat everyone to a very special show that finished off with a rousing version of Girls Just Want to Have Fun.  I certainly hope that her comments about the festival and audience being special are true and that we will see her return again for future shows .

    To close the night, I chose the Blues Revue in the Theatre so that there were no chances of sound bleed from the main stage rap act.  As expected, MonkeyJunk, Antony Geraci, Jimmy Bowskill and Carlos del Junco put on a great blues show that made the wait to enter the theatre and scramble for a seat well worth it.

    Since I’ve noted the capacity of the Bluesville Tent a couple of times (it was packed for Matt Andersen and was overflowing onto the lawn beside the tent for SugarRay Rayford), here are my comments on this new setup as it will likely need to be tweaked in future festivals.  First, it does help with the sound bleed and is a great place to see a show when it’s raining, but for those who have to watch the show from outside the tent due to capacity issues, it’s not much of an improvement.  Second, they need to look at how the Ottawa Jazzfest sets up their tent stage as the platform in Bluesville is too low – so low that only people right up front and those in the back bleachers have a good view.  Third, to help with sightlines, it would be good to have a couple of small video screens setup on the side of the stage and outside the tent.  Finally, if they can’t find a bigger tent, they need to be more careful with the acts that are scheduled so that the expected crowd can actually fit into the tent.

     

     

     

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  • #Ottawa Bluesfest Day 2 (with a side trip to The Rainbow)

    Wow, two days into the festival and I’m already feeling the strain, although I’m certain that yesterday’s amazing performances that had me dancing through the night have something to do with it.

    Melissa Etheridge kicked things into the stratosphere with what I consider the best concert I’ve seen this year.  Not only did she tick off one of my bucket list items, she left me wanting so much more.  She played a great mix of her hits plus many of the songs off her Memphis Rock and Soul album which is a wonderful collection of covers from hit songs that came out of Stax label in the late Sixties.  It was also a treat to compare her version of Respect Yourself (Staple Sisters) with Mavis Staples’ version, which I experienced less than two weeks ago.   Talk about a tough act to follow!

    Next up was Matt Andersen who continues to amaze me even after seeing him live seven times over the past eight years.  I still have fond memories from the first time I saw him play at Bluesfest – just Matt and his acoustic guitar and powerful vocals tearing up the stage.  This time he brought his Bona Fides band with him who played their hearts out while he belted out the tunes to a packed tent full of believers.  Yet another great show from Matt and his band!

    At this point I was starting to feel a little weary after dancing throughout both concerts, but just because Bluesfest shows were over, it didn’t mean this was the end of my day.  The Rainbow Bistro had a special treat that I couldn’t resist – Revelator Hill was in town and I really wanted to see them play live.  Yes, there was more dancing, more clapping and more yelling, but it was certainly worth the extra effort and late night out.  I’m glad I didn’t miss this show and hope they can return to Ottawa in the near future.

     

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