• More Blues

    Thanks to a DawgFM facebook post, I have just discovered a hidden treasure trove of Blues concerts being held in Gatineau over the next 6 months and as a result have added a number of new concerts to the listing including:

    Monkeyjunk, Guy Belanger and Steve Strongman on Oct 4

    Adam Karch on Oct 31

    Firebelly on Jan 30

    Ben Racine and Dawn Tyler Watson on March 27 and 28

    Shane Dwight on April 10

    JW Jones on April 25

    Paul Deslaurier on May 29

    Steve Strongman on May 30

  • Ottawa Folk Festival Day 5 – #Ottawa

    The sun came out on the closing day of Ottawa Folk Festival and for a short while, kept the crowd nice and warm for a change. I skipped day 4 due to the cold, wet weather and the fact that there were no “must see” acts for me that day.  The site was clearly worse for the wear due to all the rain on Saturday and I felt sorry for those who had to navigate the mud puddles without boots on (I actually wore my winter boots to keep my feet warm and dry and 4 layers of tops/jackets to keep the rest of me warm).

    Sunday started off with a rousing set by The Cardboard Crowns. They have a ska/reggae/punk beat but it’s accessible and fun for us “older” folk too (they would have fit right in at this years A-Vibe festival). From there it was off catch a sample of the Reggae beats from Messangah and then over to the Beer tent to see Spencer Scharf play the Blues. From there I made my way over to catch the last half of the sweet soulful sounds of Bobbi Bazini at the Hill stage. Next up was the country-rock sounds of The Bros. Landreth and then back over to the paid section of the festival to see a show I’ve been eagerly anticipating since the original festival lineup was announced.

    Joss Stone. How do I describe such an amazing performer? If you like Soul music, you’ll love Joss Stone. For me, this was *THE* concert of the year and I saw a lot of outstanding acts this year (Aretha Franklin, Tedeschi Trucks and Beth Hart to name a few). I really have to thank the Ottawa Folk organizers for this she only made 2 stops in Canada for this tour, and Ottawa was one of them. In addition to her amazing voice, Joss has an relaxed command on the stage and a wonderful rapport with the fans. At times it felt like we were friends sitting around the kitchen table having a cup of tea. Clearly she’s having fun and it helped draw us all together as she sang.

    To close out the night, it was back to the Beer tent to catch the Mellotones play their Funky music (a good place to be considering the dropping temperature as the tent was at least 5 degrees warmer than the outdoor festival stages). This was the other act I was eagerly awaiting as I saw them play with Matt Anderson earlier in the year and was looking forward to hear them play their own music. A very tight set that had people on their feet dancing to the funk from the start and a great way to close out the 2014 festival season.

    Next up for me are indoor concerts including Sabrina Weeks on Sept 27 (possibly followed by JW Jones CD release later in the evening), Randy Bachman on Oct 22, Fleetwood Mac on Oct 26, Powder Blues on Nov 1 and Jarvis Church on Nov 27.  I’m also hoping to catch some of the great Blues acts that the Rainbow is bringing in for their 25th Anniversary over the next 3 months.

  • Folkfest Days 2 & 3

    The weather certainly has not been kind to this years Ottawa Folk Festival.  After enduring the opening day rain for most of the Blues Traveler set, I called it a night and came home.  On the second night there were only light sprinkles, but the chilly temperature and strong winds forced me to abandon the site after seeing a good set by Dear Rouge.  Last night there was no wind, so despite the chilly temperature, I was able to stay the entire evening and enjoy a wide range of excellent talent.

    The night started off with the Soulful sounds of Lee Fields and the Expressions.  It’s hard to believe his first album was released well over 40 years ago!  A wonderful performance and a great start to the night.  Next up was COIG – an ensemble made up of five Celtic artists from Cape Breton.  They turned out to be a great act to warm up the kitchen party in the Beer tent.  From there, it was over to the Hill stage to see The PepTides for the second time this year.  Despite performing on a very tight stage, this managed to pull off a great theatrical musical performance once again. To close out the night I caught the end of a very energetic and highly entertaining set by Chrissy Crowley (who is also part of COIG). My only regret is I did not see the entire act, but was captivated by the extended PetTides set.  A great night out indeed!

    Helpful hints for the festival:
    1) dress warm (I had 4 layers of clothes on last night),
    2) the best place to warm up is the Beer tent; especially when a band like Crissy Crowley is playing,
    3) on days like today, where it is cold and wet, dress warm and bring rain gear (dollar store sells good ponchos for $2).
    4) there are lots of excellent free shows at the Beer tent and Hill stage for those who can’t afford a pass.  Free acts this weekend include Wicked Mercy, Parsonsfield, The Mellotones, The Stubmbellas, Spencer Scharf, The Bros. Landreth, Matt Guitar Murphy and many more.

    Happy Festival Everyone!

  • Blues Traveler #Ottawa

    I have been a fan of Blues Traveler since the release of their album Four in 1994.  As a result, it should come as no surprise that I was excited when their visit to Ottawa Folk Festival was announced this year.  Last night they kicked off this years festival with a great jam session that showcased their talents and their wide range of musical styles, much to my delight and the enjoyment of the crowd.  One thing for certain, is after 27 years they can still deliver a blistering performance.  A wonderful way to start the last big festival of the season!


  • Ottawa Folk Festival Picks

    Ottawa Folk Festival is only 11 days away and it’s time to pick which acts to see over the 5 days of the festival.  I’ve already made my choices and they are:

    September 10: Blues Traveler and Foster the People

    September 11: The Noisy Locomotive, Lorde and Serena Ryder (COIG and Chrissy Crowley are good alternatives).

    September 12: Lee Fields & The Expressions, COIG, The Peptides and Chrissy Crowley

    September 13: The Carper Family, Devin Cuddy Band, Wicked Mercy, The Lone Below, Seasick Steve, The Strumbellas and Blue Rodeo (Parsonsfield, Elephant Revival and The Mellotones are good alternatives).

    September 14: Parsonfield, Messenjah, Spencer Scharf, The Bros. Landreth, Matt Guitar Murphy, Joss Stone and The Mellotones (Hurray for the RIff Raff, The Cardboard Crowns, The Carper Family, Bobby Bazini, Asleep at the Wheel and The Lone Bellow are good alternatives).

    All in all, a really good lineup that appeals to a wide audience although I am most excited to see Blues Traveler, Joss Stone and The Mellotones.

  • Tympanic

    The first time I saw Tympanic was at this years inaugural aVibe festival and I was thoroughly impressed with their performance and their ability to keep me dancing for two hours straight.  Last night I had the opportunity to catch their set at The Rainbow Bistro and was very happy I made the trip downtown to see them (I’m not a fan of the late night bar concerts).  Fortunately, at least for me, they were the opening act so I was able to catch their entire set before calling it a night.  They were just as much fun to dance (and listen) to as they were in the spring and their joy of performing comes through in every song as well as the banter between the songs.  Thank you for a much needed night out!

    There are a lot more events coming up in September and October, so don’t forget to check out the events calendar. I’m hoping to catch Pia Ashley next Friday and will then be off to Ottawa Folk Festival the following week/weekend (I’ll be posting my picks later this weekend).

  • The Record Company

    I will be honest, I was a fan of The Record Company from the moment I first heard them at last years Folk Festival.  Last night they were back in Ottawa for a show at Zaphods, and what a fantastic show it was.  60 solid minutes of dancing up front to music I love performed by a trio of talented musicians who put their heart and soul into the show.   It’s really too bad that more people didn’t make it to the show as they missed a good one (although it left lots of room for us dancers to get into the groove).  Thank you to Zaphod’s for bringing them back to Ottawa!

    Thanks to the timing of the show, I was also able to catch the Sound of Light Fireworks show last night from Major’s Hill Park.  This is a great free location if you don’t mind missing some of the low level fireworks and it was packed with people.  Portugal put on a great show that did a better job of using the entire sky as their pallet than Hong Kong did last week.  A good combination of low, medium and high fireworks sprad across the sky allowed time for the smoke to clear before the next volley and the finale was absolutely mind blowing!

    Next weekend (weather permitting) I’m hoping to catch some shows at the National Capital Craft Beer Festival in the afternoon and then head over to the Fireworks Grand Finale to see the Syndicated Blues Band at 8:5 followed by another great fireworks display.

  • Sound Of Light – Hong Kong

    Last night Hong Kong kicked off to this years Casino Lac-Leamy Sound of Light fireworks competition.  This year the event has moved from Lac-Leamy to the Ottawa River and the grounds of the Museum of History.  The new site has a number of advantages, including close proximity to Ottawa, much better sight lines and a larger festival area. The old site was spread out over a large area (lots of walking to find a good spot and more walking to get back to the food and entertainment areas) and the sight lines were limited by trees once all the good spots filled up, so the new location was a welcome relief (I also appreciated that I can walk there from Downtown Ottawa).

    Since I wasn’t familiar with the new site and I was hoping to catch some live music before the fireworks, I arrived at 8pm.  There were still lots of excellent places with perfect sight lines to the show, which was a good sign as the good spots at the previous location used to fill up fast.  The Tim Hortons stage is tucked away on the Western side of the site and I ended up picking a spot on the Eastern side with a perfect view of the fireworks barge (very important as there are lots of low level fireworks in addition to the big high ones).

    The bad news for me was the band originally scheduled to play at 8:15pm had been changed at the last minute.  Even worse, I fled the stage half way through the first song.  I would suggest that if there is going to be live music, that it at least be good live music – othewise, don’t bother.  At least it gave me time to tour the rest of the site and find a great spot to view the fireworks.

    The good news for me was that Hong Kong put on a very good 30 minute show (the official start time is 9pm, but there are 15 minutes of announcements before the fireworks show starts), although it was somewhat hampered by smoke as the wind had died down to a whisper just before the fireworks started.   With the excellent sight lines, the $5 admission fee was well worth it (I also hear that the Nepean Point location also has a good view and the admission goes to charity).

    At the end of the show, the exodus was calm and orderly, until I arrived at the Alexandra Interprovincial Bridge, which was closed until 10:15pm. I understand the need to stop cars from crossing, but pedestrians?  The event ended at 9:45 and we’re expected to wait a full 30 minutes before crossing back to Ottawa?  Really?  In the end, I decided to walk the long way back and crossed over the Portage Bridge – a less than ideal option, although it did give me a little extra powerwalk.

    On the way back, I managed to catch the last half of the Mosaika show on Parliament Hill.  If you haven’t seen this, I encourage you to check it out (but get there at least 30 minutes before the start as the area fills up on a warm Saturday night).  I also took a quick trip through Sparks street hoping to catch the last Buskerfest shows of the day, but was too late. All in all, a very enjoyable evening. I’m hoping I can catch the Grand Finale Fireworks on August 16 (I would go August 9 but will be at Zaphod’s to see The Record Company that night).

  • Sound Of Light Fireworks

    This years edition of the Casino Lac-Leamy Sound of Light fireworks competition is rapidly approaching which means most of the on-site entertainment acts have been announced (with the exception of the Grand Finale on August 16. With the new location at the Canadian Museum of History, on the Gatineau side of the Ottawa/Outaouais river, the event is even more accessible to the residents of the National Capital Region. Weather permitting, I plan on taking advantage of this and attend at least two nights and wouldn’t mind seeing Les Mosqiutoes again but may have to pass as staying out late is not compatible with going to work the next day!

    The headliners for the pre-fireworks entertainment (8:15pm to 8:55pm each night) include:

    Saturday August 2, 2014
    Zookamoofoo Swing Band

    Wednesday August 6, 2014
    Les Mosquitos

    Saturday August 9, 2014
    Mackenzie Rhythm Section

    Wednesday August 13, 2014
    Major Tom (Bowie Tribute band? – just a guess)

    Saturday August 16, 2014
    o Be Announced.


  • #RBCBluesfest Thoughts #Ottawa

    Going into this years Bluesfest, I was a little disappointed in the lineup. To be honest, there were only five bands I was really excited about – Beth Hart, Gary Clark Jr, JJ Grey, Matt Anderson and Blondie.  Looking back though, I also really enjoyed seeing bands including Don Felder, Styx, Foreigner, Procol Harum with the NAC Orchestra, No BS Brass Band, Selwyn Birchwood Band,  Shane Dwight,John Mayall,  Thornetta Davis,  Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Darrell Nulisch, Sam Roberts Band and many others.  Given the fact that I was there for 8 out of 10 days and had a great time each day, I will have to admit that the was indeed something for everyone on each and every day and that there are still a lot of blues at Bluesfest (I even missed some acts due to overlapping schedules).  8 days of great music, 27 different bands, and six new CD’s.

    Some things that I thought worked well at this years event included the new entrance locations, closure of Vimy Place in front of the museum, inclusion of the museum as part of the festival grounds (no more bag searches every time you go to/from the museum for a show!), creation of the new plaza space, Pink (Womens) Portapoties, stage alignment and the Pop-up Bistro in the museum (good food, sit down meals, climate control).

    Suggestions for next year include better use of the new plaza space (food vendors, mist area since the road has good drainage), move the wristband scanners from the Blacksheep museum entrance where they had no purpose to the actual site entrance on Vimy Place and move the food vendors away from the side of the Claridge stage as it’s still way too crowded when big acts such as Blondie play this stage.

    Overall, it was a great festival, so kudos to Mark Monahan and the organizers for another great year! I’m already looking forward to the 21st edition of Bluesfest next year.