• @autumnscannon and @philipsayce at @mavericksbar

    I am not a fan of winter so it takes a special event to motivate me out of the comfort of my home – especially if it’s being held in a bar which means it’s going to be a late night out.  Friday night was one of those special events and will likely be the last concert I see until February next year (Shenkman and NAC have some good acts lined up for Feb/March next year).

    The opening act of the evening was Autumn’s Cannon – a local band who won the live 88.5 Big Money Shot in 2010 and a band I’ve been following for the past 3 years.  I am a fan of rock guitar bands, and with 4 guitars and a drummer, these guys deliver.  Not only that, they showcased some new materiel that I had not heard before.  I was very glad to see them once again and look for to more concerts in the coming year.

    Next up was Philip Sayce, who was the reason I was motivated out of the comfort of my home.  I’ve been a fan of his since I saw him at Bluesfest in 2009. He is a master at playing Blues/Rock guitar and amazes me every time I see him.  I was hooked when I saw him in 2009, I was thrilled when he returned to Bluesfest this year (I had missed his show at The Rainbow earlier this year and was not going to miss another one) and Friday’s show was a real treat.  Just Philip playing guitar and Joel playing bass and I was right new the front to see the show up close. Just watching him play is memorizing as his hands dance over the guitar.  By the end of it, I was in pure bliss and was grinning from ear to ear.  Amazing.  He’s promised to return soon with his full band and I sure hope that’s true because it will be a show I would love to see.

  • @MonkeyJunkBand @RainbowBistro

    I have to admit, I’ve been a fan of Monkeyjunk since I first saw them in 2008 and I’ve now seen them 9 times in concert so one of the Ottawa events that I just couldn’t miss was last nights Monkeyjunk CD Party (and I do mean PARTY). Tony, Steve and Matt were up on stage having fun as was a near capacity crowd at The Rainbow (for the second night in a row). Add in a surprise wedding reception (if you can’t bring Monkeyjunk to your party, you bring your party to them) and some really good new tunes, hot off the press, and you have a recipe for a great night out.

    The set started out with the first songs from their last 3 albums followed by all the tracks from this great new CD. Great guitar hooks, wonderful lyrics, positive vibes and some new sounds (including a reggae beat on Love Attack) prove that Monkeyjunk continues to grow and evolve. I had a fantastic time dancing to each and every song last night and sincerely look forward to seeing them again and again in the future.

    This morning I had the new album on repeat and have been trying to figure out which one would be their “big hit”, but it’s been impossible. My favorite is Show Me Yours, but it’s just barely ahead of Light It Up, You, Hot Hot Papa, Love Attack and Lucky One (and the others aren’t much further behind those). A great solid album from a great trio. Bravo Guys!

  • The Sheepdogs #Ottawa @CityFolkFest

    Yesterday was my last visit to Ottawa CityFolk Festival to see The Sheepdogs.  I’ve seen them twice before and knew it was going to be a great show and I was not disappointed.  Despite the rain that lasted throughout the set and despite the fact that they were getting soaked from it blowing on to the stage, they put on another great, straight forward, old fashioned, rock n roll show.   From what I heard yesterday, their new album is going to be a must buy for me, so I’m looking forward to the release.

    I won’t be attending CityFolk today as I need to recover and most of the acts are aimed at a different audience and that’s OK.  Between Van Morrison, Amy Helm, UB40, The Tubes  and The Sheepdogs, the cost of the pass was well worth it.  If they continue bringing in a good mix of acts like they have the past few years, I will continue to buy passes no matter which venue they choose to use as their home base.

    Next event for me will likely be the one of the Monkeyjunk CD release shows at The Rainbow on Oct 2 & 3. Should be a fantastic show and I’m sure there will be a large, lively crowed there for both performances.

  • Amy Helm & Van Morrison #Ottawa @CityFolkFest

    I must say that last night at CityFest was a fantastic way to say goodbye to the warm summer evenings. The night kicked off with Amy Helm (daughter of Levon Helm) and The Handsome Strangers who played a spellbinding, heartfelt set to get everyone into the mood for the big act of the night. I wasn’t planning to buy more CD’s this month, but I don’t think I can pass on her debut album Didn’t It Rain. I will definitely be keeping watching for more great music from her in the future (and hopefully return performances in Ottawa).

    Sir Van Morrison, with his deep repertoire of hits over 50 years, was the reason for the sellout crowd last night, and he, along with his very tight band, knocked this one out of the park (pretty good for someone who is 70 years young!). To be honest, this night alone was worth the cost of the festival pass; from the opening song that started 10 minutes early to the final note at 10pm it was a musical tapestry to behold. Would I see him again? In a heartbeat!

    On another note, the festival will need to make some serious changes if they’re going to continue to use this venue. As I predicted on Wednesday, the sound levels at the back of the bowl were way too low to hear the band (not a problem for me as I had planned to be near the front in order to have the best experience possible) and you can forget about taking the bus down bank street to/from the grounds (I walked the 3KM faster than the single bus I saw). I’ve also noted that the Ravenlaw stage is a big issue due to it’s limited capacity and the fact that it’s not linked directly to the festival site (meaning you have to go through another security check when switching between stages). I was hoping to catch some of St. Paul & Broken Bones last night but as soon as I saw the line to enter the building and comments from others decided to pass. I had also hoped to check out The Strain at Irene’s, but it too was on overflow with a line to enter the building. Hopefully these issues will be resolved next year.

    My last visit to CityFolk will be this evening to see the Sheepdogs who always put on a good show. I just hope the rain holds off until later tonight.

  • CityFolkFest 2015 Day 1

    I can’t think of a better way to finish out the last days of Summer than groovin to some good tunes at a festival on a warm evening and the first day of CityFolkFest, The Tubes and UB40Official delivered!  If you want a review of the bands, you can find them in any local paper.  The key for me was it was a great stroll down memory lane and a fun way to spend the evening.

    As for the festival itself, this is a brand new location so it’s going to take some time to work out the kinks.  Aside from the actual location and distance from transit, the Landsdowne Great Lawn makes a wonderful , comfortable and picturesque setting for a festival.  On the positive side, it’s only a 30 minute walk from the main transit corridor downtown and on a nice day like yesterday, I will gladly walk to the venue.  In more inclement weather (like we had for last years festival) I would prefer to take transit.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t much of an option yesterday – the very small number of buses were packed even with the single stage running (I spotted a grand total of 2 packed buses during my 30 minute walk to the site and 3 packed buses on my way back downtown)!  I sure hope they add more buses for the remaining days of the festival as the crowds are going to be significantly larger with the additional stages and bigger acts.  Other areas that will probably need to be dealt with quickly are the sound levels (I had to move from the lawnchair section to the standing section up front in order to properly hear the full effect of UB40 and can only imagine how faint it was for those who were sitting on the hill at the back of the site), the washrooms (limited number of porta potties on-site, although that may be less of an issue once access to the other buildings is opened up starting tonight) and the water bottle refill station that’s in a part of the site that wasn’t open last night.  Overall, I think this will make a great festival location as it’s much easier for the organizers with all the infrastructure in place and less likely to become a mud pit when it rains (which was a big problem last year).

    I’ll be back on Friday to check out Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers and Van Morrison and may stay later to see St. Paul & Broken Bones or head down to Irene’s (part of the CityFolk Marvest free shows) to see The Strain @ Irenes.

  • Rock or Bust – Classic AC/DC

    On a hot, late summer evening, a sold out crowd of over 30,000 die hard fans came to the recently refurbished TD Canada Trust stadium for a party and Vintage Trouble and AC/DC delivered! Great sound (how could it not be with all those speakers) and crisp, clear video on the massive screens it was BIG and it was LOUD. What a perfect setting for a ROCK concert.

    This is the third time I’ve seen Vintage Trouble and it probably won’t be the last. Twice as opening acts and once at a more intimate setting at Bluesfest last year. They are a very high energy old school R&B band and made for a great opening act (although I personally like them better in smaller setting where they can interact with the crowd).

    I really can’t say any more than what’s already been written about AC/DC and their Rock or Bust tour. Wow and Wow again. What a fantastic show from the opening pyro with Rock or Bust to the closing cannons and fireworks with For Those About to Rock, it was an amazing show. Angus Young continues to show the world how to Rock the guitar and the entire band puts all their energy into the show. This was one of those shows on my must see bucket list and I am thankful I managed to snag a ticket before they sold out (the Ottawa show sold out in 90 minutes). Wow.

  • Marvest & NAC Presents

    For those who missed, CityFolk announced their Musical Harvest (Marvest) Lineup and the NAC announced their NAC Presents lineup this week.  Some Marvest highlights for me include The Split (Neao Soul) and The Hornettes (I’ll be honest I haven’t made it through the entire list so there are likely many other gems that appeal to a wide range of tastes).  Highlights for NAC Presents include Oliver Jones (Jazz), Michael Kaeshammer (Jazz), Colin James (Blues/Rock) and Amanda Rheaume.

    Next on my concert list is AC/DC this coming Thursday!

  • Kemptville Live Music Festival

    When I first saw the Saturday lineup for the brand new Kemptville Live Music Festival I was hooked!  It’s been 4 years since I’ve seen Rocket Rached and the Fat City 8 and I’ve been dying to see Angel Forrest ever since her latest album was released.  Having Juno Winning Steve Hill and Monkeyjunk (one of my favorite bands) on the bill made it a must see festival despite how much I hate driving in unknown towns. In short, it was well worth the hour drive and short walk to reach this well organized festival.  I can only hope that they can build on the success and continue holding this festival in future years as it’s much more convenient than the Calabogie festivals. Bravo to the organizers for pulling this together!

    The day started with a great set by Rocket Rached and the Fat City 8.  Nothing can beat the sound of an 10 piece band plus the lead singer! A great way to kick off a nice warm summer day.  Next up was Silver Creek a roots-rock group from Ottawa who put on a good show.  Following them was Angel Forrest who insisted on starting her set early (which gave the opportunity for a well deserved encore song) and I was not disappointed.  Her amazing vocals (think of Janice Joplin singing the Blues) along with the acoustic and electric guitars make for an incredible show which is on my list of acts I must see again.  Angel’s act is definitely tough to follow, but the electric sounds of one man band Steve Hill lived up to his Juno award, although I think his show could be a little more dynamic if he had a drummer that would give him the freedom to move around the stage and work the audience more.  I was planning on staying to see Monkeyjunk, even though I had seen them the week before, but the rain that started when Steve Hill came on stage was not letting up  and I really hate driving unknown roads on dark rainy nights so I decided to end the day as the acts I had already seen had more than covered the cost of the admission fee.


  • ABBA and Blues!

    On Tuesday evening, instead of a trip to Bluesfest on a rainy evening, I tried something a little different for a change – a Tribute to ABBA at Shenkman Arts Centre.  While I found the fake accents a little cheesy at times, I did find the entire experience fun and very entertaining.  The group knows their stuff and were very good at keeping the audience engaged.  Given that both shows were sold out, I would say this event was a big success.

    Yesterday was my third day at my limited Bluesfest experience and I had a great time.  I did have some second thoughts about my decision to only go three days as it would have been great to see some of the acts on other days such as Nick Moss, Low Rider, Larry McCray, Dropkick Murphys, Canned Heat, Drew Nelson, Lurrie, Bell, Walter Trout, Current Swell and a number of other great acts, but my time, energy and funds were needed for other projects this year.

    The first act of the day yesterday was the Bruce Katz Band in the reconfigured Theatre.  In previous years they had the metal stands in place which provide a good view of the stage, but can be very noisy when people arrive late or leave early.  This time it was configured like a night club (think NAC Fourth Stage), which made it easier for people to move around and even get up and dance if they wanted to.   I first heard about Bruce from his playing on a Bryan Lee CD and he certainly proved in this show that he is a fantastic keyboard and organ player.  I would definitely see him again if the opportunity presents (which it did sooner than I expected).

    Next up was one of my favorite up and coming bands – The 24th Street Wailers.  If you love 50’s and 60’s rock and roll, you will certainly love this band.  This is the second time I’ve seen them this year and both times have been amazed at how much energy they put into the show – especially Jonny Wong who even toured the crowd playing his sax on one song.  Since it was Blusesfest, they also took advantage of the Texas Horns for a few songs which made the experience even better!

    The third act of the day for me was the Tribute to David Maxwell.  David passed away earlier this year after losing his battle with cancer.  It was only fitting that there be a tribute to this great keyboard player at Bluesfest as he’s been a fixture there for many may years.  It was also fitting that Bruce Katz, another great keyboard player, be part of this tribute along with the Texas Horns.  Bluesfest just won’t be the same without David sitting in on sets, playing his own sets or just spotting him on the grounds checking out the other acts.  RIP David Maxwell.

    The Randy Bachman singalong was the next act of the day (even the younger members of the crowd were singing along to his songs) and it was great to see this “architect of Canadian Rock n’ Roll” once again, along with his new band and it’s “Heavy Blues” sound.  A great nostalgia trip for sure.

    I finished out the day watching a great set by my favorite local band, MonkeyJunk.  I’ve loved this band since I first heard them in 2008 and have seen them every year since.  They have a new album coming out in the fall, so it was good to hear some of their new tracks in the set list.  I’m looking forward to seeing them again on Saturday at the Kemptville Live Music Festival as well as picking up their new album when it’s released.

    Overall, I’m very happy with the three days of Bluesfest . Of the list of acts on my Concert Wishlist, Bluesfest managed to bring in five of them and I saw three of them on the days I attended.  Hopefully next year will be even better.

    Next up is the new Kemptville Live Music Festival next weekend.  They have some great acts all three days that range from Tom Cochrane and Red Rider on Friday to Rocket Rached, Angel Forest, Steve Hill and MonkeyJunk on Saturday to Valdy, Lynn Miles and Maria Hawkins on Sunday.  As much as I hate driving, when I saw the lineup for Saturday I knew I had to attend at least one day of this festival and am really looking forward to all the acts that day.

  • Hot Rock n’ Blues

    What would my vacation be without some amazing Blues & Rock on a Hot Steamy Day? Yesterday served up generous helpings of both and I was in heaven. The day started with a great set by the Joe Gaspar Band. Next up was The Kinsey Report who served up a smokin set of Chicago Blues mixed with some poignient commentary on the daily reality that faces Chicago residents.

    From there, it was over to the main stage to see the act I’ve been waiting to see for six years since I last saw him at Bluesfest – Philip Sayce. What can I say that hasn’t been said before? Philip continues to be a master on the guitar and puts his body and soul into each and every song. It’s almost like Philip and his guitar are one entity. I am so glad he has a new record contract and has been out touring again! Hopefully there won’t be such a long gap between his appearances in Ottawa again as I absolutely love watching and listening him play.

    The last act of the day for me was Willie Nile. I didn’t really know much about the band and was just going to check out a couple of songs before heading home. Needless to say, I stayed for the entire set, including the encore (interesting note, I’ve seen 3 acts play an encore song on the Monster stage – something that you normally only see with headliners). The best way I can describe this band is to mix Bob Dylan with the Dropkick Muphys. Add in a lead guitar player who’s almost as good as Philip Sayce and you have a great power guitar rock band. What a great way to end the day!

    Next up is a whimsical diversion – an ABBA tribute at Shenkman on Tuesday evening. Following that I’ll be at Bluesfest on Sunday, July 19 to catch Bruce Katz, 24th Street Wailers, a David Maxwell Tribute, Randy Bachman, Monkey Junk and the Grand Finale of the Danson Jam Sessions.