• 2016 Concert Wrapup

    It was a pretty good year for local festivals and I had the opportunity to enjoy many acts at Westest, Jazz Festival, Bluesfest and Kemptville Live festival in addition to some excellent shows at The Rainbow Bistro, NAC, Centrepointe and Shenkman Arts Centre. In total, I managed to see 53 acts, which is my third best year ever.

    This years acts included 24th Street Wailers, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Amanda Rheaume, Angel Forrest, Billy Idol, Boxcar Boys, Brian Wilson, Burton Cummings, Carson Downey Band, Colin James, David Gogo, Donovan Woods, Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite, Five Man Electrical Band, Ginkoa, Harrison Sweettaste Kennedy, Ian Segal, Jack Broadbent, Jesse Greene band, John Fogerty, John Primer, Kenny Blues Boss Wayne, Kirby Sewell Band, leMeow, Matt Andersen, Michael Kaeshammer, Monkeyjunk, Mudmen, No BS Brass Band, Patrick Roy, Paul James, Paul Reddick, Philip Sayce, Powder Blues Band, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, Sarah McLauchlan, Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Shawn Hold and the Teardrops, SoulJazz Orchestra, Steve Hill, Suits ‘N Toques, The Drew Nelson Band, The Hot Sardines, The Lionels, The Lucas Haneman Express, The Mackenzie Rhythm Section, The Paul Deslauriers Band, The Peptides, The Powergoats, The Split and The Wicked Mercy.

    Notable acts included:

    Living Legends: Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite

    Blues Favorites Monkeyjunk, Angel Forrest, Philip Sayce, Colin James, Powder Blues Band, Steve Hill

    Classic Rock Billy Idol, Brian Wilson, Burton Cummings, Five Man Electrical Band, John Fogerty

    Jazz Favorites: The Hot Sardines, Michael Kaeshammer

    Local Favorites: Jesse Greene Band, The Peptides, The Split, The Wicked Mercy, Suits ‘N Toques

    Other notables: Sarah McLauchlan, Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Ginkoa, Matt Andersen, 24th Street Wailers

    I must mention the sadness I felt when I heard the news that Sharon Jones had lost her battle to cancer this year. She put on an amazing show at Ottawa Jazz Festival this year even though she was still undergoing chemo treatments. Her passing is one of many great artists that we lost this year.

    2017 is going to be a special year for me. In addition to attending as many festivals as I can, as well as shows at The Rainbow Bistro, Irenes, Atomic Rooster, NAC, Shenkman and Centrepointe (to name a few), I also plan on taking in many of the special Canada 150 events that are being held in the Ottawa area this year. Since I will no longer be working full time after I retire in the spring, I’ll have a lot more time to enjoy a lot more festivities and concerts than in previous years. I already have tickets to see Tia Brazdam, Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer and Monkeyjunk and both the Grassroots Festival and Kemptville Live Festival are showing some really promising lineups. I’m hoping that the other festivals will follow last years successes with some great acts this year.

    Happy New Year everyone!

  • Rainbow Bistro 32nd Anniversary

    This years Rainbow Bistro 32nd Anniversary month has been great, culminating in two great shows this week.

    On Thursday I had the pleasure of dancing to the High Energy Blues of Shawn Holt and The Teardrops and last night I had a fantastic time dancing to David Gogo’s Rawkin Blues. My only regret is I had to leave both shows after the first set as I just can’t recover from late night parties as fast as I used to. Both are now on my “I have to see these guys again” watch list and I can’t wait until the next time they pass through town.

    It’s been another great year at the Rainbow and I certainly hope that they can continue their great run for many more years to come.  Congratulations on 32 fantastic years!

    As much as I would love to see Jack de Keyzer next Saturday at the Rainbow, I think it ‘s time for me to go into winter hibernation. The next show on my list is Tia Brazda at the Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival on February 10th, followed by a double bill at Shenkman on Feb 22 – Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer and Monkeyjunk. Happy Concerts everyone!

  • The Paul Deslauriers Band

    When I saw The Paul Deslauriers Band at Bluesfest earlier this year, I was hooked, so it comes as no surprise that I really enjoyed seeing them again on Friday night. A great band with great tunes and some stunningly amazing guitar playing made for a blissful night of dancing to the Blues. They definitely received my votes for this years Maple Blues Awards.

    Thanks again Rainbow Bistro for such a great lineup of Blues this fall!  I am looking forward to seeing Shawn Holt and The Teardrops on Nov 24 and David Gogo at the Rainbow Anniversary Party on Nov 26.

  • Burton Cummings and More

    Burton Cummings brought his one man show to the Centrepointe Theatre last night and it was everything I was hoping for and more. Despite his repeated requests for forgiveness as he was not 100%, I thought he put together a great show. His vocals have barely diminished over the 45+ years we’ve been hearing him on the radio and he can still hammer out the tunes on the keys. Add in a mix of humour and some great stories and you end up with a great trip down memory lane.

    Jonathan Roy – son of Patrick Roy – played a short, but good acoustic guitar opening for the show last night. He has had some recent radio play with a song called Danliella Denmark but, to be honest, I prefer the solo acoustic version over the radio version. I look forward to hearing more from this up and coming Canadian artist.

    Earlier this month I made it over to the Rainbow for the John Primer show. This is the second time I’ve seen him play and when I the show was announced, I knew it was one I had to attend. If you like old-time Chicago Blues, then you will love seeing John Primer. I’m glad I had an opportunity to see him play once again.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, the Rainbow has some fantastic acts booked over the next month and I’ll be going to a number of them including Philip Sayce, Paul Deslauriers Band, Shawn Holt & the Teardrops and David Gogo. For those who are interested, there are also two Monkeyjunk CD release shows on Nov 12/13 and Trevour Finlay will be playing on Nov 19.

    Happy Concerts everyone!

  • Festival Wrapup

    Yesterday was the last day for my local festival binge which started with Westfest, included both Jazzfest and Bluesfest and finished with a bang at the Kemptville Live Music Festival.  Over the course of the four festivals, I saw 40 bands perform over the span of 15 days.  28 of the bands were Canadian and 13 were from the Ottawa area.  Total spent on food, drinks and passes was $675 (Wesfest $17, Jazzfest $244, Bluesfest $346 and Kemptville $68). Average cost per act was $17 (Westfest $9/act, Jazzfest $24, Bluesfest $15/act and Kemptville $17/act. In short, I spent a lot money, expended a ton of energy dancing to almost every act and had a blast.  All four festivals put together amazing lineups this year and I am very grateful that I was able to take in as many shows as I did.

    Without further ado, the awards for this years festivals go to (in no particular order):

    Top Local acts: The Split (Westfest),  Monkeyjunk (Bluesfest).
    Top Canadian acts: 24th Street Wailers (Jazzfest), Carson Downey Band (Bluefest), Steve Hill (Bluefest), Paul Deslauriers Band (Bluefest),  Colin James (Kemptvlle), Tom Lavin & The Powder Blues (Kemptville).
    Favorite headliner: Sarah McLachlan (Jazzfest).
    Let’s Rock: Billy Idol (Bluesfest).
    Nothing will stop the show:  Sharon Jones and the DAP Kings (Jazzfest).
    Best Dance party: Ginkoa (Bluesfest).
    This is how to put on a show: The Peptides (Bluesfest).
    Best Day:  Bluesfest July 10 with Carson Downey Bad, Steve Hill, Ginkoa and John Fogerty.
    Living Legends: Charlie Musselwhite/Elvin Bishop (Jazzfest).
    Best Blues: Monkeyjunk (Bluesfest), Carson Downey Band (Bluesfest), Steve Hill (Bluesfest), Paul Deslauriers Band (Bluesfest), Tom Lavin & The Powder Blues (Kemptville).
    Best Jazz: Hot Sardines (Jazzfest).

    Next up for me will likely be Andre Bisson who is playing at D’Arcy McGees on Sparks on August 12 and sometime this summer I plan on checking out the new Northern Lights show on Parliament Hill and I’ll also likely see one or two of the Sound Of Light Fireworks shows in August.


  • Ottawa Bluesfest Picks

    Ottawa Bluesfest is only 3 days away so it’s time to highlight my picks for the blues/rock acts I want to see (and there are lots to choose from this year so it’s going to be difficult to decide which act to see on some days).

    July 7 Suits N Toques, David Gogo, Billy Idol, Bjorn and John

    July 8 Lucas Haneman Express, Harrison Kennedy, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, The Split All-Star Blues Revue, John Nemeth

    July 9 London Souls, John Campbelljohn, Kirby Sewell Band,  The Cult, The SPlit All Star Blues Revue,  Jill Zmud, Amanade Rheaume

    July 10 Ramblin Valley, Carson Downey, Steve Hill, Wild Child, Ginkgoa, John Fogerty, JD McPherson, Texas Horns

    July 13 Jack Broadbent, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, Ian Siegal

    July 14 Jesse Greene Band, Paul Deslauries Band, Colin Linden, Monkeyjunk All Star Blues Revue, The Monkees

    July 15 Chocolate Hot Pockets, Jack de Keyzer, Monkeyjunk All Star Blues Revue, Red Hot Chili Peppers

    July 16 Wicked Mercy, Kenny Blues Boss Wayne, Paul James, Monkeyjunk All Star Blues Revue, Duran Duran

    July 17 The Peptides, TJ Wheeler, The Powergoats, leMeow, Barry and The Blasters, Brian Ferry, Monkeyjunk All Star Blues Revue, James McMurtry



  • Ottawa JazzFest Review

    The Ottawa Jazz Festival is now over for another year, and I declare this years edition to be a great success. While I only had enough energy to attend 5 evenings, they were all great shows.  The opening night set the tone with some great performances by The Boxcar Boys, Alvin Youngblood Hart and a walk down 100 years of Chicago Blues memories with Charlie Musselwhite and Elvin Bishop.  On Day 2, I really enjoyed the energetic performances by the No BS Brass Band. On Day 3, Sarah McLachlan wowed the audience with her crystal clear vocals and wonderful charm.  She’s back in fine form and I think she gave one of the best concerts of the festival.

    Closing out the first weekend was a great party starting off with Mackenzie Rhythm Section, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and a late show with the 24th Street Wailers.  Despite fighting off the effects of Cancer (and Chemo), Sharon Jones put on a great performance.  I only hope that she can win this round of the fight as it would be sad to lose her so soon.  As always, the 24th Street Wailers closed out the late evening show with a high energy blues and boogie dance party.

    I made it back to the festival for the closing night as there was no way I was going to miss Brian Wilson’s 50th Anniversary of Pet Sounds and I certainly was not going to pass up an opportunity to see the Hot Sardines again.  Both proved to be a fantastic choice to close out the show.  With a 12 piece ensemble, Brian Wilson and Al Jardine put on a great show that clearly showed what an innovative album Pet Sounds was for it’s time.  After the full album, we were then treated to many of the other great Beach Boys tunes during an extended encore.  As for the Hot Sardines, they brought their special blend of vintage jazz that just makes you get up and dance.  I love the old style jazz and they’re one of the bands who bring it back to life.

    Thanks to the festival organizers, volunteers and performers for a great festival!!!

  • Ottawa Jazz Festival Picks

    Vacation time is almost here which means it’s time to reveal my choices for this year’s Ottawa Jazz Festival.  First, I have to give major kudos to the festival organizers this year as it’s the first time as there are acts that match my interests on 8 out of 11 days.  Without further delay, here are the acts I will be seeing (weather permitting of course):

    June 23 Alvin Youingblood Hart | Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite

    June 24 SF Jazz Collective

    June 25 Sarah McLauchlan

    June 26 Mackenzie Rhythm Section | Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings | 24th Street Wailers

    June 27 Trombone Shorty

    June 28 Buffy Sainte-Marie

    June 29 Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra with Wynton Marsallis | Judith Hill

    July 3 Brian Wilson’s Pet Sound 50th Anniversary | Hot Sardines

    There are lots of great acts to see, but the days I am most looking for are June 26 and July 3. It’s going to be a great vacation this year!



  • #Westfest2016

    A new chapter in Westfest kicked off the 2016 Festival Season this weekend and I liked it a lot!  Laroche Park provides for a much better layout and I love a festival that showcases a diverse range of performances and draws such a diverse crowd.

    I managed to catch the last 3 acts of the day yesterday – The Lionyls, The Spit and SoulJazz Orchestra and I was very impressed with all three, but my favorite was The Split.  I’ve been a fan of the Chaffey Brothers for a number of years and I have been looking forward to catching their new Neo-Soul sound and they did not disappoint!  They played a mix of songs from their EP as well as some great new material that will hopefully show up on their new album this fall – one that I am eagerly awaiting to hear.  Closing out the beautiful evening, the SoulJazz Orchestra put on a great show with a fantastic fusion of latin jazz, afrobeat and funk.

    It’s a real shame that today’s show had to be cancelled due to the heavy rainfall as I was looking forward to seeing Tata Holloway, Lemon Cash and Bone, but I guess I will have to wait for next year’s festival.  Next up for me will be Ottawa Jazz Festival.

  • Michael Kaeshammer Fantastic Show @ NAC Theater

    I will start with stating I am not a jazz aficionado and my taste in Jazz music falls into some very narrow categories with Boogie Woogie, New Orleans and Stride Piano being at the top of the list.   When an extremely talented performer comes to town with a great band that can follow all his moves and they deliver all of these along with a very fun and entertaining show, it is guaranteed that I will be left wanting more.  That is exactly what happened last night!

    I have been a fan of his since 2010 when I first heard his album Lovelight and this was the third time I’ve seen him in concert.  As was said at the opening of last nights show, after two sold out appearances at the NAC Fourth Stage, he deserved to play a show in the theatre.  Needless to say, he took full advantage of the opportunity.  I’m still amazed at how his hands dance over the keys and watching them move so fast that they’re just a blur just leaves me sitting there with my jaw on the floor.  And when you think you’ve seen it all he then plays with one hand on the grand piano and the other on the organ that is behind his back!

    In addition to his amazing talent, Michael also delivers a wonderful patter throughout the show that draws the audiences even closer.  This, coupled with the fact that he works without a set list so he can tailor the show to the audience (including an impromptu happy birthday to some of the audience members), turns a great performance into a fantastic show.  Kudos to Michael and his great band for another great show at the NAC.  I can’t wait for their next visit into town.

    Speaking of Jazz, Oliver Jones, a Canadian Jazz Pianist Legend, is making his farewell tour right now and will be playing the NAC on May 19th.  If you love jazz classics and jazz piano, I suggest you make the excursion to see the Oliver Jones Trio before it’s too late.