• 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.

  • @ottawabluesfest Plays The Blues

    What a great start to Bluesfest and my vacation last night. The sun came out as the gates opened and the performances were fantastic.

    The night started off with a local Blues/Rock band River City Junction who were joined by the Texas Horns for three songs. I’ve been wanting to see this band for a while and it was well worth the wait. I will definitely be seeing them again.

    The next act, Rick Vito & The Lucky Devils with special guest Reese Wynans on keyboards, took over where River City Junction left off and brought the day to the next level. Rick showed us why he earned his four year gig as guitarist with Fleetwood Mac and Reese (who also plays keyboards for Joe Bonamassa) was amazing.

    Building from there, the latest incarnation of the Ronny Baker Brooks Band burned down the stage with a wonderful, high energy act that kept me on my feet for the entire set. I saw him play in 2010 and knew I had to see him again this year (which is why this was one of my must see acts for my 3 day pass). My only disappointment was he was not the headlining act for the stage this time around. I can only hope he returns to Ottawa in the near future for a longer show!

    Next up for me will be Bluesfest this coming Sunday, July 12, where my must see act is Philip Sayce. I’m also looking forward to seeing the Joe Gaspar Band, Kinsey Report, Willie Nile and Blue Rodeo (who I have never seen live, despite their many appearances at Bluesfest).

  • Long Time, No Music

    Sorry for the long gap, but I’ve been busy lately and haven’t had much opportunity or energy for going out to a live show even though festival season is in full swing in Ottawa.  I did see great shows by Molly Johnson and Women Blues Revue in May as part of the Ontario Scene at the NAC.   I’ll be getting out more in July as I have tickets to see The Abba Show at Shenkman on July 14 and will be attending 3 days of Bluesfest on July 9, 12 & 19 and will be closing out the month on the 25th at the Kemptville Live Music Festival.   My picks for the 3 days at Bluesfest are River City Junction, Rick Vito, Ronnie Baker Brooks and Charles Bradley on the 9th, Joe Gaspar Band, Kinsey Report, Philip Sayce, Willie Nile and Blue Rodeo on the 12th, and Bruce Katz, 24th Street Wailers, David Maxwell Tribute, Randy Bachman, Monkeyjunk and Bone on the 19th.

  • @TonyDiteodoro at @RainbowBistro #Ottawa

    I had a great time seeing The Tony D band playing Rainbow Bistro last night. It’s hard to believe it’s been 9 years since I’ve seen them play. Every time I see him, he makes playing the guitar seem so effortless as his fingers dance over the strings. I also really enjoyed seeing him trade funky riffs with Rob “Pappyland” Pappas.  As always, he puts on a great show that;’s worth seeing whenever you can.

    Next up is Adam Karch playing the new Rainbow Bistro Thursday Early series (8pm-10pm) on April 9.

  • Blues, Rainbow Bistro, Festivals and More

    On Friday I  made it down to The Rainbow Bistro (despite the chilly temperatures) to see JW-Jones.  It’s been almost a full two years since I’ve seen one of his shows and he has made significant headway in the past year with the release of his latest album so I’ve been looking forward to seeing one of his shows.  He certainly did not disappoint and had a great mix of old and new songs with a good part of each featuring him rocking (bluesing?) out on the guitar.  He returns to the Rainbow on May 16 for if you’re interested.  Other notable acts I’m hoping to see at the Rainbow in the coming months include The Tony D Band on April 4, Monkeyjunk on May 29, Jack de Keyzer on June 6 and Paul DesLauriers on June 13.

    For those who like streaming live concerts, you should keep a watch on the Yahoo Live Nation stream.  Last night they had a great stream of Tedeschi Trucks Band, one of my all time favorite bands.  I liked it so much I streamed the replays 3 times today! I am hoping to catch Halestorm who will be streaming on April 23.

    Over the past few weeks there have been a number of Festival announcements, including Ottawa Bluesfest.  To be honest, after the past couple of fantastic lineups at both Bluesfest and Ottawa Jazz Festival, I was somewhat underwhelmed this year.  I’ve limited myself to a 3 day Bluesfest pass to see Ronnie Baker Brooks, Charles Bradley and River City Junction on July 9, Philip Sayce and Joe Gaspar Band on July 12 and Monkeyjunk and the 24th Street Wailers on July 19.  I still haven’t decided if I will go to any Jazz Festival shows (Huey Lewis and the News play June 24 and Pink Martini are playing on June 29).

    Next up for me are the Tony D Band at the Rainbow on April 4, Cat Empire at Algonquin Commons Theatre on April 14 and Molly Johnson at NAC Ontario Scene on May 1.  Happy concerts everyone!


  • Concert Wishlist

    Since I was so disappointed with the recent festival announcements I though it would be good to review some of the acts I would like to see over the next couple of years.  This is NOT a definitive or static list but does give me something to measure the year against.  First, though, here are the acts I’m hoping to see in the next couple of months (in some cases I already have tickets):

    Bands I plan to see

    Jesse Greene March 21 Atomic Rooster (possibly)
    JW-Jones March 27 Rainbow Bistro
    Cat Empire April 14 Algonqiun Commons Theatre
    Molly Johnson May 1 NAC Theatre
    Women Blues Revu May 8 NAC Theatre
    Thomas Clair with River City Junction, Steve Judd & The Underdogs, Terry Gillespie and Lynn Miles June 14 WestFest (free)
    Pink Martini June 29 Jazz Festival (possibly)
    The Heavyweights Brass Band July 1 Jazz Festival (free)
    AC/DC Sept 3 TD Place Stadium

    In addition to the above acts, I would love to see these artists/bands play live even though I’ve seen many of them before:

    AJ Ghent
    Alanis Morissette
    Andre Bisson
    Angel Forrest
    Annie Lennox
    Autumns Cannon
    Barstool Prophets
    Beth Hart
    Caravan Palace
    Cassie Taylor
    Cardboard Crowns
    Chris Antonik
    Colin James
    Crystal Bowersox
    Current Swell
    Dan Lawson Band
    Downchild Blues
    Electric Swing Circus
    Emilie-Claire Barlow
    Eric Clapton
    Gary Clark Jr.
    Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
    Guy Belanger
    Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer
    Hot Sardines
    Jack de Keyzer
    JJ Grey & Mofro
    Joanne Shaw Taylor
    Joe Bonamassa
    Keb’ Mo’
    Kelly Richey
    Kenny Wayne Shepherd
    King Hobo
    King King
    Marcia Ball
    Marshall Lawrence
    Matt Anderson
    Matt Mays
    Michael Kaeshammer
    Miss Emily
    Nikki Yanofsky
    No Sinner
    Oliver Jones
    Pat Benatar
    Paul Deslauriers
    Philip Sayce
    Pia Ashley
    Powder Blues
    Preservation Hall Jazz Band
    Record Company
    Rocket Rached & Fat City 8
    Ronnie Baker Brooks
    Sabrina Weeks
    Sal Piamonte
    Sam Roberts Band
    Selwyn Birchwood
    Shane Dwight
    Steve Azar
    Steve Hill
    Steve Strongman
    Tara Holloway
    Tedeschi Trucks
    Tia Brazda
    Treasa Levasseur
    Walter Trout
    Wicket Mercy
    Wicked Grin

    It will be interesting to see how many I actually see this year and which ones I see who I missed on the list.

  • Festival Announcements

    This post was supposed to be a review of what I hear was a great show by Philip Sayce and Steve Hill last Thursday, but it was not to be. I had not realized (and only found out after the fact) that there was a very limited number of tickets available at the door and as a result I missed the show entirely. I can only hope I don’t have to wait another 5 years for Philip Sayce to make a return visit to Ottawa.

    On another note, two festival lineups were announced on Thursday – Westfest and Jazz Festival.  I have to be honest, I’ve become accustomed to some great artists headlining Jazz Festival over the past few years, but this year was a huge disappointment to me.  None of the artists I had been hoping for are in the lineup and the only headliner that interests me is Pink Martini.  Aside from that, the only other show that interests me is the Free Canada Day concert by The Heavyweights Brass Band.  At least the Sunday Westfest lineup has some interesting acts that I’m looking forward to see, including Thomas Clair with River City Junction, Steve Judd & The Underdogs, Terry Gillespie and Lynn Miles & Friends.  It looks like it’s going to be a lean year for festival concerts. I can only hope Bluesfest and Folk Festival have a more interesting mix.