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.

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