subscribe: Posts | Comments

Ottawa Bluesfest Preview: “A Record for Each Day of Ottawa Bluesfest”

Comments Off on Ottawa Bluesfest Preview: “A Record for Each Day of Ottawa Bluesfest”

Ottawa-Bluesfest-2013

A Record For Each Day of Bluesfest…

June is winding down, and with summer churning into full throttle, July brings with it some exciting events. If you live in or around the nation’s capital, you’ve probably been counting down the days; RBC Royal Bank Ottawa Bluesfest is just around the corner.

With an overwhelming lineup of titanic stars and nifty gems, it can be a little exhausting to dissect the schedule and figure out where you want to put your money and time. So we’re here to give you a hand.

No doubt you’ve heard the buzz about acts like RUSH, Björk, and unfortunately Dog Blood, but what about the little man? We’re giving you a daily record, with two bands to check out for each day; an A-side and B-side (some with a bonus track.) We’ll give you an essential tune so you can check out what that band is all about. From there, you can make the decision. Let’s dig in and see what Bluesfest is really all about.

 

THURSDAY, JULY 4

record

Side-A: The Cat Empire, 8:00 PM, River Stage

482859_10151559385644359_484519714_n

From: Australia

Style: N/A (Smidges of Sublime, Bob Marley, Die Antwoord)

These Australian beat-smiths tote some of the funkiest and stylistically twisted-and-tangled sounds ever heard. The whole ensemble, which consists of eight individuals, features horns, keys, bass, vox, and all manner of percussion. Their eclectic styles and fresh groove are key components that make for an unforgettable live experience.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Still Young

 

Side-B: The Black Keys, 9:30 PM, Bell Stage

black_keys

From: Akron, Ohio

Style: Lo-fi grungey blues-rock

The one-two punch of Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney has exploded since their last appearance at Bluesfest in 2011. The singer/guitarist and drummer churn out infectious, rollicking garage-rock anthems like it’s their… Oh wait, it is their job. It’s always an energetic and sonically-awakening show; see how much noise two nerds can make.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Set You Free

 

FRIDAY, JULY 5

record

Side-A: Frank Turner, 7:00 PM, Bell Stage

Frank Turner

From: London, England

Style: Folk-punk

Frank Turner is a dose of honesty; a negative attitude, humming a positive tune. The singer/songwriter out of London has already achieved superstar status overseas, having headlined his own show at Wembley Stadium. Earlier this year, his fifth studio album, Tape Deck Heart, was released to unanimous acclaim. His jangly, spirited strain of punk-crammed folk music makes for an intense and involved live experience.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Reasons Not To Be An Idiot

 

Side-B: Dawes, 8:00 PM, River Stage

1364928231-dawes

From: Los Angeles, California

Style: Folk Rock

This Neil Young-soundalike has toed the middle ground between moderate and fortunate success. The group of plaid-clad, mangy-haired country rockers emulate in body, mind, and spirit the “Laurel Canyon” sound and attitude of the 1970s.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: If I Wanted Someone

 

SATURDAY, JULY 6

record

Side-A: Fitz & the Tantrums, 6:00 PM, Claridge Homes Stage

fitz44

From: Los Angeles, California

Style: Indie Electro-Pop

This six-piece has been churning out dance-worthy synth-anthems that hearken back to soul beats of the ‘70s with ease. The effortless, sexy groove the band replicates feels vintage and intoxicatingly fun; I dare you to try not to shuffle your feet.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Breaking the Chains of Love

 

Side-B: The Gallop, 1:45 PM, River Stage

7359618

From: Ottawa, Ontario

Style: Roots Rock

The Ottawa indie rockers procured a spot in the Bluesfest lineup, and that in itself speaks volumes. The group’s multi-layered and dynamic sound incorporates mounds of inspiration from under the great blue Canadian sky, and always makes for a relaxed, peaceful, and comforting listen.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Arboretum

 

SUNDAY, JULY 7

record

Side-A: The Joy Formidable, 5:00 PM, Bell Stage

joy-formidable-web

From: Wales, England

Style: Alt-Rock; think Smashing Pumpkins meets Cranberries

This English alt trio, fronted by bleach-blonde femme Ritzy Bryan, has flown under the radar for nearly six years now. Their second album, Wolf’s Law, was released this past January, and features more hard-hitting, thematically intricate songs than may be found on the entire Top 40. Being a three-piece can present difficulties when it comes to live sound and presentation, but The Joy Formidable are more than up to the challenge.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Cholla

 

Side-B: Hannah Georgas, 7:15 PM, River Stage

HannahGeorgas2012lowres

From: Vancouver, British Columbia

Style: Indie-Pop

Since releasing her debut album in 2010, this west coast songstress has kicked up a considerable storm. With a handful of Juno nominations and making it onto the Polaris Music Prize Long List, Georgas has demonstrated an acute taste for not just writing gorgeous, swelling pop anthems, but a live presence to be reckoned with.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Waiting Game

 

Bonus: Wu-Tang Clan, 6:00 PM, Claridge Homes Stage

v3CsL6HTtahteaKoCnkV_wu_tang_clan

From: New York City, New York

Style: Golden-age Hip-Hop

Forget what you think you know about hip-hop and rap. Turn back the clock to a simpler time of bandanas and visors, and remember the glory days of hip hop. New York City’s Wu-Tang Clan produced some of the most revered and influential hip-hop recordings ever, and the all-star lineup of rappers and MCs continues to trump many. The legends will no doubt bring their A-game to Bluesfest’s main stage.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Bring Da Ruckus

 

MONDAY, JULY 8

record

Side-A: Mother Mother, 9:30 PM, River Stage

Unknown-1

From: Vancouver, British Columbia

Style: Indie Pop

Mother Mother has one of the edgiest, quirkiest, and most interesting sound in Canada today. With 2012’s album The Sticks, the band explored themes like isolation, withdrawal from modern society, and other darker corners. With equally intense and charged aesthetics, the five-piece outfit makes for a memorable live experience.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Let’s Fall In Love

 

Side-B: The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer, 8:00 PM, River Stage

bilde

From: Vancouver, British Columbia

Style: Gritty, swampy blues-rock

Besides having the coolest name ever, this duo emulates the grit and grime that colours blues such a filthy shade, tossed together with some rock-and-soul riffage for good measure. Where Jack White and The Black Keys have blazed bold and deep trails for modern blues-rock, The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer have followed, while culling a distinctly attractive and enjoyable listen.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Roll With The Punches

 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 10

record

Side-A: A Tribe Called Red, 9:30 PM, Black Sheep Stage

image_3598487_highres

From: Ottawa, Ontario

Style: Pow-Wow Step

This collective of DJ’s and musicians based in Ottawa hasn’t just changed a genre, they’ve created a new one entirely. The trio has given birth to a ridiculously catchy and rootsy blend of hip-hop and Aboriginal music styles. The so-called “Pow-Wow Step” genre has been pioneered by the three men, and the energy is infectious and electric.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Look At This

 

Side-B: Passion Pit, 9:30 PM, River Stage

passionpit

From: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Style: Electro-Pop

Passion Pit are some of the leading exemplars of the power of technology to create. The four-piece uses these advancements not as a crutch, but a catalyst, to new and exciting venues for music creation. Live shows present more than enough opportunity for unlimited dance routines and a dazzling visual experience.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Little Secrets

 

Bonus: Weezer, 9:30 PM, Bell Stage

weezer-bw-348

From: Los Angeles, California

Style: Alt-Rock

Weezer have come out on the other side of the ‘90s as one of the most integral and influential bands of the decade. With a catalogue that includes some of the catchiest garage-rock riffs of all time (“Say It Ain’t So”, anyone?) the quartet, fronted by quirk-master Rivers Cuomo, rolls out their finest chops each show, presenting note-for-note replications of their finest work. But look for jazzed-up “funny business”; last time at Bluesfest, Cuomo donned a blonde wig for a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: El Scorcho

 

THURSDAY, JULY 11

record

Side-A: The Tragically Hip, 9:30 PM, Bell Stage

121759a

From: Kingston, Ontario

Style: Rock

A definitive Canadian band. A definitive Canadian concert experience. If you haven’t been privy to Gord Downey’s deranged whooping, twitching, and electric flailing, then you’re seriously missing out. Make up for it by catching them as they headline on the main stage at Bluesfest.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: My Music at Work

 

Side-B: Old Man Luedecke, 9:00 PM, Barney Danson Theatre

l

From: Chester, Nova Scotia

Style: Bluegrass/Folk

This sage and wonderfully old-timey feeling singer-songwriter was long listed for the Polar Music Prize this year, for his latest album Tender Is The Night. The multi-Juno award winner sounds straight out a century ago, with heart-warming lyrical intimacy, and soothing bluegrass instrumentation. Under the shade of stars will prove a beautiful backdrop to Luedecke’s easy-going folk music.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Kingdom Come

 

FRIDAY, JULY 12

record

Side-A: Great Big Sea, 9:30 PM, Bell Stage

1297331954113_ORIGINAL

From: St. John’s, Newfoundland

Style: Celtic Folk

As integral to the fabric of Canadian music as can be found, Great Big Sea has just recently celebrated 20 years together, gallivanding through the States and Canada on tour. The wonderfully accessible and enjoyable blend of Celtic, east coast, rock, and roots traditions make the listening experience fulfilling for all ages. Pair that with a live show with hardly a breath between some songs, and rambling, light-hearted stories splitting others, and you have a memorable night ahead.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Excursion Around The Bay

 

Side-B: Matthew Good, 7:00 PM, Bell Stage

Matthew-Good

From: Coquitlam, British Columbia

Style: Rock

The Matthew Good Band was one of the driving forces in Canadian alt-rock in the 1990s, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say it was the most successful. Good’s veteran status in the Canadian music scene ranks along with many stars, and believe it or not, he’s credited with coining the phrase, “First world problems;” just check out the lyrics to “Omissions of the Omen.” Good’s beloved place in the hearts of alternative rock fans earns him a nod for Bluesfest.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Load Me Up

 

SATURDAY, JULY 13

record

Side-A: Half Moon Run, 3:00 PM, Bell Stage

half-moon-run-1

From: Montreal, Quebec

Style: Acoustic, Harmonic Indie-Folk

Soon-to-be household name Half Moon Run has had a good year. Since the release of their debut album Dark Eyes, the trio has been handpicked by English sensation Mumford & Sons to open for their spring European tour, and is currently on the road with Icelandic hit Of Monsters & Men. Nowhere to go but up for this band. As they gain steam, look for lots of folks with thick-rimmed glasses to say, “Ya, I knew about them last year.”

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Full Circle

 

Side-B: Stars, 8:00 PM, Claridge Homes Stage

stars-band

From: Montreal, Quebec

Style: Indie Pop-Rock

For the better part of the past decade, the name to know out of Montreal has been Stars. Fronted by the charismatic and dark duo of Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan, the group has been celebrated for their dramatic, hard-hitting, and emotionally-trying songwriting. In particular, the lyricism and imagery conjured up in songs like “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” and “Personal” have twice earned the band Polaris Music Prize nods, and twice earned them Juno nominations. The band furthered these efforts with 2012’s The North.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Take Me To The Riot

 

SUNDAY, JULY 14

record

Side-A: B.B. King, 8:00 PM, Claridge Homes Stage

bb-king-4f29a91bbfa60

From: Itta Bena, Mississippi

Style: Blues/Jazz

Let’s get something straight: there is no one on the lineup at Ottawa Bluesfest who has had a wider or more influential impact in the course of music history than Riley B. King. At a ripe 87 years old, the infamous jazz and blues guitarist still performs regularly year round. B.B. King bears a true, abiding love for music, which is translated into his indescribably emotive and passionate performance. If you’re waiting for the opportune moment to see a man who has shaped music as we know and understand it, it’s now.

ESSENTIAL TRACK: The Thrill Is Gone

 

Side-B: Yukon Blonde, 7:00 PM, Bell Stage

1218

From: Vancouver, British Columbia

Style: Indie Pop-Rock

With 2012’s Tiger Talk, this psychedelic dance-rock trio did much more than exhibit their passion for the big, striped jungle kitties. The irreverently fresh and ridiculously hummable tunes on the record left little doubt over whether or not the band could craft an accessible and fun album, without stooping to poor craftsmanship. The windy, open-air feel and energy will suit Bluesfest fans to a tee. Get your dancing shoes on!

ESSENTIAL TRACK: Stairway

 

So, there you have it. A record for each day of Ottawa Bluesfest. Of course, there are heaps of other incredibly talented and hidden acts to see, so if you have the opportunity, take in as much as possible. It’s not often that you’ll have that luxury. But, hopefully this will give you some things to consider.

See you next week!

The Scene