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Ottawa Bluesfest takes flight tonight after bird drama

Photo of crowd watching concert

Setup for this year’s Ottawa Bluesfest kicked off with a bit of feather-ruffling drama:  a killdeer nested centre stage on what would soon be transformed into the main festival grounds.

That prompted an inquiry by Bluesfest organizers to Environment Canada regarding potential options, because the Kildeer is protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act. 

For a time, the  site was marked off crime scene-style with yellow tape, and the National Capital Commission hired a security guard to patrol the space. 

The nest has now been re-located, the bird and her young still holding a prime festival vantage spot, and anticipation is growing for the upcoming annual festival, which kicks off today. 

Not a ‘real’ blues festival?

Ottawa Bluesfest is an astounding 24 years old and is known for being grumbled about by Blues purists for not being a “real blues festival.”

“Not enough Blues acts!” they say. 

The target of this criticism, however, might be the reason the festival has ultimately attracted more than a million people over its history.  Casting such a wide net has surely broadened its appeal, and it’s the reason that folk and roots fans should consider this festival for their live music plans this summer.

June 30, 2018. a new Killdeer hatches on the Bluesfest ground. The migratory birds had set up a nest in the center of the festival plaza prior to the start of the construction for RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa. Photo by Marc DesRosiers.

The 2018 Ottawa Bluesfest will run today, July 5 to Sunday, July 15, weekdays from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., weekends from 3:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.  It boasts five stages with some off-site shows at Casino Lac Lemay in Gatineau.  The site is accessible by bus, and there is parking available this year, which is a big change.  Children 9 and under are admitted free of charge with a ticket-holding parent.

Great local music!

The stage to watch for folk and roots fans is typically the Barney Danson Theatre.  This indoor theatre historically has hosted the most acoustic based acts.

Ottawa Bluesfest has always been supportive of Ottawa’s local music community, and this year is no exception.  Folk fans will recognize The Lynn(e)s, Lynn Miles and Lynne Hanson’s latest project. John Allaire has reformed his 80s band The Town Cryers, up-and-coming artist extraordinaire Alanna Sterling will be taking the stage with her band The Silvers.  Local artist and Willow Sound founder Tara Shannon will be making her Bluesfest debut, up-and-coming Indigenous artist Cody Coyote is there, as is Brock Zeman, Graven, blues trio River City Junction, and experimental act mal/aime. Ottawa’s Mike Essoudry brings his eight-piece brass band to the festival, and Amos the Transparent is among the others that make up the pool of talent this year hailing from the Ottawa region.

Christophe recommends …

For all of you roots and folk fans, I would encourage you to keep your eye out for A.J. Croce, the son of the acclaimed Jim Croce.  Catriona Sturteon will be performing too.  If you have not caught her show, she is a very talented performer.  Passenger, having released his eighth studio album, also returns to Ottawa playing tonight, 9:30, on the Blacksheep stage.

Also tonight at 8:30 on the City Stage, the Algonquin-Anishinabe Youth Hand Drum from Kitigan Zibi and Barriere Lake will be performing.  On the fun front, watch for the X-Squad, who’ll be handing out prizes and Bluesfest swag.  Blues in the schools will be showcasing on the Blacksheep Stage July 15, and then there’s the emerging female artist competition She’s the One.

And of course, there are the more familiar names: the Foo Fighters, Jethro Tull, Beck, Blue Rodeo, Bryan Adams, Colin James, Dave Mathews, J.W. Jones, Shawn Mendes, Three Days Grace, The Strumbella’s and The Peptides.

For detailed information on the artists and schedule and to buy tickets, visit the Bluesfest website at http://www.ottawabluesfest.ca

 

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