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Ottawa Bluesfest Celebrates 25 Years

Brock Zeman performing at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Saturday, July 7 2018.

Festival season is in full swing in this land.  The Montreal Folk Fest just wrapped up. Sudbury’s Northern Lights Festival is just kicking off, and in my town, the 25th Ottawa Bluesfest is once again about to take flight.

From a three-day festival fundraiser, thrown together by three buddies 25 years ago, to an international, diverse 10 day music festival, Ottawa Bluesfest has come a long way.

Folk fans will get an earful, between local gems and artists converging from far and wide.  Favourites Jason Isbell, Matt Anderson, Ashley MacIsaac, America and The Trews will be in the house along with local favourites Moonfruits, Outside I’m a Giant, Kelly Sloan and Kyle Ivan.

Those following the up and coming acts will recognize Lennon Stella, Jesse Rayez, Chvrches and Moscow Apartment.

If you have not been to Bluesfest before keep in mind they have a strict no in-and-out policy. There are beer tents and a variety of local food booths.  The Festival has four stages, and it runs from July 4 to July 14.

Manitoba’s William Prince, a name well known to us in the folk community will bring his “combination of creamy butter and smooth whisky”(fan description) vocal stylings  and beautifully woven stories told through song to the festival stage Sunday, July 7 at 6 p.m.  I was fortunate to catch William at Hugh’s Room, and he is a truly engaging, warm-hearted storyteller that I’d highly recommend.

Canadian Folk Music Award winning artist, folksinger Abigail Lapell brings charm and her songs to the Barney Danson Theatre July 4 at 7:30 p.m.  Abigail released her third album, Getaway, in February of this year. The album was produced and recorded by Chris Stringer at Toronto’s Union Sound with a cast of locals including Dana Sipos.

Friday, July 5 at 6 p.m. Mélanie Brûlée will grace the ‘Bluesville’ Stage.  Mélanie has a new album, Fires, Floods and Things We Leave Behind, comprised of thoughtful, engaging folk songs cast to a bold Western / Latin production. Her performance is equally engaging. This may be the night for you if you’ve been longing for cactus and wide open spaces.  Jason Isbell with the 400 Unit and Eric Church will be rounding out the night.

As folk fans, we all have our ear to the ground for emerging new artists.  A few months ago my sister asked me if I’d heard of Colter Wall. Swift Current, Saskatchewan’s Colter will take the stage at Bluesfest on, July 5 at 6 p.m. You may need to sneak away from Mélanie’s set to introduce yourself to Colter’s rich vocal sound and songs.

New Brunswick’s Juno Award winning Matt Andersen will take the Videotron Stage on Saturday, July 13 at 9:30 p.m.  Matt’s soulful voice and guitar playing are a real treat.

What would the Ottawa Bluesfest be without some true blues artists. How about the gospel of Buddy Guy?  Juno award winning local favourites MonkeyJunk will again be hosting their all-star blues revue featuring some very special guests July 11 to 14.  River City Junction, a mainstay on the scene in this area, is playing the Videotron stage July 7 at 5 p.m. Bluesfest also continues their long time support of the Blues in the Schools program.

Ottawa Bluesfest this year, boasting 25 years of success in bringing the outdoor live music experience to Ottawa music fans, once again delivers a diverse musical line-up.  I hope you make it to Ottawa for what is looking to be a splendid 11 days of music!

For more info – https://ottawabluesfest.ca

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2 comments

  1. avatar
    Christophe Elie 4 July, 2019 at 11:47

    Hi Helen,
    I was using gospel to encompass.. the words, songs, guitar playing, energy and spirit of Buddy Guy!
    Thanks for commenting!
    Peace,
    Christophe

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