The first Saturday of Bluesfest arrives and the lineup is pretty deep. There is a bit of everything for everyone, including one of the most anticipated shows of the 9-day festival – at least for me anyway and I am not referring to The Lumineers (who do put on a fine show). There is one disappointment, though – Brandi Carlile had to cancel her performance, and she would have been one of the picks. Anyway, read the twelve picks below, which includes nine local artists to check out. Oh, don’t forget to dress for the wet weather.
Preoccupations – Black Sheep Stage, 9:30 PM
The band formerly known as Viet Cong, Preoccupations make long-awaited Bluesfest debut. Actually, two years ago at the time when they dropped their brilliant and mind-blowing, self-titled, debut album – one that was dozens of “Best of” or “Favourite Albums of the Year” lists, including our own – they were in Ottawa playing on the same day as Mac DeMarco. They were just playing over at a different venue. Fortunately, the fine folks of Bluesfest were not going to miss this opportunity to invite the Calgary quartet this time around, whose dark, throbbing rock can best be described as visceral and cathartic. Fans should expect to hear new songs, as Preoccupations’ sophomore album, Anxiety, is due out September 16th. The title track can be heard here.
The Cult – Claridge Homes Stage, 8:00 PM
Anyone who grew up in the ’80 sand ’90s will remember The Cult, one of the most underappreciated bands in terms of their influence on the alternative rock and grunge scenes. While they’re a bit older now, the trio continue to produce edgy and blistering rock, just like they did 25 to 30 years ago (has it been that long?).
The London Souls – Claridge Homes Stage, 4:00 PM
New York City-based The London Souls return to the festival for the second time in three years. The duo are a favourite of many of the writers here at The Revue, as their live shows are fierce. Their combination of psychedelic and garage-rock brings to mind Zeppelin, Cream, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, although it is just Tash Neal (vocals/guitar) and Chris St. Hiliare (drums/vocals) who are making this wonderful noise. Bring a towel, lots of water, and maybe even an extra shirt because you will need all of them.
Chris Page – Claridge Homes Stage, 1:00 PM
Local musician Chris Page has the unenviable task of kicking off the festival on this day, but if you get there early you will be rewarded with a quirky but memorable performance with his mix of rock, folk, and even punk and his oft-kilter stories. Think Dany Michel, and that is essentially Chris Page in a nutshell.
Mehdi Cayenne – Monster Energy Stage, 3:00 PM
Mehdi Cayenne personifies the term “global citizen”. Originally from Algiers, having lived in Paris for several years, and now making his home between Ottawa and Montreal, Cayenne’s music reflects the many places he has lived and the cultures that have influenced him. His music is cross between the world music of Manu Chao and the eccentric brilliance of Patrick Watson. This is a performance to see this afternoon.
Grace LaChance – Barney Danson Theatre, 3:00 PM, and Monster Energy Stage, 7:15
Brandi Carolile may not be making an appearance, but you can catch potentially a young singer-songwriter who has her potential. Grace LaChance is a 15-year old resident of Stittsville who was last year’s winner of “She’s The One” Contest. With a spot on one of the stages, she gets the chance to showcase her smooth delivery and her interpretation of alternative pop, country, and folk music. Do not miss an opportunity to witness the birth of a star.
Treasure Dub Quartet – Black Sheep Stage, 3:30 PM
Treasure Dub Quartet are as close to a “super-group” that Ottawa could get within its indie scene (well, outside of Kathleen Edward and Jim Bryson). Comprising of Phil Charboneau of Her Harbour, and Scattered Clouds, Adam Saikaley from The Acorn, Alex Moxon of Hilotrons, and Michel Delage who plays with Riishi Von Rex and Old Stereo, this quartet creates dub music with a ska vibe. Sound weird? Sure, but it also sounds pretty awesome, especially on this hot, summery day.
Yusso – City Stage, 5:00 PM
Just who is the mad scientist and poet known as Yusso? Originally born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Yusso is unlike any hip hop or rap artist you will encounter at the festival. Using an experimental soundscape (think in the style of Montreal’s Suuns) as his backdrop, Yusso drops lyrics that are thoughtful and introspective, reflecting on his own experiences living in the city and those of other disenfranchised youth. While some think he could be the next Drake, a more apt comparison may be Dr. Dre.
Silver Creek – Monster Energy Stage, 6:00 PM
Another year, another Bluesfest, and another performance by local favourites Silver Creek. There is a big reason why the rock band graces the festival stages as frequently as Blue Rodeo – their live shows are fun and energetic while their songs are instantaneously catchy and relateable. Silver Creek are the perfect way to start the evening.
Jill Zmud – Barney Danson Theatre, 7:30 PM
Ottawa’s sweetheart Jill Zmud is back, and there is not a better venue to see the singer-songwriter than the intimate Barney Danson Theatre. While Zmud’s songs will mostly melt the collective hearts, her on-stage banter and affable personality will keep things light and fun.
All-Star Blues Revue Hosted By The Split with Special Guests – Barney Danson Theatre, 9:00 PM
The Split are back for a second night of hosting the All-Star Blues Revue. Tonight’s guests are a who’s who in blues, as the band will be joined by JW JONES, Kirby Sewell, John Campbelljohn, and The Texas Horns. The jams that this group of individuals will perform tonight could be mind-blowing. Hopefully someone will taking video of the performance.
Amanda Rheaume – Monster Energy Stage, 9:30 PM
If Jill Zmud is Ottawa’s sweetheart, Amanda Rheaume is the city’s crown jewel. The multi-time Juno nominee has left a lengthy mark on not just the Ottawa music scene but across Canada. Her folk-rock is impeccable, her voice is graceful, and Rheaume is a legend that everyone should see at least once.
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