Today kicks off another year of the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, which began way back in 1980 as, like with many festivals, a small, niche gathering of musicians and artists. Entering its 34th year, the Jazzfest has grown in duration, scope (it focuses primarily on jazz but also includes non-jazz performers), and ambition. This year’s lineup is once again a stellar one with a wide range of performers. Since I’m not a jazz connoisseur by any means, I’ve focused on five non-jazz performers that people should try to see. The list is in chronological order by the date of performance. And no, I didn’t choose Aretha Franklin or Earth, Wind, and Fire since that would be too easy.
The Ottawa Valley-born Kelly Sloan will bring her folk-blues to Jazzfest. With her smooth voice, skillful guitar chops, and honest lyrics, she’ll be making those dreaming of Ella Fitzgerald to recall the greatness of Lucinda Williams. Sloan is in the process of recording her third LP, so expect to hear some tracks from the upcoming record. She is an endearing and funny individual, so expect some unexpected banter.
Sloan performs on Saturday, June 21, at 12:00 PM on the Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage, so bring a picnic lunch and get there early.
Austra returns to the National Capital Region, having played at The Ottawa Bluesfest last year but now they’ll reach out to Jazz aficionados. The young quartet from Toronto are known for their glistening electronic-pop. However, with their newly released EP, Habitat, they’ve adopted an edgier, darker, and more experimental sound than past efforts. The new approach is a perfect balance between Austra’s previous albums and the often cutting-edge jazz being played at the festival. You can listen to the EP below.
Austra consists of Katie Stelmanis, Maya Postepski, Dorian Wolf, and Ryan Wonsiak. The band performs on Saturday, June 21, at 10:30 PM on the Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage.
TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND
Combining blues with a touch of soul and southern rock, Tedeschi Trucks Band will have the Jazzfest audience swooning over their artistry – from Susan Tedeschi’s smoky voice to Derek Trucks incomparable guitar playing to the entire band’s showmanship and mastery. Expect some extended jams, anthemic guitar licks, and just a plain old good time with this 11-piece collective. Tedeschi Trucks Band should have the audience on its feet and applauding in appreciation of their greatness.
Tedeschi Trucks Band performs on Monday, June 23 at 8:30 PM on the Main Stage Confederation Park.
LAKE STREET DIVE
Featured by Rich in a February revue, one of our favourite bands of this year makes their Ottawa debut when Lake Street Dive perform at Jazzfest. Taking old-school pop and swirling it with jazz and blues, Lake Street Dive are creating unadulterated smooth music. Based out of Brooklyn, the quartet is composed of transplants – singer Rachel Price of Tennessee, guitarist Michael “McDuck” Olson of Minneapolis, bassist Bridged Kearney of Iowa, and drummer Mike Calabrese of Philadelphia. Price’s sultry voice and the beautiful harmonies of the band will melt plenty of hearts when it’s all said and done.
Lake Street Dive perform on Friday, June 27 at 10:30 PM on the Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage.
Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet are the crowd-pleasing, wife-husband duo known as Whitehorse. Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, the duo creates refreshing and innovative indie folk-rock that also has a touch of country and spaghetti western. Their music can be upbeat and make you feel like you’re in a small-town saloon on the prairies and then at times as if you’re sitting in a smoky jazz club during their more melodic, darker tracks. Sounds like a great way to spend an evening. Make sure you have your favourite beverage in hand and enjoy the skillful craftsmanship of this fantastic duo.
McCelland and Doucet play on Monday, June 30 at 7:30 PM on the Laurier Avenue Canadian Music Stage.
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