July 5, 2014 will probably be remembered as Lady Gaga night, as thousands of people from Ottawa and area crash the Bell Stage. Well, I’m going to suggest that you see some other artists before and even at the same time as the pop star.

Andrew Bird – 9:00 on the River Stage

The immensely talented Andrew Bird returns to Bluesfest, this time backed by a band he’s calling Hands of Glory. Bird, an expert violinist and guitar player, has an innate ability to mix and loop different sounds to create an ear-popping experience. Sure, he isn’t Lady Gaga, but you will be in awe of the craftsmanship and talent of Bird and his band. No pyrotechnics, outrageous costumes, or flashy light show here – just purely great music. Bird is touring in support of his latest LP, Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…, which is a splendid and more upbeat effort from the Chicago resident.

The London Souls – 8:00 on the Black Sheep Stage

This New York-based band has been around since 2008, but they’re relatively unknown outside of the five boroughs (heck, they may only be well known in 2 or 3 of the boroughs). The London Soul’s take on classic rock and psychedelia is mind-blowing good. If you like Zeppelin, Cream, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, or My Morning Jacket, get yourself to the Black Sheep Stage to check out Tash and Chris. You won’t regret it.

Tift Merritt – 7:30 in the Barney Danson Theatre

It’s hard to believe that Tift Merrit has been actively writing music for 16 years. The alt-country songstress will melt your heart with her endearing songs and her beautiful, southern voice. On her latest album, Traveling Alone, she turned to a more low-key, stripped down sound, which should work immensely well in the intimate Barney Danson Theatre. This set will not only be a great opportunity to see Ms. Merritt upclose, but to also get to know the engaging Ms. Merritt. Get in line early if you want to see this southern belle.

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