Today, the newly minted, five-day CityFolk Festival commences and there’s a lot to talk about on Day 1, although mostly some things to keep in mind should you be attending.
Previously known as the Ottawa Folk Festival, there are several changes to the annual festival than just the name. For starters, and as most Ottawa residents know, the site has been moved from Hog’s Back Park to Lansdowne Park in the central neighbourhood of the Glebe. Second, there will only be two main stages for CityFolk, and they will be held on the Great Lawn at Lansdowne Park. This is being done due to the smaller size of the new location. To ensure there remains a lot of music to be heard, Mark Monahan and his team have teamed up with a number of venues nearby to host gigs in and around the Park, showcasing some of the city’s best musical talent. Plus, you may never know who might just drop in to play a surprise set. There is a small fee for these gigs, but it’s a great way to hear some awesome new music.
These off-site shows are part of the festival’s new addition, Marvest. In addition to featuring sixty (60) Ottawa-area artists, there will also be free performances held at the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park, and admission to these concerts will be free (but only for those held inside the Pavilion). Nine bands and musicians will be debuting new albums, making Marvest a must-see for local music fans.
Marvest, though, won’t just be about music. The Pavilion will also have a number of local craft breweries and food will also be available. Again, the music inside is free, but you’ll have to pay for food and beverages. Oh, don’t forget to pick up a few vinyl and CDs from the many, talented artists who will be performing.
For those who have paid to see the main CityFolk acts, the shows will be held on the Great Lawn alongside Queen Elizabeth Driveway. You can check the festival map to get your bearings. People are highly encouraged to bike, walk, or take public transportation since parking will be limited in and around the area. There is underground parking available on site.
Now that we’ve gotten the logistics out of the way, let’s get to the star attraction – the music! The CityFolk and Marvest schedules are available online or get the app (let’s hope it’s more reliable than the Bluesfest one). Today, there are only two performances on the schedule.
CityFolk Lineup (at the Great Lawn)
It’s a relatively light night of music, but let’s just say it’s a great way to ease back into festival mode. CityFolk’s first day is headlined by pop-reggae greats UB40 (8:30, Telus Stage). Regardless if you’re 60 or 8, you’ve probably heard “Red Red Wine’, the sextet’s biggest hit in their 37 years of existence. For those who grew up with UB40, they will be itching to hear hits such as “Food For Thought”.
But it’s not the band’s original material that shot them up towards super-stardom. Instead, for much of their career, they have created some of the most sublime covers in music history. Their cover of Elvis Presley’s “(I Can’t Help) Falling in Love With You” in 1993 shot to the top of the charts and (re-)introduced a younger generation to The King. They’ve also covered music by Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, and many others, applying their trademark pop-reggae sound. The UB40 you’ll be seeing tonight involves Ali Campbell, Astro, and Mickey Virtue and not the full band…
…although The Tubes‘ (7:00, Telus Stage) are back together (well, sort of). The glam-rock, theatrical pop band from San Francisco achieved their greatest success in the early 1980s following the release of “She’s a Beauty” plus for their wildly entertaining (and often unpredictable) live shows. They’ve been touring on and off over the past decade, so this might be the last chance to catch these living legends of the ’80s. Maybe they’ll recapture their youthful exuberance at CityFolk.
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