In case this is your first visit to this site and/or you’re heading out to CityFolk for the first time, just a few friendly reminders:
- All performances at CityFolk, which take place on the Great Lawn, require a ticket or a festival pass. If you don’t have a ticket, you can purchase one at the gate.
- Alongside CityFolk is Marvest, a celebration of the city’s music scene. Performances are being hosted in and around Lansdowne Park. Many of them will be held at Aberdeen Pavilion, which are free. Shows taking place outside Lansdowne may require you to pay a small admission fare to enter the building.
You can check the festival map for just those shows happening at Lansdowne Park. 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.
CityFolk Lineup (Great Lawn)
The Festival kicks off Paying Tribute (3:00, RavenLaw Stage), a segment dedicated to remembering family and friends of the music community we have lost over the past year. It’ll be a solemn affair…
…which won’t be the case when Steve Poltz (4:15, RavenLaw Stage) takes the stage. The singer-songwriter from San Diego is known for his clever wordplay, whimsical songs, and self-deprecating sense of humour. Another way to think of him is that he’s the American version of Ottawa favourite Danny Michel. So be prepared to laugh and even sing along…
…but if you plan on seeing The Barr Brothers (4:15, Telus Stage) get ready to be hypnotized with their blend of folk, blues, and roots music. Their music can simply mesmerize or they’ll break out into an energetic and raucous tune that will have audiences hopping…
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…and likewise, Will Butler (5:30, Telus Stage) will have the Great Lawn grooving as he showcases songs from his excellent debut album, Policy. While there are touches of Arcade Fire on the record, also expect to hear traces of Lou Reed, David Bowie, and even Daft Punk. If Butler’s music won’t get you moving…
…then maybe the Evening Hymns (5:45, RavenLaw Stage) will, at least emotionally. The Ontario-based band will be playing a day after the release of their new album, Quiet Energies, which promises to be a rocking yet haunting one if their lead single, “All My Life I Have Been Running”, is any indication. They could be the festival’s best discovery…
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…although The Sheepdogs (6:45, Telus Stage) really don’t need any introduction. The Saskatoon boys have exploded over the past few years due to their energetic live shows, their classic rock sound, and some timely publicity (in 2011, Rolling Stone named them as one of the bands to look out for that year). Oh, their music is pretty great, too, with anthems like “Feeling Good”…
…which is the emotion one usually feels when taking in a concert by Kitty, Daisy, & Lewis (6:30, RavenLaw Stage). The London-based band combines multiple genres – funk, soul, R&B, blues, folk, gospel, and even a bit of Vaudeville – to create a fun, lively sound. It’s dance music from a different era, but one that is just as relevant…
…as the new sound that Iceland’s euphoric Of Monsters and Men (8:30, Telus Stage) have recently undertaken. Their performance is likely the one show that many fans – young and old – had long marked on their calendars. Started off as an Americana, roots band, Of Monsters and Men have expanded their sound and entered the post-rock realm that many Icelandic bands occupy. However, unlike Sigur Rós, they’ve applied their raucous and euphoric sound to the genre to create huge anthems, which should delight festival goers…
…just like perennial, festival favourites Lord Huron (8:45, RavenLaw Stage) will. The Los Angeles-based quartet burst on the music scene in 2012 with the excellent Lonesome Dreams, which applied the lushness of the 70s music scene in LA and applied it to an indie-folk foundation. The result was a sound that was titillating and shimmering. They replicated that approach on their latest album, Strange Tails. If you plan on attending, warm up your vocal chords as you’ll be “oohing” and “aahing” throughout…
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…and then you could relax a bit afterwards when you take in Everyone Orchestra (10:30, RavenLaw Stage). Led by founder and conducter Matt Butler, Everyone Orchestra is just that – a huge collective of musicians who gather on stage and spontaneously play under Butler’s lead. Who knows, maybe some of the musicians performing at CityFolk and Marvest will show up. Could you imagine if Mark Kozelek showed up and wanted to play or even conduct? The possibilities are endless.
There are 50 performances associated with Marvest today.The list is organized by location (in alphabetical order) with times provided. Some artists are performing more than once in different locations. Some of the venues are right at Lansdowne Park or a short stroll away. Most shows are free, although a $5 cover charge is required at House of Targ.
At Aberdeen Stage in the Pavilion (Lansdowne Park)
2:00 – The East Pointers‘ Celtic Jam – The cousins from Prince Edward Island are known for their lively Celtic music, and this jam session will be no different. Inside the Pavilion will be the perfect environment as this set will feel like a barn burner.
4:00 – Moonfruits – As part of Marvest, local bands will also be releasing their new albums. Moonfruits, the project of folk-pop duo Alex Millaire and Kaitlin Milroy, will be releasing their new EP, Carousel. If it’s anything like their previous songs, expect to be amused by their stories but swept away by their sweet harmonies.
7:00 – Lost to the River – Formerly known as country-rock band Miss Polygamy, the band has changed its name to reflect their new sound – a more melodic, southern-rock / folk-rock one. They’re currently raising funds to support the distribution of their new album. You can check out their crowdfunding campaign here. This performance will also mark the official release of their self-titled album, so you can support them by taking a listen and purchasing an album or five.
8:30 – Fred Penner – They say that you can never take the kid out of an adult, and this is what the CityFolk organizers must have had in mind by scheduling long-time family and children’s favourite Fred Penner at this time. That or Fred Penner will surprise us and go Bob Saget on us. We’ll be entertained one way or another.
10:00 – High Waters – This local art-rock quartet is making their second appearance at CityFolk. This time, though, they will be releasing Goodnight Mara. Their past efforts crossed between experimental, classic rock, and even a bit of prog-rock, which some may find absolutely fantastic while others may be perplexed. In what direction will High Waters go on their new album?
11:30 – John Carroll & the Epic Proportions – This show will represent the debut gig of John Carroll’s “new power trio”, as he has described them on his Facebook page. For years, Carroll has dazzled local and regional audiences with his honest storytelling and humble demeanor, but his new outfit marks a new chapter in the veteran musician’s career. Stay at the festival a little longer and be part of the story.
Black Squirrel Books (1073 Bank Street)
1:50 – Spencer Scharf – One of the most gifted, young musicians in Ottawa is Spencer Scharf. He’s a multi-instrumentalist who dabbles in blues, folk, folk-rock and indie-rock. He’s also a rarity – a finger-plucker on the guitar. Set aside the books and let Scharf teach you a lesson on fine music.
9:30 – Lost Cousins – Lost Cousins aren’t quite local, but Kingston is close enough. The indie-pop-rock quartet is making a name for themselves as they have criss-crossed Eastern Canada the past few months. Fans of Royal Canoe should catch this band on the rise.
10:30 – Farewell Davidson – Another young band on the rise is Farewell Davidson, whose indie sound appeals to a younger generation. Full of hooks and catchy riffs and songs about youthful exuberance and innocence, the Wakefield-based quartet could one day follow the footsteps of Tokyo Police Club.
David’s Tea (798 Bank Street)
1:20 – Black Dogs – This folk-blues band has released a handful of EPs that are focused on day-to-day life and the challenges of making ends meet. They could be considered a working person’s band, but their songs apply to us all.
2:10 – Victor Nesrallah – Educator and long-time Ottawa performer will share his warm voice and stories for 30 minutes, so grab a hot tea and enjoy this intimate experience.
3:00 – Dynamite Motel – Mindy Amelotte will also be performing at 2:00 at Metro Music. See below for information.
FarmTeam Cookhouse (683 Bank Street)
1:00 – LeMeow – Sultry blues and tantalizing soul, 1:00 seems like an early start time for Gin Bourgeois and James Rooke. Make LeMeow part of an an early (or all-day) date.
2:30 – The Kingmakers – This local quintet plays good old-fashion rock ‘n roll. If you’re a fan of Elvis, you’ll want to see these guys. Make sure you grab a spot with plenty of room to dance.
9:00 – Tindervox – One of the most underrated bands not only in Ottawa but in Canada is Tindervox. Their brooding style of indie-rock is not for the faint of heart, but it is cathartic and often mind-blowing, especially when heard live.
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10:00 – Evening Hymns – Having played earlier in the day on the RavenLaw Stage, the Ontario-based band will likely be sharing music from their new album, Quiet Energies, which promises to be a rocking yet haunting one if their lead single, “All My Life I Have Been Running”, is any indication. This is a real treat for those buzzing around the Glebe looking for a gig to see.
11:00 – Loon Choir – If you missed the launch of the multi-instrumental, indie band’s new album, All of This and Everything Else, here’s your second chance to hear it again (well, I’m assuming they’ll play their new album). Discover why I think they could be Ottawa’s next great music export.
House of Targ (1077 Bank Street)
9:00 – Skreedlemania ($5 admission and donations to the Ottawa Food Bank also welcome, which will be deducted from your fee) – Just like the previous night, this will essentially be a live mic night, where bands will be showing up and performing. You don’t know who will show up for this 3-hour jam session.
Irene’s Pub (885 Bank Street)
2:00 – Three Times Lucky – Knee-slapping, dance-able blues and blues rock. Sounds like a party is going to break out early at Irene’s. Better start running the tab.
3:30 – Silver Creek – Silver Creek have become a local favourite for their explosive roots-rock music. For a mid-afternoon set, come prepared to be knocked for a loop when you hear their blazing guitars and deep bass lines. I hope you took my advice and started a tab.
9:30 – The Maxim Cossette Combo – Are you looking for something to jump-start your Saturday night? Then go see The Maxim Cossette Combo, who have developed a reputation as one of Ottawa’s top live acts with their blend of bluegrass and folk that is often infused with gypsy and Caribbean influences. Irene’s will be jumping when the quartet take the stage.
10:30 – Slo’ Tom and the Handsome Devils – One of the great Canadian songwriters was also a former contributor to The Revue. Slo’ Tom brings his new band to Marvest, presenting their rambunctious country-rock to Irene’s Pub. It’s going to be a fun night.
11:30 – Alex Silas & the Subterraneans – Making their second appearance of the festival, Alex Silas & the Subterraneans change things up to end the evening. A combination of hip hop, rock, pop, and Middle Eastern influences, the collective will have the place jumping.
Kunstadt Sports (680 Bank Street)
1:30 – Toast of the Town – I think there’s only one way to describe Trevor Dubois and Kyle Ivanich (a.k.a. Toast of the Town) – unpredictable. They’ll likely play a number of covers for all to sing to, including the little ones, while riding a bike or on a skateboard during the performance. In short, you’re going to be entertained.
2:45 – Cousin John – The quartet blur the lines of country-rock and folk-rock but regardless what you want to call it you’ll be clapping and jiving to their smooth grooves and tight bass lines.
4:00 – Hey Buster – It’s honky-tonk music for the kids. Seriously. Don’t believe me, check out the band for yourself.
Local Public Eatery (at Lansdowne Park)
1:00 – DJ Andrew Carter – One of the top DJs in the city, he can spin a cool groove or remix chart-topping singles with aplomb. I’m going to guess he’ll find a middle ground on this expected-to-be rainy day.
10:00 – DJ Andrew Carter – Probably can expect a dance party to break out this time around.
Metro Music (695 Bank Street)
2:00 – Dynamite Motel – I had no idea that Dynamite Hotel is an anagram for Mindy Amelotte, who is the singer-songwriter behind the music project. Her creative also applies to her music, where she’s not just a singer but a storyteller. Her latest album, Green Lights, caught the attention of our David Manning, and it’ll grab yours, too.
Octopus Books (116 Third Avenue)
1:50 – Kaleigh Watts – One of the local artists who caught my own attention over the past few years is Kaleigh Watts. While she may lean towards folk music, her sound is more expansive and widescreen, where her music will range from dream-folk to dream-pop to acoustic folk. She’s a young talent with an immense future as a singer-songwriter and producer.
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7:00 – Christophe Elie – Elie specializes in blues-folk music with a social conscious. His music can be brooding at times and scintillating at other moments. Whatever the sound, his songs must be heard for the messages he shares of community, loneliness, greed, and love.
8:30 – Terry McLeish – Long-time country-folk artist Terry McLeish will bring his Willie Nelson-esque songs to the intimate setting of Octopus Books. Hear for yourself why he’s been a multiple finalist in various songwriting contests across the globe.
Original Burger Joint (873 Bank Street)
1:00 – Rich Chris – Self-described as “acoustic punk”, the other way to think of Chris’ music is frenetic folk with his quick wordplay done over an acoustic guitar. Make sure you’ve finished your lunch because you’ll be grinning throughout Chris’ 45-minute set.
9:00 – Nightshades – As the hour gets late, the music gets a little louder and harder. Nightshades with their post-punk/garage-rock sound a la Speedy Ortiz will surely set the Original Burger Joint aflame.
10:00 – Jonathan Becker & The North Fields – If one was asked how would you define the sound of Canadian rock ‘n roll? Jonathan Becker & The North Fields might be the answer. Their classic sound is rooted in folk- and country-rock while the stories told about the toils of life in Canada’s diverse landscape. They’ve long been an underrated band in Ottawa, but possibly not after CityFolk comes to a conclusion.
11:00 – Jack Pine and the Fire – The alt-country / folk band are getting set to release a new album at the end of the month, so there’s an opportunity to hear some new tunes. If this is the first time hearing about Jack Pine and the Fire, here’s the opportunity to discover one of the city’s great secrets.
The evening sets are presented by Ottawa Showbox.
The Unrefined Olive (151 Second Avenue)
2:00 – Danielle Allard – One of the region’s favourite singer-songwriters, Allard’s tender voice and her combination of jazz, folk, pop, and blues will leave you pleasantly astounded.
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3:15 – Kristine St.-Pierre – Our very own Kristine will be performing at Marvest. With arguably the most infectious smile in town, her folk songs will burn a hole in your heart. Don’t be surprised if you come away from her performance with a new favourite local artist.
8:30 – Baberaham Lincoln – A young quartet from the region is Baberaham Lincoln who create some stunning jangle-pop and surf-pop music. With some refinement, they could be the next Beach House or Dum Dum Girls (granted, there are two guys in the band).
9:30 – Steamers – Light-hearted folk music that will put a smile on your face, that’s the sound of Steamers, a local five-piece band. Their music is the perfect ending or beginning to Saturday night.
10:30 – Zoo Legacy – Combining pop arrangements, electro-rock, and hip hop, quartet Zoo Legacy are on the verge of mainstream success. Their new EP, Departures, was produced by Gus Van Go, who has worked with The Stills and Whitehorse, which bodes well for the quartet’s future prospects.
Whole Foods Market (951 Bank Street)
2:30 – Black Dogs – They are also performing at 1:20 at David’s Tea. See above for more information.
3:20 – Spencer Scharf – He’ll be performing at 1:50 at Black Squirrel Books, so see above for more information.
7:00 – Bottle Hearts – Blues, folk, blues-rock, and Canadiana are the genres that Deborah Landry, Allain Lalonde, D’Arcy McGuire, and Chris McGuire cover. Much of it is original music, but they have a great cover of Alabama Shakes’ “Hold On”.
8:30 – St. Stephens – Formerly known as The Flats, Chelsea, Quebec – Ottawa band are a collective of musicians who perform a variety of genres – folk, folk-rock, blues-rock, art-rock, classic rock. In other words, think Wilco, Sloan, Deerhoof, Deerhunter, and Jason Isbell rolled up into a single band. So if you want to hear something, they probably could do it.
Wild Oat Bakery (817 Bank Street)
9:00 – Amanda Lowe – If you’re looking to hear some tender music that can be sweet or heartbreaking, Amanda Lowe would be the top choice. Reminiscent of Lisa Loeb, the young Ottawan writes music well beyond her youthful years.
10:00 – The Gallop – Like a more melodic Sloan (which I guess would make them like Yukon Blonde), four-piece, indie-rock band The Gallop recently released a new EP, Tall Tale Tellers, which received positive buzz. Hear for yourself why this little band has some a chance to do some big things.
11:00 – Amos the Transparent – One of the gems of the Canadian indie scene is Amos the Transparent, who have caught the attention of notable artists such as Amy Millan of Stars. They’ve dabbled in indie-rock, indie-pop, and soulful pop of the ’60s, showing the band’s versatility and diversity. They also recently released an album of covers called The Undercover Sessions, on which they covered the likes of Radiohead, Neil Young, and Green Day. Makes you wonder what they’ll do tonight.
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