CityFolk, Festivals, The Revue — September 20, 2015 at 7:00 am

CityFolk Day 5 Preview


It’s the final day of CityFolk and the last major festival within city limits (there’s still Neat in the Woods and Beau’s Okterfest to come). Wendy will also be heading to Austin City Limits.

With the new site and location, there have been some complaints (but small and major), but overall the festival has gone well. Marvest, overall, has been a great addition and should only grow with each subsequent year. We can bet that next year there will be changes should the festival stay at Lansdowne, hopefully involving a move of the RavenLaw Stage (800 capacity isn’t sufficient) and having more of the restaurants and stores within Lansdowne Park taking part in Marvest.

Before providing a preview of the day’s lineup, just a quick reminder of some important details:

  • 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.

The CityFolk and Marvest schedules are available online or download the app.

On to the preview of today’s lineup, which is much leaner than yesterday.


CityFolk Lineup

The day begins with family favourite Fred Penner (3:00, RavenLaw), who’ll bring his songs and stories for all to enjoy. Bring your children or act like a kid because it’s not everyday you get to spend an intimate show with a legend…

…a descriptor that could rightfully also apply to Gregory Alan Isakov (3:00, Telus Stage). Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, Isakov has emerged as one of the best and most gifted singer-songwriters of the past 10 years. His The Weatherman was among the most critically acclaimed and was short-listed on several “Best of” lists of 2013, including our own

…while Andy Shauf (4:00, RavenLaw Stage) has made our “Favorite Albums of the First Quarter”. Don’t let Shauf’s quiet, soft-spoken, mild-manner demeanor fool you – the Saskatoon native writes elaborate and often dramatic stories that would please even Kurt Vonnegut. As such, his songs may not be for the faint of heart…

….but the harmonies and percussion-driven songs of Lucius (4:15, Telus Stage) may leave your heart fluttering. A year ago, they stole the hearts of Ottawa Bluesfest audiences and festivalgoers around the world. But not only have they amazed music fans, but legends like Mavis Staples have shared the stage with them and Roger Waters asked the leading ladies – Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig – to be his backup singers for his mind-blowing 2015 Newport Folkfest performance. These opportunities and their euphoric sound have made Lucius one of the most exciting bands around…

…which CityFolk attendees may be saying after seeing Charlie A’ Court (5:00, RavenLaw). A fine songwriter in his own right, A’Court is best known for his fiery and masterful guitar work. There’s probably only one other guy that could match the Halifax native’s ability at the festival, but more on him and his band later. In meantime, be immersed in A’Court’s world before…

…you enter into the enchantment that is the great Lucinda Williams (5:30, Telus Stage). One of the great singer-songwriters of the past 50 years, Williams’ influence extends far and wide, including local (albeit semi-retired) Kathleen Edwards. Despite being 62-years old, Williams continues to record critically acclaimed albums, such as 2014’s, spectacular double LP Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. Williams’ career is one that many musicians aspire to achieve…

…and Terra Lightfoot (6:00, RavenLaw Stage) is well on her way. With an endearing writing style, an infectious rock sound, and a memorable voice that will blow you away, the Hamilton native is one of Canada’s rising stars. This might be the one and only time you’ll get a chance to see her in the smaller, intimate setting because the next time she’ll be a household name…

…just like how in three years Mike Rosenburg – a.k.a. Passenger (6:45, Telus Stage) – has become an international star. Despite long creating heart-breaking ballads and with a captivating voice, Rosenburg wallowed in relative unknown obscurity. It wasn’t until 2012 and after nearly 10 years in the industry did he get his first taste of success, beginning in Europe and then in North America two years later. Rosenburg hasn’t turned back since, a rags-to-riches story…

…that the incomparable Corb Lund (8:30, RavenLaw Stage) has long sung about plus writing about the plights of the everyday family and individual. With the recent successes of long-time performers Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, Nathaniel Rateliff, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Sturgill Simpson, Lund could finally achieve his own fairytale ending at a global level when his forthcoming new album, Things That Can’t Be Undone, drops October 9. So expect new tunes…

…which is what Wilco (8:30, Telus Stage) will be playing, specifically from their surprise new album Star Wars, their best album since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The alt-country kings haven’t performed at one of Ottawa’s festivals in nearly 10 years (they did perform at the NAC and the arena formerly known as Scotiabank Place plus frontman Jeff Tweedy had a set at the 2014 Bluesfest) when Bluesfest was at City Hall. The show was memorable for frontman Jeff Tweedy asking the sitting half of the audience to “RISE”. He won’t have to face that problem this year, allowing him, the master guitarist Nels Cline, John Stirratt, Glenn Kotche, Mikael Jorgensen, and Patrick Sansone to do what they do best – amaze…

…which is what the festival’s finale, Everyone Orchestra (11:00, RavenLaw Stage), will do. An ad hoc, impromptu show featuring musicians already on stage or in the crowd, composer and conductor Matt Butler will lead this ongoing experiment that music is boundless, a fitting ending to five days of CityFolk.

Editorial Note: Thank you to Tim McGurrin for notifying me of some errors.

Marvest Lineup

The Marvest Lineup is quite different today than the past few days. There are only a handful of performances involving Ottawa artists, and all the shows will take place on one of the two stages inside the Aberdeen Pavilion. In addition, the CityFolk organizers have gone back to the Ottawa Folkfest blueprint of workshops and intimate performances by some of the festival acts. So if you’re a big fan of one of the performers at the main CityFolk sets but don’t have a ticket, you still might luck out.

The day begins with back-to-back workshops. The annual BSOMA Ukele Presentation kicks things off (2:00, Aberdeen Stage), where a number of musicians (likely young kids) will perform songs with the ukele. Rock U Presentation (2:30, Aberdeen Stage) is next, which is undefined at this moment. My guess is that some young, aspiring musicians will take the stage to perform much like the Blues in the School segment at Bluesfest, but I might be completely off.

The Brook (4:00, Aberdeen Stage) are one of the city’s best kept secrets. They will use the occasion to release their new album, Sweet Talk, a complex and diverse collection of indie folk-rock songs that can be brooding and sentimental one moment to lively, East Coast-infused alt-folk a la Joe Plaskett and Hey Rosetta! This is a band that must be heard.

Two fantastic collaborations are up next. First, Andy Shauf and Corb Lund will participate in Sing Me A Song (5:30, Metro Lounge), where they will chat about their songwriting approaches and take turns performing tracks from their latest albums. Silly Love Song? Says Who? (6:15, Metro Lounge) follows, which will bring together Gregory Alan Isakov and St. John’s The Fortunate Ones discuss writing great love songs in the internet age. These are two extremely unique opportunities to catch some great performers in an intimate environment. Get to the Pavilion early to grab your spot.

Veteran singer-songwriter John Allaire (7:00, Aberdeen Stage) will be releasing his umpteenth album South of Solitude. The venerable musician still has a knack for writing witty lyrics not to mention for rocking out on stage. He’s one of the most respected artists in the business – not just in Ottawa but across Canada. See for yourself why this is the case and hang out with him afterwards while enjoying a beverage. He’ll share with you one, two, or three of his thousand stories.

How will The Fortunate Ones follow up the high of sharing the stage with Gregory Alan Isakov? We’ll find out as the folk-pop duo of Andrew James O’Brien and Catherine Allan take the stage (8:15, Aberdeen Stage). They’ve developed a reputation for creating heart-breaking love ballads filled with gorgeous harmonies. This is a set where you might find yourself slow dancing with your partner or even a stranger.

The last Marvest performance goes to Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys (10:30, Aberdeen Stage). The Charlottetown quartet make rambunctious, fiddle-infused music, which, as you very well know, means one lively dance party – East Coast style of course!

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