Summer has finally arrived, and it brings a heatwave of record-breaking proportions and the annual RBC Bluesfest 2018. This year’s edition is 10 days long (July 5-15) and once again features music appealing to a broad collection of tastes, spanning several eras, and even more genres.

As The Revue traditionally does, we will be offering suggestions for each day of the festival with an emphasis on artists that are not the headliners on most days. Below are our Picks for Days 1 & 2.

Though the previews will highlight smaller segments of the festival, the full schedule is posted and can be found here. Various passes and tickets are still available:

As a tip, be sure to follow the Ottawa Bluesfest on social media as they tend to have contests during the day and also announce any unexpected schedule changes.

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Thursday, July 5th Picks

On Thursday night, the festival offers three distinct headline choices. Whenever there is an occasion to celebrate in Canada, rock icon Bryan Adams is an obvious choice. A consummate performer, he’s here for the inaugural night of Bluesfest 2018. If you do not want to join the masses singing along to some of the world’s most popular rock songs, you still have two other offerings. CityFolk fans will remember Passenger‘s captivating performance in 2015 and this year he’s headlining the Black Sheep Stage. Alternatively, Nick Lowe with Los Straightjackets rounds out the options. His career is entering its fifth decade and much respect is due. Who doesn’t remember his 1979 pop hit, “Cruel to be Kind”? You can’t really go wrong with any of the top billings. Choose what appeals to you most.

Geoffroy – 8:00, Black Sheep

As long as you’re going to be in for one of the great headline artists, we recommend you head in early enough to catch Geoffroy on the Black Sheep Stage at 8pm. His first full-length album was released in 2017 and was listed for the Polaris Music Prize. The first single has over six million streams on Spotify. We’d call that a success!

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Local artists performing:

Bank Street Bonbons – 6:00, Claridge Homes Stage

  • Shake your ass to a little brass. This eight-piece brass band departs from the expected and goes more worldly with a bit of Afrobeat-infused with funk and hip-hop. It’s a great start to the festival!

Okies – 6:30, Black Sheep Stage

  • This indie-folk trio has been together for four years. In that time, they’ve released two EPs, and even more recently their first album Alymer, which is a nod to their hometown. Active on the local scene, this is a perfect opportunity to catch them for the first if you have yet to see them.


Friday, July 6th Picks

The War On Drugs – 7:30, City Stage

From the very first songs released, The War On Drugs served notice that A Deeper Understanding was going to be an album to love in 2017. Sure enough, the album earned quite the praise with The Revue staff as well as making the list of top albums for the year. We’re not sure why they’re playing at 7:30, but at least that prevents any heartbreaking conflicts with a later slot. You have no excuses! Be sure not to miss them.

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St. Paul & The Broken Bones – 9:00, Claridge Homes Stage

If you’re not a Jethro Tull fan, do NOT stay home, as we’ve got a great alternative for you. Anyone who stuck around for their late show at Cityfolk in 2015 already know how special this band is. Their high energy set will have you moving your feet and dancing along. Bring a towel, too, because you’ll be sweating afterwards.

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Local artists performing:

Kelsey Hayes – 6:00, Claridge Homes Stage

  • Kick off your Friday night with a bit of jazzy pop! Ottawa’s own Kelsey Hayes has had a big year thus far, having recently released her sophomore EP in February and completing her 4th year of her Bachelor of Music and Performance program. Scholar, singer-songwriter, unbelievable talent.

Megan Jerome Together Ensemble – 6:00, Barney Danson Theatre

  • Now on her 6th album, this previous Galaxie Rising Star award winner performs with The Together Ensemble. No stranger to the local festival scene, her story-driven songs and broad range are sure to captivate.

Morris Ogbowu – 6:30, Black Sheep Stage

  • Ottawa-based rapper Morris Ogbowu is featured first of the evening on the Black Sheep Stage. The Nigerian born-artist released in February his introductory seven-track record, This That Mo. Here’s an opportunity to discover another of the city’s fine young artists, who might one day join the likes of A Tribe Called Red.

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