I’m about three days tardy with the Bluesfest Recap. I blame it on the last act I saw on Saturday night which was the electro LA based DJ act, Skrillex. Enough said.
I should start at the beginning of the week.
On second thought maybe I should just start with Bluesfest the festival, because it’s not so much about Blues as it is about ALL music in general. And comedy. They threw that in there too.
Bluesfest started in 1994 as a small local 3 day Canadian Music festival in a tiny public park in the middle of Ottawa. From that point it has grown into a “12-day music showcase featuring some of the best talent available on the planet.” At least that’s what the website says, but it’s expensive to attend all twelve days of acts to validate such a statement. The festival out-grew it’s original home and it now takes place on the War Museum grounds next to the river which flows into the downtown core of Ottawa.
Irregardless of what I can dub it, Billboard Magazine has taken the time to scope it out and has added Ottawa Bluesfest to their official top-ten music festivals in the world list.
It might sound like a lot of Blues, but don’t let the name deceive you… this year acts ranged from Hey Rostta, to John (Cougar) Melloncamp to electro act Pretty Lights.
If you don’t recognize it for the headlining acts, you may know it from the unfortunate stage incident last year wherein the Mainstage toppled quite tragically in the last hours, of the last day of acts. In the end they admitted the accident was due to [extremely] high winds. Cheap Trick who was performing at the time of the collapse were seemingly a bit scarred for life, as they backed out of later performances on an outdoor stage in BC.
This year I would have to say that Lauryn Hill and the brass band Beirut tied in the spot of my favourite act(s). Lauryn’s performance was slightly spastic but she came off as fabulous. Initially I was marginally irritated that her DJ played for 40 minutes while she bided her time behind stage. But when I realized that more Lauryn time meant that Snoop Dawg’s act (Which was the headliner for that particular night) would have to be clipped a bit short, I decided to enjoy the 25 minute encore that included rapping from her oldest son. I mean, Snoop’s the Dawg and all, but honestly after 3 or 4 songs, you get the general idea.
Beirut performed on 07.14.12 before Pretty Lights and Skrillex, an odd combination for an evening but it worked like sweet met spicy. The brass combination of trumpet, tuba and trombone mixes like magic with the ukulele, accordion and piano. It’s the kind of music that makes you feel like there’s a warm breeze flowing, even if you are listening to it in the dead of winter. It’s Mariachi music meets the modern romantic. Beirut is currently touring the world showcasing their album The Rip Tide. Check it out.
Blue Rodeo was also back again this year. You can usually count on a set from them. Their sound pleases a great majority of the average “Ottawatian,” and I would say I fall among that group. Other bands may come and go, but I will always love Blue Rodeo.
So in conclusion, there’s a lot for everyone. I mean.. in what festival can you see a country/rock act one night and an electro DJ the next. I haven’t even touched on the comedy shows that sideline the event (which are phenomenal but slightly underrated), or the line up of local food, or the fabulous volunteers that scour the grounds collecting the compostable cups throughout the picturesque venue. The biggest problem with the entire event is picking and choosing which acts you want to see.
I’ll leave you with this: