Arboretum Festival - Day Two

Claude Munson

There is a new Canadiana sound. Bands like Patrick Watson, Joe Grass,  Jesse Mac Cormack and the Barr Brothers share a musical aesthetic that is coming to the forefront of contemporary Canadian songwriting. There is a new generation of alternative folk music that is at a ground swell, and is set to catch a fire in our music scene.  Claude Munson fits this bill. The Forest stage was the perfect venue for experiencing him, and his on again, off again fellow band mates. Late summer sun, under a tent, in the woods and loads of fresh air, complemented this early evening serenade.  Claude Munson’s travelling floating melodies, were enriched with a alto voice with a subtle trumpet quality to it.

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Arboretum Festival - Day One

Cadence Weapon

Edmonton’s Roland Pemberton III, offered up a blistering hip hop set. Never taking himself too seriously, and clearly enjoying the vibe of the forest stage, his smiles were a counter point to some of the most astute lyrics in rap today. He’s got game. Although he was personable, understated (rare in the hip hop genre), and charming, his words were full of insight and social commentary. His diction was perfect, with rapid fire vocals not getting lost in the DJ’s beats. Perhaps, hip hops urban element was a bit misplaced with the farm atmosphere, but his clear strong voice carried rhymes that were melodic and varied. He took the mick out of some of rap’s more universal cliches like call and response, and the hilarious “wave your hands in the air, so we can pretend we are at Glastonbury.” A great start to the festival, especially after the underwhelming Un Blonde set.

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Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires at Ottawa Jazzfest

Charles Bradley and the Extraordinaires at Ottawa Jazzfest

Photos: Mike Bouchard

Charles Bradley took the stage after a quick two number hype warm-up by his backing band, Extraordinaires.  His music career started when he was booking gigs as an impersonator for James Brown in a band called Black Velvet.  This led to his discovery by Daptone Records, which produced his album and launched his career.

He's performed in Ottawa previously, at Ottawa Bluesfest, and later a club show.  A performance at the Bronson Centre last year was cancelled due to illness, yet he is clearly back on his smooth feet, with all of the energy of a musical man in full health.

His powerful and soulful voice engaged most of the seated crowd to their feet after he'd swapped outfits to a sequined suit that glittered of gold.  A fast camera shutter unveiled the true colour of the outfit to be mostly green.  Sequins flickering are quite an optical illusion that a camera cannot seem to see.

Bradley is an amazingly talented man with a killer band that offered a solid hour and a half of solid soul music at another wonderful night of the Ottawa Jazz Festival.