Ottawa Jazzfest Opening Night

photos - Mike Bouchard

John Mayall on the surface seems like a pleasant, unassuming English chap. It's easy to picture him in the countryside, tending a garden or riding an old touring bicycle around town, wellingtons on his feet with his hair flowing like the town eccentric. On stage though you'd never mistake him for anything other than a legend. Masterful guitar playing; turning songs on a dime; great song selection; flowing, soaring harmonica playing like a leaf riding a current; dueling with his (fantastically talented) bass player– it's clear to see that Time's been very kind to him. Easily the highlight of the night, for me.

Best known for his top 10 hit in the 80's, "Smokin' Gun", Robert Cray's gear was setup during the threat of a massive downpour, yet to a very natural light show across the river. LIGHTING! While he's a legend and a big name, the night was leading up to the OLG late night stage across Laurier street.

The Barr brothers also impressed the packed but relatively stationary OLG tent. It felt like a catalyst was all that was needed to get the entire place up and dancing but up until the time I left it hadn't happened. I thought they played great, very tight and soulful– I love the unique mix of instruments and Brad's singing was spot on.