There was one question to answer on the final night of the Ottawa Bluesfest. "What stage?". While the programming this year covered a wide net of demo, there were clearly certain stages that stood out over the 12 days at Lebreton Flats. They weren't the main stages. If one spent time at the Black Sheep Stage, the River Stage and yes, even the ELECTRO stage, there was some serious musician shit happening.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Fishbone, Charles Bradley, Plants and Animals, The Trews, Current Swell, The Hold Steady, Sheepdogs, and this doesn't include any of the main stage(s) performances like Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Norah Jones, Snoop Dogg, Sam Roberts, or EVERYTHING ELSE. It was a busy festival. There was an obvious drive to present Grammy and Juno award winners on the 2 main stages but the real experience was off along the outskirts, along the Ottawa River and there were some award winners there too.
The final night was laid out with just the right ingredients of anyone to decide how they wanted to finish off the festival. Metric on the Main stage for some indie life, Monkey Junk on the Black Sheep stage for some real kick-ass blues and soul, Wolfgang Gartner for people that like watching people play them songs on a Macbook Pro, and The Trews for those that felt like rocking their way out of Bluesfest.
The entire festival span was likely the hottest consecutive days in Canadian celcius recorded which can not only make you wonder how everyone can dance and be so engaged in the bands, but also how the artists can be on the stage putting out that much energy.
Dave Lang of the Current Swell on the Black Sheep Stage mentioned how they don't have weather like this in their hometown of Vancouver where it's much cooler right now. Perhaps if the Current Swell were to play in Ottawa on a February, he might have to say something similar. Thanks for reminding us how great the weather is in Vancouver ;)
They had a great crowd out, some sitting and bouncing their legs while others were dancing like it was the last night of bluesfest, which it was. A band that can rock out with mostly acoustic guitars, including a lap guitar, and get a crowd so happy to be dancing in the heat should be invited back to town.
Earlier, Wintersleep had played on the River Stage. They were booked for the Ottawa Folk Festival, however a change of plans included them on the last night of the festival. They pulled out an impressive sized crowd for the 7:30 PM showing. This Canadian band from Nova Scotia has had some international success considering they've been on the Late Show with David Letterman, and their timeslot was well selected as the band knew what they were doing, offering a big part of the start of an energetic evening.
It's always great to see a band play live. That's where true talent lies. That's who they are. The Trews presented themselves onstage to a very engaged crowd on a great final night of Bluefest. Their bassist couldn't make it yet they found a nearby musician, Shane Murphy, that came out, learned their songs in the band trailer and helped them pull off this gig. He could be seen reading the Sean Dalton's beats, and John-Angus early on, but after only 4 songs, he had their backs.
This band proved to rock so hard only 2 weeks ago with a great rock jump off of the drum riser that Jeff Heisholt's keyboard rig fell over. When guitarist/singer John-Angus was ready to jump again at Bluefest, there had to be a few people waiting for something to fall. His brother, Colin directed rock all evening over the crowd. Within 3 beats, he had the crowd clapping along at his own command. It takes solid balls to pull that off. According to an unnamed source, John Cougar Mellencamp failed at a "Jack and Diane" crowd sing-along merely two nights earlier.
DJ's, take notes, these are Rock and Roll moves.