Sunday night in Ottawa at the Jazzfest might initially impress a feeling of a "school night" but anyone that had to get up early in the morning, planned to leave after Steve Martin, Edie Brickell and the Steep Canyon Rangers, yet ended up checking out the Laurier Party Tent were not able to leave.Steve Martin returned to the Ottawa Jazzfest with his impressive Steep Canyon Rangers bluegrass band and included his current collaborater Edie Brickell. You might remember her from Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians from the 80's with What I Am. Their current album, "Love Has Come for you" is a very mellow set of tracks that wouldn't seem to fit a headlining slot at the Jazzfest, yet the way they mixed those songs in with bounce inducing bluegrass and Steve Martin's dry comedy was well met.
Steve Martin: "This here is an iPad. It's used to display lyrics to musicians. Everyone is using them. It makes it easy for me to update the set list every 4 years. Our Next song is called..... Candy Crush!" [paraphrased from memory]
Bits like that are not only goddamn funny but they helped bridge the many changes in setups from 6 piece bluegrass to solo Steve on banjo on a stool, to introducing Edie for some songs and finally bringing out every musician from their buses to do one of those pumping awesome shit kickin' train groove bluegrass jams at the end of the show which ended around 10:10.
Yeah, the time doesn't matter, but it was noted for the hell of it.
And also because at this point they did get people into maybe...(are you sitting down?) ... DANCING! There was an unexpectedly large crowd heading straight for the Laurier late night tent to catch Snarky Puppy to DANCE the fu@k out. And dance...we did.
However, to get there through the industrial assembly line of people, at the party tent gate, the staff were priority accepting tickets for this show...not just the passes. This is new. Having a festival pass normally gets holders in the tent, when they show up. However, there was an attempt to prioritize entry by tickets.
That process seemed to fail yet it was quickly resolved. The staff adapted an let the people in. And guess what? It worked out!
The suprise feeling also comes from the fact that so many people were talking about them, but had no evidence of why they new they were going to be good other than from watching goddamn fantastic youtube videos that don't suck and kick serious ass. The power of social networking is amazing, yet it's a welcome addition to credentials that the experience of having to see a band live isn't needed for evidence of talent in 2014. It really saves time and physical energy.
So this band from Brooklyn, NY, had every funky instrument covered. They've won a Grammy, which might not mean much to people, however it's great to hear an act with this organic ability to play live music and entice a crowd to party, win a respected award. A full horn section, two sets of keys, bass, percussion, guitar, and then to top it off for the last 15 minutes of funk or so, the horn section from the Tedeschi Trucks Band who will be performing the following night were introduced as an addition to blow everyone's arses apart.
This was the kind of funk that Prince might show up at or even direct. They had the crowd in the Laurier Tent tearing up whatever shoes they were wearing. It was a great example of why one should at least pop their heads across the street from the main stage and see what's going on in the Laurier Tent.
Considering how smoothly the Ottawa Jazzfest staff were operating tonight, it's safe to be aware that everyone is welcome to have a great time. They were all courteous which exchanged well with everyone they interacted with. Having the late night events surely invites unorganized challenges, but when you have perfectly tuned musical programming along with a figurative ton of music fans in a tent, in downtown Ottawa, gracious staff and performers creates an epic crowd of connected experience.