Written by: Jay McConnery
Flanked by psychedelic Pegasus, the Steve Miller Band galloped through their vast catalogue of classic rock and blues hits Thursday night at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, while spectators shuffled and vaped contentedly. Scraggly haired uncles from around the region gathered instinctively, like so many coastal salmon, tattered and patch-covered jean jackets hauled out of mothballs, and secret one-hitters tucked in neatly.
Security kept things under control, but each small rebellion was cherished. The vibe was happy and celebratory across the park. Every number Miller presented transported the audience back to damp wood paneled basements, or trips in the family station wagon or camp fire sing-alongs.
These songs are truly engrained in the fabric of 70s and 80s mainstream, and it was clearly a real treat for this impressive audience to hear Miller’s trademark rasp with a great young band. Abracadabra represented the group’s most contemporary success, released in 1982, though the group also included a few T-Bone Walker covers being a Jazz Fest and all.
After the memories finished washing over, many headed over to catch Brooklyn’s Ikebe Shakedown at the Laurier Stage which offered some punchy soul, both danceable and original. The group built and maintained a connection with the audience by relentlessly churning out irresistible grooves which flirted with Afro and Midwest Funk styles but maintained a vibe of its own. I was again reminded that the best moments of Jazz-Fest occur when you’re cashing in your sleep tickets and invest in something new.