The weather was perfect, sure a little bit of rain was in the forecast but after Jazzfest a little bit of rain wasn’t going to dampen our spirits, and the lineup for Day 3 of RBC Bluesfest was red hot with 50 Cent set to cap off the night.
For the last several years weekends at RBC Bluesfest have been my achilles heel, I always plan on going down early to catch some of the local acts and hear some of the up and coming talent that Ottawa has to offer but something always comes up that keeps me away. This year was no different. I had intended on making it down in time to catch Riishi Von Rex but got delayed and finally arrived about mid-way through Lynne Hanson & The Good Intentions.
Lynne Hanson gripped me as I walked through the gates. There was something about her sound that just drew listeners in. It’s no surprise that Lynne has seen success beyond Canadian borders, we actually spoke a few months ago while she was on tour in Europe. I only caught part of Lynne’s set but it was enough to make we want to see her again, and so should you.
After a quick break to grab my traditional slice of Gabriel Pizza’s Bluesfest Pizza (if you’ve never tried it it’s a must and proceeds go to Blues in The Schools) and a nice cold Coors Banquet I made my way to the Claridge Homes Stage for my favourite Canadian all-female duo, Tegan and Sara. I honestly can’t remember when I first heard these two but I know that when I did I became an instant fan. There’s just something about these two that’s infectious and you can’t help but get drawn to them when listening to their music.
One thing is for certain, they take the award for most creative set so far this summer; the set was made up of a giant inflatable T And S which, I think, perfectly represented the bubbly, colourful personalities of Tegan and Sara. These two veteran Canadian performers kept the crowd hopping and singing through their entire set.
I didn’t see as much of Tegan and Sara as I would’ve liked but something tells me they’ll be back again very soon so I look forward to catching a full show in the near future. They’re hitting the road this fall for a North American tour to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of, their fifth studio album, The Con. No Ottawa dates announced yet but as soon as we hear anything we’ll let you know.
I had to leave Tegan and Sara to make my way down to the Blacksheep Stage for 2015 She’s the One winner Grace Lachance. I’m always on the hunt for the next big thing and events like RBC Bluesfest are the perfect place to find them. Due to obligations on the Saturday of the event I was unable to cover the 2015 or the 2016 She’s the One competition like I did in 2014 with Emma Peckford.
I’ve been following Grace’s career from the sidelines since her win two years ago and this young Ottawa native has some serious potential when I listen to her recorded material. For me the ultimate test for any artist is how they handle themselves on the stage, I’ve seen many artists that sound great on their recordings but just come across as awkward on stage. Grace, thankfully, was right at home on stage. Over the course of her set she performed a number of her own and a few covers each of which she mixed with audience interaction, inviting the audience to sing along (which many did). She told the stories behind the songs, and about her journey from a young Stittsville High School student to playing the Blacksheep Stage at RBC Bluesfest. I’m telling you right now to remember the name Grace Lachance, give her another year or two and I predict you’ll see her performing on the Claridge Homes Stage. She’s definitely on our watch list, we can’t wait to see how her career develops.
Following Grace I had to do a quick change from media to volunteer. Since I started covering RBC Bluesfest 5 years ago the cleanliness has always struck me. I’ve attended festivals and events all over the world and none are ever as clean as RBC Bluesfest. I learned that they have a team of volunteers that travel the grounds picking up garbage and recyclables and putting it in it’s place. A few years ago I decided what better way to honour what they do than join them, it’s the most rewarding job you can have. To start the final cleanup after the headliner has finished is intimidating but seeing a clean field within an hour of the house lights coming on is incredibly gratifying. It still amazes me how much respect this team gets from festival patrons, so many thank you for what you do and then are amazed that all of the cans get cashed in and the money donated to charity. So this is really a double reward and really reflects what the RBC Bluesfest slogan says “We Do Good Things”. It’s far from an easy job and unfortunately each year it’s getting tougher and tougher on my body to endure the physical nature of the job but as long as my body will let me I’ll gladly spend time in the trenches with the Bluesfest Green Team.
As I made my way back into the venue I had to stop by Bluesville to see our good friend Gord Bamford make his Bluesfest debut. Gord is a class act and a gentleman and deserves every bit of success he has had and seeing the Bluesville tent filled to capacity for my friend was incredibly gratifying. It was as true a country show as you could ask for, songs about farming and pickup trucks and, well of course, drinking. Gord put on a fun show which had the audience of young and old singing along and having a good time.
Mid-way through Gord’s set I made my way up to the main bowl where 50 Cent had a party goin’ on. He was droppin’ beats and the crowd was jammin’ right along with him. Even I, surprisingly enough, found myself getting into the spirit of the show, I actually found that I recognized more of his songs than I thought I would. It was a massive crowd, not the biggest I’ve ever seen at RBC Bluesfest but it was a crowd that lingered for almost an hour after the show was over just chillin’ finishing their drinks and taking in the vibe that 50 Cent left behind.
It was a good night.
Day 4 kicks off in mere hours, we’re starting our day with an interview with High Valley at 1pm. Our picks for today include High Valley (Claridge Homes Stage 8pm), Bella Cat, Vanessa Collier, JohnnySwim, Slam Alan, Pat Travers and, of course, Pink! For full lineup and set times visit www.ottawabluesfest.ca