Day 1 of the RBC Bluesfest 2017 edition got off to a great start yesterday with beautiful weather, smiling volunteers, pristine grounds, and of course tons of fabulous live music.

Everything seemed to run like clockwork yesterday during the opening night of this much loved Ottawa festival. There were a few new elements to take in, such as the new tented Bluesville stage and the popular new Ferris wheel, but all in all, it had the same familiar feel, including a variety of stellar musical acts from which to choose. The crowd was a mix of the young and the more mature last night, a mix of cowboy hats boots and blues aficionados. Isn’t that what Bluesfest is all about?

We skipped between stages to check out the following acts:

Tribe Royal

Local sweethearts Tribe Royal are billed as “Ottawa’s #1 rated indie band”. We have seen them perform throughout the city on numerous occasions and they emit a hippie sort of vibe combined with colorful performances that include lots of hair flips. It’s not just about the hair however. Their alt-rock, almost folk but not quite sound was very uplifting and included beautiful harmonies and vocals and their loyal fans could be spotted wearing TR T-shirts and dancing along.

Tribe Royal at RBC Bluesfest by Renée Doiron

Shawn Tavenier

Tavenier, also based in Ottawa, is a singer/songwriter who happens to also be the front man for the southern-rock band Silver Creek. There are some artists who exude happiness and make it obvious that they are just thrilled to be performing in front of a crowd. Tavenier is one such artist. His huge smile had the audience hooked from the get go and his vocals did not disappoint. The highlight of his act included his first solo single “Promise of Love”.

Shawn Tavenier at RBC Bluesfest by Renée Doiron

Bill Durst

Always an audience favorite, this interestingly-bearded singer/songwriter from Stratford Ontario was the first act that we caught on the new tented Bluesville stage. From a photography perspective we’re not completely sold on the lighting yet, but the fans seems to enjoy the bleachers at the back of the tent and the sound was spectacular. Durst brought down the house with his powerful heart-thumping guitar licks showcasing his talent.

Fred Durst at RBC Bluesfest by Renée Doiron

The Sam Roberts Band

The only thing that had people puzzled on day 1 was why Juno award winning the Sam Roberts Band played at 8PM and was not more of a headliner. SRB was obviously a crowd favorite, based on the numbers surrounding the Claridge Homes stage as well as the crowd’s reactions to their powerful tunes. Telling the crowd that he felt at home without being at home, Sam invited local boys Tribe Royal to join him on stage for the final number.

Sam Roberts at RBC Bluesfest by Renée Doiron

Pokey Lafarge

One of the reasons that we love Bluesfest is that they seem to find acts that we are not completely familiar with but end up falling in love with. Pokey Lafarge feel into that category for us last night. Lafarge is an Americana singer/songwriter originally from Illinois. He tours with a 6-piece band and focuses on American roots. We knew we were in for something a bit different by looking around at the crowd assembled for his act. The young and hip as well as lots of grey hair is usually a sure sign that something special is about to happen. Lafarge has been credited with “making riverboat chic cool again” and we whole-heartily agree with that statement.

Pokey Lafarge at RBC Bluesfest by Renée Doiron

Death from Above 

This Canadian punk-rock duo from Toronto headlined the acts on the Black Sheep stage. It’s been 10 years since they released their debut album. Grainger and Keeler parted ways for many years and have recently reconciled and released a new album full of their signature pounding thrash that made them popular. The break seems to have done them well and they had their fans jumping last night.

Death From Above 1979 at RBC Bluesfest by Renée Doiron

Stay tuned for our Bluesfest Day 2 coverage! For a full schedule for Day 2 visit