Sunday was the last night of this year’s CityFolk Festival and it went out with a bang!
Afternoon performances by Ottawa-based singer-songwriter Susan O, maritimer Rose Cousins, and the soulful NEFE (as in Queen Nefertiti thank you very much) warmed the crowd up and by the time Bahamas took to the stage the great lawn was jam packed with sun and music worshipers. We made our way to the Ravenlaw stage to listen to cajun sensations Sweet Crude from Louisiana who were anything but cajun sounding. The 5 members of the band produced an indie rock sound reminiscent of Arcade Fire complete with strong harmonies and even stronger rhythms.
Margo Price was next to warm up the City stage before headliner Rodriguez, and she was so excited to be able to play before him. This rising country star brought her great Honky Tonk sound straight from Nashville to the our nation’s capital. Even those who love to hate country, were tapping their toes in the crowd. Price’s songs about heartbreak and drinking may not be what you’d expect from the young country singer, but she does it well! With a set mixed full of upbeat boot stompers and slow crooning ballads, there was something for everyone in her performance.
During every festival there is that one performer or that one band who stands out, the surprise dark horse who everyone ends up raving about. The recipients of that award for us this year is the New Orleans based band Tank and the Bangas. From the moment they stepped on stage they blew the audience away with their contagious good humor and impeccable musicianship. It’s it no surprise that they have been called “one of the most energetic shows you will see” and “larger than life”. It was particularly difficult to take your eyes off of Tarriona “Tank” Ball, the lead singer, who gyrated and twerked her way on to and across the stage before letting her gospel-worthy pipes do the rest of the work for her. We would tell you to download their tunes as fast as you can, but truth be told, the magic that the band delivers needs to be witnessed live. If they play anywhere near you go. Just go.
Fittingly, the legend that is Rodriguez was the last performer on the big stage this year. He entertained with some of his classic songs, some newer stuff he has been working on, and some impressive covers of great songs, including Elton John’s “Your Song”. The Oscar-winning documentary actor kept the audience entertained, even encouraging them to participate in a guided sing-along. Although on the quieter side of acts to perform at this year’s festival, Rodriguez put on an amazing performance and had everyone listening to his stories. Ottawa found Sugarman and it was as sweet as honey.
A festival wouldn’t be a festival without a gaggle of screaming teenage girls. Enter pop-alternative singer-songwriter Scott Helman from Toronto. The 2016 Juno award winning breakthrough artist of the year was the last act to perform on the Ravenlaw stage this year much to the delight of his loyal fan base who couldn’t get enough of him. He rose to the occasion and delivered a solid performance complete with catchy beats, heartfelt lyrics, and the obligatory rock star stage moves.
That’s a it for CityFolk for another year and pretty much wraps up the 2017 Ottawa summer festival season. We’ll be doing it all again in 2018 be sure to watch for lineups starting early in the new year, we’ll have all of the details right here as soon as they are announced!