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Ottawa's Bank Street Bonbons kick things off on the Claridge stage on opening night at Bluesfest. Photo by Terry Steeves.

Bluesfest Concert Review: Bank Street Bonbons deliver chaotic coolness 

By Terry Steeves on July 6, 2018

Ottawa’s 8-piece jazz ensemble The Bank Street Bonbons brought their incredible big band sound to open Bluesfest on Claridge Stage. Situated where the River Stage once was, the covered structure provided welcome shade and seating amidst the tropical heat. Two trombones, two saxes, and two trumpets ensued in a whirling dervish of brass power that alternated between improvisation, layered instrumentals, solos all around, and collective builds. All the while, the constant unwavering rhythmic backbone was laid down by the sousaphone and by the drummer, Mike Essoudry, who spoke with Apt613 about their unique sound:

“It’s coming from Funk and Afro beat, with a little bit of New Orleans thrown in. At times it harnesses an older jazz style like Dixieland, which is a different aesthetic but the concept is the same. It sounds chaotic at times, but it isn’t. I don’t want people to be in too much suspense of what’s going on, so we keep some kind of constant, but let everyone in the band do their own thing and it just works.”

“It’s coming from Funk and Afro beat, with a little bit of New Orleans thrown in…” —Mike Essoudry, Bank Street Bonbons

Essoudry also moonlights as drummer with fellow Bluesfest performer Megan Jerome, who happens to be his wife, and who was busy dancing up a storm in the center of the crowd during the Bonbons show. The Bonbons have been together for just over two years, released their first album, Move (November 2017), and are presently recording their next album due in February 2019.

“The new album will be slightly different—more conceptual with a wider variety of instruments: clarinets, flutes, some keyboard, guitar, organ, and lots of percussion. We also have plans to bring in a second drummer-percussionist for our live shows.”

For jazz lovers, The Bank Street Bonbons are a musical treat to the ears, with each member contributing their own wealth of talent individually and as a unit. For more info on the band, visit their Facebook page.


RBC Bluesfest runs from July 5–15, 2018 at LeBreton Flats. Visit ottawabluesfest.com for the lineup and schedule. Keep checking back for more of Apt613’s Bluesfest coverage and follow us on Instagram for the latest photos.