It is more than a concert, different than a reading and a shade to the left of a songwriting circle. Tonight’s Bluebird North musical showcase features four singer-songwriters, each taking on a storytelling role. As in past years, the artists play songs and then share their personal history with each piece. As host Amanda Rheaume says, “the song is the most important element in a Bluebird concert…the inspiration and the story behind it.” I connected with Rheaume to discover what other elements go into creating a noteworthy night.
As the show’s producer, Rheaume handles artist selection with an eye to thoughtful songwriters and musical diversity. Programming a varied bill means that there will never be all folk artists or all blues artists. Rather, the aim is for “the audience to be taken to a new place with every artist and song,” says Rheaume. Each of the artists selected is different, but ideally they enjoy talking about the inspirations for the songs they play. Tonight you can expect talented performances by Roxanne Potvin, James Keelaghan, John Carroll and Lyndell Montgomery
Bluebird North is a national event, but each concert has its own community feel and local flavour. A local singer-songwriter herself, Amanda deems it important to have at least one Ottawa area artist on the bill. Aside from that, however, there may also be musicians who many people have never heard of, or who it is unlikely to see in such an intimate environment. Past years have seen musicians play solo for an evening when you would typically see them perform with a group.
The choice of venue can be almost as important as the artist selection. When it comes to the location of the event, “I want to put the artists in the proper room so they can shine,” says Rheaume. The newest locale for Bluebird North is the Westboro Masonic Temple, which also houses other concerts throughout the year.
The interactive experience of Bluebird North has both artists and audience feeding off each other. Rheaume finds it amazing to share pieces of herself and, as she says, “to watch everyone as they go through their own feelings and thoughts as I share my stories and songs.” It is a group effort that relies on both the performers and the reactions of the people. The more an artist shares, the more the audience is able to open up. This, in turn, allows the singer to share even more, creating the intimate interaction sought by the evening.
Our culturally diverse city offers plenty of options for a Friday night. This, however, will be the only Bluebird concert in Ottawa this year. If that wasn’t enough, Rheaume adds, “every Bluebird show is so special because it is most likely the only time you will see these particular artists all on a stage together.” Beat that.
Who: Bluebird North Concert Series – Roxanne Potvin, James Keelaghan, John Carroll and Lyndell Montgomery.
What: Singer/songwriter in the round, where writers sing and tell
Where: Westboro Masonic Hall 430 Churchill Ave North
When: Friday March 1
How: Tickets available at Ottawa Folklore Centre $15+surcharges, $20 in advance at door