Ottawa’s singer, songwriter, and guitarist Claude Munson gave a very stirring performance inside the Barney Danson Theatre at the Canadian War Museum during Bluesfest’s final day. For this performance, he was joined by a full band that consisted of Philippe Charbonneau (bass/bass synth), Pascal Delaquis (drums), Pierre-Luc Clément (guitar/synth), and Théan Slabbert (guitar).
Munson kicked off his first-time performance at Bluesfest with a gorgeous alternative-folk piece entitled “The Silence Came After,” which will be one of the tracks on his upcoming album of the same name. Haunting guitar chords travelled through a gentle rocking lullaby, and Munson’s clear, high-registered voice pierced the air with a sound of pure innocence. One called “Madness,” gripped me in its heartwarming lyrics, atmospheric touches of synth, a soft shuffling beat, and multiple guitarists that each contributed different flavours. Munson describes the sentiment behind the song:
The song was inspired by a place I used to go to every summer with my family, so I kind of grew up there. It was a cottage on this beach in northern New Brunswick. A couple summers ago, I brought my gear down and I wrote. The song is about the kids running, playing on the beach and laughing…just about being there. I remember writing the song and the sound of the kids running around.
More than just a great songwriter, Claude Munson’s lyrics are pure poetry with words that build rhythm and flow in his music, and themes he finds in the hidden cracks of life. One called “Cold Man,” told of the starkness of a lonely man’s life, wrapped inside a music box plucked guitar melody that wove in and out of intensities and very dreamlike sequences.
The acoustics inside the theatre brought the ambient tones of the music out in its fullest colours and those that wandered into the theatre stayed and listened with silent attentiveness. “Saluted By The Light Outside” had more of that haunting minor-chorded magic, with building textures of hollow body guitar, slide guitar, and synth embellishments that created layers of shivering moodiness. I also enjoyed the fresh Blue Rodeo vibe of “Out The Door,” one from a previous album, which had an energetic and uplifting toe-tapping rhythm.
As in all great performances, this one too, had passed by too quickly. It is always a treat to hear a Claude Munson solo performance, where he becomes the troubadour and the songs are in their bare-bones essence. But it was as much a treat to hear his music thickened up with a full band, and the added ambient flavours that washed over the material. Either way, he is definitely another local talented artist to watch out for.
RBC Bluesfest runs from July 6–16, 2017 at LeBreton Flats. Visit ottawabluesfest.com for the lineup and schedule. Keep checking back for more Apt613 Bluesfest coverage and follow us on Instagram for the latest photos.