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Orville Peck. Credit: Carlos Santolalla.

CityFolk Preview: Day 1

By Stephane Dubord on September 12, 2019

With its mid-September date, Ottawa’s CityFolk festival is not only the last of the major music festivals in the city, but it unofficially marks the end of summer—one last bastion of hope for those willing to brave a slight chill in the air for a few more nights of fantastic live music.

As we did with Bluesfest this summer, Apt613 will have you covered with daily preview articles, including highlights and interviews with artists about to hit the stage. Beyond the main stage, make sure you check out our feature on the dozens of acts being featured as part of CityFolk’s Marvest series.


Thursday, September 12

Day 1 kicks things off with a nice mixture of traditional folk and indie rock, with all six artists bringing a different flavor to the stage, yet not entirely out of sync either.

Ravenlaw Stage

The Once (7pm)

Newfoundland’s folk trio spent last spring touring the world (with stops in England, Australia) before finally making their debut in Ottawa. Their impeccable harmonies should be on full display on the more intimate stage.

Larkin Poe (8:30pm)

A southern roots duo from Atlanta-by-way-of-Nashville, their music matches their geographic journey with a mix of country folk, a healthy dose of bluesy soul, and a pinch of twang. The sisters will be making their triumphant return to Ottawa after gracing the Bluesfest stage last year.

Dwayne Gretzky (10pm)

With their eclectic playlist woven together into a collection of covers that shouldn’t work (I mean really, ABBA and Queens of the Stone Age?) but somehow does quite well, Dwayne Gretzky are essentially a musical quilt. Their performances have garnered a devoted following, as fans just never know what song they’ll jump to next—but whatever it is, it’s likely to be quite familiar, yet quite different.

City Stage

Orville Peck (6pm)

The mysterious masked musician makes his second Ottawa appearance (so to speak) this Thursday night, bringing his particular style to the festival stage. Beyond the unique character, the music itself is quite unique in that Peck blends traditional country crooning with atmospheric elements and a certain shoegaze introspection. Ever wonder what Joy Division’s Ian Curtis had sounded like if he’d grown up on the prairies? I assume not, but the result is mesmerizing nonetheless.

Lucinda Williams (7:30pm)

While most of the artists on the bill Thursday are relatively new, with just a few albums to their name, Lucinda Williams has been writing and recording hits for decades, which have garnered her three Grammys. In addition to over a dozen albums, her list of collaborations is seemingly endless, peppered with legends (Steve Earle, Bruce Cockburn, Willie Nelson, Elvis Costello).

The Strumbellas (9:15pm)

Formed in 2008, The Strumbellas were working their way through the standard Canadian indie band path, playing around their home base in Toronto, then Ottawa, slowly building a fanbase with each show. Then, that slow climb got hijacked by a massive worldwide hit when they released “Spirits” off their third album, Hope.

We caught up with Dave Ritter, Strumbellas keyboardist, and former Carleton University student, to chat about their wild ride over the last few years, and how they’ve managed to stay true to their sound, despite the pressures of living up to the newfound pressures—check back soon for that interview!


CityFolk takes place at Lansdowne Park, from Thursday September 12 to Sunday September 15, 2019. Visit cityfolkfestival.com for the complete lineup, schedule and all information.