The third and final day of Westfest brought more non-stop sunshine and another onslaught of musical talent. Things got underway both Saturday and Sunday mornings in the Napkyn Family Fun Area, with spoken word, song, dance, and more, hosted by Jacqui Du Toit. She believes that giving kids a platform to express themselves fearlessly through art builds confidence, and stimulates their creative juices.
Performances began in the early afternoon with Indigenous duo, Niishzhoowe (“two voices”), followed by 8-year old diva, Illiyah Rose, and neighbourhood alt-rockers, Bad Parent.
One half of The Ottawa Duelling Pianos, Tyler Kealey, won the crowd over immediately as he took to the keys with a set of originals and a couple covers. His bright Beatlesque-style vocals complimented his melodic compositions, which ranged from pop contemporary to jazzier pieces.
Dream pop band Lake Urmia brought their unique brand of hypnotic techno meets early NYC underground punk… certainly a band that CBGB’s would have had on their roster. King Kimbit, along with 3-piece band Black Wax, delivered a mix of R&B, hip hop, reggae, and spoken word… and a voice that packed a soulful punch throughout.
The next half hour was a delightful escape from reality into some larger-than-life drag queen performances put on by Bella Straight, with special guests, Kiki Coe, and Aimee Yonce Shennel. Energetic and classic song choices were brought to life onstage with fantastic choreography, stunning costumes, and spot-on lip synching.
Westfest headliner Cody Coyote (ft. DJ Boa) brought the house down as he rapped out poetry about his life, his Ojibwe ancestry, his survival through personal strife, and his search for the truth. His words were as compelling as he was to watch, and he frequently led the crowd into passionate call-and-answer chants. Special guests included NWT rap artist Crook The Kid, and traditional drummer and hoop dancer, Theland Kicknosway. Others from Cody’s family and extended family of beautifully adorned powwow dancers frequently graced the stage, which added even greater dimension and power to the music.
By the end of the set, all performers came down from the stage to immerse themselves in the crowd, who were also embroiled in the magic of the dance. It was a celebration dance — one that brought people of all ages, cultures, and sexual orientations together through the common denominator of music — and exactly what Elaina Martin had in mind when she created Westfest 15 years ago.
That’s a wrap on Westfest 2018. See you next year!