Despite storms forcing Bluesfest to press pause for about an hour, organizers managed to rescue Saturday’s shows by extending performances past the 11PM curfew – in the case of Snoop Dogg, keeping it going until almost midnight. After so many bumps in the road, Sunday’s final festival day is looking promising. The organizers deserve a break and get to end on a high note.
Not having made an appearance in the city since 2008, I think we can officially say this Sunday that Backstreet’s back, alright? (sorry, had to say it). But beyond the international megastars, the festival closer also features a wide variety of artists that will keep you entertained while you wait, including quite a few from the area.
- City Stage (UPDATED TIMES): Kyle Ivan (4:30pm), Vi (6:00pm), Francesco Yates (7:30pm), Kina Nimiwag (8:00pm), Backstreet Boys (9:00pm)
- Videotron Stage: Lu Kala (4:30pm), Durham County Poets (5pm), Sugaray Rayford (6:30pm), America (8pm)
- Bluesville Stage: Blues In The Schools Presentation (3:15pm), TJ Wheeler (3:55pm), Be In The Band Presentation (4:30pm), Rock U Presentation (8:45pm), BITB Instructors’ Showcase (10pm)
- Barney Danson Theatre: Mia Kelly (5pm), Silent Winters (6:30pm), HOROJO Trio (8pm), All-Star Blues Revue with MonkeyJunk (9:30pm)
- Spin Stage: DJ Mendez (6:30pm)
Kyle Ivan is a young singer/songwriter from Ottawa who’s been plying his trade anywhere and everywhere, from busking downtown to CTV Morning, and soon will be releasing his debut EP. The constant gigging is paying off as he’s been honing his performance over the past few years, and should delight festival goers arriving early.
Vi is enigmatic. Her pop doesn’t feel like pop, but still fits well enough to land her on CTV’s The Launch. But the real mystery however is how she’s remained such a well kept secret, given she basically beat Billie Eilish to the punch. With a haunting voice over a mix of synths and drum machines, her latest single “Caught Up” deserves much more attention than what it’s gotten so far. Her upcoming full-length album should garner that attention and then some.
Mia Kelly may just be 16, but her soulful voice could pass for much more mature. With hints of Jewel and Joni Mitchell, her authentic sound can’t help but transmit her infectious positive energy. Her initial four-song EP provides a glimpse into her potential as an artist – in both English and French.
Silent Winters is the new project of local rock band Amos The Transparent’s lead singers, Olenka Bastian and Jonathan Chandler. Trading in the electric guitar for an acoustic one, the duo followed up 2017’s Fireworks & a Small Brigade with a new full length album this winter. The Duke Hotel showcases their amazing harmonies, with delicate neo-folk songs that would fit perfectly on a playlist with The Civil Wars or the Milk Carton Kids.
Closing out the wall-to-wall local talent in the Barney Danson Theatre is the HOROJO trio, which is composed of Jamie Holmes on drums, Jeff Rogers on vocals and keys, and JW Jones on guitar. The three accomplished musicians come together as a fine-tuned rock band drawing on soul and blues influences.
The All-Star Blues Revue closes out the festival tonight with MonkeyJunk in the Barney Danson Theatre. DJ Mendez will be making his first appearance at the Spin Stage to close out the Big Chill zone.
While bands like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers have made folk rock cool again, festival goers get a chance to see one of the legends of the genre as America will be performing in Ottawa for the first time in a quarter century. Casual listeners can likely name off at least two of their timeless hits, “A Horse with No Name” and “Sister Golden Hair”, or maybe “Ventura Highway”. But beyond those, they have a treasure trove of studio albums from the 1970s up to their latest in 2015. And unlike many of their contemporaries who’ve had revolving door membership in their bands, America continues to be composed of originals Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell (with the only other founding member Dan Peek having passed away in 2011).
Additional bonus: their set wraps up by 9pm so you’ll still have time to head over to the main stage before the Backstreet Boys close out Bluesfest 2019.
RBC Bluesfest is at LeBreton Flats (Canadian War Museum) from July 4–14, 2019. Visit ottawabluesfest.ca for tickets, the complete schedule and lineup.