Day 2 of Bluesfest had a few curve-balls for organizers, starting with Colter Wall cancelling his set, only to have Mother Nature impose her own cancellations with thunderstorms delaying the start of shows by about an hour.
Saturday’s forecast seems more promising, with thunderstorms predicted to end by early afternoon before the skies clear for a perfect summer night. Disclaimer: Apt613 is not a certified meteorological website, so don’t hold us to that forecast. We have just as much of a chance to get it right as they do.
If the weather can cooperate, the lineup gracing the stages promises to be a memorable one, as we shift from country Friday night to a rocking Saturday.
Videotron Stage: The Beths (5pm), KALLITECHNIS (6:30pm), Lou Doillon (8pm), Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals (9:30pm)
Bluesville Stage: Rebecca Noelle (4:30pm), The Texas Horns (6pm), Dawn Tyler Watson (7:30pm), The Turbans (9pm)
Spin Stage: Jeff Dougler & Balu (6:30pm)
As has become a tradition at this festival, the weekends are packed with local talent.
That local flavour starts off on the main stage with Renée Landry. While originally from Sault Ste Marie, Landry now makes her home in Ottawa, where she’s been making a name for herself with renditions of classics that most mere mortals can’t come close to performing. She’s built on those covers with an EP released earlier this year, and a new single “Prince” that launched this week.
After making it to the finals on TVA’s La Voix, Ottawa’s Rebecca Noelle has been touring the world with a list of music’s who’s who (The Jacksons, P!NK, B.B. King, etc.), and now will be kicking things off on the Bluesville Stage for her hometown crowd. Her incredibly powerful voice is going to test that tent’s sturdiness, all while delivering a taste of Motown to fans.
Up and coming folk trio Children of Indigo put out their first EP last summer, demonstrating a veteran polish featuring silky vocals with impeccable harmonies. Their songs fit perfectly on any playlist that features bands like The Paper Kites and Oh Honey. To mark their Bluesfest appearance in the Barney Danson Theatre, they just released a brand new video.
Indie rockers No Mistakes In Space will then take the stage, bringing their brand of modern rock which is simultaneously anthemic yet restrained, with subtle influences from the likes of Radiohead and The Cranberries, over soundscapes reminiscent of The Cure. Get a taste of their show now, so you know what to expect when they hit the House of Targ next month.
The All-Star Blues Revue again features Ottawa’s The Split, with some of the day’s artists, and the Spin Stage features Jeff Dougler & Balu for the first of two nights over the weekend.
With a steady stream of rock on the main stage, you can get your day started with New Zealand’s indie-pop The Beths opening up the Videotron stage at 5pm. Their guitar riffs bring a bit of bite to the pop hook-laden songs, which should catch the ear of any Alvvays fan. That said, you’ll definitely have a few of these songs turn into earworms afterwards—they really are that catchy—so be sure to give them a listen ahead of time so you know the words when you’re stuck humming them later on.
If you get all rocked out early on, first: you need to pace yourself, and second, you can head over to the Videotron stage at 9:30pm for Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals. With 50 years of music to draw on, including his early classics with the Rascals, such as “Groovin’”, “A Beautiful Morning” and “Good Lovin’”, you can easily coast through the rest of your evening.
In conversation with… The Glorious Sons
Kingston’s The Glorious Sons have had quite the momentous two years since their performance at Bluesfest in 2017. With a string of hit singles off their 2017 album Young Beauties and Fools, they cemented themselves as a Rock powerhouse. Their subsequent live albums reinforced that reputation and highlighted their performances both at full throttle or in a stripped down acoustic setting. With their latest single “Panic Attack” climbing the charts, the Sons have staked their claim that 2019 is going to continue their ascent. We caught up with guitarist Jay Emmons, fresh off opening for none other than the Rolling Stones, again.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
APT613: The last time you were in Ottawa was for Bluesfest in 2017. Has the two years since been like a roller coaster for you guys?
Jay Emmons: We’ve been on the road for a good portion of that time, so it hasn’t been really a roller coaster, just kind of more consistent work and touring and playing to bigger and bigger audiences.
Speaking of bigger audiences, you just opened for the Rolling Stones, which had to be a bit mind-blowing.
First time that we opened for them was in Marseilles, almost a year ago to the day, and that one was pretty overwhelming. Second time we knew what to expect, we were a little more comfortable up there, and obviously performing in front of our own home country was a little bit more in our wheelhouse.
We’d never even been to that part of the world before, and no one really know who we were down there. It was definitely a lot more overwhelming, but this time we were more comfortable and went out and did what we do.
It has to be a bit different when you’re staring out into a crowd of 70,000 people. Do you switch up your sets or your stage presence to make up for that large space?
We did arenas in Canada last fall, and that helped. We’ve done it a bunch of times. The big stage definitely takes some getting used to, but we’ve done it enough now that it’s not that crazy anymore. You just grow into it.
Right now you’re on a tour with The Struts on the west coast, then flying in to play Ottawa, then on to Quebec the following night… and then you’re flying back to rejoin the tour with the Struts. How hard is that on you?
I mean that’s the least fun part about it, all the travel. Those are the days you really dread. Flying overnight to play a gig the next day. We always find a way to pull through it—it doesn’t really affect anybody. Sometimes it’s hard on Brett’s [Emmons, lead singer] voice. That’s the main thing. That’s the one thing that relies on rest and preparation is Brett’s vocals. He has the hardest time with it. For the rest of us, it’s just the pain in the ass that we have to deal with.
In terms of international recognition, your new single “Panic Attack” basically blew up in the U.S. as soon as it was released. Did you have any idea there was that much demand for your music?
We had a pretty good feeling it was going to do well. There’s been a lot of preparation and a lot of hard work from everyone on our team to set this one up. We’ve got a lot of good people on our side that allow us to do what we do in making the music, and then our team in Canada and the U.S. execute the strategy to get it to the most people possible. We’re lucky that we have so many good people behind us.
Beyond the new single, any idea when we can expect more new music?
Yes, but I’m not sure if I’m allowed to talk about it yet. Very soon. I can say that.
We’re super excited about the new music that we’ve got coming out. It’s like a culmination of everything we’ve done up to this point. We’re super proud of the next stuff we’re going to be releasing.
The other big event on your horizon is your homecoming show in Kingston this September. How excited are you guys to be able to come back and enjoy being home?
It’s going to be a special night for sure. Sometimes those things can be a bit overwhelming. Kingston is a small town, and you end up knowing a good chunk of the people that are going, so a lot of overstimulation on those weekends. But those shows are a ton of fun. It’s great to just go home and feel that support of the city where we came out.
RBC Bluesfest is at LeBreton Flats (Canadian War Museum) from July 4–14, 2019. Visit ottawabluesfest.ca for tickets, the complete schedule and lineup. Check back for more on Bluesfest 2019, including our Day 4 preview Sunday.