Another fantastic Bluesfest day in the books, with The Trews’ extended encore in the Bluesville tent and Kygo’s pyrotechnics and light show duelling it out for the day’s highlight.
Wednesday is once again a low-key day, but this time for unforeseen reasons. While the Barney Danson Theatre was never scheduled to be used today, a pair of cancellations have also left organizers a bit shorthanded, with only eight acts remaining on the bill. The first half of this double whammy was announced last week, when Jessie Reyez was forced to cancel due to a leg injury suffered at the FireFly Festival in Delaware. Then yesterday, another bombshell: Elle King had to cancel because of a family medical emergency. When it rains, it pours—or in this case, even if it doesn’t pour, you’ll still have cancelled shows. But while the quantity of music may not be as high today, the quality remains worth checking out.
City Stage: Ellie Gadzos (6pm), Crook The Kid (6:45pm), Yonatan Gat & The Eastern Medicine Singers (8pm), Logic (9:30pm)
Videotron Stage: Garçons (6:30pm), Ziggy Alberts (8pm), The Sheepdogs (9:30pm)
Bluesville Stage: The Devil Makes Three (7:30pm)
Spin Stage: DJ Prosper (6:30pm)
Manotick teen Ellie Gadzos will be kicking things off on the main stage with a short set – the first of two appearances at the festival this year (she’ll be back Saturday). At 14, she’s already managed a first runner-up finish in the 2017 Ottawa Idol and followed that up by winning the She’s The One competition at Bluesfest last year. If you have any doubts about the talent she brings to the stage, her version of Billie Eilish’s “My Boy” should snuff them out.
Genre-bending duo Garçons throw a variety of R&B, EDM and other influences into a blender and pour out a cool, frothy smoothie of chill tracks with understated beats and vocals that are more engrossing than ambient, but less frenetic than acid jazz. Given that their goal is to defy making “genre-specific” music, if that description didn’t narrow it down much, give their latest video a view and see if you can categorize them any better.
While there is no All-Star Blues Revue again today, the Spin Stage keeps going with DJ Prosper bringing his unstoppable energy to the Big Chill zone.
Ziggy Alberts is an Australian free-surfer and environmental enthusiast whose music is exactly what you’d expect from that mental image. A rootsy singer-songwriter, his songs are stripped down, giving the lyrics space to breathe. Think Philip Philips but without the added production layers obscuring the authenticity of the songs. If the weather holds, lying in the grass cloud-watching while listening to Ziggy sounds like a great way to spend a mellow evening.
With Elle King’s cancellation, Saskatoon’s The Sheepdogs have been moved to the larger Videotron Stage, which should be a better fit with the expansive direction of their latest album. After several breakthrough albums in the early 2010s, the band was in danger of being typecast as retro rockers. 2015’s Future Nostalgia hinted at a wider array of influences, but 2018’s Changing Colours made it clear that the Sheepdogs’ sound had evolved. They still rely on big guitars and impeccable three-part harmonies, but now they’re sprinkled across a wider range, from the Allman Brothers-infused “Nobody” and “Run Baby Run” to a country ballad like “Let It Roll” or the Santana-esque “The Big Nowhere.” It’s not drastic, but it’s enough to add some variety to a set that might have become stagnant. Look forward to the guys showing off some of the other genres that have influenced their growth as musicians, while adding a few more hits like “I’ve Got A Hole Where My Heart Should Be” to their catalogue.
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 an interview with The Trews conducted on site before their show, as well as our Day 7 preview Wednesday.