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Bluesfest: The dazzling chamber sound of Musk Ox

By Alejandro Bustos on July 13, 2015

When Musk Ox released their latest album Woodfall last year, it quickly became the most popular Ottawa record on Bandcamp, as well as being the #3 Bandcamp album in Canada.

Listening to the beautiful compositions of this chamber-folk trio, which combine classical guitar (Nathanaël Larochette), cello (Raphael Weinroth-Browne) and violin (Evan Runge), it’s easy to see why they have earned so much critical acclaim, which includes appearing on several “Best of 2014” lists of many music critics.

With gorgeous melodies and ethereal soundscapes, Woodfall is arguably one of the best albums from the National Capital Region in the past year.  The band now brings their wonderful sound to Bluesfest when they play the Barney Danson Theatre on Saturday, July 18 at 5 pm.

“Bluesfest is the biggest bill you can land in Ottawa so it’s nice to be able to participate in something of this scale,” says Musk Ox founder and guitarist Nathanaël Larochette.

Starting out as a solo project by Larochette in 2005, the band grew into a trio in 2008.  While the lineup has changed over the years, the constant presence of Larochette has allowed the ensemble to evolve into a solid act.

Now with three EPs, two full-length albums and two compilation under its belt, Musk Ox is able to offer up a gorgeous repertoire that audiences can immerse themselves in.

“Our audience can expect an hour of dynamic, introspective and emotional instrumental chamber folk music,” says Larochette, when asked about the band’s upcoming Bluesfest concert. “A Musk Ox show is designed to offer the audience space to experience the compositions, as well as time to reflect on their own internal state without any words or lyrics to focus their attention upon.”

The presence of this talented trio is evidence of the strong musicians in the National Capital Region.  When asked to reflect on the local music scene, Larochette had many positive things to say about his fellow artists.

“Although Ottawa is quite a small city in comparison to our larger neighbours, I believe it definitely has a thriving music scene and a wealth of talented artists representing a variety of genres,” says  Larochette.  “I think the size of the city is positive since the artistic activity isn’t too spread out. Also, it’s easy to meet artists in the community since it is small in comparison.”

The talented guitarist then added, however, that Canada’s capital city could use a few more places for live music.

“Ottawa definitely needs more venues, large and small, all ages and licensed,” he tells Apartment613.  “When I moved here I saw so many incredible shows at Barrymore’s and I would love to see it hosting shows again.  The loss of Capital City Music Hall left a huge gap in the city’s music scene for bands who can draw 1,000-2,000 people but can’t fill an arena.  Variety and accessibility of spaces is one of the most important facets of an artistic community.”

Lucky for local music lovers, they can now see Musk Ox this coming weekend in what is arguably the best local venue/festival to play live all year.

 Musk Ox play Bluesfest on Saturday, July 18 at 5 pm at the Barney Danson Theatre. For ticket information you can go to the online Bluesfest ticket site.