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Mischa at Bluesfest 2022. Photo: Curtis Perry.

What’s on at Bluesfest: Gig Picks for Saturday, July 16

By Stephane Dubord on July 15, 2022

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Main Stage

Saturday night’s main stage lineup is dedicated to throwback hip hop, though the first artist is the most current. Taking the stage at 7pm is Big Zee, who will be sharing new music from his recent album, Guns & Roses, released last month. With a complete album in his repertoire, in addition to singles, EPs and collabs, this Canadian import by way of Dallas will have plenty for a solid set.

The lineup was to feature a triple-bill of ’90s and 2000s icons, but unfortunately, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony had to pull out at the last minute. Luckily, organizers already had three artists lined up for the stage, so they adjusted stage times to accommodate the change. First up at 8:05pm will be Atlanta’s TLC, one of the best-selling girl groups of all time (with 90 million records sold and counting). Their first three albums were absolute smash hits, with 1994’s CrazySexyCool alone selling over 15 million copies on the strength of singles “Creep” and “Waterfalls,” which continue to get airplay today. Fans had to wait until 1999 for the follow-up album FanMail, which continued their successful run with hits “No Scrubs” and “Unpretty.” Sadly, the trio became a duo when Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes died tragically in 2002. On hiatus for a decade, the remaining TLC members (Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas) made a comeback with the release of a new album in 2017 and have since been touring again, given the never-ending demand for their monster hits.

Next is New York’s Ja Rule at 9:30pm. The rapper had a prolific run in the early 2000s, starting with his debut album Venni Vetti Vecci in 1999, with subsequent albums annually through 2004. Not only did these produce a string of hits, but his collaborations with Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige and Ashanti, among many others, added to his impressive catalogue. After dominating the charts, the rapper dabbled in several different endeavours, including acting and writing a memoir, before returning to music with an album in 2012 and a new album expected soon.

SiriusXM Stage

The tent features a mix of covers and originals from a few different genres Saturday. First at 6pm is Ottawa’s own Sly High, an 11-piece tribute band for legends Sly and the Family Stone. With a full horn section and funky rhythm section, they put it all on display at their Bluesfest performance in 2019, earning themselves a return appearance.

Next at 7:30pm is Crystal Shawanda, the Wiikwemkoong country singer who burst onto the scene with her debut single “You Can Let Go” in 2008, which quickly became the fastest-rising debut Canadian country single. But by 2014, Shawanda shifted gears with The Whole World’s Got The Blues and has followed that up with three more blues albums, including 2020’s Church House Blues.

She’ll segue quite nicely at 9pm to the Cooper Brothers Southern Rock All-Star Revue, which promises to be a party atmosphere. As their name implies, they will feature a set of classic bluesy southern rock from The Allmans, Skynyrd, and more, with appearances from special guests throughout the set. Part jam session, part tribute concert, and all fun.

River Stage

The lineup kicks off at 6:30pm with Ottawa’s Lia Kloud, whose dark, introspective beats and lyrics are only starting to scratch the surface of this up-and-coming artist. Her two singles released this year have already gained attention and increasing anticipation for a full album.

Next at 8pm is Cobourg’s cleopatrick. A weird thing happened as the duo slowly built a collection of songs since their first EP in 2016. Their 2017 single “hometown,” which had had decent success in Canada at the time, suddenly took off in the U.S. this past year, as they finally released their debut album Bummer. As a duo, they have a streamlined garage rock sound that they have stayed true to on their records, as close as they can come to translating their high-energy stage shows onto records.

Closing out the show will be grandson, the Toronto product who blends alternative rock with influences of rap, hip hop and EDM into a fresh new sound that immediately caught on with his first EP release, A Modern Tragedy Vol. 1 from 2017, thanks to lead single “Blood // Water.” Despite the pandemic, he has spent the past few years continually churning out new music, plus quite a few collaborations, including the early-pandemic hit “Zen” with X Ambassadors and K. Flay. We caught up with grandson recently, so keep an eye on our site Saturday for our chat touching on collaborations, post-pandemic festival shows, and life.

Barney Danson Theatre

The indoor sets tonight start at 6:30pm with Ottawa’s own Slack Bridges, who will bring their soul and R&B mix to the theatre. After releasing 2020’s Lindenlea to Ledbury, the group released an instrumental version of the album this year, highlighting their incredible musicianship.

Next at 8pm is TJ Wheeler. A dedicated devotee of the blues, jazz and related sub-genres, Wheeler has spent countless hours performing for students to introduce the traditional genres to new generations. A master at his craft, his set is bound to include many classics.

Finally, Crystal Shawanda will play a second set in the theatre at 9:30pm.

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