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Tash Sultana. Photo: Marc Lepage/APT613.

What’s on at Bluesfest: Gig Picks for Thursday July 14

By Stephane Dubord on July 13, 2022

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Main Stage

Thursday marks the second Country night for Bluesfest, with yet another Luke headlining. First up is Warkworth, Ontario’s Sacha, who has quickly garnered a long list of awards for her bright future. After releasing a few singles, she broke through with last year’s “What The Truck” collaboration with The Reklaws. This year’s “We Did” builds on that success, having already crossed the million stream mark and rising.

Next on the big stage at 7:30pm is singer-songwriter Caitlyn Smith, who embodies that title quite prolifically. As a singer, she has released a string of hits, including “I Can’t” and “Cheap Date,” and as a songwriter, she’s written for dozens of stars, from country royalty like Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks to pop stars Miley Cyrus and Meghan Trainor (2015’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” her first #1 hit). That crossover country-pop permeates her own solo work.

Finally, Luke Bryan will take the stage at 9:30pm, looking to provide another stellar performance by a country star named Luke this year. Given Bryan has one of the most stellar pedigrees of any country artist in the past two decades, amassing sales of over 75 million albums and 27 #1 hits, he’ll have plenty of well-known favourites to perform.

SiriusXM Stage

Montreal’s Janette King will kick things off at 6pm, with her atmospheric R&B built on introspective lyrics and techno beats, varying from upbeat (“What We Lost”) to slow grooves (“You Don’t Love Me”) throughout her debut album.

That introspection will carry through with the next performer, Lucy Dacus, at 7:30pm. The Virginian has not only established herself as a folk powerhouse, but her collaboration with Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers in boygenius in 2018 linked the artists as the trio at the top of indie folk. Dacus has been a prolific artist throughout her short career, with three albums, two EPs, and other singles, covers and collaborations since her debut in 2016. With a new single out this year, fans eagerly await a new album in 2022.

Closing the evening on the SiriusXM Stage is Winnipeg’s Crash Test Dummies. Bursting onto the national scene in 1991 with “Superman’s Song” from their debut album, The Ghosts That Haunt Me, the band soon found success internationally with a string of hits that dominated music video channels and radio in the early ’90s. Their folk-slanted alt-rock, punctuated by vocalist Brad Roberts’ deep bass-baritone voice, stood out from the grunge rock of the time, carving a niche for the band’s success. After a few breaks to focus on solo projects, the Dummies reunited in 2017 for the 25th anniversary of their blockbuster album God Shuffled His Feet and have been performing together since.

River Stage

Tonight, the bluesy rock will be living on a stage down by the river. The show starts at 6:30pm with local rocker Braden Foulkes, who released his second album, A Little Hell, last year. Classic rock drenched in soul and blues, reminiscent of the ’60s and ’70s Can-rock, yet modern, similar to The Sheepdogs. His most recent release, “Inappropriate Misbehaviour,” takes a more garage-rock approach with touches of punk while still staying true to his roots.

Next, a double shot of ’90s Canadian rock, starting with Wide Mouth Mason at 8pm. Launching out of a cannon, the band’s eponymous debut album put them squarely on the CanCon map, with singles “My Old Self” and “Midnight Rain” gaining significant airplay from 1997 on. Their blues-infused rock continued to generate hits over the following few albums, and while releases have been increasingly sporadic since their heyday, their most recent, 2019’s “I Wanna Go With You,” dives headfirst into their blues influences.

The Tea Party takes over at 9:30pm, bringing their own brand of rock to the stage. While there are certainly some blues elements, the trio has always meshed a wide array of influences and instruments, from prog rock to middle eastern sitars. Their unconventional sound brought them much attention and numerous fans, enhanced further by their captivating live shows. They closed out the ’90s with four double-platinum albums and followed up with a platinum hits compilation. Though the 2000s were more tumultuous, with the band going through management and label issues and eventually breaking up, they kicked off the 2010s with a reunion that became permanent, having since produced an album in 2014 and a string of singles and EPs. In 2019, “Black River” topped out at #5 on the Canadian Rock charts, their first hit in 15 years, introducing them to a new generation of fans. Make sure to get to the stage early – the last time they came through town, they had to add a second show at the Algonquin Commons Theatre because the first sold out so fast and the second almost as quickly.

Barney Danson Theatre

The indoor stage takes life at 6:30pm with Ottawa’s own Gentlemen Of The Woods and their Canadiana sound–Americana with a healthy dose of Canadian charm (and not only because of the moose on their latest album cover). Good luck attempting to avoid tapping your foot or clapping along.

Then at 8pm, Matthew Chaffey will perform some of his new material as we await his debut solo album, after having performed formerly in other Ottawa bands, including The Split. If “Strange Reflections” is any indication, we can anticipate a soulful set, but with a slightly more modern twist with additional synths.

Closing out the evening will be The Redhill Valleys at 9:30pm, bringing back some of that rootsy Canadiana sound. Much like Gentlemen Of The Woods’ “Georgian Bay,” The Redhill Valleys’ “Parry Sound” brings all the traditional components of Americana in acoustic instruments and impeccable harmonies, but is rooted in Canada. The band has expanded their palette since their debut, incorporating more electric guitar and roots rock into their style.

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