Friday, July 10, 2009

From blues to blast

The weather for Day 2 of Bluesfest 2009 was certainly an improvement on opening day - in fact I doubt you could ask for nicer weather: Sunny, not too humid, a lovely breeze. Ideal circumstances to watch music outdoors.

I heard the Brothers Chaffey before I saw them, as I bicycled along the Ottawa River. Bluesfest now has a bike depot conveniently located near the river behind the Fast Food Joint Stage so it was just a few minutes between leaving it there and plopping myself down near the front row. Curtis, Matthew and Co. played a great sounding set. They usually do, but I suspect they might have had a boost from Ken Friesen, the producer of their last album Bloodlines, manning the soundboard. Lots of great tunes from both their albums, plus a cover of The Kinks' I'm Not Like Everybody Else.

Brothers Chaffey, Subway Stage, Bluesfest, July 9, 2009

I had hoped to catch a bit of Kyrie Kristmanson,but unfortunately she finished stuff off before I could tear myself away from The Brothers Chaffey, so I settled back at the Fast Food Joint Stage to wait for Holy Fuck to get things started. They sounded pretty good, but weren't knocking me out like they have at previous shows, so I headed off about a 20 minutes into their set to seek out a good spot for Metric's performance.

Holy Fuck, Subway Stage, Bluesfest, July 9, 2009

There was a huge crowd awaiting Metric's arrival - no surprise there - but they were pretty well-behaved compared to the last time I saw Metric at Bluesfest where I spent their entire set being squished against the barricade. I've liked Metric ever since I saw them open for Broken Social Scene (a band that didn't persuade me I liked them at that Capital Music Hall show), but I'm not a fanatic about them, so once again I split for the Fast Food Joint Stage and an act I really did want to see.

Metric, Rogers Stage, Bluesfest, July 9, 2009

That would be Iron & Wine. Yesterday I was admiring Darcy Yates' facial foliage during Flash Lightnin's set and ideally musing he was a contender for best beard of Bluesfest ... alas, he must hand the title to Samuel Beam, at least for now. If Sam had been around during the 1950s he could have been a beard model for all those biblical epics like Ben-Hur. Beam played a lovely set; his voice and guitar-playing were both top-shelf and both his songwriting and between-tunes banter are enlightened by his considerable intelligence, humour and powers of observation. His comparison to the sound-bleed from Metric's ongoing performance to having an SUV with music pumping out of it pulling up beside you at a light and interrupting a conversation with a dinner date was most amusing.

Iron & Wine, Subway Stage, Bluesfest, July 9, 2009

After that captivating set, I tootled over to the Black Sheep Stage. As before, I stopped at the Hard Rock stage to snap a couple of photos of the act playing there, in this case The Road Hammers. On the way back, they were playing a cover of ZZ Top's Legs, and doing a decent job of it.

Road Hammers, Hard Rock Stage, Bluesfest, July 9, 2009

Oumou Sangare is known as the Songbird of Wassoulou, a region of Mali with its own particular style (or perhaps that should be styles) of music. The eponymous form for which Sangare is known features a lot of the instruments familiar to anyone who caught Toumani Diabate's set last year. It was an entertaining set, highlighted by a pair of very energetic dancers and of course Sangare's soaring vocals. She's also got Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun on board in addition to a bunch of African pros.

Oumou Sangare, Black Sheep Stage, Bluesfest, July 9, 2009

I made my way back to the bike depot as her band was kicking off the encore; not only did I beat the rush, but I made it home in time enough to walk over to the Atomic Rooster and catch both bands slated to perform there that night. In fact, Fear of Lipstick was just finishing off their sound check as I walked in.

The Moncton, New Brunswick combo has been touring with The Creeps for the last few days. The two bands share an affection for hard and fast Ramones-style punk rock.

Fear of Lipstick, The Atomic Rooster, July 9, 2009

The Creeps ripped through a typically great set, with some additional strangulation-by-audience thrown in.

The Creeps, The Atomic Rooster, July 9, 2009

And now it's really time to go to bed!

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