Monday, July 12, 2010

Rush job

When I heard Rush were coming to town, I figured I had to see them at least once. I've enjoyed their music, though I was never big enough a fan to do more than buy Moving Pictures. There wasn't a whole lot of other stuff I was a huge aficionado of on offer, though several bands were tempting. I actually arrived at LeBreton Flats at 5:45, just in time for the first band of the day to be late.

Montreal's Timber Timbre finally got on stage about 25 minutes after scheduled, but made up for it with an entrancing set. Mainman Taylor Kirk was joined by Forest City Lovers' Mika Posen, lap steel player Simon Trottier and J'envoie's Olivier Fairfield. Kirk has an excellent resonant voice, and his songs have some of Will Oldham's solemnity. He's also a bit camera shy, I hear. Personally, I think he just heard about the festival's bug situation ...

Timber Timbre at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
Timber Timbre at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 11, 2010

With nothing better to do, I went over to the Real Estate Developer's Stage to listen to Strippers Union, the creative project of Tragically Hip Guitarist Rob Baker and The Odds' Craig Northey. I thought their laconic guitar rock sounded pretty good. I was surprised there wasn't a bigger turnout, what with the Hip's Paul Langlois also on hand.

Strippers Union at Ottawa Bluesfest
Strippers Union at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 11, 2010

It wasn't quite Rush hour yet, so I popped over to the Eatery Stage to score some munchies and listen to John Hiatt. Hiatt sounded good, as did his combo, which is in fact called The Combo ... I can't really vouch for the pulled pork sandwich I got at the BBQ joint. Next time I'll stop messing around and go straight to the organics stand.

John Hiatt at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
John Hiatt at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 11, 2010

I bumped into a few former and current coworkers who suggested I go off and see Charlie Winston.  He's sort of a jump blues-scat-beatboxing sort of chap with an acknowledged admiration for Tom Waits. He's quite an energetic performer, not to mention a stylish dresser. I might have stuck around for more, but the hour of Rush was upon me.

"Charlie Winston at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
Charlie Winston at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 11, 2010

The crowd for Rush was massive, and unfortunately the bit of it I was in was adjacent to a pair of complete idiots who felt they had to be waving and shouting nonstop to be entertained. Fortunately they went off to annoy another section of the crowd after the first few songs. Rush played for about an hour then said they were off to take a quick break on account of being old and tired. As you can see from the photo, I wasn't nearly close enough for a good shot.

Rush at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
Rush at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 11, 2010

I went over to see a bit of Levon Helm but the place was completely jammed. I stuck around for a bit of Long Black Veil, then went off to see what the rest of the festival was offering.

The Levon Helm Band at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
Levon Helm Band at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 11, 2010

I passed by the Hard Rock Stage, but The Swell Season's pop was being completely overwhelmed by both Rush and The Levon Helm band - it was undoubtedly the worse case of sound bleed I've heard at Bluesfest. I travelled on to the Black Sheep Tent. I can see how the tent's seating and air conditioning might appeal to some (particularly earlier in the week). I wasn't blown away by the acoustics, but Ozomatli, a funk-soul-rap-latin crew from Los Angeles put on a really good show that encouraged a lot of audience bouncing.

Ozomatli at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
Ozomatli at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 11, 2010

After catching a good chunk of their set I went back to see the end of Levon Helm's set, and caught both The Weight and some of his encore of Shine A Light. John Hiatt had joined Helm's band on stage by this time.

The Levon Helm Band at Ottawa Bluesfest 2010
Levon Helm Band with John Hiatt at Ottawa Bluesfest, July 11, 2010

All that and the weather was lovely, too.

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