Saturday, July 09, 2011

Bluesfest 2011: Day 4

The sounds from Bluesfest attendees last night were truly the cries of the damned: "Nooooo!" "I can't believe this!" "Dear god, this is awful!" But enough about the lines at the beer tents. That show-zapping rain was damn unpleasant as well. Musically it wasn't a bad evening at all.

I started off with a bit of Eamon McGrath on the Subway Stage. I was hoping for a full band, but it was just him and Peter Dreimanis, as it was March 31 at Zaphod's. I'm really hoping for the day when I see him perform standing up (and likely jumping around). Still, fine roots rock.

Eamon McGrath at Ottawa Bluesfest 2011
Eamon McGrath at Bluesfest, July 8, 2011

When that was over I went off to the National Bank Stage to catch the end of The Watters Brothers' set. They do seem to like dressing up ... or maybe paisley shorts and leather vests are their regular attire?

The Watters Brothers at Ottawa Bluesfest 2011
The Watters Brothers at Bluesfest, July 8, 2011

I then took a quick buss past the MBNA Stage since it sounded like Cage The Elephant were up to something interesting. As it turns out they just own a few Nirvana albums. All kidding aside, they're a band I'd like to catch in a club (unlikely, at this point of their career), but I wasn't in the mood to stand at the back of a crowd of thousands and listen.

Cage The Elephant at Ottawa Bluesfest 2011
Cage The Elephant at Bluesfest, July 8, 2011

For the most part, I go to musical performances for the music ... but sometimes I do go for the performance side, and Blue King Brown did put on a fine set at last year's Bluesfest - it was no surprise at all to see them back on the Subway Stage, though I thought they would have attracted a bigger crowd. As an aside, I thought singer Natalie's voice was much better this time around - perhaps she was under the weather last year.

Blue King Brown at Ottawa Bluesfest 2011
Blue King Brown at Bluesfest, July 8, 2011

My next stop was the National Bank Stage again, to see The Cavaliers. I don't even want to think about how many Cavaliers there have been: A dozen garage rockers in the U.S. alone, to say nothing of the better known R&B and doo-wop combos. However, These Cavaliers are not some 1960s combo returning to the tour circuit. They're a quartet from Toronto based around the duel singing and acoustic guitar-slinging prowess of Michel Verrier and Britton Allison. I liked them very much ... they covered Neil Young (as required by law of all Canadian folk bands; Heartless was their mandated selection) and Two by Ryan Adams ("Not Brian Adams!" noted Britton). They had collected a large crowd by the time they wound things up.

The Cavaliers at Ottawa Bluesfest 2011
The Cavaliers at Bluesfest, July 8, 2011

As The Cavaliers' set was drawing to a close I popped over to the Subway Stage again. I wanted to get a good seat for Wanda Jackson's show. I missed her when she played a two-night stand at The Elmdale, and things really began to look promising when her backing group, The Hi Dollars, started cranking out Link Wray's Rumble for an intro. Then Wanda came out for a tough-sounding Riot In Cell Block No. 9. Then it began raining. The forecast said there was a chance of showers, but this was definitely "rain, at times heavy." Most of the crowd evaporated (unsurprising, considering its vintage), but after some assiduous mopping and a frankly nasty wait through about an hour of rain the show was once again on the road with performances of a trio of tunes from Jackson's new, Jack White-produced album The Party Ain't Over, including You Know I'm No Good, which she introduced as the song she didn't want to record but now likes the most.

Wanda Jackson at Ottawa Bluesfest 2011
Wanda Jackson at Bluesfest, July 8, 2011

A good thing the forecast is nice for today though - one dose of gusty, cold rain per festival is about my limit.
  • Show reminder: Wool & Howl, Armen at the Bazaar and Byron William perform at Zaphod Beeblebrox; David Gogo is at The Rainbow; Royal Ottawa and The Ethics hold themselves to a higher standard at Irene's; one of my personal faves, David Picco, plays The Elmdale with The Train Jumpers.

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