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Ottawa Bluesfest


Stardate 070408

Live Music Review

Happy 'Merica Day !

Review By: Velvet


Allen Toussaint

I was fortunate enough to catch Corb Lund tonight as he kicked off the Bluesfest weekend. I believe this was my first time seeing him, and I'm thankful for all the recommendations. He has a style that can just barely be pigeonholed somewhere beside Steve Earle and yet you can tell he doesn't think about that when he's writing songs. It seems his muse carries him far while something else, let's call it his roots, draws him back to what is ultimately his sound. I stuck around for most of his set and enjoyed every bit of it, but I was anxious to see how the Bluesfest site was shaping up this year, so I cut out a bit early.

I was happy to see that last night's beer lines were an isolated incident, and was overjoyed with the prospect of traversing the stage areas without having to constantly resubmit to a search. That will make the snoot sneaking a one-shot affair, and that bodes well for my wallet. I was also happy to see that the Blacksheep Stage was unchanged (though they should have at least one food vendor), happy enough to park there for the next few hours.

The Dave Bidini Band was another first timer for me, though I've caught my share of Rheostatics shows. Happily, Dave and his band stood out as their own entity, and they laid down a killer set. Each song was a musical experiment disguised as a pop tune, and each and every experiment was a success. I highly recommend these guys to anyone who likes good original rock, and I liked 'em so much I'm gonna try and catch Bidini's book reading in the Barney Danson Theatre tomorrow afternoon.

At the start of the set my girlfriend and I sat down on my blanket and soon we had accumulated about twenty friends around us to enjoy the show with, while the sun set behind us revealing a Disneyesque sliver of moon. That's why I truly love Bluesfest.

My recent re-obsession with Malian music urged me to stick around and check out Senegal's Orchestra Baobab, forsaking Wintersleep on the River Stage. They were fun but underwhelming, laying out a smiley groove but really going no farther, so I booked it to the new Roots Stage for some Allen Toussaint. The man is a legendary performer and songwriter, and he was great. If I ever get the chance to see him in a smaller intimate venue I'll be first in line. It was a treat when he mentioned his most covered song was made famous through Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead, and then the band launched into Get Out Of My Life. Toussaint also reminded me of my childhood Devo stage when he played Working In The Coal Mine. I must say the sound bleed from the River Stage reaches the point of unacceptable at the Roots Stage, but hopefully it isn't so noticable if you get closer to the stage.

My curiosity got the best of me and I packed up and went over to the Main Stage to check out Feist. And she was really good. When she was up she was up, and when she was moody you caught the mood, even six miles from the stage. She played some solo stuff that showed how seasoned a performer she is, and with her band she proved that pop need not be pap. A good performance from someone I knew previously only through television commercials, and a lady obviously worthy of her headlining slot.

I cut out one song early to beat the rush at the bike lockup (the first time I've used it). The line seemed long but before I knew what was happening somebody handed me my bike. Excellent service that, but judging by all the bikes locked everywhere else, perhaps they need to triple it.

Alrighty, time to sleep up in preparation for a busy weekend.

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