Sound Seekers

SOUND SEEKERS: Bluesfest 2013 — Gossip, speculation, and Fateema Sayani’s wishlist

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani

Bluesfest returns to Lebreton Flats on July 4. Photo by Mediaplus.

The annual speculation fest seems to have started early this year with the website Ottawa Start compiling rumours about scheduled acts for Bluesfest (July 4-14, 2013) on its website in early January. It listed Belle & Sebastian as a possible addition the lineup — and recently, the band confirmed its July 6 date via its website.

Ottawa Start suggests music fans who are looking for a sneak peek at the lineup may benefit from perusing the websites of nearby festivals (ie: Montreal Jazz Festival) and looking at blanks in the touring schedule of major acts to get a hint about who might be part of Bluesfest this year.

This tends to be the method for many news outlets year after year as reporters scour the web for concert listings. Thus begins the speculation season — along with the regular sport of bitching and moaning about various aspects of the festival. This is, perhaps, one way of getting through the drag-days of winter.

In keeping with the season, we here at Ottawa Magazine used our resources of concert listings and insider info to compile this handy lil’ guide to forecasting, complaining, and concert-going.

What’s Been Said
Bluesfest organizers have announced that B.B. King will close the festival on July 14 and that the music festival will return to its original focus — y ’know blues music — for a large portion of this year’s programming.

It’s not the sole focus. Bluesfest brass teased about a major country headliner coming to town on Twitter and the festival’s artistic director put out a call on the micro-blogging site asking for suggestions for a major rock act.

This blog seems to think that both Skrillex and Taylor Swift will be part of the festival due to gaping holes in their concert listings for the first two weeks of July. Meanwhile, Pollstar lists Alejandro Escovedo as part of the festival lineup.

What People are Complaining About
Perusing the comment sections of various news sites and social media pages will yield plenty of topics of ire from regular festival-goers. One new rule recently put in place should quell some of the kvetching. Bluesfest organizers tweeted that the festival’s director of operations Mike Rouleau has been off cigarettes for three months — and that everyone else will have to give up their filthy habit inside the Bluesfest gates.

When the festival announces that it will be smoke-free in 2013, we presume that “smoke free” also means that there will be no WEED smoking, and, thus everyone will actually be able to see the stage without the haze of grass. However, no rules have been put in place for the other ills of festival going, meaning you will still have to put up with:

-The smell of armpits
-Too many old people
-Lawn chairs
-Too many young people
-People in bad tube tops
-The %@#$^@ ticketing system
-Rhythm-less dancing
-Snaking port-a-potty lines
-Warm beer

Who Is Likely to Play Bluesfest 2013
Bluesfest is programmed primarily by four people who are experienced talent-bookers with tastes that run the gamut. There’s cigar-chomping festival head Mark Monahan, who favours the blues. Spectrasonic Sound head Shawn Scallen has been booking snot-nosed punk bands into the capital since Porter Hall was a hot venue. Black Sheep Inn owner Paul Symes once ran a hot lil’ club called The Penguin (or so I hear, I was underage at the time). He has a soft spot for artists who know their way around an acoustic and have a healthy appreciation for No Depression-style melancholy. I really wish he’d bring back Kelly Joe Phelps. The fourth dude is the aforementioned Rouleau.

Fateema Sayani Speculates….
Director of operations Mike Rouleau said on Twitter that he’ll be heading to industry showcase South By Southwest in March to check out the up-and-coming bands. Perhaps he’ll take a shine to these folks and book them in at Bluesfest:

Houndmouth — Alt-country brooders hailing from Indiana and Kentucky.

f(x) — A K-pop band that’s super-peppy, but sounds like The Spice Girls, twenty years too late.

Paperscissor — A catchy synth-rock band of sensitive boys from Yukon, Oklahoma.

Then there are the Regulars
Are Metric, Blue Rodeo, and Michael Franti free that week?

The Blues-Rock Royalty
The Dave Matthews Band will play in Darien Lake, NY on July 3. It’s just a five-hour drive from there to here, so it’s plausible that DMB could be around to open the festival on July 4.

The Old-Schoolers
Belle & Sebastian are booked for the festival — and speaking of the ‘90s, we see that Bjork is touring with dates booked for Bonaroo and the Pitchfork Music Festival.

The Postal Service is back on the tour circuit as well, playing in celebration of their 10th anniversary. Might they make a stop at Bluesfest?

Black Flag (featuring Greg Ginn and Jealous Again-era vocalist Ron Reyes) are touring again.  They’ll play the Northside Festival in Brooklyn in June.

The Grapes of Wrath have a new album out. It’s their first in 22 years.

The Headliners
I’ve heard rumours about Pearl Jam way too many times to count.

Fateema Sayani speculates whether The Souljazz Orchestra will be at this year's Bluesfest, given that they "put on bang-up shows" and were recently nominated for a Juno Award. Photo by Alexandre Mattar.

The Locals
Fevers, Kalle Mattson, Dave Norris & Local Ivan, and The Souljazz Orchestra put on bang-up shows. Souljazz received a Juno nom, and that buzz never hurts.

The Wishlist
I love this band from Reykjavik called The Apparat Organ Quartet. They play on refurbished keyboards and organs and they sound Kraftwerkian.

The Lessons from Last Year
EDM, or electronic dance music, is best in low doses at open-air festivals. Last year’s EDM-prominent lineup meant most of us in the K1-areas of town could hear the thumping bass from the discomfort of our overpriced homes. Make sure your light fixtures are screwed in tightly if Skrillex comes back.

There’s no accounting for taste — really. We hear tell that ticket sales for last year’s Nickelback show were rather dismal — barely enough to cover the expense of putting it on. In other words, Nickelback really does suck.

Who do you think (or hope) will be in this year’s Bluesfest lineup? Tweet us at @ottawamag and @fateemasayani to join in the conversation.