Sound Seekers

SOUND SEEKERS: Final Countdown at Bluesfest! Best bets from local icons

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

We asked Ottawa musicians who are playing Bluesfest this year for their best bets for the end of the festival, which winds up Sunday. Below, they share their picks and highlights from the week that was.

The Joy Formidable, as seen from the side stage. Photo by Jim Hopkins

Jim Hopkins of Fevers

Picks!
“I think everyone from the band is excited to see Passion Pit. Saturday also looks like it will be a brilliant day with the standouts being Bjork and Austra for me.”

Highlights!
“There have been so many highlights already — especially Sunday, which was the day we played. A lot of people braved the rain and danced with us. We had such a blast. Back stage, we chatted with Tegan from Tegan & Sara, as well as Matt from The Joy Formidable. They are super nice people and amazingly talented musicians. Watching those bands from the side stage gives you a completely different perspective on a professional live performance. They were so good and had the crowd eating out of their hands! From other days of the festival, I think my highlight was Amadou & Mariam on Saturday. It was a spellbinding performance.”

Coming Soon!
Fevers will release our new album, No Room for Light, on August 27. To celebrate, we’re going to play a few different shows, all in 24 hours, starting on Friday, August 23.

Amadou and Miriam played Bluesfest on Saturday, July 6. Photo by Jim Hopkins.

Steve Adamyk of The Steve Adamyk Band 

Picks!
Unfortunately, I’ll be out of town the night John Spencer Blues Explosion hits the stage. Orange is still one of the best albums of the genre! To this date, I’ve never seen Weezer, so that will be great to see. We’re all big fans of their early records. Killer Mike and EL-P should be great too.

Highlights!
So far, our favourite headliner would be Wu-Tang — easily! The band was in full attendance (which is not always the case) and played a variety of classics. The best locals we’ve been able to catch have been The Fenton Brothers and The Hornettes. Veterans the Fenton Brothers were out in full force, even playing some of their hits from an album they did back in the eighties. As for celebrity interactions, there wasn’t anything of note, other than by chance being able to catch Wu-Tang take the stage from the back entrance, which was good enough for me!

Coming Soon!
We just finished a U.S. tour supporting our third album, Third, and are releasing a few seven-inch vinyl singles this summer. Beyond that, we’re planning a tour of Japan for early 2014.

Bruce Libbos of The Goodluck Assembly

Picks!
I’m looking forward to catching Bjork, Atlas Genius, Alice in Chains, Half Moon Run, and Weezer. It’s quite possible that Bjork may never be back in our beautiful city, so that’s one that shouldn’t be missed. Half Moon Run are next-level talented. I caught them last year at Osheaga and was completely blown away.

Highlights!
I’ve never seen Bluesfest as busy. I’m sure they’re crushing attendance records; the crowds have been extraordinary. I went the first night to check out The Black Keys and was able to take in Cat Empire’s set. Cat Empire was impressive and they had the crowd in the palm of their hands — really high energy and fun. Unfortunately, The Black Keys’ sound, in my opinion and many others, was just terrible. It’s not the band’s fault, but I think they might have blown the board that their own personal sound crew brought with them. It seemed to me that the sound crew was dealing with half the power and trying to figure out solutions through the entire show to make the most of a bad situation.

My band played Monday night. I have to say it was a magical set on the River stage, as the sun snuck through the abandoned train bridge lighting up the water as the thunderclouds fled town. It was by far the most beautiful environment I’ve ever had the opportunity to play in. I always thought playing Bluesfest would be a highlight, but it exceeded my expectations — and that doesn’t happen too often in life.

Rush. Enough said. They’re freaks and do what only they can do.

Coming Soon!
We’re booking shows for fall and winter. We’ve got some Toronto gigs booked, some unannounced fall gigs, and a couple of other festival slots we’re hoping for. Ottawa is too small a city to play too often, so we can’t over play here, which means we will be playing more in Toronto than anywhere else. Our goal right now is to continue pushing our new EP, Demonstrations.

Singer-Songwriter Laurent Bourque

Picks!
The act that I am most excited to see is B.B. King, no question. He’s one of the masters and, as a guitar player, it has been a lifetime dream of mine to see him live. The other act I can’t wait for is Bjork. I’d be lying if I said I listened to her music very frequently, however, one hears so many amazing things about her live show, so I can’t wait to experience it.

Highlights!
The first week was amazing. I managed to catch lots of great acts like Jimmy Eat World (a childhood favourite), The Black Keys, Camp Radio, Femi Kuti, and my not-so-guilty pleasure, The Dixie Chicks. Also, I was fortunate enough to perform the same day as Wu-Tang Clan, which I was blown away by. I grew up listening to them and I did manage to meet Raekwon backstage as well, which was great.

Coming Soon!
Pieces of Your Past, my sophomore album, will be out in October! It was produced right here in Ottawa by the wonderful Dave Draves. I will be touring throughout the fall.