Saturday, July 05, 2008

Festival Season: Ottawa Bluesfest

Day 1 = sunny, musically diverse, a success. Of the handful of acts we were able to see, here are the notables.

People Project, a Canadian-Mexican hybrid built on Latin rhythms and cross-cultural unification, is an extremely talented bunch of dudes. A few members are also part of Ottawa-based SoulJazz Orchestra (MySpace), great in their own right, who happened to join People Project on stage at the end of the set. The songs on their MySpace don't do the improvisational live show justice, but "People," the highlight of the set (with beat-boxing intact) is definitely worth a listen.

José González. What more can be said about this guy, no stranger to the world circuit. He's in his own league with songs ranging from timid to unnerved, at times hopeful, always earnest, sometimes even a bit pissed off at accepted practices (see: "Cycling Trivialities" from last year's In Our Nature). The subtly winding latino and classical guitar riffs sound just as good in the open air as they do in a pair of headphones. If you haven't seen him live and are unsure, here's our stamp of approval (as though that's needed). As an aside, I got a chance to have a couple words with the bearded Swede about the festival circuit and playing Ottawa, one of the highlights of the night.

TV on the Radio. Luckily these boys were delayed in starting, allowing some stage to stage travel time after "Heartbeats" and the like...From "Province" to "Wolf Like Me," and the appropriate "Staring at the Sun" (this was around 8:30, or just before sunset), they did a fine job of commanding the stage and trying to reach out beyond the obvious fan base to those waiting around for The Hip. Very charismatic, passionate performance.

The Tragically Hip. A rare band whose popularity in Canada is wildly beyond that of anywhere else they have a fanbase. As patriotic as you can be, they sang of small-town life, hockey, loyalty, "Courage," and on and on. They covered most, if not all big hits. The following day's paper reported around 25,000 in attendance, if that's so, they seemed to all be standing between my friends and the stage. A sea of people rippling with national pride is captivating, no matter where in the world that may occur. For those outside Canada who know little of The Hip, please check them out to get dose of real Canadiana.

José González - Down the Line
José González - Cycling Trivialities
TV on the Radio - Province
The Tragically Hip - Fireworks
(thanks to Wolves Hawks & Kites for that last link)

- BA

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