I have to say, I’m a little sad to see that festival season is wrapping up; it’s always so representative of summer, heat, unrestricting clothing, sunsets at 9 pm and wandering with no concept of time. There’s something so special about an event where you set up camp, sip cool suds, bump into old friends, sink your toes in the grass, dance, eat and let the hours slip away with a dozen new bands tacked onto your “must buy” list.
Ottawa has become quite the little hub for these fantastic festivals - with Bluesfest becoming internationally renowned for its round-up of countless popular acts, and now the Ottawa Folk Festival is following in the same suit from what I can see. What started out as a small, folky gathering of local acts and small-scale musicians has now grown to a four-day festival celebrating musicians from all corners of the world, all ages and all types. Similar to Bluesfest which often strays from actual blues, Folk Fest isn’t exactly all intimate, rural-ready performances – there are artists who bring a little something else to the table.
Starting with tonight, here is your guide to some of great folky visitors we have in the nation’s capital:
FRIDAY, AUGUST 26TH:
We Found Each Other in The Dark – City and Colour: Everyone’s favourite sugary-sweet acoustic Canadian strummer Dallas Green is in town to croon us few from his latest album, Little Hell.
Days are Never Long Enough – Steve Earle and the Dukes (with Allison Moorer):
This old Americana rocker promises to put on a wonderful headlining show; one that will most likely draw the festival’s other adoring musicians to watch the idol blast out the classics.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 27th:
Let Freedom- Tom Morello and The Nightwatchmen: As one of the greatest guitar shredders of the century (best known as the former lead guitarist in Rage Against The Machine), Morello and his crew will undoubtedly blend guitar manhandling with his newfound passion for Leonard Cohen-like solo storytelling.
When We Were Young – The Wooden Sky: I was so happy to hear they were making an appearance. They’re one of my new favourite Canadian indie-rock bands (I realize I hopped on their bandwagon late), and I promise that their upbeat and danceable fun folk will pick you up out of your summer-ending blues.
Cold December – Matt Costa: Catchy and lighthearted, there’s little-to-no way you won’t like a live Matt Costa. His adorable indie-rock is infectious, he’s fairly cute, and the early evening performance will inevitably brighten your day.
Cleanse Song – Bright Eyes: If you can’t find the timelessly awesome Conor Oberst or hear his strums, just follow the packs of shoeless, fluorescent Ray Ban-sporting cyclists and, bam – there he’ll be! One of the hippest folk storytellers in town, Oberst’s bare, honest vocals and experimental instruments should make for one of the coolest shows of the weekend.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 28TH:
In The Sun – Joseph Arthur: You might remember his tune “Honey and The Moon” from your adolescent OC-adoring days, and I’ll reassure you that his other acoustic and melancholy balladry is just as sweet. If all goes to plan, the soft tunes should set the perfect mood for a night in the setting August night sun.
The Levon Helm Band: A true legend in every which way, the original drummer for The Band and complete multi-instrumentalist is pure inspiration for any aspiring Americana or country-folk artist attending the festival. Young and old fans alike in attendance – I expect the festival grounds to be packed.
Happy festival-ing, nuts!