Article and Photos by Roch Parisien
As Ottawa Bluesfest 2014 resumed (on July 8) for its final six-day sprint following a traditional Monday repose, the dominant ‘force of nature’ on site proved to be a thunderous, 45-minute downpour that ground the works to a halt between 6:45-7:45pm. Once music resumed (squeegees and mops sharing centre stage with humid performers), the schedule had lost much of its original ‘staggering’ – as such, this roundup of several performances allowed for only brief visits to each stage.
At River Stage a drenched but adamant fan base hung in tough for indie-rock singer-songwriter JENNY LEWIS. The former Riko Kiley lead vocalist’s third solo album, ‘The Voyageur’, comes out in late-July. While mops flailed and plastic tarps were gingerly pulled back from sound equipment, Jenny explained that she and her band would not be able to play their full electric set and instead would improvise a briefer, more acoustic interlude. Her shortened half-hour delivered a fun, relaxed groove, with very much a summery ‘Dusty (Springfield) in Memphis’ vibe to it that was in stark contrast to the wet, muddy devastation in the field below.
On the larger Claridge Homes Stage, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE launched their set in full blitzkrieg mode, as if they were the second wave offensive following the previous thunderstorm. The band members threw themselves bodily across the stage as if engaging in hand-to-hand combat with some unseen foe while intense music and lights raged in support. Holding nothing back, hit single “No One Knows” came second in the set, followed immediately by their latest chart offering, “My God Is the Sun”. As the rain wicked out, a double rainbow bridged the sky above the field in approval.
A quick dip back to the River Stage for the end of DON FELDER’s set found the former Eagles guitarist in comfortable, chatty, low-key mode, as he mixed solo compositions with a heaping helping of Eagles hits (he dedicated “Witchy Woman” to “my favorite golfer Tiger Woods, who I believe knows quite a few of them”). Don’s serviceable singing may not be on par with former bandmates Henley and Frey, but his distinctive guitar playing remains razor sharp. As he donned his trademark double-neck guitar to close with signature co-composition “Hotel California”, the audience was treated to a one-of-a-kind moment. STYX guitarist-vocalist TOMMY SHAW joined him on stage to deliver a passionate duet version of the classic hit (Styx had performed earlier in the evening on a ‘classic rock’ festival main stage that also included headliners Foreigner).
My night finished with UK phenom singer-songwriter JAKE BUGG, who only just escaped his teenage years a few months back. With two albums under his youthful belt that have already earned him nominations for a Brit Award and Mercury Prize back home, Jake sometimes gets the critical short end of thestick – because his reedy voice and folk-rock presentation draw easy comparisons to Dylan, pundits seem to want his lyrics to achieve similar (unrealistic) poetic heights. Which they do not. Which, in turn, made nary a difference to the rows of pining teenage girls at stage front, latching on to every note and movement.
(This & more featured today at Roch Parisien’s Rocon Communications music chat page…)
Cugini is a Canadian punk dub step artist (influenced by Skrillex and Blink 182) and producer that has worked with Shawn Mendes, Victoria Duffield, Jerzee Tha Icon, Stereos, Marissa Emma (Crystalyne) , Deion Gill (W3 The Future) YMCM.
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Cugini is currently working towards releasing a new EP in September.
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