It was a damp, cold spring day in Ottawa, with a chance of flurries but inside the Montgomery Legion on Kent Street, the venue for the 4th Annual Grassroots Festival, it was so warm, and inviting. The place to be on Thursday night. The award winning Franco-Ontarian line-up included headliners Stef Paquette, Eric Dubeau and opener Sarah Bradley.
“In Ottawa it often seems there are two societies, the anglophone and the francophone, and that fact has bugged me for years,” says festival producer Bob Nesbitt. “Introducing the franco musical theme into our festival helps break down barriers between the two solitudes.”
Stef Paquette accompanied by his talented band mates, on fiddle and acoustic guitar performed to an energetic crowd, who were singing along at every opportunity. The band is on a cross country tour promoting their latest CD. Paquette injected his humourous stories between songs. Clearly, he had many fans in the audience, familiar with the material.
Eric Dubeau is an award winning artist in his own right. Singing several songs a cappella, you quickly appreciate Eric’s vocal strength, especially how he held the final note on a few of those songs. He is a mighty fine guitar player too. His signature story-telling sets the scene before every song, allowing the audience to emotionally connect with the lyrics. Dubeau invited Sarah Bradley to join him back on stage to perform a few more songs, saying: “you haven’t heard enough of Sarah tonight.” And, we hadn’t.
Sarah Bradley who delivered her opening set on keyboard, captivated her audience with songs full of emotion and sincerity. Her soulful voice simply beautiful.
Alexandre Maheux, host on CJFO, Unique FM, 94.5 FM was the MC for the night. With his energetic nature, he connected with French and English speakers in the crowd.
This was an evening of great songs, stories and audience participation. It demonstrated that music has no boundaries. Fun was had by all.