Posts tagged ‘blue rodeo’

July 21, 2011

History of Ottawa Bluesfest should help it overcome stage collapse

Ottawa Bluesfest founder Mark Monahan

A day before the stage collapse, Ottawa Bluesfest founder Mark Monahan and his Caddy were aglow. (Copyright photo by Julia Pelish Photography)

OTTAWA — Nearly 24 hours before the nightmarish destruction of the main stage at his festival, Ottawa Bluesfest founder Mark Monahan sat outside a trailer that was away from the crowd and talked about the dream that had come true. It started nearly two decades ago on a hunch and has turned into a multi-million-dollar, non-profit celebration of music. In the aftermath of what’s been called a freakish accident that reportedly sent four people to the hospital, talk of what Monahan has accomplished has to be tempered with somber acknowledgement of the incident on Sunday night that brought a premature end to what looks like another record year of attendance and revenue for the festival.

Still, despite the storm and near 100-kilometre winds that forced Cheap Trick away from the stage, the Ottawa Bluesfest remains one of the most noteworthy music events in North America. It started when Monahan was running the Penguin, a music club in the nation’s capital that booked a range of artists, including jazz acts who collectively would garner large numbers at festivals in Montreal and Vancouver but individually — without a massive marketing effort — didn’t bring in crowds.

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July 16, 2011

Ottawa Bluesfest 2011: Blue Rodeo plays, we sing, the universe is all right

Jim Cuddy - Blue Rodeo - Ottawa Bluesfest 2011

Jim Cuddy belts out "5 Days in May" during Blue Rodeo's show at the Ottawa Bluesfest on Friday night. (Julia Pelish photo)

OTTAWA — About 11 years ago, around 80 people crammed into the Mercury Lounge, one of New York’s smallest and most beloved clubs, to listen to this country-blues band from Canada with a psychedelic side and Wilco-esque jam panache. They rocked, we sang and it all made the little spot in the East Village a little happier that night. The show went unnoticed in the rest of Manhattan, and elsewhere too, making the words at the merchandise kiosk resonate with those of us who did attend. On mugs and bumper stickers was the slogan: “In a just world, Blue Rodeo would be as popular as toast.”

On Friday night, beneath a nearly full moon, the world and universe as those in Ottawa knew it seemed to be in perfect order. A hockey arena-sized crowd gathered on the grounds of the 2011 Ottawa Bluesfest at LeBreton Flats, behind the Canadian War Museum, for what had to be the largest and most enthusiastic audience Blue Rodeo has played in front of in recent memory. The band was more than up for the occasion, delivering an energetic show on a steamy night that also featured East Coast rapper Classified. Many of his younger fans not only stuck around for the old-timers from Blue Rodeo, they sang along to the band’s classics — including the too-sensitive-for-the-frat-house “After the Rain” — from start to finish.

It is one of the two best shows I’ve seen from Blue Rodeo (and you’re talking double digits; I have enough ticket stubs for each finger and toe, from everywhere from the deceased Bottom Line in Greenwich Village to the Orpheum in Vancouver); the other top show from them was that night at the Mercury Lounge, when then-keyboardist James Gray tore it up with some heavy-duty hammering of the keys.

At the 17th annual Bluesfest, Jim Cuddy, Greg Keelor and crew opened with “It Hasn’t Hit Me Yet.” They followed with “Five Days in May” as the setlist featured most of their greatest hits — although “Diamond Mine” and “Rose-Coloured Glasses” still don’t make it into the show often enough. Wayne Petti from Cuff the Duke, who’s practically a member of Blue Rodeo, he’s been on stage so often with them, helped out on vocals and guitars, and talented Colin Cripps, Kathleen Edwards’ husband, joined on guitar for the full show. (Edwards didn’t show up, though.)

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July 5, 2011

NATASHA SUTTON REPORTS: Blue Rodeo, Mike Myers wow at Canada Day in London

Mike Myers in Trafalgar Square

Mike Myers made a surprise appearance in Trafalgar Square on Friday. (Natasha Sutton photo)

[We’ve got Will and Kate over here, so what do we give England in return? Blue Rodeo! Pretty fair deal, no? Plus, there was a surprise appearance from the world’s most insatiable spy — an added treated at the hugely successful Canada Day celebration in London. Here’s Street Party Correspondent Natasha Sutton’s report, with some exclusive pics.]

LONDON — An estimated 60,000 people stopped in their tracks at Trafalgar Square in the mid-heat of London to be part of Canada Day. Yes, London celebrated Canada Day.

Natasha Sutton

Natasha Sutton

And did it rambunctiously too, with such gusto the nearby Tim Horton’s sold out of coffee and doughnuts by late afternoon on Friday.

While that shortage may have disappointed many of the revelers, bars kept spirits up with Canadian beer on tap and the organizers lined up a long roster of bands to keep the Canadians in London — or those who wanted to be Canadian for the day — thrilled with a taste of home.

Headliners Blue Rodeo stole the show as the crowd sang their hearts out to the band’s classics like “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” and “Lost Together.” The loudest ovation, though, was prompted by the appearance of a surprise guest.

This reporter had refrain herself from saying in my Austin Powers’ accent, “You rock my world baby, yer, baby yer” when Mike Myers showed up. Instead, I got a quick snap of the Torontonian backstage before he swiftly exited to the VIP lounge.

Blue Rodeo in Trafalgar Square for Canada Day 2011

The boys from Blue Rodeo got lost together in London. (Natasha Sutton photo)

“The success of this event illustrates how strongly Canadian culture and the business community are embraced in London. Rainmaker is proud to produce such a high calibre event,” said Chad Molleken, UK Managing Director, Rainmaker Global Business Development.

Other musical acts during the fifth annual Canada Day in London celebrations included Karkwa, the charismatic Alex Cuba, Lennie Gallant, Devon Sproule, the energetic Oh My Darling, the Mahones, Justin Hines, and the sensational Tammy Weis with James Bryan.

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March 24, 2011

Juno Awards: Top 40 songs about Canada


The Juno Awards celebrate their 40th anniversary this week in Toronto, so here’s a Top 40 list of songs by Canadians that reference the country. The first 25 or 30 songs are pretty much off the top of my head, which might explain the questionable ordering (that and some differences in taste!). Debate welcome.

1. Helpless – Neil Young (There is a town in north Ontario …) [Cool duet with Bruce above]

2. It Hasn’t Hit Me Yet – Blue Rodeo (Snow falling in the middle of Lake Ontario)

3. Wheat Kings – The Tragically Hip (Sundown in the Paris of the Prairies)

4. Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – Gordon Lightfoot (when the Gales of November came slashin’)

5. Coyote Joni Mitchell (On the road to Baljennie near my old home town)

6. Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) – Arcade Fire (Growin’ up in some strange storm, nobody’s cold, nobody’s warm)

7. Acadian Driftwood – The Band (Canadian cold front movin’ in)

8. Lakeside Park – Rush (Everyone would gather on the twenty-fourth of May sitting in the sand to watch the fireworks display.)

9. The Night Paddy Murphy Died – Great Big Sea (They stopped the hearse on George Street outside Sundance Saloon)

10. Oh … CanadaClassified (I know where I’m from and I told ya before North of America hard to ignore)

11. Your Ex-Lover Is Dead Stars (Captured a taxi despite all the rain we drove in silence across Pont Champlain)

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