Dirty feet, unwashed hair and bad nutrition – has the MuchMore team fallen down a dangerous slope of poor life choices? No! It’s the summer festival season and we headed out to the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest to soak up the sun and sounds of this massive, 14-day festival in our nation’s capital.
We first caught up with singing sisters Tegan and Sara. Our biggest priority was confronting Tegan about her notorious reputation for yawning during interviews, which Matt Wells had experienced first hand during a previous chat with the twins. Tegan explained that her propensity for yawning comes not from boredom or exhaustion, but from a natural biological reaction that happens when your body heats up. We’re still not sure if we buy it.
When Soundgarden announced they were reuniting for a summer concert series, it felt like Christmas. Except replace the religious undertones and awkward family dinners with Chris Cornell’s piercing vocals and a bunch of crowd surfing.
One of the most surreal moments we had at Ottawa Bluesfest was with funk legend Bootsy Collins. Just kicking back and relaxing on his tour bus, Bootsy sent us to school as he went into detail about the differences between playing alongside James Brown and George Clinton. He spoke of the discipline and structure he picked up while under the wing of James Brown and the more free-flowing, abstract approach to music that he had to adapt to with George Clinton. The most important tidbit we got from Bootsy was a simple, yet powerful one: “All you need is love and music.” Preach on, Bootsy.
The award for “Dudes Who Most Look like a Festival Band” goes to Saskatoon’s own, The Sheepdogs. This is a given considering their answer when we asked them if they had festival DOs and/or DONTs for us; “Grow a beard and don’t shower.” The Sheepdogs have been getting a lot of exposure lately thanks to their spot as finalists in the Rolling Stone cover contest, but all it takes is one lick of that guitar to understand how deserved this attention really is for the band.
Stephen Marley brought some good reggae vibes to Ottawa Bluesfest, including many tributes to classic tracks from his father, which were obviously a huge crowd favourite. We asked him about the connection he has to his father’s music and he explained that these songs are not just music, they are an indisputable part of who he is as a person, the tree he comes from and the roots he is tied to. “This music frees you.”
We also got to chat with Bedouin Soundclash, Patrick from The Black Keys, The Roots, Ben Harper, Rob Baker from The Tragically Hip, Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips, Tim from Rise Against and the queen of neo soul herself, Erykah Badu, who explained why she refers to herself as an “analog girl in a digital world.”
With a total of eight stages, including two off-site venues, Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest is one of Canada’s fastest growing music festivals. In between interviews (and hamburgers) we managed to catch some amazing performances. A few personal highlights included Ray Bailey, Callers, Skrillex, Girl Talk, Alberta Cross, hey rosetta! and Cage the Elephant. To see our coverage from Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest and more, watch for our full summer festival special coming soon!
By Sarah Dawley