# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Miscellaneous - Ottawa, 14/7/2004...18/7/2004

  by Andrew Carver

published: 26 / 7 / 2004



Miscellaneous - Ottawa, 14/7/2004...18/7/2004

intro

....while during the festivals' last week he witnesses sets by the Cool Jerks, the Deadly Snakes, Xavier Rudd, Five Horse Johnson, Dave Alvin, the Greenhornes and the Dirtbombs

Although Bluesfest was begun by local blues devotees eager to hear the soul, R&B and, of course, blues musicians who otherwise rarely visited the city, as the years have gone by, it’s expanded to the point where the event brings in main-stream pop artists to headline during the week. Thus, had I wished, I could have seen Bryan Adams or Nelly Furtado. Being an underground rock’n’roll snob, I elected instead to pass on Furtado and Adams and go and see on Wedesday 14th July an act that had really traveled a long way to perform on the Black Sheep Stage – namely Huun Huur Tu, who normally reside in the sizeable but sparsely populated country of Tuva. Tuva sits on the northwest border of Mongolia. Huun Huur Tu ('Sun Propeller' in English) is probably the best-known act devoted to the art of throat-singing in the world today, though they put a modern spin on the form by performing as a four-man group instead of solo. Looking quite elegant in floor-length robes of red, black, blue and green, the group’s chanting and playing invited unexpected comparisons to western music: One couldn’t help but think of gravel-throated belters like Howling Wolf when lead singer and group co-founder Kaigal-ool Khovalyg employed the deepest kargyraa singing style, or the way country and western artists used their instruments to imitate the sound of trains when percussionist Alexei Saryglar used his dazhaanning khavy (a rattle made from a bull’s scrotum) and bells to simulate the clop of horses hooves and the jangle of reins. Horses, eagles and longing for home may not be subjects designed to strike a chord in a city better known for its bureaucrats (and it seems improbable that anyone in the audience understood the lyrics, anyway) but the applause was genuine and heartfelt. As a long time fan of the Oblivians and their numerous offshoots (Reigning Sound, Compulsive Gamblers, Greg and the Tip-Tops, Bad Times, and solo work), I was more than ready to take in Jack Yarber’s latest group, the Cool Jerks, on Thursday 15th – and they did not disappoint. They chewed up rock’n’roll, the blues, soul and R&B and spat them out Memphis-style, hot and sleazy. It was primal and great. Local performer Jim Bryson rounded out the night. He said from the stage that he was a little worried to be on at the same time as Lyle Lovett was taking his headlining turn (and apparently berating some audience members for smoking pot), but the crowd was one of the Birdman Stage’s largest. His introspective roots rock was as fine as ever. Things didn’t work as smoothly on Friday. The Deadly Snakes, a high-energy R&B party band from Toronto, attracted a large crowd and rocked them with their usual wicked abandon and sweaty organ grooves and horn blasts. While they performed, I ducked over to the Black Sheep Stage to see Australian performer Xavier Rudd, a one-man band who plays acoustic guitar, foot drum and a trio of didgeridoos simultaneously … talk about the hardest-working man in show business! But despite the somewhat unlikely combo, he sounded incredible. A must-see if he ever passes through town. His incredible performance was the talk of the festival, and deservedly so. The lineup to talk to him after the show stretched out to a good 30 people when I walked past on the way back to the Birdman Stage to see how veteran soul artist Nathaniel Meyer’s band was coming along. The answer: Not at all. While tuning up, the generator powering the stage sputtered to a halt. I waited an hour. Still no power, so I wondered over to the Roots Stage to see soul-gospel-funk-R&B artists the Holmes Brothers play to a large crowd sitting in their lawn chairs. The Holmes Brothers seemed to be enjoying themselves, but they were somewhat too easygoing for me. After a few numbers I wandered back to the Birdman Stage, past the Black Sheep Stage where sensitive punks the Weakerthans were eulogizing (or celebrating) the travails of their hometown of Winnipeg to a large and enthusiastic crowd (including a hefty portion of penurious teens outside the fence), and past Xavier Rudd, still chatting with fans. Still no power, so back to examine the Weakerthans. I decided I preferred an unpowered Birdman Stage to them, so I turned around, and waited an hour, but no luck, and eventually it became clear that the Cool Jerks were to be the last act of the night (unless you count Xavier Rudd, who was still talking to fans a good two hours after his set ended … I repeat: A must-see act). Fortunately, Meyer was willing and able to play first thing on Saturday 17th July, and while his show wasn’t as awe-inspiring as the one he gave at last year’s Bluesfest, there’s no denying he’s still got it. As a bonus, his act now boasts a new saxophone player and Dave Shettler (formerly of Moods for Moderns and the Sights) on drums. His T-shirt and ball-cap looked a bit odd after last year’s white tux, but his gritty soul was intact. Locals Andrew Vincent and The Pirates played next … I’ve seen and reviewed him often enough that I’ve now got nothing new to say, beyond noting his own joshing remarks following his fumbling of a Jonathan Richman cover “I love him so much, I’m forgetting his lyrics …”). Another oft-seen and reviewed group, the Double Pumpers were next, and put on their usual (stoner) rock solid show. The next act was Montreal one-man band BBQ, who I had recently seen open for Toronto power trio C’mon. He was a last-minute addition to the schedule. That day the news had slowly trickled out that due to the cancellation of the Toronto Bluesfest, some acts booked to do both had backed out. Though most of the Birdman Stage’s performers had elected to come anyway, one had not: Saturday’s headliners, the much-anticipated Black Keys. Even with Meyer’s early gig, that left a hole to fill, and BBQ filled it, playing remarkably similar set to the one reviewed elsewhere on pennyblackmusic.com, right down to the Rolling Stones’ cover. Then came Five Horse Johnson, heavyweight blues rockers from Ohio. They put out the thunder, but weren’t quite as nimble live as I had hoped, though there’s no denying that singer and harmonica player Eric Oblander is a dynamic act, always on the move. Bob Log III was next. The frenzied slide guitarist has made several Ottawa appearances (at least five by my count), and though one would be hard-pressed to tell them apart, his show is always a high-octane blast. His between song banter was priceless as usual, as he attempted to get a willing woman to dip her tit in his drink before playing 'Boob Scotch'. “Come on!” he declared before several hundred audience members “Nobody’s lookin!’” Unlike his previous visit to the Dominion Tavern, there were no takers, so he pressed the glass to his own nipple and handed it off to a woman in the crowd. Then he banged out the tune on a guitar he proclaimed had only cost him $16. It was all in fun, though a couple of post-show grumblers were apparently unamused by his shtick. Though the Black Keys failed to appear, there was still a large crowd for the newly appointed headliners, another guitar-drums duo, albeit a distaff one, Mr. Airplane Man. Their Howlin’ Wolf-influenced garage blues seemed tougher than it did last year, but I still have my doubts about singer and guitarist Margaret Garrett’s voice, which seemed a little flat. I made a sojourn to the Roots Stage to check out Dave Alvin of Blasters fame (I was almost surprised to see Xavier Rudd wasn’t there still talking to fans ...). Alvin was doing kicks on stage, but it was hard to estimate the lawn chair bound audience’s appreciation. His new music, from a recent CD entitled 'Ashgrove' had a moodier tinge than I expected, and sounded good. His band, The Guilty Men, were first rate. Sunday’s first band, Ukrainia, is a close kin to the Double Pumpers. All three Pumpers play in the band, along with drummer and perennial Ottawa heckler Tom Werbowetski. Allegedly the band plays heavy rock versions of Ukrainian folk tunes, but since the band actually sings in Ukrainian, what they’re actually saying is entirely guesswork on my part. They certainly built up a good head of steam on the musical side before their set was concluded, however. The Sonny Best Band has one truly excellent country album under their belt, has two fine singers in the pseudonymous Best and Lily Pearl, and an awesome guitarist in Dallas Rhodes (also not his real name – I seem to recall seeing him playing keyboards and guitar in Soft Canyon). Several of his solos drew audience applause. The only hitch in their superb set was the sudden self-destruction of the steel player’s Sho-Bud one song in. Best declared the group’s fee will go to acquiring a replacement. There was more country rock from locals Greenfield Main. Their first album, something of a concept album about hunting, drew national attention. Their new album, 'Barnburners & Heartchurners' seems to have a rockier feel. They drew a large crowd and put on a quality performance, with frontman Jon Bartlett looking dapper in a somewhat ill-advised suit. Though they have their own fiddle and banjo player, Ottawa’s Fiftymen are definitely more rock than country. Singer J.J.’s deadpan vocals and the group’s morbid songs are backed with dual-guitar firepower and hardhitting drumming from Jake Bryce (who doubles as a guitarist in Jim Bryson’s band and his own Recoilers). The group has a devoted local following, and their show left no one wondering why. The Greenhornes also boasted an excellent drummer, but despite corking covers of several tunes, including the Yardbirds’ 'Shape of Things to Come', a very tricky song to do, they haven’t been quite the same since their organist left. Unfortunately, singer guitarist Craig Fox had an underwhelming stage presence on this night. An earlier show in Ottawa (opening for the Swinging Neckbreakers, if memory serves) was far more memorable. No fear of an underwhelming show from the closing act though. The Dirtbombs always put on an awesome performance, and they came through again on this occasion. Their lineup was the same as their previous Dominion outing, with Troy Gregory on bass twisting about in his black turtleneck like a hipster from some 1960's movie, Ko Shih thumping out riffs on her own bass while flipping her hair around and staring insolently at nothing, Mick Collins thrashing his guitar and the drumming duo of Patrick Pantano and Benjamin Blackwell thundering away in remarkable tandem. There were some amusing moments when Collins set his guitar to such trebly extremes that Blackwell flipped his monitor over to escape the eardrum-slicing tone (the band was wincing all-round), and Gregory snapped a string, forcing the Greenhornes to provide a replacement. After much unsuccessful wrestling with the strap, Gregory gave the audience an impromptu solo on beer bottle. Finally, the problems were resolved, and the group came to its drum-set thrashing conclusion after an encore performance of Black Sabbath’s 'War Pigs'. While the stage tech’s contemplated the ruins of Blackwell’s severely pulverized kit, a more than satisfied audience trickled away.



Picture Gallery:-
Miscellaneous - Ottawa, 14/7/2004...18/7/2004


Miscellaneous - Ottawa, 14/7/2004...18/7/2004


Miscellaneous - Ottawa, 14/7/2004...18/7/2004


Miscellaneous - Ottawa, 14/7/2004...18/7/2004


Miscellaneous - Ottawa, 14/7/2004...18/7/2004



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