Live music galleries: Ottawa Bluesfest 2019, day eight – Loon Choir, BlakDenim, The Offspring, Busty and the Bass, Guided by Voices

(Since I’ll be too busy attending Ottawa Bluesfest over the next week or so to continue with this blog’s regularly scheduled programming, I thought I would do a special ‘live galleries’ series this week to share some pics from some of the sets I am enjoying.)

25 years of Bluesfest

Artists: Loon Choir, BlakDenim, The Offspring, Busty and the Bass, Guided by Voices
When: July 12th, 2019
Where: Lebreton Flats Park, Ottawa
Some words: So… last night was my final night at Bluesfest for the year (there are two more days but the music there doesn’t really appeal) and it just happened to coincide with a Friday… so there might have been some beers involved.*

To start things off, I headed back into the Barney Danson theatre to catch local indie, chamber rockers, Loon Choir. Last night marked my third time seeing this cool collective, each time at Bluesfest, but the last time I had seen them was six years ago so I was eager to hear how their sound had evolved. There was certainly a bit more maturity and professionalism but the idealism, especially on the part of the lead vocalist, was alive and well and the eight-piece put forth a wondrous sound.

Just before they finished, I ducked out to the Videotron stage to catch a snippet of another local band about whom I’d heard good things. BlakDenim is a funk/soul/rap outfit that had the small outdoor stage jumping. There were horns, great energy, and a little bit of breakdancing. I was sold. And if it weren’t for the fact that I wanted to get a good spot for the next main stage act, I would have lingered longer.

The Offspring were a band that I knew but never loved back in the heyday of 90s alt-rock and lord knows, I never thought I might ever see them live. However, given they were on the lineup and that I had planned on attending last night, there wasn’t a chance I would miss them. And man, I’m glad I didn’t. They were a hell of a lot of fun, playing pretty much all their hits and throwing in some new bits that weren’t at all out of place. Of course, the beer I had thus far drunk and the energy in the crowd might’ve helped, but I’ve got to admit, they were a highlight of the festival for me.

I then caught a smidgen of the high energy set by Busty and the Bass back on the Videotron stage on the recommendation of a work colleague and would do so again, even given the small sample size. Finally, though, my night ended at the Bluesville stage, where I witnessed a living legend in Robert Pollard and his group Guided by Voices. To be honest, I didn’t stay to the end but given that all their songs were about a minute or two, I still felt that I caught about a million of their songs. And even at that, I felt that the diehards around would’ve loved hours more.

Loon Choir
Kathleen Cauley of Loon Choir
Craig Barlow and Dan Larmour of Loon Choir
Derek Atkinaon of Loon Choir
BlakDenim
Kenny Creole, Karl Acelin, and Crystalena Paquette of BlakDenim
Dexter Holland and Pete Parada of The Offspring
Greg K of The Offspring
Noodles of The Offspring
The Offspring
Busty and The Bass
Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices
Guided By Voices

Once again, Bluesfest has offered me hours of great music, even with the cancellations and the nights I missed. The pass purchase has always been worth my while. Thanks again, organizers, for a job well done.

*My excuse for the lack of quality photos out of the way,

Vinyl love: The Lowest of the Low “Shakepeare my butt”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: The Lowest of the Low
Album Title: Shakespeare my butt
Year released: 1991
Year reissued: 2010
Details: Gatefold, double LP

The skinny: Yesterday marked Canada’s 152nd birthday but I kept things low-key around here. In the past, I have acknowledged the day with special Canada-themed posts. And I had thought about posting about this, one of my favourite ever albums by a Canadian artist, yesterday, but I was a bit busy fiddling with my new charcoal BBQ, so instead you’re getting it today, on the morning of my country’s collective hangover. The Lowest of the Low’s folk-rock heavy debut album, “Shakespeare my butt”, for a short time held the sales record for an independent release in Canada (being beaten a few months later by Barenaked Ladies’ yellow tape). It is considered by many, including myself, to be their best, two of its songs appeared on my Best tunes of 1991 (at numbers eleven and five) list but there could’ve easily been more. It is a desert island album for me, which is why the moment I saw this vinyl reissue in one of my locals, I grabbed it up. And wouldn’t you know, it might just be the the album I have spun the most in my collection since its purchase.

(Oh and happy belated to all those out there still partying, I know some of you are.)

Standout track: “Henry needs a new pair of shoes”

Best tunes of 1992: #30 Shakespears Sister “Stay”

#29 >>

One list ends and another begins. And for 1992, we’re starting things off with “Stay”, the biggest and best known single by Shakespears Sister.

The duo was formed when Siobhan Fahey asked songwriting collaborator Marcella Detroit to join her solo project as a full-time gig. Fahey, a founding member of 80s girl group Bananarama, sang lead on the majority of the group’s songs with Detroit contributing backing vocals. “Stay”, the second single to be released off the group’s sophomore release, “Hormonally yours”, was the one anomaly. On this one track, Detroit sang the verses and chorus and Fahey added a darker tone with a combatative bridge. The results are a beautiful song that showcases the differences between their vocal styles, a push and pull, a tug and a scream. However, it was never meant to be released as a single, at least in the eyes of Fahey, which was reportedly the cause of tension between the two when “Stay” actually became a massive hit. It spent a number of consecutive weeks at the top of the UK singles chart and climbed quite high in many international charts as well.

I definitely remember my first exposure to the song being its music video, which got more than a bit of play on MuchMusic and not just on the top 30 countdown. The narrative of the video had a supernatural bent and was one that stuck with many people, the two vocalists representing different factions fighting over the fate of a comatose man, good and evil, light and dark, love and hate, life and death, and perhaps a case of art imitating life. Teenaged me had a crush on both women, a slightly heavier one on Detroit, but back then, I didn’t know about Fahey’s girl group pedigree.

Detroit acrimoniously left the group in 1993, effectively ending things, while Fahey continued on with her solo career. She resurrected the Shakespears Sister name and continued performing under it 2009. And just this year, a reconciliation was announced and Detroit was welcomed back into the fold. Tours have since been plotted out and a new album is in the works.

It’ll be interesting to see how long this lasts.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.