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Ten great Ottawa Bluesfest sets: A prologue

So here we are, already eight days into July. And if all had gone according to plan, I would be preparing to attend the first day of Ottawa’s Bluesfest tomorrow. I would be packing a change of clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses, probably a rain poncho, my camera, and my festival pass in my satchel, all to bring with me to work so I could head on down to the festival grounds right afterwards. I would probably be planning on which brewery to stop in at beforehand, something I’d been doing with more and more regularity, ever since the festival had adopted Molson and its overpriced cans of macro beer as a sponsor. The excitement would be palpable and my wife would likely be rolling her eyes and preparing to be without her husband for a week and a half…

But alas…

A few weeks after the festival lineup was released to great excitement (Alanis Morissette! Rage against the Machine!) and tickets went on sale, COVID-19 was announced as a worldwide pandemic and a threat to public safety in Canada. Everything was shut down. Concert tours and music festivals around the world were being cancelled. Bluesfest’s organizers held out for as long as they could, hoping against hope that things would clear up, and that the show could still go on. At the end of April, they pulled the plug, offering refunds or the option to transfer tickets to the following year, for which many of the very same exciting acts had already been confirmed. Of course, it was disappointing at the time, albeit completely understandable, and today, on the eve of what would’ve been the opening day, there’s more than a bit of a heavy heart in my chest.

The first time I attended the festival was back in 2009 and I have seen amazing sets at ten different editions of Bluesfest over the years. So what I thought I’d do for the next week and a half was to share photos and words from ten of my favourite sets from over the years, one for each day on which the festival would have taken place. Of course, I have already shared some great Bluesfest sets on these pages that likely would’ve been included. I won’t share them again but if you want whet your appetite for live show photos, you can click on the links below for those posts.

Father John Misty on the River Stage – Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Camera Obscura on the River Stage – Friday, July 5th, 2013

The Specials on the Claridge Homes Stage – Monday, July 8th, 2013

July Talk on the River Stage – Friday, July 11th, 2014

The Decemberists on the Claridge Stage – Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Are you ready now? Good! For the next eleven days (the festival always takes one day off after the first weekend for rest), I’ll be sharing a handful of photos, some thoughts, and where possible, the set list (thank you setlist.fm) for ten of my favourite Bluesfest sets. Grab your sunscreen, earplugs, favourite beverage, and let’s get ready to rock.

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Live music galleries

Live music galleries: Father John Misty [2012]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

Father John Misty @ Bluesfest

Artist: Father John Misty
When: July 11th, 2012
Where: River Stage, Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa
Context: Josh Tillman left his post as drummer for Fleet Foxes in 2012 and released his debut album under the moniker Father John Misty in April. I loved the psych folk extravaganza of “Fear fun” (and still consider it my favourite of his albums) but wasn’t at all expecting how great he’d be when I saw him live three months later. His touring band was also very good but unfortunately, I could not find out much about them online (and so could only provide the names of the few I could identify). Josh Tillman was particularly hilarious between songs, spouting random zingers, like when he pointed out a volunteer holding a question mark placard denoting “Information” and quipped that he loved the kid’s existential sign. It was a short set in all but I’ve seen him twice more since and am looking forward to seeing him a fourth time this coming weekend.
Point of reference song:
I’m writing a novel

Josh Tillman aka Father John Misty
Jeffertitti Moon and Benji Lysaght
unknown touring drummer for Father John Misty
Josh Tillman and Benji Lysaght
unknown touring guitarist and keyboard player for Father John Misty
Josh Tillman on the tambourine