Ten great Ottawa Bluesfest sets: #3 Jenny Lewis – Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

(This year’s edition of Ottawa Bluesfest has been cancelled, for obvious reasons. In previous years, especially on my old blog, I would share photos and thoughts on some of the live music I was enjoying at the festival throughout the duration. So for the next week and a half, I thought I’d share ten great sets, out of the many I’ve witnessed over the years, one for each day on which music would have be performed. Enjoy.)

Jenny Lewis and her band and a sea of umbrellas at Bluesfest 2014

Artist: Jenny Lewis
When: Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
Where: River Stage at 7:00pm
Context: Another of the pitfalls of outdoor music festivals is inclement weather. Of course, Ottawa in July is particularly fun for the wild weather and it just seems to get more unsettled as the years roll on. I’ve weathered more than a couple storms in the middle of concert crowds, whether during sets or waiting for them to begin. It’s gotten so that dollar store ponchos have become a regular fixture in my pack whenever I head out to a festival. Others bring umbrellas and to them I say: “Leave them at home!” They often blow open and break in strong winds and they block the views of anyone unfortunate enough to be behind you.

But enough of that.

Back on the Tuesday night of the 2014 edition of Bluesfest, the skies opened up, exactly as forecast, and drenched the diehards awaiting the arrival of indie singer/songwriter Jenny Lewis. The rain was such that they delayed of the start of her 7pm set and it just seemed to get worse and worse, until the rain seemed endless and we started to think that the River stage would be washed away, along with our hopes of seeing Jenny Lewis live. She finally did go on at 7:40, leaving only twenty minutes remaining of her originally scheduled set. I stuck it out because I’d been following her since her days with Rilo Kiley and had enjoyed quite a bit of her solo work. And who knew if she’d ever make it back to Ottawa?

Jenny Lewis and her band only performed a total of six songs: a couple of Rilo Kiley tracks, a couple of tracks from her album with the Watson Twins, and the brand new single off her upcoming album, “Just one of the guys” (see full list below). She came out wearing a colourful outfit (similar to that shown on the aforementioned new album cover), playing a rainbow coloured acoustic guitar, and projecting a like mannered disposition. For the final song, “Acid tongue”, her backing band, dressed in whites and blacks, gathered behind her, choir-style to sing backup, while she serenaded us quietly on her acoustic guitar. It was a lovely set and I’m grateful that we got the chance to see her, even though it was only a short performance, but one can’t help wonder what else she would have played had the rain not altered the schedule.

Afterwards, wandering away from the stage, I overheard Lawrence Gowan (!) on one of the main stages cracking a lame joke about double rainbows. I looked up and sure enough, there was a magnificent rainbow that again matched Lewis’s garb and guitar and that seemed to end at the foot of the River Stage on which she had just performed. Coincidence?

Rain parkas and umbrellas
Jenny Lewis
Natalie Prass and Megan McCormick
Jenny Lewis, Macey Taylor, and Joshua Adams
Jenny Lewis and her rainbow guitar
The rainbow ends at the River Stage

Setlist:
Just One of the Guys
Silver Lining (Rilo Kiley song)
Rise Up With Fists!!
You Are What You Love
A Man/Me/Then Jim (Rilo Kiley song)
Acid Tongue

Vinyl love: Doves “Lost souls”

(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: Doves
Album Title: Lost souls
Year released: 2000
Year reissued: 2019
Details: double LP, grey vinyl, limited edition, numbered 2952

The skinny: Last year gave us the big news that Doves, one of my all-time favourite bands, was re-forming for some live shows. And then came the vinyl reissues of their now classic first three albums. I received them in the mail around this time last year and I immediately posted ecstatic pics of my new copy their sophomore release, “The last broadcast“. These days, we are eagerly awaiting news for their brand new album to drop. (We’ve already heard the first single, “Carousels”, which sounds brilliant.) Until then, here’s another of those limited edition, coloured vinyl, numbered releases. This one, their debut, “Lost souls”, pretty sums it all up for me this week. Those in the know will understand.

Standout track: “The cedar room”

Vinyl love: The National “High violet”

(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 National
Album Title: High violet
Year released: 2010
Details: Limited edition, double heavyweight vinyl, violet, gatefold

The skinny: A few weeks ago, “High Violet”, the fifth album by American indie rock band, The National, turned ten years old. To celebrate, their label, 4AD, released an expanded edition anniversary edition of the album, the vinyl version including an additional LP of bonus material and all three discs pressed in a lovely, white and purple marbling. I didn’t pre-order it because I’m not at the point (yet) of buying multiple versions of the same album for my vinyl collection and besides, I’m pretty happy with the limited edition, original pressing on heavyweight, violet vinyl that I found a bunch of years ago. You may debate “High violet” that is not their best work but it built on the exposure gained by The National’s previous record, “Boxer”, and well, I think it’s some pretty fine music (two of the tracks, including the one below, appeared on my Best tunes of 2010 list). The National’s sombre and atmospheric sound is just so great on vinyl and is on full display here. In fact, I remember the first time I listened to this record after purchasing it and, I think my friend Mark will agree with me here, I thought it sounded very different from the version on CD.

Standout track: “Conversation 16”