Live music galleries: Hopped and Confused festival 2019

(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. Like my ‘Vinyl love’ series, these posts will be more photos than words but that doesn’t mean I won’t welcome your thoughts and comments. And of course, until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts of page.)

The Hopped and Confused stage

Artists: Nobro, Alexandria Maillot, Weaves, July Talk, Taylor Knox, Cleopatrick, Born Ruffians, …
When: August 23rd and 24th, 2019
Where: Mill Street Brewery, Ottawa
Some words: If you’ve scrolled through any of my feeds on the various social media sites and apps out there, you may have noticed that, as well as being a fool for music (and vinyl collecting), I am also a card carrying Beer Enthusiast. So when you pair the two and call it a festival, as the good folks at Mill Street Brewery have done, you can bet that I would be interested. In fact, it is only by mere chance, and by chance I mean bad luck*, that it took until its fourth year running that I would finally get out to experience the Hopped and Confused festival.

With two excellent headliners this year, I took advantage of the two-day pass for an affordable $65 and was treated to an almost flawlessly run festival, mostly sunny skies, delicious beers, between set entertainment provided by local alternative radio station Live 88.5, and eight excellent and varied Canadian indie rock acts.

It all kicked off with Nobro, a Montreal-based four-piece punk rock act, or as frontwoman Kathryn McCaughey called them, “chicks who like to shred”. They were followed by a lovely set by singer/songwriter Alexandria Maillot and then, art-popsters, Weaves. The first evening was capped by the push/pull, he said/she said, Toronto rockers, July Talk, and the crowed they drew was quite eye-opening to me. Good for them indeed.

Day two started off with the power pop indie rock of Taylor Knox. Coburg, Ontario’s Cleopatrick then knocked everyone’s socks off with a blistering set that seemed way more gigantic than two people should be able to produce. Then, well, Born Ruffians were once again so excellent live, I had myself wondering why I didn’t have more of their albums.

I’m stopping there but if you’ve been counting, you might have noticed that there’s one act missing. I’m saving that one for tomorrow… Oh, and apologies for the blurriness of some of the photos but it was also a beer festival after all.

Point of reference song:Paper girl” by July Talk

Kathryn McCaughey, Sarah Dion, and Lisandre Bourdages of Nobro
Karolane Carbonneau of Nobro
Alexandria Maillot
Jasmyn Burke and Spencer Cole of Weaves
DJ Noel of Live 88.5 keeping the crowd pumped between sets
The Mills Street Brewpub on day two, before all the crowds descended
Taylor Knox
Luke Gruntz and Ian Fraser of Cleopatrick
Born Ruffians
Steve Hamelin of Born Ruffians
Luke Lalonde and Mitch Derosier of Born Ruffians
Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay of July Talk
Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay of July Talk
July Talk

* I even had tickets to last year’s event but came down with a wicked case of the man cold the day of the event.

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,

Live music galleries: Ottawa Bluesfest 2019, day seven – Brandon “Taz” Nederauer, Shakey Graves

(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.)

Bluesville stage lineup

Artists: Brandon “Taz” Nederauer, Shakey Graves
When: July 11th, 2019
Where: Lebreton Flats Park, Ottawa
Some words: After taking another night off imposed by serious stomach issues (I’ll never know what that was), I was back at the festival last night. A massive wave of violent storm activity passed through the area right around the time the gates were due to open, delaying this for almost two hours and cancelling a whole swath of the early shows. This suited me just fine because I had planned from the beginning to head back home by bus, eat a home-cooked meal, and then drive back in to catch a couple sets.

On deck on the Bluesville stage tonight were some serious guitarists. I arrived with plenty of time to catch the first of them to take the stage for 7:30: teenage blues rock guitarist, Brandon “Taz” Nederauer. It wouldn’t necessarily be music I would listen to all the time but you have to hand it to a kid that picked up a guitar after watching the film “School of rock” and found out he had real talent.

The headliner and real reason I roused myself back down to the muddy festival grounds last night was the return to Bluesfest of Alejandro Rose-Garcia, aka Shakey Graves. I had seen him twice before already, but have recently discovered his latest album and the new direction for the Texas-born guitarist and roused my interest in him all over again. As for his show? Like always, the man was a performer and had the crowd with him the whole way.

Brandon ‘Taz’ Niederauer and his band
Matt Godfrey on guitar
Kendall Lentz on drums
Matt Fox on bass
Brandon Niederauer
Shakey Graves alone onstage
Shakey Graves and his band
Patrick O’Connor on guitar
Jon Shaw on bass
Shakey Graves with drummer Chris Boosahda in the background