176. Lightning: Ottawa Jazz Festival 2013 with David Byrne & St. Vincent and Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, June 23 & 29

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My wristband for the 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival and Macaulay Culkin sporting an appropriate facial gesture. (All photos and scans by VA.)

176. Lightning: Ottawa Jazz Festival 2013 with David Byrne & St. Vincent, Sunday June 23 / Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Saturday June 29, Confederation Park, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, $165.00 for a (largely wasted) Festival Pass

Another year, another Ottawa Jazz Festival: more great music intersecting with frustrations.  In other words, business as usual.

This year’s J Fest appeared as a terrific proposition with a stellar line-up anchored by its biggest star, Ms. Aretha Franklin, along with the currently touring collaboration between ex-Talking Head David Byrne and the fabaroony St. Vincent aka Annie Clark.  Sweetness!  Not only that but Willie Nelson, The Bad Plus, Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Mavis Staples, and a few other options. Read the rest of this entry »

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175. I’m Your Man: Leonard Cohen, December 7, 2012

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Yes, it was pricey.  Yes, it was worth it.

175. I’m Your Man: Leonard Cohen, Friday December 7, 2012, Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, $171.04 

“I love to speak with Leonard,
He’s a sportsman and a shepherd,
He’s a lazy bastard living in a suit”
from “Going Home” (2012)

I’ll cut right to the chase: this was one of the very best concerts I have ever seen in close to 40 years of gig-going.  In my all-time Top 20.  Earlier last year,  I lamented not having been able to see Cohen last time around in my 20 Performances I Missed posting, thinking he would not tour again when I wrote it only to find myself holding December tickets by the time I published the piece.

I had good reason to believe he would never tour again. Read the rest of this entry »


174. Walk Like A Giant: Neil Young and Crazy Horse with Patti Smith, November 24, 2012

Neil Patti 2012 Ottawa Ticket

Tonight’s the night … to walk like a giant.

174. Walk Like A Giant: Neil Young and Crazy Horse with Patti Smith, Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Saturday November 24, 2012, $73.11.

You can never be sure which iteration of “Neil Young” you’re going to get when you see him live — or which segments of his fanbase will predominate at a given show.  This was my sixth time seeing Neil in four decades and most of those gigs have certainly been distinct from one another, with sometimes decidedly different patrons at the fore. Read the rest of this entry »


171. Chameleon/Comedian: Kathleen Edwards, February 9, 2012

Kathleen Edwards ticket Ottawa 2012 bronson centre variousartists

My 2012 concert-going began with this magnificent show from returning hometown hero, Kathleen Edwards.  (ALSO NOTE: With the posting of this entry, I am now caught up here on WordPress with all my concert postings from my Open Salon blog, although there are other types of entries on OS not yet available here).

171. Chameleon/Comedian: Kathleen Edwards with Hannah Georgas, Bronson Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Thursday February 9, 2012, $43.50.

Back around the turn of the century (isn’t it neat to be able to write that as a contemporary benchmark!), Cublet and I took a trip out to the country to meet up with his family for a barbeque. His sister had just moved into a farmhouse she was renting in tandem with a good friend of hers. “Her housemate is a musician,” Cublet told me. “Hmmm …,” I pondered, with a mix of interest and ambivalence.

Both responses derived from the same source, namely that I’ve known a lot of musicians in my life. Read the rest of this entry »


173. Hold On Me: Esperanza Spalding with Gretchen Parlato, June 28, 2012

Esperanza Ticket 2012 This was one hot show, in both good and bad senses.

173. Hold On Me: Esperanza Spalding with Gretchen Parlato, Toronto Jazz Festival, Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Thursday June 28, 2012, $48.25.

It was less than one week after experiencing the brilliant Janelle Monáe under unnecessarily difficult circumstances thanks to the intuition-challenged burghers of the Ottawa Jazz Festival, and here we are five hours south at the Toronto equivalent. Staged right downtown at the feet of City Hall, Cublet and I were here to hear the similarly-brilliant Esperanza Spalding and her big band wail away, showcasing her new release (and one of 2012’s very best), Radio Music Society. Read the rest of this entry »


172. Locked Inside: Janelle Monáe with Roman GianArthur and the David Mott Quintet, June 23, 2012

 Janelle Monae June 2012 Ottawa Ticket variousartists Locked inside, in the great outdoors.

172. Locked Inside: Janelle Monáe with Roman GianArthur and the David Mott Quintet, Ottawa Jazz Festival, Confederation Park, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Saturday June 23, 2012, $49.

It was the perfect summer afternoon and evening for sitting outside and taking in live music. There was substantial pre-show buzz in Ottawa for this performance, resulting in a large turn out for this night of tunes capped off by an electrifying set from genre-hopping, R&B-based, tuxedo-clad headliner Janelle Monáe and her dynamite backing band of 12 musicians plus + 1 MC. As an artist who topped my current “New Act I Most Want to See Live” wish list, she exceeded all my expectations for what I hope will merely be the first time I’ll be seeing her perform.

Sounds splendid, doesn’t it? Such a shame, then, that the Ottawa Jazz Fest went out of its way to make this event as teeth-gnashing as possible. Read the rest of this entry »