Category Archives: roots

178a. Magic Chords: Ottawa Bluesfest 2013 (Pt. 1) with The Black Keys, Sharon Van Etten, Femi Kuti, Neko Case, Bahamas, and more, July 4-6

Ticket Festival Pass 2013 Corrected

“Summer’s here and the time is right for …”

178a. Magic Chords: Ottawa Bluesfest 2013 (Pt. 1) with The Black Keys, Sharon Van Etten, Femi Kuti, Neko Case, Bahamas, and more, July 4-6, LeBreton Flats, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The Black Keys, Femi Kuti
Thursday July 4, 2013

For over a decade now, Ottawa Bluesfest has been the musical centrepiece of my summer here in the National Capital Region — it’s one of the geography’s positives. Continue reading

20/12: My Musical Favourites and Re/Discoveries of Last Year

 (8-Tracks Mock-Up by VA)

After a break of several months I’m returning to writing and to the My Life — In Concert! series.  But first, my annual recap …

Rarely have I been so happy to put a year to bed as 2012.  For me, it was the very essence of the phrase “exceedingly crappadoodles.” So, rather than rehash the family crises, near job loss, triple shooting and homicide a few doors down, car theft, etc. etc, etc., I’ll Instead ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive: it’s a new year that’s off to a much better start; spring is around the corner — and there was a shed-load of great tunes during the past year so that not all my associations with it are bad ones. Continue reading

020b. Waiting In Vain: 20 Performances I Missed, 1980-2011

nxtc handbill london 1980XTC at Centennial Hall, London, Ontario, Monday November 24, 1980. Too bad the show never happened (Thanks to MZ for the scan of her handbill).

You’ve got the warm ticket in your hot little hands, anticipation is building, and you just know it’s going to be a great experience and a fun night out.

But it doesn’t always work that way.  Shows get cancelled or artists are pulled from advertised lineups owing to illness or personal emergencies.  Or ticket demand is too high — or too low.  Or shows go ahead but it is you that is ill or can’t afford to get yourself there (as you’ll see, that’s a popular one for me during my university years). Or the weather turns crap. Or rides vanish. Or someone joins a cult. And on it goes. Continue reading

020a. You Won’t See Me: 20 Acts I Wish I’d Seen (1920s-1980)

20 Acts I Wish I'd Seen Colour Block by VariousArtistsk BLOG

(Top 20 Colour Cube by VA)

For those of you who go out to see live music, you know that part of going to shows is not going to shows. Concerts are cancelled, plans change, unforseen events present themselves, and sometimes people plain up and die (luckily, Johnny Thunders made a full recovery from his early-evening overdose on the night I went to see him, living to play the show, albeit barely).

As I work my way through my series, I wanted to have an entry that honoured those concerts and performers who I did not get to see … and here it is, also doubling as a celebration of working my way up to No. 020 (they say that hindsight is 20/20, so I felt this was a fitting number for the piece). Continue reading

170. The Shape I’m In: Etc #7 2008-11 with Rush, Austra, Stephen Malkmus, Cyndi Lauper, John Hiatt, Levon Helm, Carole Pope, & Margaret Cho

170. The Shape I’m In: Etc #7 2008-2011 with Rush, Austra, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Cyndi Lauper, John Hiatt, the Levon Helm Band, Carole Pope and comedian Margaret Cho.

NOTE: Over the course of this series, I will occasionally be publishing compilation pieces that are a collection of encapsulated reviews covering gigs I am not writing full entries for. This 7th iteration of the Etc. round-ups is appearing first, owning to my back entries not yet having caught up to Etc. #1.    Continue reading

166. Lookin’ Out My Back Door: John Fogerty, July 12, 2011


John Fogerty’s top-notch set kickstarted Week Two of this year’s Ottawa Bluesfest … and triggered some bittersweet thoughts and memories for me.

166. Lookin’ Out My Back Door: John Fogerty & more, Ottawa Bluesfest 2011 (Pt. 3), LeBreton Flats, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Tuesday July 12, 2011, $19.17 (pre-sale, per night). 

Weekends may have been made for Michelob, but it appears as if Tuesday’s were made for John Fogerty as the 2011 Ottawa Bluesfest resumed for Week Two with this much-anticipated, mid-festival headlining slot by the former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman. Continue reading

160. The Rain Song: Robert Plant & the Band of Joy, June 23, 2011



2011’s Ottawa Jazz Festival, sporting its oft un-jazzy high profile headliners, is kicked off under dark skies with Robert Plant to a full house in Confederation Park. (Photo of the wristband passes by VA; the image is from the festival booklet).

160. The Rain Song: Robert Plant & the Band of Joy with Bahamas, Ottawa Jazz Festival, Confederation Park, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Thursday June 23, 2011, $40.

“Upon us all a little rain must fall” 

… from “The Rain Song” by Led Zeppelin from Houses of the Holy (1973)

1973 LZ Halifax

VariousArtists, aged 10 in 1973, holding up my newly purchased copy of Led Zeppelin’s then-latest release, Houses of the Holy, in a Halifax hotel room while on an east coast vacation with my family. (Photo by VA Snr.)

After a shaky start, spring sprung around these parts in 2011 with a welcome excess of gorgeous warmth and sunshine. Late May through spring’s conclusion was pure meteorological sweetness. And so it was all the more frustrating when this year’s highly anticipated Ottawa Jazz Festival began amid the temperature suddenly dipping and the skies turning from sunny to dark and grumpy for several days of wet sogginess. Jesus Murphy! Continue reading