The Ottawa Folk Festival – taking place this year from Thursday, September 6 through Monday, September 10 – and in its second year under Bluesfest administration, has announced its initial lineup and, like last year, it almost looks like there are two distinct festivals happening. Although there’s some overlap in the audiences, they attract two very different kinds of crowds.
Getting most of the attention is an indie-rock headliner-oriented, bluesfesty kind of festival that mostly plays out on the main stage with some spillover onto the smaller stages. Clearly, this aspect of the festival is after the younger demographic that wants to party late into the night. The move into September, when university students are back in town, is a move to attract more of this crowd – as are such acts as Bon Iver, Kathleen Edwards, Great Lake Swimmers and Great Big Sea (who do have have a lot of folk roots in their music).
Then, there’s the traditional folk festival centred on the smaller stages, and on the daytime workshop stages, with maybe a bit of spillover onto the main stage. This is the aspect of the festival meant to attract the kind of people who have been supporting folk festivals for years and years and decades, who support folk artists and go to folk clubs, who love the music without regard to what may be hip or popular at a particular moment in time.
Among the artists I’m most looking forward to seeing at the Ottawa Folk Festival this year are Red Horse, a trio that brings together Eliza Gilkyson, John Gorka and Lucy Kaplansky, all three of whom are superb singer-songwriters. Although I’ve seen all them individually many times, I’ve not heard them live as a trio yet. The Red Horse album was great and you can see my review at this link.
The Once from Newfoundland is another group whose recordings I really like but have not yet had a chance to see live. My review of their first album is at this link.
One of the main stage performers I am looking forward to is Amy Helm. Her work as lead singer of Ollabelle and backing her father, the late Levon Helm, has been great.
Old Man Luedecke – who I wrote about at this link – and Michael Jerome Browne – whose latest album I reviewed at this link – and Corb Lund – whose latest album I reviewed at this link – are artists I’ve seen many times before, who I always enjoy, and who I highly recommend.
I was also pleased to see Pat Moore on the bill. She’s got several fine CDs and is a strong live performer.
Two others acts whose videos I looked at online and now want to see are Belle Starr and Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys.
All of the artists I’ve mentioned plus many others and the ticket information is now available on the Ottawa Folk Festival website.
I await with interest announcements of other artists and the unveiling of the workshop schedule.