[Yet another filing from Ottawa correspondent Ross MacDonald. – AC]
As September arrives in Ottawa, summer may be coming to an end, but there is one more outdoor music festival: CityFolk.
Let’s first address the names of the two Ottawa music festivals: Bluesfest and CityFolk. Every year inevitably there is a group of people saying “but it isn’t blues/folk”. True, they are no longer festivals that cater to a singular genre. They started many years ago as a blues festival in early July, followed several years later by the addition of a Folk festival in September. But the festivals grew, adding headliners (and opening acts) across all genres. They have both now grown into ‘music festivals’, that still have some acts who cater to the original genres.
Now that we have all that out of the way, let’s get on with this year’s edition of Ottawa CityFolk. For 2022 the festival organizers changed the format so that it now plays over two consecutive weekends. On the second day of the opening weekend, it was a night dedicated to Canadian alt-rock artists: The Glorious Sons, The Blue Stones, and Sophia Radisch.
Opening up the night was Ottawa’s own Sophia Radisch, and there is no mistaking that she wants to re-ignite the post-grunge wave. Performing all original material, the guitar licks were ever-present alongside Sophia’s beautiful vocals. Speaking of which, if you haven’t heard Sophia’s music (and you really should), she mixes smooth melodies with raw power, not unlike Kim Deal.
The highlight of Sophia’s set was her 2019 single ‘Crossroads’. From the opening notes the crowd could hear the influence of Jerry Cantrel / Alice In Chains; it is a beautiful composition. Sophia was the perfect opener for two of Canada’s biggest alt-rock bands.
Next up was The Blue Stones who opened with their hit ‘Be My Fire’. It is incredible how much power and full sound can come out of a duet performing live. The dexterity of Tarek Jafer shredding on guitar while simultaneously singing and then dancing across the stage was an event to see and hear.
Justin Tessier was hammering the skins hard (also displacing a crash cymbal) and providing the backing vocals. The Blue Stones have only released two studio albums so far, but each contain a depth of singles that the duo had the crowd singing along to hit after hit like ‘Let It Ride’, right until their finale ‘Shakin’ Off the Rust’.
The Glorious Sons closed out the night, and closed out their North American tour, with their show at CityFolk. Right from the start of the show, bare-footed frontman Brett Emmons was on fire. From the opening single ‘Ruby’ the crowd was singing along (screaming along is actually a better description) with one of their favourite rock bands.
And Glorious Sons didn’t disappoint, playing singles like ‘White Noise’ and ‘Panic Attack’. The crowd was especially boisterous, joining Brett on ‘S.O.S. (Sawed Off Shotgun)’. Brett also gave a shout out to the newest member of The Glorious Sons, bassist Peter Van Helvoort.
Brett announced that this would be their last show of the summer before going into the studio to record an upcoming album. One of the last songs of the evening was ‘Everything Is Alright’ which was one big singalong between Brett and the crowd. The night closed with an incredible cover of AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’. The combination of Chris Koster’s lightning fast hammer-ons and pull-offs, and Brett’s vocals blew away the audience, but certainly didn’t leave them speechless.
The Glorious Sons:
Brett Emmons – lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
Jay Emmons – guitar, vocals
Chris Koster – guitar, vocals
Adam Paquette – drums, vocals
Josh Hewson – piano, guitar
Peter Van Helvoort – bass, vocals
The Blue Stones
Tarek Jafar – lead vocals, guitar
Justin Tessier – drums, backing vocals
Sophia Radisch – lead vocals, guitar
Zack Sarkissian – guitar
Sandro Ferraro – bass
Justin Piedimonte – drums