On Thursday, June 21 Ottawa Jazzfest kicked off at the peak of the city’s most notable heat wave. However, 35 plus temperatures and humidity storms couldn’t fight off festival enthusiasts seeking out some live jazz and feel good snacks.
This year the festival traded in some old noshing faves like Beavertail and Pizza Pizza stands for hip, new and socially responsible choices. Stone Soup Foodworks is dedicated to ‘slow food. fast’ featuring freshly made tacos, pad thai, juices and much more all at affordable prices. A focus on local beer and wine included a light and dark BEAUs (Vankleek Hill) draft and Chardonnay or Merlot-Cab of 1812 (VQA, Niagara).
Throughout the weekend,crowds bearing all the flesh one could afford swarmed the central venue to catch some of the impressive opening jazz headliners, including the likes of John Mayall, Janelle Monae & Roman Gian Arthur – all slated for centre stage of confederation park. Many danced, others swayed and the odd few were even nursed into a semi-dreamland and back by the plethora of talented artists.
The humming anticipation of Mayhall’s fans was evident long before the 70-some year old stole the stage from announcers. The grandfather of blues, and mentor to the likes of Eric Clapton owned the Ottawa stage for the first time in almost twenty years with vigour. Many braved the threatening storm clouds to witness the historic performance by the english blues singer with over 50 years of experience and nurtured talent under his wing.
Janelle Monae lit up the stage with a generous and invigorating performance. The Atlanta-based songstress hit the stage with a tight 12-piece band and promptly dove into a seamless medley of funky jams. Clad with her trademark black and white ensemble & with her hair tied up; she danced and sang with controlled abandonment. The entire show was so flawless, one might have mistaken her for Monae’s artistic alter-ego Cyndi Mayweather (an android with human emotions) on stage rather than her. The evening included a rousing version of the Jackson 5’s “ABC” as well as a Prince cover and a classic jazz ballad. All in attendance were left in awe of one of the greatest young performer’s in popular music today.
The weekend successfully kicked the festival off with a bang, but the excitement didn’t end there. Continue reading for the rest of our 2012 Jazzfest coverage.
Throughout the 12-day festival many talented performers of all shapes, sizes and walks of life graced the festival’s five stages. Each of the venues offered a unique experience. From the majesty of the NAC’s ‘Fourth Stage’, to the intimate late night ‘OLG Stage’ [located in front of City Hall].
While the days were packed full of hot sun, good vibes and tunes, the nights offered a cooling solace from the heat at no expense of entertainment.
The likes of ‘The Barr Brothers’ & local talents, ‘Dry River Caravan’ made their mark on the late night stage both humbled and deserving.
As obscure as they are talented, ‘Dry River Caravan’ collective distinguished themselves from the other, more expected jazz performers, venturing to the realms of indie folk with accordions and clarinets. The insatiable need to dance resulting from the bands presence fell short of few in the crowd as they nursed their fans from their seats with a sound reminiscent of Beirut [an indie folk band out of Santa Fe, NM].
With so much artistic brilliance displayed throughout the Nation’s Capital, Jazzfest offered something exciting for all ages and interests.
Check out the rest of our photography below!