Bluesfest so far: White Stripes and more

I saw a newspaper article yesterday — “Are the White Stripes bluesy enough to headline Bluesfest?” Someone must be colour blind! – Jack White, mid-set last night

Jack White at the Ottawa Bluesfest - photo by Sarah Naegels,
(photo by Sarah Naegels)

Bluesfest is in full swing! I had been meaning to post every day about what we’ve seen, but things have just been too busy, with work and cat-pilling and Bluesfest itself. So I’ll work backwards:

Last night was the highlight of the festival for me, and I think for Candice too: the White Stripes! Jack and Meg played a blistering hour-and-a-half show with only a five-minute break in the middle. The White Stripes have always had their blues roots but I think Jack turned it up a little last night. Fantastic playing, great music, and a blast to watch — not so much moves but just awesome stage presence, and a nice mix of material from Icky Thump and from earlier albums. We were about 150 feet from the stage and it still felt intimate, and the lawn chair problem decided to take a night off. I’m an awful music writer, though, so you can read a full review of the show from the Citizen if you’re interested.

Before the White Stripes we caught half of Leahy’s set. They were late getting on and they’re a bit too Rankin-Family-ish for my tastes (and a bit heavy on the fiddle), but it was still fun to watch a bit of. For a band whose gimmick is step-dancing there wasn’t very much step-dancing.

Saturday we took off because Candice and I were celebrating our first anniversary! Hard to believe it’s been a year. We had dinner at the Courtyard Restaurant, the same one we got married at. Candice wrote about the menu on ‘foodies.

Friday night we passed on the headliner, George Thoroughgood, because we’re under 40. Instead we caught Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, who I’ve seen before at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Honestly I go to see Victor Wooten play bass, and he didn’t disappoint. I should really get playing again. After Bela Fleck was Kid Koala, a DJ from Montreal, who spun a fun set.

Thursday night I saw Jimmy Vaughan while Candice was at work. Lots of good, solid blues guitar but I know of Jimmy only because of Stevie Ray and the show was a bit reserved for my tastes. After that was Bob Dylan who is really just a Bob Dylan cover band these days. Now I can tell people I’ve seen Bob Dylan live, but that’s about all I got out of that show other than some yelling matches with idiots in lawnchairs.

Tonight is Buddy Guy but I’m pretty tired from the weekend and it’s from 9 to 11 and it’s raining, so there’s probably a good chance I might take a day off to make sure I’m rested up for George Clinton tomorrow night!