Gillian Kirkland @ Mercury Lounge, Saturday, Jan. 11

I have three other picks and they all fall on Saturday night. The first is somewhat in keeping with the old-world European vibes of Ukrainia, but that's where the similarity ends. Gillian Kirkland is armed with an accordion and an other-worldly voice. She's attempting to have a CD release show for the second time in three months, for the album Rubicon.

Gillian Kirkland

Gillian Kirkland's relaunched CD launch will be at the Mercury Lounge Saturday night. (Courtesy Gillian Kirkland)

Gillian Kirkland tells the sadly humourous story very poetically on her web site: she and her band members showed up at the venue for sound check on November 23rd, right when they were supposed to. The doors were locked, and they stayed locked through many phone calls to her venue contacts, while Gillian and her bandmates waited in a running car in the parking lot. Hours passed (and she apologizes to the atmosphere for that) until eventually they got someone on the line and were told the venue manager had been fired and all shows cancelled! Of course no one thought to tell the band.

The self-proclaimed "squeezebox diva's" CD release show hung in the balance. After a phone call to someone who owned a venue in Gatineau they stuck a sign on the door of an unnamed cafe in Ottawa and hauled their instruments and a few attendees across the river. Unfortunately the back-up venue had an upstairs tenant who had liberally varnished...something...that afternoon. The few concert-goers who made the trek were forced out early due to the fumes mixing with the frigid air from the open window. Quite a tale of woe. Gillian hopes to reverse her fortunes this weekend at The Mercury Lounge Saturday night. Tickets are $10 and if you throw in an extra $5 you get a CD as well.

The Strumbellas @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, Saturday, Jan. 11

Simon Ward leads this country-rock band. He hails from Lindsay, Ontario, and secretly aspires to a rap career. Perhaps that might be too fine a spin. The truth is, Simon's first-ever tune was a hip-hop number. I found this out when he and his piano player David Ritter submitted to one of my Sprinterviews. This speed interview also revealed that David has a very acute gag reflex, so don't bring sardines to Zaphod's Saturday night. I really love this band's blend of Beach Boys, Arcade Fire, and bluegrass. They can be big and epic, using all six members to their fullest, and in turn be sweet and sparse. The Strumbellas have gorgeous harmonies, great technical musicianship in the six players, and they know when a song needs less instead of more.

The band is bouncing around the greater Ottawa area in the next month: I'll be seeing them at Zaphod's this Saturday night. But, if you prefer a sit-down show in a venue that absolutely suits this bluegrass-indie band, The Almonte Old Town Hall is hosting them next Saturday (January 18th) as part of the Folkus Series. Then the following weekend, Friday the 24th, they're at the Branch in Kemptville. BBQ and bluegrass-pop! I'd say rather than choosing, follow them around and you'll also get a great tour of two very charming towns in the Ottawa Valley.

The Strumbellas

The Strumbellas play Zaphod's Saturday night before hitting another few venues in the Ottawa area. (Courtesy of CBC Music)

On Bandwidth Saturday afternoon I'll feature Rant Maggie Rant, a Celtic group from Stratford, and Ottawa's own blues trio extraordinaire Monkeyjunk. I'm also going to play a tune from Brock Zeman's brand-new album as his CD release at The Blacksheep Saturday night is another pick of the weekend. We hope to have him live on Ottawa Morning Friday at 8:15 am.

Music listings

Saturday, Jan. 11

The Strumbellas + Brandon Allan & the Bad Decisions + Elgin Skye @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, 8:30 p.m., $10

Kite @ Gigspace 7:30 p.m. $15

Drew Nelson (4-8 p.m.) / Glorious Moonrockets + Swollen Eyes + Devil Eyes (10 p.m.) @ Atomic Rooster, 303 Bank St., free

Water Bomber, 4 p.m., Free / The Musettes + Monday I Retire + Suits and Tuques, 10 p.m. $10 @ The Rainbow Bistro

Steve Berndt w/ JP Allain @ Options Jazz Lounge, Brookstreet Hotel 525 Legget Drive, Kanata, 8-12 p.m., free

Brock Zeman (CD Release) @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield 8:30 p.m., $12 adv, $15 door

Gillian Kirkland @ Mercury Lounge, 11 p.m., $10 cover / $15 gets a CD as well

dj Magnum D.I. @ Kaffe 1870, Wakefield, 9 p.m., $TBD

Jesse Greene Band @ Irene's, 9:30 p.m., $TBD

The Great Sabatini @ Pressed, 9 p.m., $TBD

Josef Mieto (CD release) + Amanda Cottreau @ Alphasoul Cafe, 1015 Wellington, 8 p.m., $TBD

Sunday, Jan. 12

Wicked Grin (Road to Memphis Winner) 6-9 p.m. / Late Nite Live w/ Scott Allen's Acoustic Stew with Dr Dave, 10 pm @ Atomic Rooster

Open Blues Jam. This week's host: Maria Hawkins, 4 p.m., $3, Free for Jammers @ The Rainbow Bistro

Main Street Market + Rimbombante @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield 4 p.m., $10