Live Music

6 must-see shows in Ottawa-area this weekend

There are a lot of good shows and concerts to choose from in the National Capital Region this weekend, writes CBC Radio Bandwidth host Amanda Putz.

Heavy hitters include Royal Wood, BlakDenim, Neko Case, Parallels, Wordburglar and more

BlakDenim (EP Release) @ Mercury Lounge, Thursday May 8

BlakDenim plays the Mercury Lounge on Thursday night. (Alexander Vlad)
Since it formed last year, hip hop/RnB/pop group BlakDenim has swelled to 10 members. On one stage you'll get a killer singer, rapper and just about everything else, including congas. BlakDenim has a very democratic approach to songwriting. Somebody brings an idea to rehearsal and they either vote it in and begin to layer on the idea, or, if they don't love it, they'll at least try to workshop it a bit to see if something can be salvaged. (The House of Commons could learn a thing or two from BlakDenim.)

At its heart it's hip hop, but the elements of jazz, RnB, pop and even rock elevate it beyond one-genre status. Last week bassist Karl Acelin swung by the Bandwidth studio for a rapid-fire Q&A I call a Sprinterview. I learned that BlakDenim's tall bassist can beatbox a mean Beethoven, that the biggest thing he's ever won is a pencil and that his hero is his grandma. How rad is that? It's going to be quite a night at Mercury Lounge tonight for the EP release of Vanguard(en). If you can't make it to the market, fear not: BlakDenim plays The Blacksheep in Wakefield later this month with Phil Motion, and it'll be making an appearance at both Hope Volleyball Tournament and Bluesfest this summer as well.

Tulip Festival: Parallels + more @ Dow's Lake, Friday May 9

Parallels plays the Tulip Festival at Dow's Lake on Friday evening. (
Apparently since the tulips are so late in coming, The Tulip Festival thought three days before the festival was plenty of time to hype its musical guests! Fortunately there is a veritable bouquet to pick from. Friday afternoon things start at 3:30 p.m. with Julie Corrigan, followed by The Jivewires and Zoo Legacy. The afterparty moves things indoors but remains at Dow's Lake.

Toronto trio Parallels has an average age around 25, judging by their band photo. However, it's nice to see them pay homage to their Canadian synth-pop forefathers by covering "Moonlight Desires" by the one and only Gowan. Holly Dodson's voice has been compared to Madonna's, so it's fitting that she's found her sound in retro-pop. Parallels play with The Hornettes at Lagos Bar on Dow's Lake marina.

Saturday May 10 is royalty day, featuring Royal Streets, Royal Wood, Neko Case (queen of alt country) @ various venues

Neko Case plays the Bronson Centre on Saturday night.
Readers may recall me mentioning a band I'd heard playing live while I was eating supper in my backyard on Canada Day. The Royal Streets is the band name and The Rainbow is hosting the quartet Saturday night.  If I weren't going to be in Wakefield hosting Writer's Fest I would definitely be at the Rainbow. 

However, if I was a single woman of marrying age who is into extremely handsome piano-playing balladeers, I'd probably choose the NAC Theatre for Royal Wood. His new album is very openly about the failure of his marriage, so I'm not saying he's looking... I'm just saying he's not not looking. Royal Wood is one of the last men standing in indie pop without a beard, therefore a true original. As of Wednesday there were less than 100 tickets so snap one up fast. 

Neko Case, the queen of alt country, is the third royal in the list. Ten seconds into any song sung by that voice and I can easily forgive the fact she rarely seems to brush her hair for a concert or consider wearing anything but a raggedy old hoodie. Her pipes, after all, are the real show!

Wordburglar + The Cybertronic Spree @ Zaphod's, Saturday May 10

Wordburglar plays Zaphod's on Saturday night. (
If you're not much of a rock monarchist but rather a non-conformist, then there is something a little "out there" at Zaphod Beeblebrox on Saturday night. Fitting that the nightclub on the edge of the universe is hosting a show called The Pan-Galactic Showcase. Haligonian hip hop master Wordburglar will be on hand, along with a band titled The Cybertronic Spree.

These six people love 1986's The Transformers movie. I mean, love it. They have devoted all their time and energy into learning the soundtrack, and spent what looks to be a lot of money on really kick-butt costumes. Yes they appeal to Transfans the same as a My Little Pony tribute would appeal to the Bronies, but fans of old-fashioned fun will be as at home at the show as Transfans. I must add a disclaimer: it appears they spent so much money on costumes there wasn't any left for singing lessons, unless there has been a vast improvement since their last YouTube upload. This one's all about the visuals, plus you get Wordburglar's incredible flow to make it a must-see, must-hear Saturday at Zaphod's.

Bandwidth on the radio

Tune in to Bandwidth on Saturday from 5-6 p.m. to hear my interview with The Royal Streets of Kitchener about their brand new record Kings and Queens. You'll also hear Zoo Legacy in a late-night Sprinterview. They play for free at Dow's Lake for Tulip Fest at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. 

On Saturday evening I'll be touching down in Wakefield right after the show as I'm hosting the first annual Wakefield Writer's Fest Gala, with authors Frances Itani and Trevor Ferguson, among many others. Please, come say hi!


Thursday, May 8

  • BlakDenim + Missing Linx @ Mercury Lounge (EP release), 9 p.m., $15 (includes new EP)
  • Android 16 (Thunder Bay) + Don't You (Mean People) + Randy Shenanigans + Palm Trees @ Avante Garde Bar, time and cost TBD
  • Adam Baldwin + Hearts & Mines @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, 8:30 p.m., $7

Friday, May 9

  • Robert Farrell Band + Lee Jessen + Not Scientists (Lyon, France) + Sketchy Poutine @ Avante Garde Bar, time and cost TBD
  • Tulip Festival: Parallels + The Hornettes + Zoo Legacy + The Jivewires + Julie Corrigan (plus fireworks) @ outdoors & Lagos Bar at Dow's Lake, 3:30 p.m. - 1 a.m., free
  • Trees N.A. + Chops & the Holics + Dead Bees @ Pressed, 8 p.m., $5
  • Secret Broadcast + Fevers @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, 8:30 p.m., $5
  • The Red Rails + Metronome Jones & Monsun @ The Blacksheep Inn, 8:30 p.m., $10 adv
  • Buckledown @ The Branch, Kemptville, 9 p.m., cost TBD

Saturday, May 10

  • Sweet and the Backbeat @ Atomic Rooster, 4-8 p.m., free 
  • No Fly List + The Bruitals + G. Rogers & The Capital Dominion Radiators @ Atomic Rooster, 10 p.m., free 
  • Electric Pow Wow (with A Tribe Called Red) @ Babylon, 10 p.m., cost TBD
  • Neko Case + The Dodos @ Bronson Centre Theatre, 8 p.m., $39.50
  • Ottawa Classical Choir presents Brahams Requiem @ Dominion Chalmers, 7:30 p.m., $10-$40
  • Head of the Herd + The Balconies + The Damn Truth @ Mavericks, 9 p.m., $15
  • Royal Wood + Peter Katz @ NAC Theatre, 8 p.m., $29+
  • The Royal Streets @ The Rainbow, 9:30 p.m., $5
  • WAG! presents The Pan-Galactic Showcase w/ The Cybertronic Spree + Wordburglar + Critical Miss & Retro Joad Cosplay and Cabaret @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, 8:30 p.m., $20
  • SoulJazz Orchestra @ The Blacksheep Inn, 8:30 p.m., $12 adv

Sunday, May 11

  • JigSaw @ Atomic Rooster, 6 p.m., free
  • Scott Allen's Acoustic Stew with Dr. Dave @ Atomic Rooster, 10 p.m., free

Wednesday, May 14

  • The Bros. Landreth + Jack Pine and the Fire @ House of Targ, 9:30 p.m., $10
  • lntervals + The Kindred + Mandroid Echostar + Sidelines @ Mavericks, 7:30 p.m., $15
  • Christian Hansen + Doug Hoyer + The Ven Dreddies @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, 8:30 p.m., $5

About the Author

Amanda Putz

CBC Radio Host

Amanda Putz is the host of Bandwidth, which airs every Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on CBC Radio One, 91.5 FM in Ottawa. (CBC)