Music to see and hear in Ottawa area this weekend

The City Gates, Sunparlour Players, Megan Lane and Graydon James highlight Amanda Putz's weekend music picks.

The City Gates, Sunparlour Players, Megan Lane and Graydon James highlight Amanda Putz's picks

The City Gates play at Zaphod's Friday night at 8 p.m. (Photo by Roxanne Paquet)

The Sunparlour Players + Harlan Pepper @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, Thursday

The frenetic folk of Sunparlour Players has a little mustard on it. Literally, if you buy the band's CD at the show it might have some mustard on it. The Sunparlour Players' merchandise table contains the usual t-shirts and recordings, but it also has a spot for Sunparlour Preserves.

That's because band leader Andrew Penner hails from Leamington, the sun parlour of Canada, and preserved fruit and veggies is practically in his blood! His specialty is actually called "Handsome Strong Mustard." Its only fault is the jar is too small. It's so good you should buy stock in the Sunparlour Players canning business, if not their music production.

Sunparlour Players are at the Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield, Que., on Thursday night. (Courtesy Sunparlour Players)
I read a Tweet this week that they have a fresh new batch for sale on this tour, which stops Thursday night in Wakefield at the Blacksheep Inn. It's a stupendous double-bill with Harlan Pepper from Hamilton.

That band is led by the progeny of Canadian folk royalty Tom Wilson. Tom Jr., or Thompson Wilson as it reads on the songwriting credits, has followed in the footsteps of his Rodeo King father. His music is somewhere in between the roots-rock of that band and the Lee Harvey Osmond weird-folk of his dad's other project. It's easily as great, and Harlan Pepper will spice up the Blacksheep Inn with it along with Sunparlour Players.

If folks need or want to stick closer to downtown I also recommend checking out the grand re-opening of Orange Gallery in its new location at 290 City Centre Avenue. Music begins at 7 p.m. with The Joynt and No Kinds of Love. You would then have plenty of time to see The Goodluck Assembly at Mercury Lounge at 9 p.m.

The City Gates + Eric Gilmore & The Mad Hatters + By The Lights @ Zaphod's, Friday

Friday night I'm going to be doing my best bastardization of Irish Dance at the Fourth Stage as I introduce Rant Maggie Rant. I believe there are some tickets left for the best Celtic show in town, so come say "hey!" Claude Munson & The Storm (Blacksheep) and David Vest (Neat Cafe) are also each playing in the area, both good bets.

I'm going to highlight a triple bill at Zaphod's for my pick. Of the three bands I'd only heard of By the Lights, but all three turned out to be solid. The City Gates from Montreal really tickled my ear bone, if you will. This band clearly threw some text into Google translate and out popped a descriptor that "the album offers an up-to-date and fresh sound while bringing a variety of melodic songs."

I think it does far more than that. The City Gates can swing easily between a dark piano ballad and a glockenspiel-inflected driving electric guitar rocker. It builds, it ebbs, it's fully-formed music for a debut. The Montreal-based quartet plays Friday night at Zaphod's with local bands: Eric Gilmore & The Mad Hatters and By The Lights, 8 p.m. $5.

Megan Lane on Saturday is at Neat Cafe in Burnstown, just west of Arnprior on the road to Calabogie. (Courtesy Megan Lane)
Megan Lane @ Neat Cafe, Burnstown, Saturday

If you're not already heading to Joel Plaskett with the N.A.C. Orchestra Saturday night, you have a myriad of options. My pick is Saskatooner Megan Lane in Burnstown, Ont. Megan Lane was at Neat Cafe not too long ago but as a musical backbencher: she was part of master beatboxing rhymer C.R. Avery's show.

The Neat web site says: "To put it succinctly, people tend to leave a C.R. Avery Burlesque show in a state of shock; which they did. There was also a flood of queries on who his guitar player was. Well, she was Megan Lane and she's on tour." A pretty sweet review, or preview in this case.

This week I was granted a sneak peek of three tunes from Megan's third album, produced by Hawksley Workman. The tune "Someday We Will Leave This Town" is an anthem for the disenfranchised, and Megan's camp says it's going to be the single of the summer. It's got a fantastic Tegan & Sara-esque quality to it, but in this case it's Megan & Rae.

One of my favourite voices, Rae Spoon, came to the writing table with Megan and they penned it together. The record Sounding the Animal isn't available until August, but buzz is already building. In fact, a videographer for Strombo show is travelling with Megan Lane & her band to Neat Cafe from Toronto. He's going behind-the-scenes of the tour for a promo video, so they really want folks to come be part of the excitement at Neat Saturday night. If you've not been it's a fantastic, cozy space with great acoustics and even better food, so go early for a meal.

Graydon James & The Young Novelists @ The Blacksheep, Sunday

The matinee at the Blacksheep in Wakefield is the perfect reward at the end of a 25-minute drive through the Gatineau Hills. Crammed onto the Sheep's stage will be a six-piece band called The Young Novelists, lead by the blonde mop-topped singer-songwriter/mailman Graydon James.

Graydon James & The Young Novelists play the Black Sheep Inn Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (Courtesy Graydon James & The Young Novelists)
For those that have been listening to me for the past 10 years you know I yap a lot about lyrics. With Graydon James & the Young Novelists I won't. It's not because this band's lyrics aren't good, but because the musicianship and the harmonies transcend everything else.

I know Graydon takes great pains to craft his songs, but unfortunately for him the harmonies between him, his wife Laura Spink and bassist Shawn Jurek kind of take centre stage.

I saw this band live at a Sabourin House Concert a couple months ago, and although I had dug their stuff on CBC Music prior to the show, they are one of those bands who needs to be experienced live. I kept thinking of The Band, which is no faint praise. The harmonies are spot-on, they just don't falter. Graydon himself says he's not a technical singer, but if you fill out your band with people who can elevate your songs the way he has, you've done them, and yourself, a great service.

I like Graydon James & The Young Novelists so much they're playing my living room Saturday night! Since I can only fit about 40 people comfortably I highly recommend taking a Sunday drive to Wakefield to see them Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. Shannon Rose & the Thorns open the show and it's only $10. 

Before I host a house concert I must host a radio show. On Bandwidth Saturday afternoon you'll hear my interview with half-Irish lass Emm Gryner. We recorded it back on St. Patrick's Day. We gabbed about her brand-new record in which she decrees she's done staring at screens and wants to chuck them all into the river. It's a sentiment I wholly support. You'll even get to hear a cameo appearance from her 2 year-old daughter!

I'll also play some Teenage Kicks, who play Pressed Saturday night, and shine a light on more Searchlight contenders.

Music listings

Thursday, April 10

  • Gallery Opening with No Kinds of Love + The Joynt @ Orange Gallery, 290 City Centre Ave 7p.m. Free.
  • Harlan Pepper + The Sunparlour Players @ The Blacksheep Inn, 8:30 p.m. $10 adv (double bill).
  • Radioactive Series: The Goodluck Assembly + Kennedy Cult @ Mercury Lounge, 9 p.m. $10 adv, $12 door.
  • Les Petits Fours + The Sick Sick Sicks @ Maxwell's Bistro and Nightclub, 340 Elgin St. Ottawa, 9:30 p.m., $5.
  • Thy Art Is Murder + Sworn In, Abraxas + Sawed-Off Shogun @ Mavericks, 7 p.m. $16.

Teenage Kicks plays at Pressed Cafe Saturday at 8:30 p.m. (Photo by Chris Payne)
Friday, April 11

  • Rant Maggie Rant @ The NAC Fourth Stage, 7:30 p.m., $22+.
  • Eric Gilmore & The Mad Hatters + The City Gates + By The Lights @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, 8 p.m. $5.
  • Claude Munson and The Storm Outside + Jesse Mac Cormack @ The Blacksheep Inn, 8:30 p.m., $10 adv.
  • David Vest + East Meets West @ Neat Cafe, Burnstown, 8 p.m., $27.50.
  • Geggenheimer Quintet @ Kaffe 1870, Wakefield, 9 p.m., $tbd.

Saturday, April 12

  • Amanda Rheaume + Sarah Smith @ The Blacksheep Inn, 8:30 p.m., $10 adv.
  • Teenage Kicks @ Pressed Cafe, 8:30 p.m. $10.
  • The BallRoom Babies + Garden of Weeds @ Avante Garde Bar, 9 p.m., $TBD.
  • Joel Plaskett & The N.A.C. Orchestra @ Southam Hall, NAC, 8 p.m. $25-55.
  • John Geggie & Special Guests: Christine Jensen - alto sax (Montreal), Joel Miller - tenor sax (Montreal), Jim Lewis - trumpet (Toronto), David Braid - piano (Toronto), Ted Warren - drums (Toronto) @ NAC Fourth Stage, 7:30 p.m., $30+.
  • SuicideGirls: Blackheart Burlesque @ Mavericks, 7:30 p.m. $25.
  • F*ck The Facts + World War 4 + Sombre @ Cafe Dekcuf, 10 p.m. $8.
  • The KÔ Ensemble @ Grange de la Gatineau, $54.50 dinner-show package / $20 show only. Reservations are required.
  • The Claytones @ Barrhaven United Church, 3013 Jockvale Road 7 p.m., $20 adults, $10 students, Free Parking. Info at 613-825-1707 or
  • October Gold + Zachary Lucky @ The Branch, Kemptville, 9 p.m. $13.
  • Megan Lane @ Neat Cafe, Burnstown, 8 p.m., $25 (guitarist for CR Avery, Hawksley-produced).

Sunday, April 13

  • Graydon James and The Young Novelists + Shannon Rose and the Thorns @ The Blacksheep Inn, 4:30 p.m., $10 adv.

Wednesday, April 16

  • Ladyhawk + Marine Dreams + Saint Clare @ Cafe Dekcuf, 8:30 p.m. $13.
  • Road to Memphis Blues Challenge Solo/Duo Heat @ Irene's Pub, 7 p.m. Free?

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)