Top 4 picks for shows in the Ottawa area this weekend

This week's best bets for live music in the Ottawa area include Taylor Knox, Mo Kenney, Smif-n-Wessun and the Folk It All Fest.

Taylor Knox @ House of TARG ​w/ The Flats, DJ Skid Vicious, DJ KJ Maxx, Thursday, 9 p.m., PWYC

Taylor Knox plays House of TARG on Thursday night. (From the music video for "My Backyard")
With his lanky frame and long hair, Taylor Knox stands out, and so does his music. The Torontonian writes vivid power-pop songs that expertly walk a line between catchy simplicity and lyrical wit. "My Backyard," the opening track from his upcoming EP Lines, is a perfect example, pairing juicy powerchords with nostalgia for the long-gone childhood days of knowing your backyard like the back of your hand. You might hear echoes of early Sloan in Knox's sugary harmonies, and you wouldn't be far off; they're friends, and Sloan's drummer, Andrew Scott, has played drums for Knox on tour. Meanwhile, Knox — a drummer himself — has been the rhythm behind the likes of The Golden Dogs, Hayden and Rich Aucoin, which gives you a sense of his musical range. Tonight, though, the spotlight is on Taylor Knox himself. He's headlining a show at House of TARG with locals The Flats, and DJs Skid Vicious and KJ Maxx.

Mo Kenney @​ NAC Studio, Friday, 8 p.m., $25

Mo Kenney plays the NAC Studio on Friday night. (New Scotland Records)
On Friday night, Halifax's Mo Kenney comes to town to woo audiences with her effortless voice and magnetic stage presence. At 24 she's already a veteran songwriter, having started making music in high school after discovering Elliott Smith and learning how to finger-pick. It was a chance encounter with Joel Plaskett, though, which brought Mo Kenney's songs to the ears of a wider audience. After hearing her voice, Plaskett stepped in to produce her first album and bring her on tour with him. Since then, she's gone on independently to become one of Canada's most promising singer-songwriters. Mo Kenney's sophomore album, In My Dreams, is full of stories about breaking hearts, told tenderly. You'll hear a few of them at the NAC Studio.

Folk It All Fest @ The Rainbow ft. The Jerry Cans, The Noisy Locomotive, Steamers, James Leclaire & Cable 22, Dublin Down, Jon Creeden, Saturday, 9 p.m., $12

The Steamers play the Folk It All Fest at The Rainbow on Saturday night. (Mike Ness)
While it's normally a blues bar, The Rainbow Bistro hosts the irreverently-titled Folk It All Fest on Saturday. As indicated by its cheeky name, the showcase is centred around folk with a bit of an edge. There's a time and a place for hushed, seated crowds and gentle acoustic balladry, but this Saturday night is not that time nor place. Instead, you can expect the likes of Ottawa-Gatineau six-piece Steamers, whose songs are driven by triumphant strumming and shout-along choruses. Then there's the old-school bluegrass of local charmers The Noisy Locomotive. Even folk-rockers The Jerry Cans are making their way from Iqaluit to take part in Saturday night's festivities. The one-night festival features six acts altogether, starting after 6 p.m.

Smif-n-Wessun @ Ritual w/ Buck N' Nice, Ickarus, Prehistoric, Gutta King Chris, Lost Kids, Saturday, 9 p.m., $16

Smif-n-Wessun play Ritual on Saturday night. (Facebook)
Besides Folk It All Fest, Saturday's musical offerings are all over the map, from Brock Zeman at the Black Sheep Inn to the Wacken Metal Band Canada competition happening at Mavericks. Even Anti-Flag is making an appearance, with an understated show at Le Bistro in Hull to perform their 2003 album The Terror State in its entirety. That's not the only piece of live musical history you can experience, though. At Ritual, Brooklyn rap duo Smif-n-Wessun will be marking the 20th anniversary of their influential album Dah Shinin'. Back in 1995, that debut record caught the attention of heavyweights like Tupac Shakur, thanks to songs like "Bucktown," an underground hard rap classic. There's also some hefty Ottawa representation on the bill: Buck N' Nice, Ickarus, Lost Kids, Prehistoric and Gutta King Chris.


Thursday, March 19

  • Taylor Knox @ House of TARG w/ The Flats, DJ Skid Vicious, DJ KJ Maxx, 9 p.m., PWYC
  • Father Murphy @ Mugshots w/ Grime Kings, 8 p.m., $6
  • Rocco DeLuca @ Black Sheep Inn w/ Old Man, 8:30 p.m., $12
  • All Stars Blues Thursdays @ Irene's w/ Al Wood, 9:30 p.m., free
  • Owen Brown & The Roots Movement @ The Rainbow, 9 p.m., $7
  • Notes for Hope @ Avant-Garde ft. Waxing Moon, Danny Sylvestre, Cory Papineau, Mallory Giles, Chris Emperson, 7 p.m., $10
  • Jonathan Byrd @ The Branch w/ Eliot Bronson, March Breakdown Music Festival, 9 p.m., $20 (full festival pass $30)
  • Tony Turner @ A Thing for Chocolate, 7 p.m., $5
  • Ricky Skaggs @ Centrepointe, 7 p.m., SOLD OUT
  • The Guy Mintus Trio @ Centrepointe Studio, 7:30 p.m., $20

Friday, March 20

  • Mo Kenney @ NAC Studio, 8 p.m., $25
  • The Ven Dreddies @ House of TARG w/ Muffler Crunch, Criticull, 9 p.m., $8
  • Trevor Alguire, Jack Pine & The Fire @ Black Sheep Inn, 8:30 p.m., $10
  • The Weber Brothers @ Irene's w/ PrufRock Shadowrunner, Fathers of Modern Rocketry, 9:30 p.m., $10
  • Crookid Bass, G. Grand, Hyf Gypsy Sun, King Kimbit @ Mugshots, 8 p.m., $8
  • Frank James Band @ The Rainbow, 4 p.m., free
  • Ras Lee's B-Day Bash @ The Rainbow, 9:30 p.m., $5
  • Puddle of Mudd @ The Bourbon Room, 9 p.m., $30
  • ABRACADABRA @ Pressed, 7 p.m., $10
  • The Royal Streets @ Zaphod's w/ Weird With Cats, The Brook, 8:30 p.m., $8
  • Dave Gunning @ The Branch w/ Matty "Graven" McKechnie, March Breakdown Music Festival, 9 p.m., $22.50 (full festival pass $30)
  • Absolut, Mueco, Mocoso, Asile, Perverted Justice @ Gabba Hey, 9 p.m., $8
  • The Dead Centuries, Bull Domino, Mr. Sauga, Prett Melberts, Amanda Lowe @ Mavericks, 8 p.m., $10

Saturday, March 21

  • Folk It All Fest @ The Rainbow ft. The Jerry Cans, The Noisy Locomotive, Steamers, James Leclaire & Cable 22, Dublin Down, Jon Creeden, 9 p.m., $12
  • Smif-n-Wessun @ Ritual w/ Buck N' Nice, Ickarus, Prehistoric, Gutta King Chris, Lost Kids, 9 p.m., $16
  • Stella Ella Ola @ House of TARG w/ Mackenzie Rhythm Section, 9 p.m., $5
  • The Grand Slambovians @ Neat, 7:30 p.m., SOLD OUT
  • Brock Zeman @ Black Sheep Inn w/ The Mayhemingways, 8:30 p.m., $12
  • Paul Reddick @ Irene's, 9:30 p.m., $12
  • Willows @ NAC Fourth Stage, 7:30 p.m., $25
  • Anti-Flag @ Le Bistro w/ The Brat Attack, Spaz Out, 7 p.m., $20
  • Jesse Greene Band @ Atomic Rooster, 4 p.m., free
  • Cooper MacLaren @ McLoskey's, 8 p.m., $10
  • Monobrow, Longhouse, Opium Winter @ Cafe Dekcuf, 8 p.m., $10
  • Wacken Metal Band Canada 2015 @ Mavericks ft. Endemise, A Scar for the Wicked, Chariots of the Gods, Scarecrowz, Deathrow Six, ...From the Deep, 7 p.m., $12
  • Hannah Shirah Naiman @ The Branch w/ Rosalyn Dennet, 8 p.m., $15
  • Garrison Creek @ Pressed w/ Ladygirl, Gnarly Brown, Ryan Fitz, Mistaken for Brothers, 7:30 p.m., $5
  • Adam Saikaley Quartet @ Mugshots, 8 p.m., free
  • Wolfie, T-Rex Marathon, The Good Samaritan @ Zaphod's, 8 p.m., $5

Sunday, March 22

  • Bone @ Black Sheep Inn, 4:20 p.m., $10
  • The Chocolate Hot Pockets @ Irene's, 9:30 p.m., free
  • Mumbo Jumbo Voodoo Combo @ Atomic Rooster, 6 p.m., free
  • Tariq & friends @ Atomic Rooster, 10 p.m., free
  • Open Blues Jam @ The Rainbow w/ Jimmy Cochrane, 4 p.m., $3
  • The Electric Revival @ The Rainbow, 9 p.m., $5
  • Vox Eclectica Women's Chamber Choir @ GigSpace, 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m., $20
  • Yves Charuest, Linsey Wellman @ Black Squirrel Books, 7 p.m., $5-10

Monday, March 23

  • Bluegrass Mondays @ Pressed ft. Concession 23, 8 p.m., $7
  • New Legal High, Archy & Mehitabel, Velvet Noise, Adam Marshall @ Zaphod's, 8 p.m., free
  • Alex Bilodeau @ Le Petit Chicago, 10 p.m., $5
  • Cabaal @ The Manx, 9:30 p.m., free

Tuesday, March 24

  • Abacus, Christworm, Sidelines, Black Oak Decline @ House of TARG, 9 p.m., $5
  • The Stellas @ Mavericks w/ Tim Chaisson, 8 p.m., $14
  • Justin Nozuka @ Algonquin Commons Theatre w/ Pat Maloney, 6:30 p.m., free

Wednesday, March 25

  • Harea Band @ Raw Sugar w/ Jensen Grant, 8 p.m., $10
  • Tara Holloway @ Atomic Rooster, 8 p.m., free
  • Dr. Dave @ The Rainbow, 4 p.m., free
  • Capital City Community Choir @ The Rainbow, 7 p.m., $5
  • The Split @ NAC Fourth Stage, 7:30 p.m., $20
  • Richard Carr @ Le Petit Chicago, 8 p.m., $20

About the Author

Jessa Runciman

Associate Producer

Jessa Runciman is an associate producer with CBC Ottawa, and an avid music fan and show-goer. You can follow her on Twitter @jessarunciman.


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