Bluesfest showcases big stars, local talent

The Cisco Bluesfest music festival began Tuesday evening, with more than 2,000 artists expected to play for Ottawa audiences over 13 days.

Bluesfest begins

CBC News: Ottawa at 6:00

10 years ago
Ottawa's annual music festival kicked off Tuesday. 1:42

The Cisco Bluesfest music festival began Tuesday evening, with more than 2,000 artists expected to play for Ottawa audiences over 13 days.

Big names like the Flaming Lips, Peter Frampton, Soundgarden and the Tragically Hip will play, along with upcoming local talent like New Teeth, Lindsay Ferguson and Ornaments.  
Lindsay Ferguson at the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest in 2010. (Patrick Doyle/Ottawa Bluesfest/Canadian Press )

 "Excited is the watchword right now," guitarist Lucas MacKenzie of New Teeth told CBC Ottawa's All in a Day show.

Singer/songwriter Lindsay Ferguson, who has played the festival before and is set for a Tuesday appearance, told MacKenzie and bass player Casey Beaulieu from the Ornaments that they'll be treated like royalty backstage. Unlike the sometimes rough venues that musicians play on the road, there will be towels, water, air conditioning and even wine and beer backstage.

Ferguson said her performance Tuesday will include "soulfulness, sunshine, some upbeat dancy tracks, some downbeat soulful, you're going to hear my first country song and you're going to hear my first French song."

Flaming Lips lead singer Wayne Coyne said it's good experience for young musicians. "You really get to see how it works," and learn that even big names like U2 or the Rolling Stones have problems on stage.

"They screw up and they don't care. They just go on with it anyway."

The layout of the festival has been changed to give people easier access to the music, executive director Mark Monaghan said.

The festival has also added "sound walls" to prevent sound bleeding from one stage to the next, and intruding on residents of LeBreton Flats.

The festival relies on volunteers to help. Last year, 4,000 volunteers worked 26,000 shifts and contributed over 100,000 hours, the website said.

And while a success, it does pose some problems for fans.

"Epic heartbreak having to choose between Soundgarden and Tegan and Sara," who are both set to play at 9 Tuesday evening, one said on the festival's Facebook page.