Tuning back the clock with live music in Ottawa

As live music fans in Ottawa pore over the 2020 Bluesfest lineup released this week, we're thinking back to some of the big shows of yesteryear.

Village People, Johnny Cash, Elvis just a few of the big names to grace Ottawa's stages

A souvenir photo of the Ottawa Choral Society taken on April 13, 1898. (S.J. Jarvis/Library and Archives Canada)

The 2020 Bluesfest lineup was unveiled this week, and that got us thinking back to some of the big shows of yesteryear.

Some big names graced Ottawa's stages through the ages.

There were intimate shows.

'A band playing at the Ottawa Federation of Musicians dance pop concert held at the Gatineau Club' in 1955. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA032424)
This one's titled 'Hoe down at the Coliseum,' but we can't tell you much more about it than that. It may have been taken at the Coliseum at Lansdowne Park, which was torn down in 2012. But who's the lucky fella? (City of Ottawa Archives | CA042540)
Two men pass the time in front of the Lansdowne Park bandstand in this undated photo. (City of Ottawa Archives)

And there were grander spectacles.

An open air dance at Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, Que., the night before Canada Day, then known as Dominion Day, 1971. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA050283)
A concert on Parliament Hill in July 1971. Can anyone tell us more about who was on stage? Leave a comment below. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA050445)
A concert during 'World Peace Day' on July 20, 1971, at the People's Park on LeBreton Flats. According to the Ottawa Journal, the park was established near the current Bluesfest site at Booth and Wellington streets after a group of Carleton students got a federal grant. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA050391)

The crowds really got into it.

People wait for a concert to begin at Britannia Park in the early 1900s. (City of Ottawa Archives)
People get down during the Philharmonic Springtime Party in April 1955. Life magazine said it was an annual benefit for the orchestra. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA032265)
The audience cheers for Bill Haley and the Comets of Rock Around the Clock fame at the Chaudière Club in Aylmer,Que., in July 1956. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA024973)

There are some big names in the local archives.

Johnny Cash plays Lansdowne Park in August 1971 as part of the Ottawa Exhibition. The show ran three nights, according to the Ottawa Journal, and was free with a $1.50 admission to the Ex. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA050599)
Billy Idol, right, with CHEZ-FM's Greg Torrington and 'an unidentified woman' after a 1984 show at the Civic Centre. (Library and Archives Canada)
The Village People played Ottawa in April 1979, early on in their two-month North American tour. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA025654)

A 1957 appearance by Elvis was even remembered in a recent exhibit.

Elvis Presley performs at the Ottawa Auditorium on April 3, 1957. (City of Ottawa Archives CA023031)
Fans scream as The King puts on a show. (City of Ottawa Archives)
Elvis threw this scarf into the crowd during one of his two Ottawa shows on April 3, 1957. (City of Ottawa Archives/MG804-1)


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