Top 4 shows to see in the Ottawa area this weekend

Live performances by The Reverb Syndicate, Jennifer Castle, Little Scream and Mozart's Sister round out CBC Ottawa music columnist Jessa Runciman's top picks for shows in the Ottawa-Gatineau area this weekend.

The Reverb Syndicate, The Evil Streaks, The Huaraches @ House of TARG, Friday, 9 p.m., $10

The Reverb Syndicate are playing at House of TARG on Friday night. (Lisa Marie Noseworthy)
The Reverb Syndicate's music conjures up images from B movies; someone surfing a wave or a swinging spy making a stealth move. It's music for the warmth of Hollywood, but its purveyors come from right here in our own cold climate.

The Ottawa band first formed back in 2006 with the goal of recreating the sound of bands like The Ventures, and coming up with "soundtracks to 1960s spy films that don't exist." Since then, they've even strayed into some spaghetti-western territory over the course of the three albums they've released. The Reverb Syndicate is currently in the midst of recording a fourth record for release next year, but you'll get a preview if you pay a visit to House of TARG on Friday night. The band is helping to kick off the second annual Surf & Turf weekend, beginning with Friday's "Surf" component, which will also feature The Evil Streaks, from Boston, and The Huaraches, from Kingston. Then, on Saturday night, it's the "Turf" (garage) part of the equation, with Boston's Muck & The Mires, Toronto's Pow Wows, and Ottawa's Sir John A. Macdonalds. Both shows are $10, with doors at 9 p.m.

Jennifer Castle, The Acorn @ St. Alban's Church, Friday, 8 p.m., $15 (capacity limited to 250)

Jennifer Castle is playing St. Alban's Church on Friday night. (Eva Michon)
Elsewhere on Friday night, there's a show featuring a lot of real reverb, thanks to the acoustics of St. Alban's Church on King Edward Avenue; not that Jennifer Castle isn't ethereal enough. The Toronto singer-songwriter, like many musicians who fall under that category, is steeped in folk music and a tradition of simplicity. She tends to perform alone with just a guitar, determining her set list as she goes along, and singing songs that reference the natural environment and getting her hands dirty in the garden. At the same time, there's something about Jennifer Castle's voice and songwriting style that transcends the physical and feels more like a dream, and that's why so many people have been taken with her since she made her debut under the name Castlemusic in the late 2000s.

Her most recent album, Pink City, has earned frequent comparisons to Joni Mitchell in its combination of gentleness and exuberance, embellished by orchestral arrangements provided by Owen Pallet. Jennifer Castle's show at St. Alban's is extra exciting because The Acorn are also on the bill. For the first time in a couple of years, they'll be playing new material that we can expect to get our hands on next spring. 8 p.m., $15.

Little Scream, Pony Girl, Giant Hand @ Black Sheep Inn for WuFest, Saturday, 8:30 p.m., $10 ($15 for a 2-day pass)

Little Scream is playing at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, Que., on Saturday night. (Guillaume Simoneau)
It's a special weekend at the Black Sheep Inn because they're holding the first ever WuFest, a celebration of someone you've likely seen at shows around town, even if you haven't been aware of it. Ming Wu is a photographer who runs the Photogmusic blog, and is almost religiously devoted to documenting Ottawa's music scene, both the bands on stage, and the faces in the crowd. That dedication comes from a genuine passion for the city and belief in its artists.

For WuFest, Ming Wu was asked to curate a couple of shows at the Black Sheep, featuring some of his favourite musicians from Ottawa and beyond. On Friday, Montreal's AroarA and Ottawa's Moonfruits perform, followed by Montreal's Little Scream, and Ottawa acts Pony Girl and Giant Hand on Saturday. Both nights begin at 8:30 p.m., and tickets are $10 (although a WuFest weekend pass is $15).

Mozart's Sister @ Cafe Dekcuf w/ Antoine93, Cosmo Doris, Sunday, 8 p.m., $10

Mozart's Sister is playing Cafe Dekcuf on Sunday night. (Vanessa Heins)
When it comes to unabashed pop music, there's a couple of simultaneous dimensions co-existing at the moment: one on MTV, championed by the likes of Lady Gaga and Sia, and one happening on a smaller scale with its roots in musicians' bedrooms, in front of computer programs like Ableton. Caila Thompson-Hannant belongs to the latter group. She goes by the name Mozart's Sister and has spent the last couple of years in Montreal in the company of musicians like Grimes, crafting her songs and working up to the release of a debut full-length album, Being, this past summer. Sure, it has the moxie of Top 40 pop hits, but it also has brains. Think a female Prince, with more electronic bleep-bloops. Mozart's Sister is playing at Cafe Dekcuf on Sunday alongside Antoine93 and Cosmo Doris. 8 p.m., $10.


Thursday, Nov. 13

  • The Planet Smashers @ Mavericks w/ Brain Damage, Suits 'n' Toques, The Sentries, 8 p.m., $18
  • Nonprofit Band @ House of TARG w/ Phantom Hog & more, 9 p.m., $5
  • Lisa LeBlanc @ Ritual w/ The Steamers, Kristine St-Pierre, 8 p.m., $15
  • The Kendra Gale Band @ The Rainbow, 8 p.m., $7
  • Reggae Night w/ Roots Movement @ The Rainbow, 10:30 p.m., $7
  • All-Stars Blues Thursdays @ Irene's w/ Vince Halfhide, 9:30 p.m., free
  • Bumping Binary @ Mugshots, 9 p.m., PWYC
  • Lily Kershaw @ Neat, 7:30 p.m., $20
  • Tcha Limberger, Denis Chang @ Nectar, 7 p.m., $25
  • Craig Pedersen Quartet @ Raw Sugar, 8 p.m., $10
  • VOICES Benefit Concert @ NAC Fourth Stage, ft. Amanda Rheaume, Jill Zmud, Tara Holloway, Chris Page, Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health benefit, 7:30 p.m., $30

Friday, Nov. 14

  • The Reverb Syndicate, The Evil Streaks, The Huaraches @ House of TARG, Surf & Turf Weekend, 9 p.m., $10
  • Jennifer Castle @ St. Alban's w/ The Acorn, 8 p.m., $15 (capacity limited to 250)
  • AroarA @ Black Sheep Inn w/ Moonfruits, WuFest, 8:30 p.m., $10 ($15 2-day pass)
  • High Valley @ Neat, 7:30 p.m., $45
  • Rich Chris, Revisionist, Matt Vagrant, Angela Nethersole, Aaron Ray @ Pressed, 7:30 p.m., $5
  • Mullet Rock @ Atomic Rooster, 10 p.m., free
  • The Frank James Band @ The Rainbow, 4 p.m., free
  • John Primer @ The Rainbow, 9:30 p.m., $20
  • Gathering Sparks @ The Branch, 9 p.m., $10
  • The Dead Bees @ Irene's w/ Still Winter Hills, Orienteers, 9:30 p.m., $7
  • The River & The Road @ Zaphod's w/ Sounds of Stories, 8 p.m., $7
  • Lum, Low Hanging Lights, Hungry Lake @ Mugshots, 8 p.m., PWYC
  • Birdie Whyte, The Noisy Locomotive @ Raw Sugar, 8 p.m., $12
  • Sarah McLachlan @ NAC Southam Hall, 8 p.m., SOLD OUT

Saturday, Nov. 15

  • Little Scream @ Black Sheep Inn w/ Pony Girl, Giant Hand, WuFest, 8:30 p.m., $10 ($15 2-day pass)
  • Muck & The Mires, Pow Wows, The Sir John A. MacDonalds @ House of TARG, Surf & Turf Weekend, 9 p.m., $10
  • The Posterz, Le Grimaud @ Le Petit Chicago, 8 p.m., $12
  • Trouble Clef, Amy Brandon @ Raw Sugar, 8 p.m., $10
  • Adam Marshall, Fire Antlers, Artichoke Hearts @ Pressed, 8 p.m., $5 (PWYC)
  • Amos the Transparent @ Neat, 7:30 p.m., $15
  • Brian Browne Trio @ NAC Fourth Stage, 7:30 p.m., $45
  • The Powergoats @ Zaphod's w/ The Superlatives, Tribe Royal, 8 p.m., $10
  • Jay Atwill @ La Grange de la Gatineau, 8 p.m., $20 ($50 w/ dinner)
  • Jesse Greene Band @ Atomic Rooster, 4 p.m., free
  • The Red House Poets @ The Rainbow, 4 p.m., free
  • The Harpoon & The Axe Murderer @ The Rainbow w/ Bearshark, 9:30 p.m., $15
  • Lynne Hanson @ The Branch, 9 p.m., $15
  • The Ya-Yas @ Irene's, 9:30 p.m., $10
  • Old James @ Mavericks w/ Eagleson, The Motorleague, Dying Arts, 8 p.m., $10
  • Lucky Ron @ The Lafayette, 4 p.m., free
  • Alex Silas & The Subterraneans @ Ritual w/ Missing Linx, Eddie Quotez, The Stringers, The Adding Machine, Aron the Alien, Bastards, Shaun Sullivan, 7:30 p.m., $15
  • Adam Saikaley Quartet @ Mugshots, 10 p.m., free
  • Standards, Bardos, Joey McNitt, Hearts Right In, Clownfish Hat @ Avant-Garde, 8 p.m., $5 (PWYC)
  • Rock for Public Services @ TD Place ft. The Jim Cuddy Band, Kathleen Edwards, Autumns Cannon, free

Sunday, Nov. 16

  • Mozart's Sister @ Cafe Dekcuf w/ Antoine93, Cosmo Doris, 8 p.m., $10
  • Gypsophilia @ Black Sheep Inn, 4 p.m., $10
  • Al Wood & The Woodsmen @ Atomic Rooster, 6 p.m., free
  • Fabien @ Atomic Rooster, 10 p.m., free
  • Open Blues Jam @ The Rainbow w/ The Steve Thomas Band, 4 p.m., $3
  • A Staggering Pace, Latch Key Kids, Lumberjack Nasty, Benihana, Blast from the Sun @ The Rainbow, 8 p.m., $5
  • Megan Jerome, Fred Guignon, Mike Essoudry @ Irene's, 9:30 p.m., free
  • Maylene & The Sons of Disaster, He Is Legend, Wounds, We Were Sharks, Mayfield @ Mavericks, 8 p.m., $19

Monday, Nov. 17

  • Kira Isabella @ Algonquin Commons Theatre w/ Autumn Hill, 7 p.m., $25
  • Danielle Allard @ Lowertown Brewery, 9 p.m., free
  • The Jimmy Tri-Tone Band, Archy & Mehitabel, Kris Magione, Aaron Ray @ Zaphod's, 8 p.m., free

Tuesday, Nov. 18

  • The Pushers @ The Rainbow, 8 p.m., $5
  • Big Balade @ Le Troquet CHUO live broadcast, 8 p.m., free
  • Ken Aldcroft Convergence Ensemble @ Pressed w/ Linsey Wellman, 8 p.m., $10 (PWYC)

Wednesday, Nov. 19

  • Tara Holloway @ Atomic Rooster, 10 p.m., free
  • Dr. Dave @ The Rainbow, 4 p.m., free
  • JENNIS @ The Rainbow, 8:30 p.m., $5
  • Ottawa Blues Society Fundraiser @ Irene's ft. Al Wood, Marty Sobb & friends, 9:30 p.m., $10
  • High Ends @ Mavericks w/ Close Talker, The Gallop, 8 p.m., $10
  • WARCRY, Asile, Silent Order, Massacre Divine @ House of TARG, 9 p.m., $6
  • The John Carroll Show @ The Lafayette, 8 p.m., free
  • Mehdi Hamdad @ Pressed w/ Kaleigh Watts, Ali Alikhani, Ade Boluwatife, 7 p.m., $10


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.