Ottawa Bluesfest Commentary

Bluesfest has been running in Ottawa for soon to be twenty-two years. The festival has grown so much from its initial days and has become a truly world famous music festival attracting some of the biggest names in music. I have been involved with the festival in various capacities since 2006 and it has truly been an amazing experience. If for some reason, you’ve been living under a rock, or are new to Ottawa, you really need to ensure that you look into it’s history and go to it as much as possible next summer. As for the history of the festival, a year and a half ago, for the 20th anniversary, Chris Cobb published a fantastic book that I highly recommend you read closely as it is very enlightening. I was fortunate to be gifted a signed copy (thanks S.M.) with Chris’ autograph.

The most common misunderstanding about Bluesfest is that it’s just about the big act closing the night. Although I agree, this is the main crowd draw, there is so much more to the festival that many people miss. The layout of the venue changes slightly from year to year, but after many years of shifting stage locations, it seems as though the optimal layout has been found.

If you’re really into music, Bluesfest allows you to discover new bands that you’d likely not get to see that you’ll discover in earlier time slots, or at the smaller stages. I highly recommend getting around to all of these stages to discover what’s available in addition to the headliners. Go a little early and take some time to look around and check out the merch. tents and auction sites on the west side of the war museum, it’s a full experience that you’re probably missing.

If you miss out on the opportunity to purchase early bird passes or tickets, I realize that regular priced passes and tickets can be expensive (but by far worth the money) so why don’t you volunteer??!! Surly (don’t call me Shirley – anyone…anyone?? am I aging myself??)…..

Surly, you can handle putting in some time to save some money? As a volunteer, there are 30+ different areas where you can work, and the time commitment is pretty minimal. You get the opportunity to meet so many great people! It’s really a fantastic experience that I can’t say enough about. I’ve volunteered in a couple different areas, and it’s given me a whole new friend base that I look forward to seeing every year. PLUS, you get to see all your favorite bands for free!! The rules are pretty simple to volunteer; it basically comes down to showing respect for what you’ve signed up for and the people with whom you volunteer. It’s that simple!! So, get out there and sign up when the time comes. If you enjoy warm days, great friends and fantastic music there’s no better way!

Typically, the line up gets announced around April but there are always surprises every year and it depends on what bands are locked down and when. I’m not one to start rumors but I’ve heard convincing evidence that U2 is coming this year for Canada’s 150th birthday.

Just kidding!!! I really have no idea, but I do suspect it’ll be a bigger year because of the country’s milestone. So, now that Christmas is here, we’re pretty much at the half way point. The festival runs July 6-16 this year, and that’s only…..”XX” days from now (this involves math, and I don’t like it *stomping my feet).

Feel free to comment on this (or any of my) post(s). I have a huge passion for music festivals, and this is my way of pretending that white stuff isn’t outside and we’re all happy and warm listening to great music with our friends.

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