Ottawa Rocks!

Ottawa XPress – Shotgun – February 23, 2006

Winterlude or Bluesfest? Long johns or lawn chairs? Would you consider these among the cultural symbols of Ottawa, the icons that epitomize what makes Ottawa Ottawa?

I’m going to say “yes,” Alex, for $30, the price of my Hawksley Workman ticket at the Bronson Centre on March 19.

Let’s say aliens, or your cousin from Moncton, abduct you tomorrow and force you to describe Ottawa. You’d say it’s got an amazing music scene, right?

You know it. Ottawa is home to some of the planet’s hottest talents right now and attracts a great number of outside acts. A ton of readers defended this back in December when Shotgun contested that Capital Music Hall’s fall would kill the music scene. Most of us agreed. Fuck the rest of you, ’cause have you seen February’s, and now March’s, lineup of shows?


I’ll bet you cold balls to snowballs that this year’s Winterlude Snow Bowl concerts were the best in years.

Fans standing frigid and freezing in minus-holy-fuck weather last Friday for Daniel Lanois, on a night that earlier saw major flight cancellations and mega car pileups, is what I proudly call Ottawan. It’s that festival-going gene that readies Ottawans for a good time, hardening us against the elements. (Think Tulip Festival: from toque to tank top.)

Avid Ottawa music fans have got stamina, no doubt about it. Like Olympic athletes, they sprinted and slid hither and thither in unpredictable temperatures to reach their goal. Perhaps you completed last Friday night’s

triathalon that included Lanois at Winterlude, Celtic-punkers Siobhan at Zaphod’s, then Gypsy punks Gogol Bordello at Barrymore’s on Bank Street.

Or maybe you were gearing up for Saturday’s Snow Bowl show featuring Stars, then burning your Converse rubber over to Mavericks to experience a massive rawk onslaught with Toronto headliners Maximum RNR. (Is it me, or does rhythm guitarist Keith Maurik give you blue balls too?) And somewhere in there was As The Poets Affirm…


But the biggest challenge yet is coming on Thursday March 2. Are you ready? Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to tear yourself away from Flecton Big Sky opening for the must-see Howe Gelb at Babylon (early show) and race Turin-style over to Quebec where 2006 Juno nominee Luke Doucet is so hot, I predict he’ll melt the iced lake outside of the Blacksheep Inn. It’s only $10!

For this event, it’s okay to dope up or sport your unitard for enhanced performance and enjoyment. I may wear the practical American Apparel’s unitard in paprika myself, just like the seductive nymphette splayed out in a window frame on the back cover spread of last week’s XPress. I only hope that Mr. Doucet won’t mistake me for that pole-beam in the former Capital Music Hall, and instead put in a good word to his Six Shooter Records ( colleague NQ Arbuckle.

Ladies: Arbuckle’s gruff and bourbon-soaked vocals will make your heart race so fast you’ll need a helmet. Take advantage of winter sales and buy one now ’cause you never know when the man himself may appear on a stage near you. (Meanwhile, catch Six Shooter’s Elliott Brood March 29, Zaphod’s.)


As for the rest of the month, how many Tricky Woo gigs can you fit into a Nine Inch Nails show? Five. Hell, anyone who mustered up the strength to dish out the exorbitant $70 the Scotiabank Place Centre is extracting for NIN (March 3), and Coldplay and Dickie Ashcroft (March 17), deserves a gold medal.

The ability to maintain composure during extortion is a highly underrated skill. But thanks to all who supported the durtygurls/McGilligan Press show at Venus Envy a couple of weeks ago, I can afford my tickets now. What I can’t afford is cloning myself so I can be at both gigs, so be sure to write in to tell us what we missed.

Speaking of missing things, tickets are going fast for the 2006 Juno Awards at the Halifax Metro Centre on April 2 ($50-$125). See Coldplay again, but at the Junos this time for free on CTV that night. More importantly, Ottawa’s Kathleen Edwards is up against Blue Rodeo, Low Millions, Luke Doucet and Neil Young for Adult Alternative Album of the Year, while local Lynn Miles (March 25, Blacksheep Inn) is in for the Roots & Traditional Album of the Year (solo) against Alberta’s Corb Lund, who played a sold-out show at Barrymore’s in the fall with Tim Hus. Go Ottawa!

You know we’re doing something right, ’cause it might be freezing out there but this town is a fucking cultural hotbed! And it’s because of super troopers like you, who I saw out there fired up and givin’ ‘er, that this cold season is keeping hot, hot, hot!

Ottawa needs this, because as our Toronto neighbours at Six Shooter would say, “Life’s too short to listen to shitty music.”

ONE STOP SHOP Save on service charges when you buy concert tickets at Vertigo Records (193 Rideau). “PRS Concerts is one of our new partners,” says co-owner Gunnar Van Vliet. “They do a lot of the bigger shows and we want to support them because they’re bringing some great acts to Ottawa.”

– Sylvie Hill