The jewel of Ottawa’s music festival begins July 6.
First held in 1994, RBC Bluesfest has grown into one of the largest music festivals in Ontario. Featuring over 100 acts over 10 days, the festival brings the hottest acts from around the world to the Nation’s Capital.
Completely taking over the grounds surrounding the Canadian War Museum (known to locals as Lebreton Flats) and even spilling into the museum itself, the festival features five stages, each offering vibrant lineups to add to any festival goer’s experience.
For visitors coming to Ottawa to experience the sesquicentennial celebrations, here’s a primer on what to expect at each stage at Bluesfest.
CityStage is the festival mainstage. Attracting the headlining acts, the performers on this stage are as diverse as the crowd. Headliners this year range from country superstar, Toby Keith (July 6), the reunited LĪVE (July 14), popstar P!nk (July 9) and rock legends Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (July 16).
Claridge Homes Stage
Sitting directly across from CityStage, the Claridge Homes Stage traditionally features performances by both up and coming chart toppers, such as July Talk on July 11, and established favourites, like Sam Roberts Band on July 6 and Tegan and Sara on July 8.
New to the 2017 is Bluesville. Featuring an acoustically-optimized tented stage nestled alongside the Ottawa River, Bluesville will feature a display by Youth Ottawa Art, local vendors such as Beavertails and Gabriel’s Pizza, and a diverse lineup featuring Gord Bamford (July 8), the Zombies (July 11), Matt Andersen (July 7) and A Tribe Called R.E.D. (July 14)
Black Sheep Stage
The Bluesfest party extends behind the Canadian War Museum at the Black Sheep Stage. Often reserved for DJ and hip-hop acts with large followings, this year’s performers will also include Death from Above 1979 (July 6), Alan Doyle and the Beautiful Gypsies (July 13) and Gary Clark Jr. (July 12).
Barney Danson Theatre
The fifth and final stage of Bluesfest is the Barney Danson Theatre. Located inside the Canadian War Museum, the multi-purpose hall maintains a tradition of keeping the blues in Bluesfest. This year will feature several jam sessions hosted by local legends MonkeyJunk and the Split.
Born and raised with thoughts and aspirations of becoming a famous bassist in Sarnia, ON; Emily Plunkett now lives in Gatineau, QC, and considers National Capital Region home sweet home. A product of the Beatles, MuchMusic and the Southwestern Ontario summer festival circuit (circa 2000), her interest and love in concert photography came almost completely by accident when her journalism program at Algonquin College required courses in photojournalism (and she quickly realized that photos taken at concerts using a DSLR are enormously better than ones she was taking on a point-and-shoot she bought for a trip to England). She is extremely proud of the fact she has seen Sloan in some form or another 25 times.