@ Le Breton Flats, Ottawa
Day 4 || July 8, 2018
Alanna Sterling and the Silvers
Local talent is well celebrated every year at Bluesfest. Although, it doesn’t always bring out the largest crowds – so to see a crowd the size of the one that ended up filling up the Claridge Homes tent for Alanna Sterling and the Silvers is really something special. If you missed their show at Bluesfest, don’t fret, because this versatile group of musicians doesn’t go long without playing a gig at a local venue. Since their formation back in September of 2015, this collective of individually talented multi-instrumentalists, when put together, is a force to be reckoned with. Though their roster has changed up a couple times, Rob Huntley says he feels that this one is “the one for the long haul.” With Huntley’s groovy bass lines, Alanna Sterling’s unmistakably distinct and strong vocals, Kira Montfort keeping the rhythm on point on the drums, and Massil Ait-Ouali’s funky guitar riffs, it’d be really tough to compare them to any other act and Ottawa can’t wait to share them with the rest of the world.
Another local act was playing at the same time over at the Black Sheep Stage, who has grown into a large force in the Indigenous music scene. Cody Coyote has played many shows in the Ottawa area, and festivals are not new to him, but this set was definitely a standout performance. Known for his heartfelt, personal lyricism and a persona that cannot be mistaken for anything but moving – it was great to see that the family it took him so many years to reconnect with was able to make it out to this show. Making a mark in a musical scene so specific is a truly respectable thing. The way that Cody has embraced his roots after a rough upbringing and a long road, and taken to the stage and studio to inspire others to do the same, is quite inspiring. Even if his music is not of your taste, you can surely find something that will hit home in the lyrics and if you take the time to, you will learn a few things at the same time.
While the Ottawa music scene was strong on this day at the festival, Alanna Sterling and the Silvers were followed by an absolutely stellar performance by the Georgia sisters fronting Larkin Poe. Anyone that didn’t know who they were before they came on stage was taken by force, especially with their phenomenal rendition of Ram Jam’s classic, “Black Betty”. Distant relatives of Edgar Allan Poe, these two young women have a very bright future in front of them and likely a long, successful career if they keep up the way that they’re going. They’re not only seriously talented at their instruments, their vocals mesh together flawlessly and their stage presence keeps your eyes on them at all times. Creativity is not lacking and their southern roots are apparent in their music and attitudes. After a show like that, it won’t be surprising if they are on the main stage at the festival in years to come.
If all of that wasn’t enough, the City Stage took it back to Canadian music with the Lindsay, Ontario-bred band, The Strumbellas, who never disappoint in their live performance. Two time Juno Award winners for their hit single “Spirits” (2017) and Roots and Traditional Album of the Year for We Still Move on Dance Floors (2014), and three time nominees for Group of the year (2017), Fan Choice Award (2017), and Roots and Traditional Album of the Year for My Father and the Hunter (2013) – these guys have put their work in to get where they are today. Their backstory is definitely worth looking into if you don’t know much about the band, having just come far enough to quit their day jobs, and not wasting a moment not showing how happy they are to finally have full-time careers making music. While they’ve already come a long way and have a unique way of getting the crowd going, and making a true connection with every audience that they play for, there is much, much more to come from this band and worldwide recognition is sure to be in their near future.