True Blue

The real reason I haven’t gone to Bluesfest this year is that I am lazy, and any event held on a weeknight that I will invariably be attending alone would have to be pretty damn spectacular for me to rouse myself from my post-workday stupor for. That said, I would almost be willing to pay money to have someone explain to me how any of the big name acts this year have anything to do with the blues at all. Almost willing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that we have the kinds of acts coming to Ottawa that we have had. We don’t frequently get big name acts, and we rarely get the kind of big shows that are seen in Toronto or Montreal. If Bluesfest brings in any major performers, I say good on ’em.

And, I understand that the money brought in by the big names pay for the performances put on by the more obscure or lesser names. This, too, is fantastic. If this is how we will make a music festival successful, again I say good on ’em.

But, I fail to understand how we can call this festivl Bluesfest any longer. How do KISS, STP, Our Lady Peace, or Ice Cube have anything to do with the Blues? Sure, they’re musicians, and Blues is music. That’s where the comparison runs flat, though.

Summer in Ottawa is actually pretty good for cultural celebration, and music celebration in particular. We have the folk festival, the jazz festival, Bluesfest and others. Maybe we don’t have things on the same scale as other, bigger Canadian cities, but we do pretty damn good. And, the good that festivals and opportunities to perform such as these offer small performers, obscure bands, and little known names is immense; the opportunity to perform during one of the Ottawa festivals is an opportunity for a lesser known band to get much needed exposure and develop their fan base.

I just worry that, maybe, the bigger names drown out the smaller ones. And, if the essence of the festival itself has evolved from being genre specific to music-general, why not just roll a bunch of these festivals together into one, massive, summer long music celebration. Just call it Ottawa Summer Musicfest. Vary the acts so that you’re not having to run to see a jazz ensemble within a certain timeframe, or so that people with varied musical taste, such as myself, can go to various concerts throughout the summer and touch on all our favorites. If a genre-specific festival is going to whore itself out to geriatric rockers like KISS in order to cover the bills, at least maintain some integrity by changing the face and name of the festival to identify with the more mixed line-up you’re going to present.

Or, is this a statement on our tastes in Ottawa, or the state of blues music as a whole? Are there just not enough big names in blues to draw crowds without needing the likes of Gene Simmons? Or are there, and Ottawa just isn’t “into” blues enough for us to care? If that’s the case, I’d say the idea of a generic, mixed Music Fest makes even more sense.

Not that much of this matters much to me. I’m still lazy, particularly if I’m attending solo. That’s what the Ipod was invented for.

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