Winter Concert Preview

January 10, 2009

Basia Bulat plays the Blacksheep Inn on Jan 23

Festival season in Ottawa might be over, but this winter is still bringing some great acts to the Ottawa region. Here’s my shortlist for the upcoming couple months (my apologies in advance for the bias towards the Blacksheep Inn here…)

One of new favourite artists and a recent Nominee for the Polaris Prize, Basia Bulat is playing at the University of Ottawa on January 22 and at the Blacksheep Inn on January 23. The show is a deal at only $10 and well worth the drive into Quebec. Bulat’s songs are not only catchy, creative and contemplative; she also produces hilarious videos that include dancing skeletons and odd carnival like characters. Watch this video once and you’ll buy a ticket for sure.

Geoff Berner, the self described whiskey rabbi, is also playing Blacksheep Inn on February 13. Berner’s music is lyrical and hilarious – augmented by his accordion playing and best paired with rabid consumption of Jack Daniels. It’ll be a good time. He might even play his theme song for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics!

If you don’t have plans for this Valentine ’s Day, Jenn Grant is coming back to the Blacksheep Inn on February 14 to launch her promising new CD. Her last show with Danny Michel was a great time and for this occasion she’s brought along her full band to back her up. At $10 it’s way cheaper than chocolate or over-priced roses.

Ottawa local Kathleen Edwards plays the Bronson Centre on February 17 for a show that is sure to sell out. I first saw Kathleen Edwards open for Blue Rodeo at the Scotiabank place and I’m sure that the more intimate theatre at the Bronson Centre will be a better setting. The best thing about Kathleen Edwards is that pretty much anyone can enjoy it, so if you are still looking for a belated Christmas gift this might be a good bet.

Jill Barber released a new album this year titled “Chances” where she explores a bluesy, sultry sound that works great with her unique voice. The show at the Blacksheep Inn on February 19 is sure to be something different and Barber’s stage presence made me fall in love with her when I first saw her play the Grad Club in Kingston. She’s sweet, entertaining and talented and sure to be worth making one final trip to Wakefield this winter.

Everyone’s favourite band from Winnipeg, the Weakerthans, will be in Ottawa on March 28 to play the Bronson Centre. You probably know all the words to their songs – might as well take in the show. The are touring with the energetic Constantines, which should make for a great night.

Ticket information is generally available on Ticketweb.

Oh Jenn!

December 23, 2008

Jenn Grant SoloI’ve known Jenn Grant for close to five years now; from her days in Halifax as a NSCAD student, doing open mic nights, working on overcoming her stage fright and eventually recording an EP entitled “Jenn Grant and Good Bye Twentieth Century’. It always felt like there was something special about her and her music, but has she ever come a long way! Since then, she’s released a proper album entitled ‘Orchestra For The Moon’, opened up for Feist in Halifax, played countless festivals in North America and Europe, has toured with The Weakerthans, has won the CBC Galaxie Rising Star award and her song ‘Dreamer’ has become the theme song to the CBC show ‘Heartland’.

Grant and Danny Michel stopped near Ottawa, at the Blacksheep Inn in Wakefield, this Friday (and Saturday). It was my first time ever going to this famed music spot. We carpooled to Wakefield with some friends Friday evening. We left the city early but the room was already close to packed when we arrived. We found spots in the back where we could get a decent view of the action.

After being introduced onstage by CBC Radio 3’s Amanda Putz, Grant stepped in the limelight and began her set with a Christmas song. Just a few seconds in she screws it up but manages to make the whole audience laugh. The crowd is charmed and she’s got us hooked for the rest of the night. Her set is mostly filled with songs from ‘Orchestra for the Moon’ but she does play a few new songs from her forthcoming CD ‘Echoes’. I particularly liked her homage to her dog Stanley. Another funny moment was when Putz came back onstage to help Grant sing a cover of Wham!’s Last Christmas. Hilarious! The Blacksheep’s comfortable stage lends itself very well to a solo show. It let Grant’s voice shine. At one point towards the end of her set, Grant asked the crowd if she was playing too long, worried that her opening slot is taking time away from Michel. If she’d asked me, she could have played all night! This is no insult to Danny Michel who was also great, but a testament to Jenn, her voice and her songs. I hope next time I see her she’ll be the main attraction.

Make sure to catch Jenn Grant next time she’s in the region. Her next stop at the Blacksheep Inn will take place on February 14th for her CD release party.

www.jenngrant.com

www.myspace.com/jenngrant1

www.sixshooterrecords.com

www.theblacksheepinn.com