This is a guest post from Ottawa Showbox, who were asked (along with Apt613 and other local cultural producers) to curate showcase shows for CityFolk’s Marvest series.
It is the dawn of a new era for big festivals in Ottawa, specifically the newly rebranded and relocatedCityFolk Festival. Making its new home on the edge of the Glebe on The Great Lawn at Landsdowne Park, CityFolk is keeping up the world-class programming for the main festival. However, the addition of Marvest (musical harvest) indicates another important move by the festival. Mark Monahan and his team of festival organizers have recognized the importance of the local music community in the overall health of a city.
After the findings of the Connecting Ottawa Music report were released earlier this year after Megaphono, one of the major realizations that many of us in the city had to come to terms with was that Ottawa lacks sufficient infrastructure insofar as it resides on the periphery of the music industry. One thing is for certain – what Ottawa does not lack are talented artists and musicians charting their own path.
The inclusion of Marvest indicates CityFolk’s desire to extend its reach past the “mainstream” and delve into the local. Ottawa’s vibrant music scene contains artists of all backgrounds and influences, and the free Marvest programming taking place September 16-19 this year reflects this diversity. It’s no SXSW, but it similarly provides artists with a platform to be heard by the public and maybe even get their music recognized by music industry professionals that have their ears to the ground.
As longtime proponents and supporters of Ottawa music, Ottawa Showbox is looking at their Marvest show on September 19 as an exciting way to engage new audiences with local bands in an unconventional space. Why not check out some great music while scarfing down your favourite kind of hamburger at Original Burger Joint on Bank Street? Why didn’t we think of this before?
The showcase will feature three bands. The first performance is by Nightshades, a three-piece garage-rock band from the heart of Ottawa (recently featured on Apt613 here). Although the lineup has changed somewhat over the last few months with founding member and bassist Sarah Grant leaving to travel abroad, Nightshades enlisted local folk artist Tyler Roy and is continuing to turn heads in town. After the initial success of their debut EP The Beauty of Dreaming in 2014, the band has turned another direction and released a darker yet equally appealing EP called Wendy earlier this year. Nightshades are the loudest of the three bands on the bill, and are not to be missed.
Next up on the docket is Jonathan Becker & The North Fields. Having played a show with Showbox and performed with Nightshades before, this will be a familiar setting for Becker. As a true music scene veteran, Jon Becker has spent years going to shows, making music, and exploring his own creative avenues along the way. His distinctively raspy vocals are unmistakable, and are his lyricism and songwriting abilities. Along with his band of friends called The North Fields, Becker explores his folk side through storytelling and commands audiences with his songs. A perfect fit for CityFolk and Marvest, Jonathan Becker & The North Fields won’t disappoint anyone who enjoys music of substance and depth.
Jack Pine & The Fire is a band that has perfected the art of communicating a narrative through soulful and gritty folk-country songs. The brainchild of local songwriter Gareth Auden-Hole, the band offers a perfect concoction of folk roots and country twang that even those averse to good ol’ country music can’t resist. Their influences are many, ranging from Tom Waits to Bob Dylan to Iron and Wine. Their music has garnered praise from all over the world, including recognition in the “50 Unsigned Acts We Love” by Independent Music News, rated the #1 Best Album of 2012 by Ottawa’s CKCU 93.1 FM. Their song “Mustache is King” is also the de facto anthem for Movember, and the band supports the men’s health initiative year after year with their campaigns. Jack Pine & The Fire keep the strong heritage of Canadiana folk music alive, and do so without restraint.
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