The festival formerly known as Folk Fest has reinvented itself into an urban escapade dubbed CityFolk. Along with the new name comes a new central location in the form of Lansdowne Park. As always, change is normally recieved with mixed feelings and doubts and it’s safe to say that expectations are high for the reimagined event.
And, well, as the saying goes, good things come in threes right? In addition to these two novelities, festival organizers are introducing Marvest, a free musical harvest of local music, food and beverages. Marvest was created in an effort to attract festival-goers to local settings along Bank Street in the hopes that people will discover and appreciate the National Capital Region’s music scene and local food-makers.
It’s bound to be an exciting inaugural edition of CityFolk and to get you ready for the festivities, Eventful Capital compiled a Top 10 list of bands and musicians to check out during the 5-day long event. Here are the picks in no particular order.
Les Sœurs Boulay
Les Sœurs Boulay (or the Boulay Sisters in English) are like a musical breath of fresh air: they have a cool, light-hearted and refreshing sound. The Young folk duo from the Gaspésie region of Quebec only has a debut album to its name, but that hasn’t stopped the two from conquering the hearts of audience members they encounter. With beautifully harmonized songs and a playful attitude, the sisters tend to have pleasant exchanges with the audience and just the right amount of interaction between each piece. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself snapping your fingers during their set.
Lisa LeBlanc is an irrestibly charming musician. Armed with her banjo, the Acadian artist known for her folk-country trash, has a fantastic stage presence. Not only does she sound great, she also projects tons of energy into the crowd while exuding charisma. Over the past couple of years, she’s demonstrated that she knows how to have fun with a live crowd and is also a very humble individual. With a first English EP under her belt, festival-goers can expect a bilingual set showcasing a mixed bag of tunes from her existing projects. How perfectly Canadian.
Have you ever spent a starry night by a bonfire in a backyard with great friends playing music? Well, that’s essentially how it feels to spend an evening with Montréal artist Patrick Watson and his band. Together, they’re known for delivering breath-taking performances that are simple yet captivating. Watson himself is a tremendous musician and songwriter and it’s easy to get hooked by his beautiful voice. Watson’s performances are true audio-visual experiences, as well as being unpretentious and inviting. With his latest album long-listed for the 2015 Polaris Music Prize, chances are he’ll have a few musical surprises up his sleeve for CityFolk festival-goers.
I first discovered Lucius at Bluesfest last year, and was instantly drawn to their sound. The 5-piece indie pop band from Brooklyn, New York, offers beautiful harmonies and catchy rhythms at times reminiscent of Metric, Haim and Arcade Fire. The lead singers tend to don identical hairstyles and outfits and they’re both very charming and charismatic musicians. Their new album is only scheduled for 2016, but in the meantime, get familiar, because Lucius is definitely a band to watch for and keep on your radar.
The Barr Brothers
Also long-listed for the Polaris Prize for their album Sleeping Operator, The Barr Brothers have shown that they’re a force to be reckoned with. The relatives, originally from Boston, relocated to Montréal in 2004, and since they formed the folk quartet with musicians Sarah Page and Andres Vial. Mixing blues and rock to their sound, the Barr Brothers have been winning crowds over with their unique use of harp, which brings colour, texture and melody to the music.
Local alternative folk singer-songwriter and guitar player Cody Allen has four albums under his belt, and he shows no signs of slowing down. He’s a passionate, hard-working musician whose earnest lyrics and evocative melodies draw listeners in to his intimate world. Allen has a unique voice that sounds just as good live as on record. The Ottawa-based artist is giving a free live performance at Black Squirrel Books as part of Marvest.
Ottawa’s Ilvekyo has been dear to my heart ever since I discovered them at a free rooftop show in Chinatown back in the summer of 2013. They immediately stood out with their raw sound combining elements of folk and pop. Ilvekyo delivers an honest and fun sound and theirl live performances always leave me wanting more. The band will be performing as part of Marvest and releasing their third album Out Of Control for the occasion.
Hailing from Wakefield, Quebec, The Strain is nothing short of amazing. Yet, the electro pop rock group has been flying under the radar and is an underrated band that deserves attention and recognition for their excellent music and professionalism. Live, they look like true pros who’ve been rocking the stage for years. They give a high-energy set that sounds solid. Check them out, you won’t regret it!
Mountain Grove-based band Evening Hymns creates sublime folk pop music drenched in emotion and beauty. With a new album Quiet Energies scheduled to come out on September 18, their Marvest performance is bound to be filled with new material. It’ll be magical, no doubt.
Mackenzie Rhythm Section
The Mackenzie Rhythm Section has nothing to do with folk, but the founders of the soul-step are irresistibly fun. The local four-piece is becoming known for delivering energetic live shows filled with contagious funk, soul and rock n’ roll. Their performances are basically a guaranteed good time and with their forthcoming album set to come out soon, their CityFolk Marvest appearance is bound to be yet another lively and memorable dance party.
Also, shout out to the ever-so-talented Avett Brothers who win over virtually everyone who sees them live. They’re sure to be a guaranteed good time.
For more information on CityFolk and Marvest and to purchase tickets, visit the festival’s official website. This is the last big festival of the season in the National Capital Region so get out there and enjoy, Ottawa-Gatineau!