Bluesfest is set to announce their lineup next week, and as always, there has been much speculation around the major headliners.  Bluesfest announces their lineup relatively late compared to other summer festivals, which drives a lot of rumours and discussion around the bands on the festival circuit or otherwise that may drop by our beloved Bluesfest.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of rumouring and speculating myself, so here are my predictions/hopes/wishes and impressions of the current rumours floating around:

Iron Maiden – this seems to be pretty much in the bag.  The band is touring this summer, they’ve got dates in Montreal and Toronto right around that time, and then there’s this bit of evidence.

Crowded House – another one that seems like a fait acompli.  With a new album coming out in June and a US/Canada tour kicking off on July 12th, they seem a pretty likely candidate.  Oh, and of course there’s this.

Weezer – I haven’t seen this name come up in many rumour discussions, but let’s file it under my wish/hopes.  The timing seems right – they’re on the festival circuit and are playing Sarnia Bayfest and Osheaga in Montreal around that time.  If they don’t play Bluesfest, I guess I’ll be hitting Osheaga – I’ve been dying to catch these guys live.

Black Eyed Peas – This name came up a couple of times – they’re currently on tour and are also hitting the Sarnia Bayfest on July 18th.  But they’ve got a date at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on August 1st, so they probably wouldn’t want to cannibalize sales from that show so soon after.  Unlikely.

Lady Gaga – This was the big rumour that hit last week.  I don’t really care either way, but she’s got two gigs down the road in Toronto on July 11 and 12th – but the schedule seems a bit too tight for her to make the trip here – she’s only got a day between New York and Toronto, and a day from Toronto to Cleveland.  I think this one’s pretty unlikely.

Neil Young – I came across this rumour for the first time last week as well.  I really hope it’s true, but it’s hard to find any evidence to support.

Kings of Leon – Another persistent rumour, but I think this is more wishful thinking.  They’re on tour, but at the time of Bluesfest they’re cruising around the western states, so I think this is pretty unlikely.

U2 – HA!  I doubt it.  Yes, they’re in Montreal at the right time, but really?  Not exactly a festival-circuit type band…

Rush – hmmm… another strong possibility – they’re on tour, playing outdoor venues and festivals.  Also playing Sarnia Bayfest and there’s a rather glaring 4 day gap between that show and Toronto where they could take a jaunt down here.

Arcade Fire – hard to say… they’re doing a European Festivals tour and are playing Oxygen Festival on July 9th, but they have nothing else booked until Osheaga at the end of July.  Would love to see these guys!

Stevie Wonder – has been a pretty persistent rumour, and would be an amazing get for the festival.  He is playing some festivals this summer, but I can’t find any single listing of his currently booked dates.

Those are the big rumours, and of course the best thing about Bluesfest is that over the 10 days, there are so many acts to catch that the headliners are really just icing on the cake. Word is this year’s festival received a record number of requests from local bands to play, so Ottawa should be well represented as well.

The other great bit of news is that the Byward Blues concert series is going to be expanded and will include free outdoor shows over both weekends, as well as lots of club shows through the week.  Two of my favourite experiences from last year – Arrested Development on York Street and Peter Murphy at Mavericks – were a part of the Byward Blues series, so I’m really glad to see it back.

UPDATE: Just spotted another rumour that seems pretty likely:  Santana.  He’s on tour playing basically every day or two and then there’s a rather conspicuous gap between Toronto on July 11 and Montreal on July 15th.  hmmm..

I am mighty pissed off about one thing from yesterday – as I walked onto the grounds and grabbed a daily schedule, I was informed of a schedule change – that Land of Talk would be switched with Jenn Grant and would play at 6:15 instead of 4:45. So we just kinda wandered around and caught some bits and pieces elsewhere, noteably New Mastersounds from the Uk, who were great fun and were not happy until everyone on the Hard Rock Stage hillside was standing and enjoying the show.

Then later as we were making our way to The Black Sheep stage at 6:00 to see Land of Talk, we bumped into a friend who claimed she’d just come from watching them! That they went on at 4:45 as scheduled! I double checked, and sure enough, the schedule I had indicated a change, the schedule posted in the Wired tent indicated a change, but THERE WAS NO CHANGE!… angry angry.

Then we spent the better part of the next hour trying to stay dry due to the rain (THAT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE!), and waiting for Girl Talk! I’ve seen GT before in Montreal, and while I’d say that show was better overall in terms of energy and vibe (Montreal crowds are just amazing), one thing I did appreciate was being able to be relatively close without the fear of being in an out-of-control pit (Montreal was insane – I stayed in the balcony).

Girl Talk always puts on an amazing show – his live sets have become legendary for their energy and party atmosphere. He always says that he recognizes that he’s a laptop dj, and who wants to just watch a guy f’ing around on a computer, so he tries to take it to another level. With various projectiles and confetti and beach balls and giant ballons, plus the lucky selected group of people dancing on stage (in MTL, people just rushed past an overwhelmed security team and tore down railings to get up there!), the Girl Talk show is quite a spectacle, really something that has to be seen to be believed.

The sound from the main stage last night was notably lower – damn stupid complainers in Ottawa! – in fact, we were at the far end of the main field and hadn’t even realized Joe Cocker had started playing until well into his first song. We stuck around for a bit of his set, but unfortunately were feeling a bit broken, on my part after 5 days of bluesfesting with two nights in a row of mad dancing to Matisyahu and Girl Talk, and the body just isn’t as resilient as it once was.

So there were a couple of big misses, obviously missing Land of Talk was a huge disappointment, but we also didn’t get to catch Thunderheist at either of their performances yesterday – they were on at the same time as Girl Talk, so we missed them there, and then they were supposed to play Byward Blues later on, and we’d planned on making it down there, but as I mentioned previously, we were all feeling pretty broken and decided to rest our weary bones instead. At some point you have to accept the fact that you just can’t see everything!

Tonight is pretty light – only one stage open and one headliner: Stone Temple Pilots. Should be fun. 7 days left!

Included below is a bit of the mad spectacle that is Girl Talk.

UPDATE: From what I understand, Land of Talk was initially delayed because the drummer was caught up at immigration and so they made the switch, but then problems cleared up at immigration and he ended up making it in time, so they switched back. My problem with this is that they had already distributed flyers with the change made, including the one that I got! I’m still really pissed off about this. I was looking forward to seeing them!

Oh man, what a week… I’m so wrecked right now.  Been going out every night after Bluesfest and drinking until the wee hours, then getting up and dragging myself to work in the morning(ish).

So no time to write.  Or really do anything.  My poor dog is feeling neglected – we just celebrated an anniversary – I adopted her 11 years ago this week!  I’m gonna have to spend some serious time with her next week to make up…  My house is a mess – no time to clean – it’s getting pretty bad.  I’m sure my girlfriend is feeling a bit neglected too.  Or maybe she’s glad to have me out of the house and not bothering her.  Not sure – could go either way.

Anyway, been seeing lots of shows.  Here’s a quick rundown: on Monday I rushed down to catch The D’urbervilles at 6:00 – they were really great, but played a really short set – only 35 mins… so that was a bit disappointing.  Caught Matthew Good after – who was really great – I’ve never seen him live but been meaning to for a while.  The headliner for the night was James Taylor, who I wasn’t sure how much I was going to care about, and when he started out I was worried it was going to be a bit of a snorefest, but once the show got rolling I ended up really enjoying it.

Tuesday I caught The Most Serene Republic – who I’d never heard of before, but I bumped into some friends when I got there and one of them said they were good so we checked them out – and they didn’t disappoint.

The plan for the rest of the evening involved trying to catch three acts who were playing on three stages at the same time – Tokyo Police Club, Michael Franti & Spearhead and Stars.  We started at The Black Sheep Stage for Tokyo Police Club – who were great – and after a half hour we headed over to The Roots Stage for Michael Franti.

And holy cow – what an incredible show they put on – the crowd was so enthusiastic and Michael Franti had us all in the palm of his hand – everyone was jumping around and dancing and having a great time.  We quickly forgot about the rest of our plan and stayed at Roots for most of the performance.

We did eventually make it over to The River stage for the last two songs of Stars, who were great – but a much mellower performance and we kinda felt like we were missing out on the craziness back at Roots so as soon as Stars wrapped up we managed to rush back and catch another song of Franti who were going overtime.

Wednesday I arrived a little early and caught a bit of JW Jones Band while enjoying my dinner and a beverage and waiting for some of the gang to show up.  I met up with the gang over at The Black Sheep stage for Hayden who we enjoyed while sitting in the grass half-listening-half-chatting.

At 9:00 I really wanted to check out Kid Beyond inside the theatre in the war museum – but nobody else seemed all that interested so I went in by myself intending to just catch a half our or so and then head out for the 9:30 shows.  Kid B’s performance blew my mind – I ended up staying for the whole show – it was really an incredible experience and I was glad I made it out.

I caught up with everyone else over at The Roots stage for CALEXICO who were great – but the next highlight of the evening was a total surprise – one of our group had walked over to Black Sheep stage to use the bathrooms and texted the rest of us that the music was really good over there.  Sure enough, Grupo Fantasma were just about the most fun we’d had all week.  When they wrapped up at 11:00 the audience cheered and chanted their name for 10-15 minutes after.  You could tell they really regretted that they couldn’t do an encore – damn Ottawa City ByLaws!

Thursday night I found out that Kid Beyond was playing again at The River stage so I told everyone they should check him out.  Unfortunately his performance didn’t transfer well to the outdoor stage – it was a totally different feeling and kind of a bit disappointing.  Too bad – the indoor venue was just so much better for what he was doing.  The Black Crowes were the headliners and they just put on such an incredible show – only disappointment was that they didn’t play two of their biggest songs:  Hard To Handle and She Talks To Angels.  Thought they may have been saving them for an encore, but they played right till 11:00 and didn’t get to do one.  Oh well, the whole show rocked so the songs weren’t terribly missed – just noted.

Finally the weekend is here – no more having to get up for work the next day.  Tonight I’m really looking forward to Metric.  I can’t believe there’s only a few nights left – and I have to take Saturday off because of a stupid DJ gig… oh well – I’ll be out on Sunday for Disco night to send the week out with a bang.

Holy crap I’m tired.  and sore.  4 days of walking/standing/dancing is starting to take its toll.  Also the weather has been phenomenal, but the sun gets hard to take after a while.  Gotta remember to drink more water and less beer.  Less beer for sure – Bluesfest is not going to be good for my summer physique.

Highlights so far:  The Wailers last night were amazing.  Snoop Dogg was a blast.  Infected Mushroom definitely did not help with the noise complaint issues.  Ladytron was great (and loud) as well.  I wish I would have spent more time at Zappa, but they were on at the same time as Steely Dan and it was a tough decision so I just followed the crowd.

Spent most of Lucinda Williams’ set sitting near the merch tent and eating/drinking – but from what I caught, she seemed to put on a good show.

Caught a few songs towards the end of Les Breastfeeders set – great name – and they were definitely rocking.

Unfortunately Feist was kinda boring – I had heard good things about her live performances, but I suppose she’d do better in a more intimate environment.

Been trying to spend bits of time at the smaller stages watching bands I haven’t heard of just for the bluesville experience of it and have been having limited success – I keep getting caught up hanging out with friends and eating/drinking.  Gotta spend more time with the music!

Sadly missed:  I really wish I could have caught The Weakerthans who were on at the same time as The Wailers.  Also would have liked to see more of Widespread Panic – also on at the same time as The Wailers – though I did see their big finale which was impressive.

Lots of great stuff left to see – tonight I’m hoping to make it in time to catch The D’urbervilles, then the big acts are Matthew Good and James Taylor.

Will try to get pictures and vids up soon.

Lots of stuff to see today:

5:00PM – Infected Mushroom – Rogers Stage
6:15PM – Snoop Dogg – Bank of America Stage
7:30PM – Primus – Rogers Stage
9:00PM – Widespread Panic – Bank of America Stage
9:00PM – The Wailers – Roots Stage
9:30PM – The Weakerthans – Black Sheep Stage

wow, busy day… too much overlap, and given my track record so far… not much hope of seeing all of this.  I’m really curious about The Wailers (think Bob Marley and…), but Widespread Panic is supposed to be amazing…  Snoop is going to be a madhouse for sure.

Kind of a light schedule for me today considering this is the first Saturday – I’ll head down early though and do some exploring – of course the big act of the day is Steely Dan which I’m really looking forward to.  My schedule for now looks something like:

6:00PM – Ladytron – Rogers Stage
9:00PM – Zappa Plays Zappa – Roots Stage
9:30PM – Steely Dan – Bank of America Stage

I must admit I know nothing about the Six Shooters record label, but I’m intrigued by what’s happening at the Black Sheep Stage today so I’ll be heading over there to check things out for sure.

Day 2 should be a pretty light day – Danielle and I decided to treat ourselves and got Gold Circle passes for Feist.  We’ll be getting there early to do some exploring around the smaller stages.  The only other act I really want to catch today is Ottawa-based Evil Farm Children who I’ve heard many good things about.  So our taking-it-easy schedule should look something like this:

6:00PM – Evil Farm Children – Roots Stage
9:30PM – Feist – Bank of America Stage

Here we go!  10 days of musical bliss!  Let’s see what we can do about my possibly impossible list of artists I want to see.  Tonights schedule:

7:00PM – Secret Machines – Bank of America Stage
7:30PM – Fiftymen – Roots Stage
8:15PM – TV on the Radio – Rogers Stage
9:00PM – The Blind Boys of Alabama – Roots Stage
9:30PM – The Tragically Hip – Bank of America Stage

Oh man… there’s some serious overlap and lots of running between stages there already.  I’ll report back later or maybe tomorrow.