Old Ottawa South Community Association

Ottawa based jazz-folk girl group: Champagne Sundays. See them Sun. April 29, 11am.
Ottawa based jazz-folk girl group: Champagne Sundays. See them Sun. April 29, 11am.

Ottawa Grassroots Festival: Apr. 26-29, 2018

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It’s in the Roots—Ottawa Grassroots Delivers a True Folk Experience

The Ottawa Grassroots Festival (OGF) celebrated their launch event at Pressed in Ottawa's Centretown neighbourhood. Bob Nesbitt, Founder and Festival Producer, announced the full daytime and evening line-up to sponsors, volunteers, artists and media. The festival roster continues to stay true to its roots and its values—celebrating diversity in age, culture and youth—not only in performers but in volunteers as well.

When asked about Grassroots 2018, Nesbitt replied "I'm really delighted with the line-up. For several years, we have been increasing the Indigenous content of the festival and I am thrilled that Leela Gilday will be performing on Friday night (April 27) and of course, we are always honoured to have Albert Dumont at the festival. He is revered as an Algonquin Traditional Teacher, and is also a wonderful storyteller. Grassroots has always highlighted emerging artists and this year we have a record number of youth performing on Saturday and Sunday. I am proud to say our line-up is 50% female artists! Finally, who wouldn't be excited about having Lynn Miles, Sneezy Waters and Jean-Marc Lalonde perform at the same festival? It's going to rock!"

The festival is happening April 26-29, 2018, returning to Southminster United Church in Old Ottawa South. The daytime programming on Saturday and Sunday is completely free – no tickets are required. Great performers and participatory workshops are guaranteed to increase the enjoyment levels of all who attend. Tickets are required for evening performances. Get them soon. Bob Nesbitt confirmed sales are considerably ahead of the same time last year, something every small festival hopes for.

Fans of the ticketed line-up which includes Lynn Miles, Sneezy Waters, Leela Gilday (a young Dene woman from the Northwest Territories) and Campbell Woods will have two opportunities to see these artists perform, as they are also included in the daytime roster of performers. Leela Gilday’s Saturday daytime performance will include talk of Indigenous matters and songs. "If anyone cares at all about Indigenous issues, this is not to be missed. I have seen her perform twice and once at a panel discussion. She is very good and a perfect fit for this festival", says Nesbitt. Lynn Miles will be on stage with several budding artists from Carleton University’s music program on Sunday afternoon. What a great opportunity to hear these future artists. Another festival highlight is the Song-circle Workshop: The Early Years, which will feature Miles, Waters and Woods.

Additional confirmed daytime performers at OGF2018 are musical artists: Steve Palmer, The Great Festival of India, Kate Weekes, Isabelle Delage, Greg Kelly, Howie Hooper, Mark Evenchick, Jamie Anderson, Emma Lamontagne, "Dr. John" Hodgson, Moonfruits, Tao Hipwell, Sarah Howard, Kaleigh Watts, emerging folk duo, Walk on the Wire (Anne Hurley and Jim Videto) and jazz-folk duo, Champagne Sundays as well as spoken word artists and storytellers, Albert Dumont and James Blondeau.

While attending workshops, concerts and dances is great fun for all, many folk music enthusiasts love to play music as well. Ottawa Grassroots offers players of all expertise levels opportunities to join in and play along. Jam sessions are informal and supportive to all who join in. Jamie Anderson will be leading a ukulele jam session on Saturday afternoon and Paul Spafford’s jam session will be held on Sunday afternoon – all musicians and instruments are welcome.

OGF jam session
Jamming workshop at OGF2017. Photo by Jake Morrison.

Participation is key at Ottawa Grassroots. This year, visitors can learn how to build an instrument and/or join The Terry Penner Weekend Choir led by Rowena Pearl, where anyone can lend their voice. Amanda Bon will be leading a dance workshop. There will be Gil's Grassroots Hootenanny Contest, an open stage with Sjef Franken, KidZone with Selina Bishop & Jessica Carboni, and another festival favourite, a workshop for toddlers and babies. Without these engaging and fun workshops for the whole family, it would not be grassroots!

The not-for-profit music event is now in its 7th year and is gaining a reputation as "the most people-oriented festival in the city". It’s called Grassroots because it is! This organization, run entirely by volunteers, is proud of the participatory workshops it provides, cultivating community and nurturing inclusivity in a fun and friendly way.

Tickets (evenings only) are priced to be affordable for everyone: Saturday (Lynn Miles and Keith Glass) $30, Friday (Sneezy Waters and His Very Fine Band) $25 and Thursday (Franco-night, Jean-Marc Lalonde) $20. A festival pass is a mere $49 if purchased online. Reinforcing its commitment to keep things affordable for families, children 15 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. This is certainly unique to Grassroots, as other events have a lower age threshold for kids.

A new addition to the Friday evening line-up is the One World Choir (adults from different cultural backgrounds) and the World Folk Music Orchestra for Kids (children from Syria and Africa). Led by Alicia Borisonik, the choirs will perform songs that come from many spiritual, cultural and musical traditions (including folk/roots, pop, gospel and world music). Tonya Price (CKCU radio station host) returns as MC for this culturally diverse evening that embodies Grassroots.

Come on out, hear great music, participate in fun and inspiring workshops. You will return home having experienced the feeling of a true folk festival!

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