Ottawa Grassroots will deliver a tapestry of iconic folk, Indigenous beats, and Franco-Ontarian soundscapes with a full roster of performers and workshops by a beautiful spectrum of established and emerging artists. The festival returns to the acoustically rich venue of Southminster United Church, April 25-28, 2019 in Old Ottawa South.
The opening night of the festival, traditionally a Franco-night, will feature a beautiful soundscape of pop-rock with elements of folk and country music from the headliner, Le Paysagiste — Dayv Poulin 's French solo project. Whether the audience in predominantly English or French speaking, Poulin's songs resonate with listeners and he delivers an experience high in emotion and intensity. With 7 Trille Or nominations, this artist is on the cusp of something big. The evening opens with Franco-Ontarian, singer-songwriter, François Lemieux. This artist, originally from Blind River, has performed to French and English audiences in concerts and festivals from coast to coast. Lemieux has released an autobiographical collection of songs which tackles addiction problems, his emotional trauma and also reconciliation and healing. This evening is sure to be a great night to discover a range of French music that promises to please both official palates.
Bob Nesbitt has programmed a second themed evening for Grassroots 2019. “The Saturday evening will feature an all-Indigenous roster. I’ve been planning this for some time and I’m excited it has come together this year", explains Bob. "ShoShona Kish, the female half of our Saturday night headliner Digging Roots, organized and led one of the biggest events, the Indigenous Summit, at Folk Alliance International conference in Montreal this past February. This summit made clear how important it is to include Indigenous content within a festival. We started programming Indigenous performers at Ottawa Grassroots a couple of years ago, and here we are with an all-Indigenous evening, which is something we are extremely proud of", beams Nesbitt.
Multi-award winning folk rockers, Digging Roots, will headline the all-Indigenous night. First Nations power couple, ShoShona and Raven, are the creative team and inspiration behind this band. They blend folk-rock, pop, blues and hip hop with Indigenous music. Engaging wider audiences to promote their Anishinabek music and cultural ideals is key to this band. In addition to winning Juno and Canadian Folk Music Awards, ShoShona Kish can now add the 2019 Spirit of Folk Award to the collection.
Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont returns to Ottawa Grassroots to open the evening with a special address and prayer. He has released a new book of poetry, Sitting by the Rapids. A special daytime free workshop is planned incorporating Dumont's poetry and music. He will be leading a segment focusing on the strong healing powers of water. This segment will also feature performances by top local Ottawa based artists, Kristine St- Pierre, Jamie Anderson and Anne Hurley with Jim Videto. Doreen T. Stevens is a local Algonquin artist from Kitiganzibi, Quebec, who performed as part of the daytime lineup in 2018. This year she returns to Ottawa Grassroots as the opener for Digging Roots. Her spirit name is Anamitagize-Odaying "One who speaks with the heart." She is an actress, singer-songwriter, spoken word poet, and visual artist at the Indigenous Theater school in Toronto, Ontario.
It would not be Ottawa Grassroots without an evening featuring icons in folk music. For this edition, Juno Award winner, Ian Tamblyn will cap the Friday evening of the festival. A 50-year career has enabled this local folk legend to write over 1500 songs and release thirty-four recordings.
“We are stoked to have one of Canada’s national treasures headline the festival this year”, said Nesbitt. “When people talk about icons in Canadian Folk music, it doesn’t take very long before Ian Tamblyn’s name weaves into the conversation. He has written so many beautiful songs in his vast career. This will be a special night for sure! Ian Tamblyn will be performing music from throughout his career, including tracks from this year's release Let It Go, which is a stunning, painterly collection of songs.”
Tamblyn will be performing backed by top local favourites, Rebecca Campbell, Fred Guignon, and Pat Mayer. The evening is expected to draw a contingent of the Ottawa Chapter of Lakehead University (LU). In 1994, Ian Tamblyn received an Honorary Doctor of Law from LU and Ian's father, William Tamblyn, was the first President and Vice-Chancellor of Lakehead University. An audience filled with special friends. An iconic and prolific Canadian folk legend with an all-star band. Plus, a rare performance by "Ottawa's favourite singing sandwich", the Toasted Westerns (Jody Benjamin, Sally Robinson and Ann Downey) reunite for this festival only. This evening is poised to offer a lovely array of folk tunes wrapped with an element of top-tapping fun.
Grassroots has consistently had over 50% of their programming represented by female performers, since the festival’s inception. A study last year showed that most festivals struggled to have 25% female content. Inclusion, equality, embracing diversity and participation continue to be fundamental values for this community driven festival and “Participation is key to experiencing Ottawa Grassroots!” confirmed Nesbitt.
Visit the festival website ottawagrassrootsfestival.com for the program schedule of all these great performances and more. Day-time programming Saturday & Sunday is free!