Bluesfest 2017: The good, the bad, and the bluesy

The RBC Ottawa Bluesfest was back at Lebreton Flats from July 6 to 16 with a series of fantastic and memorable performances from world-class headliners and smaller-scale performers alike.

Overall, the festival was a positive experience for most people. However, weather, security issues, and health problems cast a shadow over a few of the acts.


10. High Valley: From the small Northern Alberta town of La Crete, brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel brought their fresh style to the Claridge Homes Stage in what was perhaps the most outstanding country performance of the festival.

9. Death From Above 1979: For a two-person band, Death From Above 1979 showed they can produce a big and full sound. The Toronto-based rock duo’s performance was loud, upbeat, and got the crowd jumping and moshing.

8. Tegan and Sara just seemed to be having a fun time on stage. On top of putting on a great show, the Calgary-based indie-pop duo took the time to joke with fans about aging, sexuality, and their first performances in the Ottawa area. They also brought someone’s dog on stage and serenaded it.

7. Brandi Carlile is a wonderful artist. With the support of harmonizing bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth, Carlile put on a beautiful and heartfelt performance, mixing laid-back and upbeat songs to effectively display her musical versatility.

6. Alan Doyle and The Beatiful Gypsies: For many years, Alan Doyle and his bandmates from Great Big Sea transformed the grounds in front of the main stage into a big, happy Newfoundland party. On the smaller Blacksheep Stage, Doyle brought the party back as he played a mix of newer songs and Great Big Sea classics.

5. July Talk: Lead singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay carried the energy at July Talk’s upbeat show in front of a packed and loyal crowd. The Juno Award winners displayed their unique style of rock in what was an overall fantastic performance.

4. Sam Roberts Band: As one of the first acts to take the stage, Sam Roberts opened Bluesfest with an outstanding performance. The Montreal-based alt-rocker showed off his style of engaging the crowd through his unique musicianship and charm.

3. P!nk’s performance was nothing short of spectacular. After taking a few years off from touring, P!nk put on an excellent, energetic and special show.

2. Muse: Known for their impressive live shows, Muse lived up to expectations as they wowed the crowd with their massive, bright, electric rock show.

1. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Bluesfest saved the best for last with this one. The 66-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and his his band of 40 years delivered a memorable performance as they played through their timeless classic songs.


Bluesfest produced numerous excellent performances that reflected the wonderful diversity of the festival. From more classic and traditional acts such as Anderson East, Foy Vance and The Glorious Sons to more modern performances from Anderson .Paak, Busty & The Bass and A Tribe Called Red, the festival provided many other great performances for all to enjoy.


Although the concerts themselves were good, the atmosphere at the Migos and 50 Cent concerts was toxic, mostly due to poor security management for the popular shows. Fans knocked over fences to get in, threw garbage around, and needed emergency medical attention for issues such as physical injuries and intoxication.

Photos by Meagan Casalino