CityFolk Day Two: Jack Johnson brings good vibes to Ottawa

CityFolk’s second day was sunny and full of music, and it was the first time this week both stages were open. It seemed to be a more mixed-age crowd compared to the mainly young crowd the day before for Post Malone, with a lot of families, couples, and students attending.

Jenn Grant attracted a crowd into the Ravenlaw stage area during her melodic set, captivating the audience with songs like “Lion With Me.” The area was crowded but not too crazy, with enough room for people to sit on the ground around the stage and take in the performance. While Grant kept her audience in a trance, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats kept it lively and fun outside at the City Stage.

It started getting crowded before Jack Johnson’s set at the City Stage.

“I came early to see Nathaniel Rateliff, that was really good but I’m here for Jack Johnson,” said Nadine James, an Ottawa resident at CityFolk for the first time since the location change to Lansdowne.

James said that CityFolk has maintained “that relaxed boho vibe” with the change and she expects to come back again in the future.

Jack Johnson instantly got the entire crowd singing along during his set of songs like “Banana Pancakes” and “Breakdown.” He threw in a new song “My Mind Is For Sale” and his own rendition of “The Joker” by The Steve Miller band. Between songs he pointed out a sign in the crowd that said “Ohana” in reference to Jack Johnson’s home state of Hawaii and later joked about crowd surfing.

“I can get out there and float around for a little bit,” he said.

There was some ukulele and harmonica involved in the performance, along with other instruments like an accordion and a melodica. Johnson even attempted a couple lines in French, and the crowd loved it.

Some of the vendors at the festival included fashion brand Zargara who returned for the fourth year in a row, according to Amir Zargara, the one-man show behind the company.

When I asked him what keeps him coming back to CityFolk he said because “it’s awesome! Sales are good and I get to meet more Ottawa people.”

Meanwhile, the Hemp Cookie Company was a first-time vendor.

“It’s been going pretty well,” said owner Christine Tomka about the company’s first year at CityFolk, “but the weekend is when it’s going to really explode.”

I scored a sample of an espresso hemp cookie and I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

Also at the festival, I ran into YouTuber Elle Mills towards the end of Johnson’s set and she emphasized how much she prefers CityFolk to Bluesfest.

“I like how it’s really intimate,” she said. “It’s a calmer vibe.”

Photo by Emily D’Orazio