CityFolk: Five years and a string of hits later, the Strumbellas return to town

What a distinction 5 years makes. Last time the Strumbellas performed a folks pageant in Ottawa, they had been a side-stage band that had but to make a splash exterior Canada.

Now they’re a main worldwide act with a string of hit singles and a tour schedule that takes them round the world. And on Thursday they returned as the opening-night headliners at CityFolk.

But they nonetheless remembered that wet evening in 2014. “It’s one of my favourite shows that I can remember,” mentioned keyboardist Dave Ritter when he greeted the viewers. “We had a totally amazing time.”

This time, skies had been clear however there was a chill in the air. The band rapidly warmed issues up by kicking off the present with We Don’t Know and Young and Wild, two of the infectious songs from their 2016 breakthrough album, Hope. Next got here the newest single, Salvation, from their new album, Rattlesnake. 

The six-piece Ontario-bred band wove components of folks, rock, pop and, at one level, even a snippet of hiphop into their music, tying all of it along with singalong choruses, group harmonies and a relaxed, down-to-earth stage presence that confirmed they aren’t that far faraway from the scruffy bunch we noticed 5 years in the past.  

Highlights of the enjoyable present included the hooky anthem, Spirits, the pulsing Shovels & Dirt, and a shock acoustic cowl of the Blind Melon nugget, Soup.

And the Strumbellas weren’t the solely deal with for followers of twangy tunes and heavenly harmonies.

A rustic-flavoured twang lit up the early night units by Americana singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams and Canada’s masked troubadour, Orville Peck, whereas the harmonies soared throughout an indoor efficiency by Newfoundland’s The Once. The U.S. sister act, Larkin Poe, additionally gave a sensational present on the indoor stage, situated in Aberdeen Paviliion.

For Williams, the 45-minute slot meant she didn’t take time to chat between songs, besides close to the finish when she expressed her delight at getting out of the U.S. for a few days. “It’s always a joy to come to Canada,” she declared.

Backed by the wallop of Buick 6, her highly effective three-piece band, the 66-year-old a number of Grammy winner obtained down to enterprise, singing in a smoky voice that exuded each energy and vulnerability.

With drummer Butch Norton, bassist David Sutton and super-talented guitarist Stuart Mathis, they cruised by way of a set that ranged from heartbreak tunes to songs of betrayal, together with the likes of Let It Go, Drunken Angel, Big Mess and the scathing You Took My Joy, to title a few.

The set got here to a blistering shut with an up to date model of Foolishness, a nice monitor from her 2014 album, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone, that listed all the issues she doesn’t want in her life, together with hate, partitions and sexism, in addition to the issues she does: Peace and love.

Peck proved to be a super opener for Williams, with the Roy Orbison-like resonance of his voice and the distinctive perspective of his model of alt-country songs. He’s the man who performs in a fringed masks, a prop that permits him to be absolutely immersed in his flamboyant-cowboy character. With his stable band, he gave a terrific efficiency, and followers lapped up the melodic craftsmanship of songs like Roses are Fallen and Queen of the Rodeo, a story of a drag queen.

On a clear however chilly night, music followers turned out in droves, roaming between the major stage on the Great Lawn and the indoor venue in the Cattle Castle.

CityFolk continues till Sunday, resuming Friday with a program that options the return of Summersault, the ’90s rock pageant curated by Our Lady Peace. The still-active Canadian band is in the headlining slot, joined by two different grunge-era faves from south of the border, Live and Bush.

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