Ottawa Bluesfest Ottawa, ON - July 7 to 16, 2006

Presented under a massive banner of corporate sponsorship and a welcoming move away from its namesake genre, the Bluesfest is a triumph for all concerned due to one simple reason: it brings amazing and diverse artists to the oft-neglected Outaouais region. Yes, people should bitch and moan about how the main stage has it front two-thirds taken over by chairs for those who gave pretty pennies but this crime, among others, pales in comparison to the benefits. These included the sublime electro-styling of Brazilian Girls and Jamie Lidell. The Girls’ lead singer, Sabina Sciubba, had an overpowering sexiness, while Lidell’s phenomenal charm, voice and techno-layering took even the pudgy, golden-aged lawn-chair dwellers by surprise. Other international bright lights were Calexico, whose fantastic re-imagining of "Not Even Stevie Nicks” took the top song prize, the charming Rosanne Cash, the M’s, the New Amsterdams and the sure-footed Wilco. Though Jeff Tweedy brought the shaggy goods, it was mind-boggling guitarist Nels Cline who stole the show. But, this being the Capital, it was Canada that shone the brightest. While Great Lake Swimmers were quietly transfixing, home towners the Acorn’s delicious melodies ascended in the sunny atmosphere. Torngat and Bell Orchestre proved that challenging instrumental music does have a home in many hearts. This moment, though, was lost to those who decided to bet on the alternating moments of Feist’s beauty and banality. The final day of the festival is where it all came together, with the Meligrove Band’s mastery of melody preceding the mind-blowing Hilotrons, who proved that the combination of heatstroke and jerky synth-based rock doesn’t stop people from dancing. Controller.Controller owned the crowd from their first (literally) sticky bass notes and found their nadir thanks to the duelling lady singers during "Disco Blackout.” Mopping up the rest of the night were the New Pornographers, who found delight in the pulsating, near-collapsing crowd while playing an almost perfect set of their fantastic classics. The sheer size meant many great bands were missed, such as Cadence Weapon, Alejandro Escovedo and Konono No. 1, but it also meant booby traps of mediocrity and boomer nostalgia. If you feel angered, just look past the horrid logos into the clear blue sky and sway to the inspiration that passes this city by all too often.