Bryan Adams and Shawn Men­des among head­lin­ers

Ottawa Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - LYNN SAXBERG lsaxberg@post­

Foo Fight­ers, Beck, Bryan Adams, Shawn Men­des, Shaggy and Jethro Tull are confirmed for head­lin­ing slots at this year’s edi­tion of RBC Bluesfest, ev­i­dence of an­other wildly di­verse year for Ot­tawa’s big­gest sum­mer mu­sic fes­ti­val in an in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket.

The event runs from July 5-15 at LeBre­ton Flats Park on the grounds of the Canadian War Mu­seum. Like Tom Petty last year, Foo Fight­ers have long been a sought-af­ter act on the Bluesfest wish list. “We’ve tried to go af­ter them the last few years,” said Mark Mon­a­han, Bluesfest’s artis­tic and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, in an in­ter­view at the fes­ti­val’s Churchill Av­enue head­quar­ters. “It’s one of those acts you would do any year, and this is the year.”

The Foos and Dave Matthews Band, whose Bluesfest date was an­nounced a few weeks ago, aren’t the only first-time head­lin­ers on the pro­gram. Also fea­tured on the big­gest of the fes­ti­val’s five stages will be clas­sic rockers Jethro Tull, alt-rocker Beck, coun­try crooner Brett El­dredge, pop reg­gae star Shaggy and hiphop duo Rae Srem­mard.

For Can-rock icon Adams, it will be his first Bluesfest ap­pear­ance in 14 years. Adams tops the bill on open­ing night, fol­lowed by Jethro Tull and their 50th an­niver­sary tour on July 6, pop heart­throb Shawn Men­des on July 7 and El­dredge on July 8. Af­ter a one-day break, the fun con­tin­ues with Foo Fight­ers on July 10, Matthews’ band on July 11, Shaggy on July 12, Beck on July 13, Rae Srem­mard on July 14 and Chicago’s hard­core heroes Rise Against on July 15.

Ac­cord­ing to Mon­a­han, the com­pe­ti­tion for artists in­creases ev­ery year as ma­jor fes­ti­vals in North Amer­ica are taken over by multi­na­tional con­cert pro­mot­ers such as Live Na­tion. (Be­cause it’s a non-profit char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion, Bluesfest is in no danger of takeover.)

“The whole cy­cle has changed,” Mon­a­han says. “The amal­ga­ma­tion of all these fes­ti­vals — Bon­na­roo, Austin City Lim­its, Lol­la­palooza — has con­trib­uted to this race to get pro­gram­ming done. They’re look­ing for head­lin­ers for 20 or 30 fes­ti­vals. I think our lineup’s pretty darn good, but it’s be­com­ing more com­pet­i­tive, and it means you have to be on top of it all the time. The busiest time for pro­gram­ming now is Au­gust through Novem­ber.”

The dozens of acts listed in Tues­day’s pre­lim­i­nary an­nounce­ment also in­clude roots rocker Sturgill Simp­son, singer-song­writer Pas­sen­ger, Canada’s Strum­bel­las, in­die rockers The War on Drugs, for­mer boy­band Han­son, elec­tro funk duo Chromeo, rockers Three Days Grace and EDM acts Zeds Dead, Keys N Krates and Grandtheft, to name a few. Emerg­ing acts such as Korean-Amer­i­can DJ Yaeji, U.S. rockers Greta Van Fleet, pop songstress Jessie Reyez and Aus­tralia’s Court­ney Bar­nett are also rep­re­sented.

Re­turn­ing to the fes­ti­val grounds this year is the fer­ris wheel and the shel­tered Bluesville stage, cov­ered by a huge tent, where con­certs by Nick Lowe with Los Strait­jack­ets, St. Paul and the Bro­ken Bones, Ben­jamin Booker, Beth Hart, Light­house, M. Ward and oth­ers will take place. New for 2018 is a large screen so you can watch the per­for­mances from out­side the Bluesville tent.

Hip hop has not been aban­doned. In ad­di­tion to Rae Srem­murd, shows by Naughty By Na­ture,

Ghost­face Kil­lah, Ma­chine Gun Kelly, Brock­hamp­ton and more are sched­uled.

The blues is still a part of Bluesfest, too, with the re­turn of the blues jam in the Barney Dan­son Theatre, hosted by Ot­tawa mu­si­cians Mon­keyJunk and The Split. Other blues artists in­clude Canadian blues­men Colin James and Steve Hill, who play July 14, Beth Hart re­turn­ing on July 8, sax dy­namo Vanessa Col­lier on July 12 and Mis­sis­sippi’s Mr. Sipp on July 14.

As usual, a con­tin­gent of Ot­tawaarea acts will also be show­cased, in­clud­ing Brock Ze­man, Amos the Trans­par­ent, City Fedelia, Cody Coy­ote, Kim­berly Sun­strum,

I think our lineup’s pretty darn good, but it’s be­com­ing more com­pet­i­tive …

J. W-Jones, River City Junc­tion, the Bank Street Bon­bons, Pep­Tides, Stone Age Man and many more.

New in tick­et­ing this year are two sep­a­rate youth passes. The un­der-19 pass is a no-drink­ing, non­trans­fer­able wrist­band, avail­able to pa­trons who will be un­der 19 years of age for the du­ra­tion of the fes­ti­val. Pre-sale price is $109, plus tax and sur­charges. A new level of pass is aimed at fes­ti­val­go­ers age 25 and un­der, with prices start­ing at $139. Adult passes start at $209, while the VIP Club passes start at $605. Tax and sur­charges are ex­tra.

The one-day pre-sale starts at 10 a.m. Feb. 15 and ends at mid­night. Gen­eral tick­ets and passes go on sale at 10 a.m. Fri­day, Feb. 16.


Dave Grohl of the Foo Fight­ers per­forms last year.


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