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Ottawa’s RBC BluesFest: The 5 Acts You Can’t Miss

Canada celebrates its 150th birthday this year, and the bulk of the bash is going down in Ottawa, the nation’s capital. A massive national celebration would normally overshadow any local music festival, but Ottawa’s RBC BluesFest ain’t your usual music festival. With over 200 acts playing from July 6th to July 16th, BluesFest is one of Canada’s biggest multi-genre, multi-day musical invasions.

Such a big festival can be intimidating. Thankfully, we’re here to help.

Here are five acts you absolutely cannot miss this year at RBC BluesFest:

Taylor Knox – Saturday July 8, BluesVille Stage @ 4:30PM

BluesFest schedule-makers knocked it out of the park slotting Taylor Knox for a Saturday afternoon set, as Taylor Knox is Canada’s finest purveyor of “Saturday afternoon” rock. Knox will showcase the sun-soaked vibes of his latest album album, Love, with songs full of shimmering guitars, hummable hooks and tender, genuine vocals. These saccharine summer jams were made to be heard while smiling under blue skies.

Delicate Steve – Saturday July 15, City Stage @ 7PM

Steve Marion, better known as Delicate Steve, proudly calls himself the best guitarist on the planet, and he absolutely means it. He’ll have plenty of chances to back up that claim when he takes to the main stage for an hour of soaring guitar and feel-good rock and roll. BluesFest showcases dozens of immensely talented axe-men on its many stages, but Delicate Steve is certainly the most confident.

LCD Soundsystem – Wednesday July 12, City Stage @ 9:10PM

After levelling the WayHome grounds with a sonically explosive Canadian festival debut last summer, LCD Soundsystem returns to the Ontario festival scene with a headlining set at BluesFest. LCD’s next album is expected to drop later in the year, and their BluesFest set will be Canada’s first chance at hearing new bangers like “Call The Police”. Call the police is also surely what residents in surrounding neighbourhoods will do when they hear the volume James Murphy and company will dial up at LeBreton Flats. Get ready to be blown away.

Anderson Paak & the Free Nationals – Friday July 14, Claridge Homes Stage @ 7PM

It’s hard to define Anderson Paak. Is he a singer-songwriter? A rapper-producer? A band-leading drummer? The California native and Dr. Dre protégé is all of the above, but to call him only one would be a disservice to his immense talent. With musical dexterity and energy to match, Anderson Paak and his band the Free Nationals have quickly become a must-see live act. Expect an effortless set full of bangers, banter and all-round entertainment.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Sunday July 16, City Stage @ 9PM

BluesFest 2017 will conclude in the most classic way possible, with rock legends Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers playing their first Ottawa show in almost 40 years. Unfortunately, it will also likely be their last. Petty tells Rolling Stone that this tour is the “last big one”, so Petty fans should grab a “big one” themselves and sway to a night of bonafide rock classics. Mary Jane’s last dance, indeed.

Tom Petty & guitarist Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers — photo by Alessio Neri

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For tickets, the full artist schedule and all the BluesFest info you’ll ever need, head to BluesFest’s official site!

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