By Bradley Turcotte –
Music of every genre echoed everywhere in Hintonburg on September 9 as Ottawa Porchfest musicians performed throughout the neighbourhood. The day culminated in a concert at Parkdale Park.
Unlike last year’s wet weather, the sun beamed brightly on the street artists and several performers commented that the number of spectators surpassed their expectations.
Named for the colours in frontman James Walters’ beard, Jimmy Tri-Tone Band delighted a healthy crowd with an hour-long set of alternative, country-tinged rock.
“It’s cool when people are walking down the street and they stop or they stop their car because they hear music,” band member Randelle Ashley said after the duo completed their acoustic concert on Hintonburg Community Association member Jhen Mason’s Sherbrooke Avenue porch.
“It adds to the ambiance of the neighbourhood,” said Sherbrooke Avenue resident Kathleen Gallahue after catching Jimmy Tri-Tone Band’s performance, adding that events like Porchfest are important for the community as it is a festival that doesn’t directly encourage commercialisation or seek to generate profit.
Winner of the 2016 Ottawa Idol crown, Megan Francoeur, fronts roots-rock outfit Subtle Curves and says she likes the “busker-esque” feel of the festival. Subtle Curves performed a collection of upbeat, soulful jams at Wellington Village’s Royal Palm.
Quebecois busker Jean-Mo’s guitar-harp produced some of the most unique sounds of the day. Made from recycled materials, including parts of an old printer, the electric creation is equipped with drum pads on the guitar body, allowing for a full band sound emanating from a single instrument. From classic rock distortion to atmospheric chill, Jean-Mo’s music arrested onlookers outside of Nu Grocery on Wellington St.W. His set included the Game of Thrones theme, a choice he admits is meant to draw listeners in and hopefully keep them hooked for his offbeat numbers.
Folk-pop singer-songwriter Danielle Allard has followed German stand-up comedians and performed alongside drag queens yet was thrilled to set up stage outside Trove. From the moment she powered up her amp, a throng of music lovers gathered to listen. Bikers stopped to soak up her songs and pedestrians sang along from across the street.
“I’ve busked in other cities and it wasn’t as exciting as this,” said Danielle.
As her primary instrument is in the shop being readied for City Folk, Danielle played delicate, winsome arrangements on her “baby guitar.”
Currently prepping a new album, Danielle is offering rewards for pre-ordering her next release. An early buy nets the fan anything from a voicemail message to a private concert. (Get details at danielleallard.com.)
“Ottawa is full of interesting venues and opportunities,” Danielle observes. “This festival is very unique in that it’s encompassing the whole neighbourhood and it takes a lot of community effort to actually pull off an event like this. The community comes together.”
Although there were some last minute cancellations, it was nothing the festival organizers weren’t prepared for, co-founder Kayman McKay divulged after one performer failed to show on Bayswater Avenue.
“Things always work out for the audience,” said co-founder Ken McKay.