Bluesfest: Sam Roberts Band & John Mellencamp – Review

by: Kate MacDonald

It was off to Bluesfest 2012 with my husband and a couple of friends, on a warm Thursday evening,  to catch two acts: Sam Roberts Band and John Mellencamp.

Welcome back Sam and boys !!

It had been a few years since they had performed at the Bluesfest and the return was awesome.  An energetic and interactive Sam Roberts treated the crowd  (diverse in age and substantial in number), to new and old songs.  The upbeat vibe was established early in the show with “Detroit” and by the time a “Hard Road” was sung  Sam had the crowd throwing their hands in the air, jumpin’ up and down and singing along .  New to the band’s performance was the cool sound of the guest saxophonist, Chet Doxas.  The hour-long show was brought to and end with “Brother Down” – again a crowd pleaser and the finale of  ‘Them  Kids”, before we were sent off to the main stage to see John Mellencamp.

As typical of an Ottawa crowd the transition to the main stage was smooth and friendly with many folks sitting and others standing. My husband and I were looking forward to seeing and hearing Mellencamp .  The show progressed slowly with Mellencamp getting his energy toward the end – the violinist, Miriam Sturm, was incredible throughout with her amazing stringing !

Clearly, though, Mellencamp is a prolific artist because not one song was unrecognizable. From “Jack and Diane” played on an acoustic guitar – rather low-key but worked, to “Paper In Fire”, “Pink Houses”, “Crumblin Down” and “R.O.C.K. in the USA”.  By the time “Cherry Bomb” came it seemed both Mellencamp and the audience were gaining energy and could go on for a while longer, but that was not to be. Despite the crowd whistling and clapping for more, the lights were off and the roadies were on the stage – I left a bit disappointed, especially considering there was much more to hear, like It “Hurt So Good” – alas it kinda hurt so bad.

Brennan Schnell

Brennan Schnell is a Concert photographer in the Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto area. He also currently hosts a video podcast on, Takes photos of many things, and is an avid tech geek. His work has appeared at TorontoLife, TSN, Vistek, Gawker, AskMen, and the Ottawa Citizen. He started EastScene in 2009 to help spread the word of amazing bands. Contact him at bschnell (at) eastscene (dot) com.

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