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Day 3 at the Ottawa folk festival was a cultural trip across American for me, spending equal time in Tennessee and California but my first stop was still here in here in Canada , to check out London Ontario’s Shad.I had been looking forward to seeing Shad ever since hearing “The Great Rhyme Dropper”, the track he did with Grad Analog for their  album Modern Thunder and I was was not disappointed. Shad is touring ahead of his upcoming album Flying Colours which is scheduled to released October 15 .

Accompanied by  DJ and keyboard/bass player, Shad bust out rhymes that that were an equal mixed of pop culture and concious.  An obvious lover of music, in the song “At The Same Time” he makes reference to Motown greats Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye, and later on before the DJ dropped a very synth heavy rhythm Shad explain to us that ‘People say I’m old school like 90’s (But) I’m old school like 80’s.’

You can check out Shad as he continues his tour. He’l be at the Opera House in Toronto on September 19, and at Corona in Montreal November 6th.

After Shad set ended I crossed the grounds and was was intrigued by the sold blues coming from Matt Anderson at the Ravenlaw stage. But I had to head down the hill to the Tartan Homes stage to see the legendary Emmylou Harris along with Rodney Crowell and their Glory Band. Though, to be honest, I couldn’t really get very far down the hill as the front of stage was packed all the way to the top of it.

After 40 years of friendship between Crowell and Harris  (and Crowell briefly playing in Harris’ Hot Band) the two put out an album together last February called Old Yellow Moon. Harris and Crowell treated us to some old and some new, some boogies and some ballads.

The band cleared the stage at one point leaving just Harris and her guitar and she performed a song that she wrote in tribute of Kate McGarringle, the Canadian folk artist who was a friend of her’s that  passed away in 2010. They also debuted a song Crowell and Harris wrote for their friend Guy Clark,  who according to Harris “won a big ol’ award in Nashville.” (He, along with Hank Williams, have been selected as the winners of the Poets Award for the 2013 Academy of Country Music).

They played the title track off Old Yellow Moon “Hanging Up My Heart”, then at 9:30 Harris thanked us on behalf of the band, and came the front of the stage for a group bow. ‘They say we can play some more music’ Harris then exclaimed into the microphone, and then they broke into “Stars On The Water” and “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues”. Harris thanked us again, and most of the audience folded up their lawn chair and headed to the gates as Kendrick Lamar was scheduled to come on in minutes.

Though the early exit of the baby boomer, did not affect the size of the crowd that had gathered for Kendrick Lamar in from of the CUPE stage.

The THX audio logo rang over  the speakers, then Lamar‘s band (comprised of a guitar, bass/keys, drums and a DJ) started up “The Art Of Peer Pressure”. The moment Lamar shouted out ‘everyone one put one hand in the air’ he has the crowd in the palm of his. Lamar went through a variety of hits including “Money Train”, “B*tch don’t kill my vibe”  and  “F***in’ Problems”. On the latter having the crowd sing the second verse with him.

“It’s my first time we are out here, so we are making history” he stated at one point, and before breaking into the encore  he said” If there is one thing I love (it’s that) if it’s my new sh*t  or my old sh*t you’re sill going to sing it, I love that!” And this Ottawa crowd had lots of love back for Kendrick Lamar.

Photos by: Ryan Seyeau and Laine Gustafson –


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Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith really likes music. Like 'more than a friend' likes.

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