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Concert Photography, Concert Reviews, Music, Ottawa Folk Festival 2013

Concert Review + Photos: Ottawa Folk Festival 2013 (Day 5) – The Wailers, Gordon Lightfoot + more

By: Calum Slingerland –

On the fifth and final day of the Ottawa Folk Festival, the crowd was treated to a variety of esteemed performers in reggae band The Wailers, who performed with reggae icon Bob Marley until his death in 1981, Canadian folk icon Gordon Lightfoot, along with North Carolina-based old-time string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, folk artist Lynn Miles, and British pop/alternative rock quartet World Party.

The Wailers


On another cold night in the nation’s capital, The Wailers brought a bit of island happiness to the Ottawa Folk Festival on its last day.

Headed up by bass guitarist and original Wailer Austin “Family Man” Barrett, the band tours the world playing material not just from their own recent releases, but also from albums recorded with reggae music legend Bob Marley. In what was perhaps the liveliest crowd at FolkFest thus far, audience members waved their hands and sang along to Wailers classics such as “Is This Love?” from 1978’s Kaya, “Three Little Birds” from 1978’s Exodus, and revolution anthem “Get Up, Stand Up” from 1973’s Burnin’.

Lead singer Koolant Brown led the crowd in every sing-along, often yelling “music!” to kick the band into playing The Wailers’ iconic sounds. His vocal performance was well executed, constantly thanking the crowd for enjoying the Rastafari music and being with them this evening. Barrett’s job on the low end of things carried the group nicely through all the material. The addition of female vocalist Cegee Victory added a strong flavour to the vocal area of the performance as well, often harmonizing or ad-libbing alongside Brown. An encore featuring the classic “Redemption Song” from 1980’s Uprising finished the set and had everyone in attendance smiling from ear to ear. Whether it was the positive vibes generated from the music, or the ever-present haze in the air, everyone enjoyed The Wailers putting a wrap on five days of great music in Ottawa.


Gordon Lightfoot


On a more homegrown level, one of Canada’s greatest singer-songwriters was at the festival to play an eclectic selectionof songs from his storied career. In the wake of the Neil Young and Crazy Horse cancellation, Gordon Lightfoot and his band played the RavenLaw Stage to a giant crowd, largely seated in lawn chairs. Wearing a red velvet blazer and moving gingerly across the stage, the 74-year-old Lightfoot took to his twelve-string guitar and opened the set with “Cotton Jenny” from 1971’s Summer Side of Life. “I’m Gordon Lightfoot, and reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”, he joked with the crowd.

Though a bit shorter of breath and quieter of a singer, Lightfoot didn’t  miss a note, performing all sorts of recognizable crowd favourites from throughout his career such as “Sundown” from the 1974 record of the same name, “If You Could Read My Mind” from 1970’s Sit Down Young Stranger, and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” from 1976’sSummertime Dream. For a performer of his age, Lightfoot still had the soul of a performer, bridging gaps between songs every once in a while with an enthusiastic “well all right!” and “Thank you, we love the work”. He finished the set with “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” from 1967’s The Way I Feel, an incredible end to viewing a Canadian legend.


Carolina Chocolate Drops

Lynn Miles

World Party


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