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Tom Petty, LCD Soundsystem, Muse, Pink to headline Ottawa Bluesfest

Organizers 'ponied up' for summer music festival during Canada's big bash

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are set to headline the 2017 edition of Ottawa Bluesfest. It will be Petty's first Ottawa gig since 1981.

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are set to headline the 2017 edition of Ottawa Bluesfest. It will be Petty's first Ottawa gig since 1981.

Mark Monahan is confident his Ottawa Bluesfest lineup will rival any music festival in North America.

With names like Tom Petty, LCD Soundsystem, Muse, Pink and Toby Keith behind him, it won't take much convincing.

Monahan and crew unveiled the lineup for Ottawa's premiere summer music bash Tuesday, and it's clear they spared no expense in curating arguably the fest's biggest, most ambitious bill in its 23-year history. Country music star Toby Keith opens up the festival July 6 before a cavalcade of international talent fills out the nearly two-week sonic window.

“We definitely figured that it was going to be a big year and that we had to step up and try and get a significant lineup just to make some noise,” says Monahan, the festival’s executive director. “We stepped up to the plate and ponied up for this year. Honestly, I think that if you look at any festival across North America, it's going to be hard to beat this lineup.”

Part of what makes this lineup so satisfying, Monahan said, is that, just in time for Canada's big birthday, he was able to reel in many acts that had slipped through his grip in past years: Superstars like Pink, Australian producer Flume and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, who will make their first visit to the nation's capital in 36 years.

“The last time he played here was 1981,” adds an excited Monahan.

Other heavy-hitters include 50 Cent, Begonia, Tegan and Sara, and DJ Mustard.

Beyond the headliners, the bill is notable for the calibre of mid-level artists who will perform during the festival’s in-between: an emerging hip hop roster including Georgia trio Migos and New Jersey rapper Fetty Wap;  psycho-electro scientists Phantogram and Death From Above 1979; Australian DJ Anna Lunoe and Canadian dance Duo Bob Moses; and southern-fried ’70s-throwback hard rock outfit Molly Hatchet.

And there's no shortage of 613 presence on the bill: a quarter of the lineup hails from Ottawa. While it was difficult, Monahan says, to pick 50 local artists from among the whopping 450 artists that bid for slots — the most submissions ever — it's a good problem to have.

“I'd like to think that we've got a thriving music scene and I just hope there is enough work and opportunity for a lot of the artists that will want to make them stay here,” says Monahan. "That's one of the roles that Bluesfest and City Folk can play in the whole scheme of things – create opportunities, pay artists well and allow them to hone their craft and have some hope out there.”

Ottawa Bluesfest runs July 6-16 at LeBreton Flats. Tickets go on sale on Thursday at 10 a.m. on the festival's website

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