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Five acts you might not know that are worth checking out for Bluesfest

Ottawa's biggest musical event of the year starts this weekend.


When the clock struck 6 p.m. Thursday evening in Ottawa, we all entered Bluesfest country – and with it came the anticipated 10-day sonic slap to the belly that will have every music buff penciling in their must-sees.

Those will likely include heavyweights LCD Soundsystem, 50 cent, Flume and Tom Petty. But beneath the hubbub of massive American headliners is an incredibly talented roster of artists that will no doubt blow your tympanic membranes into phonic oblivion.

Here’s a rundown of Metro’s top picks for the first weekend of Ottawa’s premiere summer music fest.  


Anna Lunoe

Black Sheep Stage

8 p.m.

Australian DJ, vocalist and producer Anna Lunoe has shown the world that her 1s and 2s are an extension of her body. This underground club sniper drops bass bombs that will rattle your chest, shudder your booty and sway your sinister swoon. Lunoe’s transcending sets have convulsed audiences at Coachella, Lollapalooza, Tomorrowland and Hardfest, among other massive festivals. Give her just a few minutes of your time this Friday, and you won’t check your watch for the remainder of the night.


Riishi Von Rex

Black Sheep Stage

3:30 p.m.

Psychedelic gypsy rock has never tasted so sweet. Ottawa’s Riishi Von Rex paired with esteemed jazz drummer     Michel Delage, will bring you through a tripped-out adventure with epic jams infused with jazz, ska and distortion-heavy rock. Riishi Von Rex will give you a damn good reason to show up at the festival early Saturday afternoon.


Lora Bidner

Barney Danson Theatre

5 p.m.

It wasn’t that long ago that the young Lora Bidner was playing the Rideau Centre Stage at Bluesfest with her thoughtful, soulful, but clearly developing sound. Since then, Bidner has gone on to find herself deep within her storytelling soul, winning a SOCAN Prize for best Canadian Young Audio-Visual Composers and wracking up a nomination for an Independent Music Award.

Bidner’s tunes aren’t just music – they’re provocative stories that explore whimsical folklore, self discovery and human awareness. Bidner will help you look inside your own soul, which can be terrifying and beautiful all in the same note. Bidner will quickly convince you to take the red pill and explore your own Wonderland.


Mydy Rabycad

Black Sheep Stage

8 p.m.

This Czech-based electro swing band has figured out the formula for bending and blending genres in a seamless, high-energy manner. This Bluesfest set will have you zipping zealous zoot all over the Black Sheep Stage Saturday night. It’s weird, it’s intelligent and it’s hella-fun. Mydy Rabycad is Bluesfest’s best shot and getting those lawn chair loungers up and swinging a sinister swagger, they didn’t know they had.


Yonatan Gat

Bluesville Stage

8:30 p.m.

This New York-based experimental guitarist and composer doesn’t typically enjoy traditional stages, and will often set up among the crowd at venues and festivals – shredding off spiralling hallucinatory improvisations, while jouncing off the sweaty, gritty bodies bouncing to his and his band’s sometimes unbelievable idiosyncratic sound. A few intimate moments with this impressive power trio and you’ll understand exactly why New York’s Village Voice dubbed Gat, “The Best Guitarist in News York” in 2013.

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