Grassroots 2018 Rocks up Traditional Folk and Celebrates Diversity!  

[Source: Ottawa Grassroots Festival]

Grassroots 2018 Rocks up Traditional Folk and Celebrates Diversity!

The Ottawa Grassroots Festival (OGF) celebrated their launch event March 1 @Pressed in Ottawa’s Centretown neighbourhood.  Bob Nesbitt, Founder and Festival Producer, announced the full daytime and evening line-up to sponsors, volunteers, artists and media.  This not-for-profit music event is now in its 7th year and takes place from April 26-29 at The Southminster United Church, 15 Aylmer Avenue, in Old Ottawa South. The opening night of Grassroots (Thurs Apr.26) is themed as a “Franco-night” featuring headliner Jean-Marc Lalonde and friends presenting: “Une nuit avec ses amis”. Opening for Lalonde is the talented guitarist and vocalist, Marc-Antoine Joly (JOLY). This evening promises to be highly participative, as Lalonde loves to engage his audience with his energetic response songs. Anne-Marie Brugger (CHUO host) returns to MC this highly anticipated evening, as well as Saturday evening at Grassroots.

Legendary homegrown folk artist, Sneezy Waters and His Very Fine Band, will headline Friday night (April 27) at the festival with band mates, Dave Bignell and Vince Halfhide – guitars; Ed Bimm – keyboards; Ann Downey – upright bass; and Peter Beaudoin – drums.  The audience can count on an eclectic range of music from many genres and eras, blending jazz, blues, folk, country, rock, reggae and even African music.  Opening for Sneezy Waters will be Leela Gilday, a young Dene woman from NWT who will also do a performance Saturday from Noon to 1:00 pm, which will be part talk of Indigenous matters and part songs. “If anyone cares at all about Indigenous issues, this is not to be missed. I have seen her perform twice and once at a panel discussion. She is very good and a perfect fit for this festival”, says Nesbitt.  Ottawa Grassroots is known for the importance it places on including a roster rich in diversity, including artists of all ages, and all abilities.  Friday evening will open with performances by the One World Choir (adults from different cultural backgrounds) and the World Folk Music Orchestra for Kids (children from Syria and Africa). Led by Alicia Borisonik, the choirs will perform songs that come from many spiritual, cultural and musical traditions (including folk/roots, pop, gospel and world music). Tonya Price (CKCU host) returns as MC for this culturally diverse evening that embodies Grassroots.

Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont will open the evening with an address/prayer on what is expected to be the biggest night of the festival. Ottawa’s crown jewel singer-songwriter, Lynn Miles, with Keith Glass will fill the Sanctuary at Southminster United on Saturday night with songs that have garnered accolades from peers and fans in Canada and internationally. Opening for Miles is Campbell Woods, a singer-songwriter seasoned in performing throughout the Ottawa Valley and Eastern Ontario. Lynn Miles has been one of his mentors and he is just thrilled to be warming the audience on this night.

Tickets are needed for the evening performances and are priced to be affordable for everyone, especially families: Saturday (Lynn Miles) $30, Friday (Sneezy Waters) $25 and Thursday (Franco-night Jean-Marc Lalonde) $20.   A festival pass is a mere $49, if purchased online.  Reinforcing its commitment to keep things affordable for families, children 15 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. This is certainly unique to Grassroots, as other events have a lower age threshold for kids.

When asked about the Grassroots 2018 programming, Nesbitt replied “I’m really delighted with the line-up. For several years, we have been increasing the Indigenous content of the festival and I am thrilled that Leela Gilday will be performing on Friday night and of course, we are always honoured to have Albert Dumont at the festival; he is revered as an Algonquin Traditional Teacher, but he is also a wonderful storyteller. Grassroots has always highlighted emerging artists and this year we have a record number of youth performing on Saturday and Sunday.  I am proud to say our line-up is 50% female artists!  Finally, who wouldn’t be excited about having Lynn Miles, Sneezy Waters and Jean-Marc Lalonde perform at the same festival? It’s going to rock!”

Confirmed as daytime performers at OGF2018 are artists: Steve Palmer, The Great Festival of India, Kate Weekes, Isabelle Delage, Greg Kelly, Howie Hooper, Mark Evenchick, Jamie Anderson, Emma Lamontagne, “Dr. John” Hodgson, Moonfruits, Tao Hipwell, Sarah Howard, Kaleigh Watts, emerging folk duo, Walk on the Wire (Anne Hurley and Jim Videto) and jazz-folk duo, Champagne Sundays. Spoken word artists and storyteller, Albert Dumont and James Blondeau, along with singer-songwriter Leela Gilday will enrich audiences with their Indigenous voices and songs.

Participation is key at Ottawa Grassroots.  This year, visitors can learn how to build an instrument, join The Terry Penner Weekend Choir led by Rowena Pearl, where anyone can lend their voice.  Amanda Bon will be leading a dance workshop. There will be a jam session with Paul Spafford, Gil’s Grassroots Hootenanny Contest, an open stage with Sjef Franken, KidZone with Selina Bishop & Jessica Carboni, and another festival favourite, a workshop for toddlers and babies. Without these engaging and fun workshops for the whole family, it would not be grassroots!

The Grassroots Festival is a gathering of folk music, dance and spoken word and recently, it was referred to as “the most people-oriented festival in the city”.  It’s called Grassroots because it is! This organization is run entirely by volunteers and prides itself for the participatory workshops it provides, cultivating community and nurturing inclusivity in a fun and friendly way.

For more information: