Arts & EventsFolk in the City: The Big Bands

Folk in the City: The Big Bands

Folk in the City: The Big Bands

Walk off the Earth plays CityFolk’s Telus Stage tonight.

On Tuesday OLM looked at some of the amazing Canadian bands playing theCityFolk stages this week. Now we’re turning our attention to the big bands, the must-see acts from at home and abroad. Chances are you know them, maybe you even love them, so here’s a chance to find out more about who they are and when they play.

Walk off the Earth

Like me, you probably first heard about Walk off the Earth through their viral phenomenon ‘Five Peeps One Guitar,’ where the  Burlington, Ontario-based group show off their incredible talent by playing Gotye's ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ on a single guitar. That song has rounded up more than 150 million YouTube views and earned the band a record deal with Columbia Records.

Although the band’s still putting together quirky YouTube covers, their original music has taken off internationally and as soon as they’ve played CityFolk the group is taking off on their huge European Sing It All Away tour.

The group’s five members are amazingly talented, the three singers’ vocals go together beautifully and most play a number of different instruments. They’re even up to try playing new instruments, like the Harpejji, which they recently used to cover The Weekend’s ‘Can't Feel My Face.’ You can find the video here.

Walk off the Earth is playing CityFolk’s Telus Stage tonight at 7 p.m.

The Avett Brothers


The ultimate summer band, The Avett Brothers write folk-rock tunes that are perfect listening for a sunny day at the beach.

The bros, Seth on guitar and Scott on the banjo, are from Concord, North Carolina, and American Southern flavour permeates their sound. The two are usually backed by Bob Crawford on the double bass and Joe Kwon paying the cello, which gives their music a deep, multi-instrumental feel.

The band took off with the album Country Was in 2002 and haven’t let up since. 2014’s The Carpenter is a stand out, and balances upbeat hits like ‘I Never Knew You’ with heavier melodic tracks like ‘Life,’ the album’s final, cathartic song. If there’s one song you need to hear to get pumped up for this band, it’s the song that introduced me to them, ‘Distraction 74.’

This is a versatile band that can have you jumping one song and on the verge of tears by the next. You can find them on CityFolk’s Telus Stage tonight at 8:30 p.m.

Of Monsters and Men


Of Monsters and Men exploded onto the scene in 2011 with the single ‘Little Talks,’ which still gets radio-play to this day. The group is Icelandic, and they came together in 2010, quickly winning the world’s best-named battle of the bands, the Músíktilraunir.

The band’s music has an otherworldly quality, supported by lead singer Nanna Hilmarsdóttir’s dreamy vocals. Their singles are like epic ballads, often telling vast stories, and if I had to come up with a genre for their sound, I’d probably call it ‘epic folk.’

Of Monsters and Men’s latest album, Beneath the Skin, dropped in June, and its scale is just as grand as their previous works’. Of the four singles released, ‘Crystals’ has been the biggest, and it definitely has the scariest video. Find it here.

Of Monsters and Men take over the Telus Stage Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

Van Morrison

7 Orangefield Sun 24 June

Van Morrison has been one of the world’s greatest musical powerhouses for more than four decades. He’s played everything (jazz, blues, rock, rockabilly, country) and with everyone (Jimmy Page, Patti Smith, John Lee Hooker and Robbie Robertson). In 2001, The Rolling Stone said “his influence among rock singers/song writers is unrivaled by any living artist outside of that other prickly legend, Bob Dylan.”

Morrison’s music blasts everyday out of speakers all over the world. The guitar, harmonica, saxophone, keyboard player and drummer wrote classics like ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and ‘Moondance,’ which has to be one of the most seductive songs of all time.

Ottawa is lucky to have Morrison this Friday, he’s playing CityFolk’s Telus stage at 8:30p.m.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones



In all fairness, if this is an article on CityFolk’s ‘big bands,’ the last spot should go to the Sheepdogs. But everyone in Ottawa knows the sheepdogs, we all love them, so I thought I’d give this last spot to one of my favourites, the brilliantly talented St. Paul and the Broken Bones.

The Broken Bones are a big, funky band from a small Alabama town. Their horns are killer and Paul Janeway’s voice has an almost inhuman soulful power. Seriously, he doesn’t hold it back. The band’s Ottawa show is their second last in Canada, after that they’ll be heading to Toronto for the 19th and then spending the next few months in their home country.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones never go easy on a song, and you can find a great recording of my personal favourite ‘Call Me,’ here.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones are gracing the Ravenlaw stage Friday at 10 p.m.

It’s not too late to pick up CityFolk tickets on the festival’s website. Get yours before they’re gone! The festival takes place in Lansdowne Park.

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