Canadian Music Legend Lynn Miles Kicks off the Ottawa Grassroots Festival

The Ottawa Grassroots Festival (OGF) focuses on fostering local community engagement through an annual festival featuring concerts and interactive workshops. Split between two Ottawa venues, Irenes Pub on Bank Street in the Glebe and the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, thirty music acts will entertain audiences at this year’s edition, which promises to be an excellent showcase for homegrown music.

Anchoring the festival this year is Canadian songwriting and performing royalty Lynn Miles. Among her many accolades, Miles has won a Juno award, been nominated for three more and has taken home an impressive six Canadian Folk Music Awards in a remarkable musical career that has spanned sixteen albums.

Her latest album, TumbleWeedyWorld, has been nominated for Album of the Year at this year’s Canadian Folk Music Awards, and her song Black Flowers is featured on Claire Lynch’s Grammy-nominated bluegrass album North by South. The New York Times has lauded Miles for bringing “an otherworldly purity to her tales of love gone wrong. . .  she makes forlorn feel like a state of grace.”

Ottawa Life Magazine caught up with Miles ahead of the festival to chat about her upcoming Thursday, April 25th performance at the Grassroots Festival and her latest album. Although she is known for her songwriting and folk music, Miles will play only bluegrass at the show with her band, the Tumbleweeds. She describes bluegrass as a form of folk music that only uses string instruments.

Miles says she adores bluegrass but doesn’t call herself a bluegrass musician. She jokes that she has too much respect for the genre but hopes one day to be able to add that credit to her musical resumé. Miles says that playing with the six-piece Tumbleweeds “is a really fun thing to do,” a change from her previous work.

“Each project has its own life and energy, and the bluegrassy stuff is new for me, so it’s different from my other projects.” When asked what song from TumbleWeedyWorld she’s excited to play to Ottawa, Miles laughed and responded, “All of them!” She went on to say, “This album got nominated for a Canadian folk music award for album of the year, so I guess people like it.”

Miles enjoys the Ottawa Grassroots Festival and says there’s just something about it: “I’m happy to be back; I think it’s a very sweet and great festival for our city. It’s community-oriented, and it’s small. It’s always a positive experience.”

Lynn Miles isn’t the only performer at the Grassroots Festival that you should get out to see. Charlie A’Court will make his debut at OGF, headlining on Friday, April 26, at the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa. Known for his blend of roots and soul, Charlie has gained a national and international fanbase with his powerful voice, impressive guitar skills, and contemporary songwriting.

His latest album, A’Court, Spiegel, & Vinnick, a notable collaboration with Australian blues legend Lloyd Spiegel and Canadian roots/blues icon Suzie Vinnick, is nominated for Blues Recording of the Year at the 2024 East Coast Music Awards (ECMA). Often compared to musical greats like Eric Clapton and Otis Redding, A’Court has earned five ECMA awards, eight Nova Scotia Music Awards, and multiple Maple Blues Award nominations. Kicking off the evening for A’Court is local artist Rory Taillon.

On Saturday, April 27, Canadian folk icon Connie Kaldor will take the stage at the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa. Celebrating 45 years in the entertainment industry and releasing her 18th album, Keep Going, Kaldor has been a prominent figure in folk music, sharing the stage with artists such as Stan Rogers and Valdy. Recognized as a singer, songwriter, entertainer, TV personality, and music pioneer, Kaldor is celebrated for her dynamic stage presence, memorable melodies, and deep songwriting.

The Boston Globe describes Kaldor as “a masterful performer, wildly funny one moment, deeply personal the next.” With three Juno awards to her name, membership in the Order of Canada, and recognition with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, Kaldor also holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Regina and is the first songwriter to receive a Western Literature Association Award of Merit.

The Grassroots Festival’s daytime and Sunday programming is free, so make sure to stop by and check out one of the shows!

The Ottawa Grassroots Festival is a volunteer-run non-profit event with festival 2-day passes for ticketed events on Friday and Saturday at the affordable low price of $69.50! Individual tickets are also available for $39.67.

Get tickets for the Ottawa Grassroots Festival here or visit the website for more information.

The poster artwork contained in the header image is by Marc Audet from Ottawa Gig Posters.