Arts & EventsDragon Boat Announces All Canadian Line-Up for Summer Festival

Dragon Boat Announces All Canadian Line-Up for Summer Festival

Dragon Boat Announces All Canadian Line-Up for Summer Festival

Kathleen and Chantal Ambridge of the Muscadettes.

Founded in the early 90s, the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival’s first event lasted about half a day with 25 teams taking part. It has now become a four-day long event featuring more than 200 teams and has seen a jump in crowds at Mooney’s Bay in recent years since adding a stellar concert series to the traditional races. North America’s largest festival of its kind boasts an attendance of roughly 75,000 these days, and though some come for the 2,400 year-old Chinese tradition, a glance at the crowds on any given night of the fest shows how much of a draw the music is as well. Being free of charge doesn’t hurt either.

“We love to support the amazing talent that Canada has,” Artistic Director Antony Cooper says on the festival’s website.

Toronto’s Modern Space kicks off the event Thursday evening on a bill that also features twin sisters The Muscadettes. Kathleen and Chantal Ambridge were born in California and raised in Montreal and though trained in interpretive jazz, the sisters have gone on to create their own style with an amalgamation of 60’s surfer rock from their birthplace and 90’s grunge.  Their first EP Side A dropped last spring with Exclaim! touting the second single "Pearl & Oyster" as “possibly the catchiest song of 2015.”

Blues/alt rockers July Talk headline the 23rd. The group’s Leah Fay, fresh off a Best Actress nomination at the fourth Canadian Screen Awards for her performance in Diamond Tongues, will bring her honey sweet voice to the fest alongside a growling that could be emanating from Tom Waits, until you open your eye to see Peter Dreimanis. The band taking off in 2012 with tunes like “Guns + Ammunition” and “Paper Girl” was an impressive start, and they quickly snagged a Juno nomination and tours with Billy Talent, Sam Roberts and Weezer.

Headlining Friday is Vancouver’s indie rockers Mother Mother. Definitely check out Ria Mae’s 8 p.m. show. Mae, from Halifax, has struggled to get her music out there but was picked up by Sony last year.   She effortlessly melds folk, alternative and pop for a sound that earned her an East Coast Music Award for her debut Under the Skin. Toronto’s all-female group The Beaches play at 6:30.

One of the hottest Canadian bands today, Alvvays will bring their jangle pop sound to the festival Saturday Night, along with Nap Eyes and Ottawa’s own Pony Girl.

The festival peaks with what is sure to be an electric pow wow by the bay with A Tribe Called Red. Electronica and traditional First Nations music collide into beats that clamp down upon your legs and force you to embrace the rhythm. Young Empires (6:30) and Loon Choir (5:00) will fill out the rest of the day.

“We hope everyone can come down to the festival, not only to cheer on the competitors, but also to enjoy the food, beverages, shopping and entertainment that makes the festival such a special experience,” says CEO John Brooman.

With still more music to be announced for the Beach Stage and a Family Fun Stage for the wee ones, you might forget that there are still races to watch.

The 2016 Dragon Boat Festival begins on June 23 and lasts until the 26th. You can find out more about the festival here.

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