• By: Katie Hartai

Ottawa Celebrates Diverse Cultural Roots

Photo Credit: Connie Kaldor

Embrace a return to your roots by taking part in the fourth annual Ottawa Grassroots Festival.

The Grassroots Festival plans a spring weekend of family-oriented concerts and workshops each year thanks to its 100 per cent volunteer-run organization. The festival particularly focuses on folk music, dance and spoken word.

“The Grassroots Festival is above all, grassroots,” says producer of the festival, Bob Nesbitt. “It is meant to be a family friendly festival geared towards the community.”

Photo courtesy of Jake Morrisson
Photo credit: Jake Morrisson

The Ottawa Grassroots Festival will launch its celebration on April 23 with a Franco-Ontarian night. It will feature award winning francophone musicians from Ontario, including Stef Paquette and Eric Dubeau.

“There has always been the attitude of English people wanting to listen to English music and French people wanting to listen to French music,” says Grace Smith, publicity and communications manager of the festival. “We are trying to break down those barriers and give our anglophone festival patrons an opportunity to experience the French language which is really beautiful.”

Sarah Bradley will be opening for the two headliners. She is an Ottawa-based singer-songwriter with an esteemed spot in the Franco-Ontarian music scene.

“Events like the Franco-Ontarian night at the Ottawa Grassroots Festival are important — they allow a space for bilingual musicians to express themselves and engage with the audience in both languages,” explains Bradley. “I hope to see more events like this around Ottawa.”

Photo credit: Old-Man-Luedecke

On Friday evening, Old Man Luedecke will be taking to the stage with his toe-tapping music that mixes folk, bluegrass and pop genres. He is a two-time Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter and banjo player from Nova Scotia.

Luedecke has been traveling to the Capital City each year since 2004 to perform.

“I welcome the chance to come to Ottawa and play,” Luedecke says. “It’s really a unique music scene there. For some reason it’s one of the best places to play in Canada.”

Daytime workshops are open and free to everyone with various activities running from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. There will be a drumming session, ukulele building class, musical petting zoo and sing-along performances.

“When my kids were little, we couldn’t afford to go to much,” explains Nesbitt. “I have always remembered that and wanted to make Grassroots something that had a lot of free content so that all families could enjoy them.”

Saskatchewan folk musician Connie Kaldor is the final headliner scheduled to perform at the 2015 Grassroots Festival. Among her accomplishments, Kaldor has won the Juno Award for best children’s album three times in 1989, 2004 and 2005.

This year’s activities will take place from April 23-26 at the Royal Canadian Legion Montgomery branch on Kent Street. Although workshops throughout the day are free, evening performances are ticketed costing between $20-$25. There is no admission fee for children under 15 accompanied by an adult.