Positives about RBC Bluesfest 2023 and why I love the vibe!

Typically, around this time of year, I talk about how non-wheelchair-accessible Bluesfest is and the horrible set-up of the wheelchair platform. I could also mention my experience with Para Transpo ​​thus far.

But I’m not going to.

Unless there’s an earth-shattering event, I’ll discuss the above next week.

This week, I want to discuss my positive experiences at Bluesfest.

For this year’s Bluesfest, I purchased a three-day pass. So far, I’ve seen Billy Talent, Weezer, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Of those, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss were the best. Followed closely by Billy Talent and, then Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. Weezer was okay, but less than the previous times I saw them.

The best part of Bluesfest isn’t the music. I’d say music is second and, sometimes, even third. It depends on the day.

At the top of the list is the people. It’s hard to explain, but it’s about the people and the Bluesfest community. There’s a vibe that I haven’t experienced anywhere else.

It hits me in the face whenever I go, and I feel at home.

Part of the reason could be that I worked at Bluesfest for several years. I’m also the person that convinced Bluesfest to include a wheelchair platform along with other accessibility features. I don’t think many are aware of this anymore. Considering how bad the platform has become, I’m ok with that. I still like to mention it here and there, though briefly.

Another reason it feels like home is, and I hate to admit it, my wheelchair and, to an extent, my presence.

It can both be a blessing and a curse.

The good aspects are people rushing up to either hold a door or press door buttons which rarely work. Another part is most people are happy to move or assist me up to the stage. Those times can be both terrifying and amazing at the same time.

For example, when I saw Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, I reached the second row. A few people were sitting in the row in front of me who didn’t want to move. People in the area started to chant loudly, “Let Him In.” It didn’t work, but it was awesome.

Whether I like it or not, my wheelchair shines like a diamond mine compared to my personality. And yeah, at Bluesfest, I use it to my advantage. I admit that. In my defence, I have difficulty speaking to people in noisy places. In those cases, 90-95 percent of my communication is yes, no, or as simple as possible.

I have met some incredible people at the stages or in the museum. Other times, I’ll see people I’ve known for years outside Bluesfest.

I love meeting new people, as long as they have a certain level of unassuming that it’s hard for me to speak, especially in a crowd. It’s much easier for me to communicate in a quiet environment and through social media.

It’s literally how I became a weekly contributor to Ottawa Life Magazine.

I generally find RBC Bluesfest crowds are more welcoming and respectful towards people with disabilities. Friends of mine have also told me that, which is great. I wish more people would be this way every day.

As I mentioned, I was at Bluesfest on Friday and Saturday. My last night at Bluesfest this year will be Wednesday to see Foo Fighters. I can almost guarantee that I won’t be able to get close to the stage. The last time they played Bluesfest, I sat in front of the giant screen near the museum. There was no way I could get close to the stage or even the central area. It wasn’t ideal, but I was relatively safe and near the bathrooms.

I look forward to seeing the Foo Fighters again with their new drummer, Josh Freese.

R.I.P. Taylor Hawkins.

I also look forward to seeing some of you on Wednesday at Bluesfest.

Let’s rock!

Photo: Ryan Lythall