WestFest Adds Even More Happiness to Summer

Photos by Andre Gagne / Feature image: Westfest Founder and Producer Elaina Martin and title sponsor Thom Fountain cut the cake on year 15!

With no disrespect for tiptoeing through the tulips, festival season in Ottawa really begins for me when Elaina Martin busts out the stage, fires up the food trucks and brings on the first tunes of summer for Westfest.

  Tiffany Ayalik and Grey Gritt Quantum Tangle headlined the Westfest All-Star fundraiser. 

If the summer sun, your favorite Top Shelf or Beau's bevy and a wicked jumpy castle isn’t enough to plaster a smile on your face, Martin and crew have you covered with a little extra “Happiness” for Westfest year 15. That’s Canadian Indies Hall of Fame inductees, Juno Award nominated, Canuck rocking “I’m An Adult Now” “Cigarette Dangles” “Killed by Love” icons The Pursuit of freakin’ Happiness!

Westfest Founder and Producer, Elaina Martin

For fans of TPOH, this one’s an O-town reunion that’s long overdue, Martin, festival Founder and Producer, said at a WestFest All-star fundraising event Sunday. “I’m bringing my hairspray and letting my hair grow,” Martin quipped, unable to contain her elation over the announcement of the band hitting the Thom Fountain Stage Saturday night. She quickly scooped up the 80s/early 90s Toronto rockers after they recently reunited for a 70th anniversary show at Toronto’s legendary Horseshoe Tavern.

“This really is one of our best line ups yet,” Martin told those gathered inside the Cube Gallery not far from where WestFest first began. This year they are on the move again heading from Laroche Park to to new location both inside and out of Tom Brown Arena. If the fans and friends of the fest have shown one thing over the last 15 years it’s that they are more than willing to venue hop.

“I can’t believe it’s already been 15 years! Westfest has gone through so many changes, but at its heart it has remained the same—a festival committed to bringing together local residents, visitors, artists, and musicians to celebrate music and art in a welcoming, safe, and inclusive space,” said Martin.

29 other acts will join TPOH over the June 8-10 event. That’s 100 Canadian artists, many of them local musicians and dancers ready to show once again why it ain’t no party like a Westfest party!

Friday June 8 will see Every Woman’s Drum open the festival followed by performances by Anishinabe singer Leonard Sumner, Sila + Rise and Witch Prophet, a musician Martin described as “Lido Pimienta meets Bjork”. Headliner Bear Wtiness from A Tribe Called Red is sure to end the night with a dance party…

…if the night ended there, that is.

Cody Coyote headlines Sunday June 10

Though the previous few years of the fest included an after party off site, this year the festival will be hosting two fully accessible extra shows inside Tom Brown Arena featuring DJ Del Pilar and DJ Craig Dominic (Friday) and River City Junction (Saturday). To ensure no crossover –and to not disturb nearing residences– the main festival will shut down at 10 pm, one hour earlier than usual.

Continuing to utilize the indoor space, also new this year is the “Cross Community Collaborations” panel discussion taking place Saturday afternoon. Moderated by activist and educator Cara Tierney, this panel is being assembled to reflect on how artists, cultural producers, organizers and institutions can foster meaningful exchanges. Joining the panel will be Bear Witness, Elsa Mirzaei of the Babely Shades and Lake Urmia and Carleton University’s Education coordinator Fiona Wright.

Leading up to the TPOH show at 8:30, Saturday acts include the return of song seamstresses Kris & Dee, country roots singer and local favorite Julie Corrigan, Kimberly Sunstrum and Rita Carter.

Sunday sees spoken word artist King Kimbit back on the Westfest stage as well as the always amazing Bella Straight House of Illusion. Bad Parent features the festival’s own Lisa Georges on lead vocals! The One World Choir, Lake Urmia and Tyler Kealey round out the final day concerts leading up to what is sure to be a breakout performance by headliner Cody Coyote.

Fresh off an amazing performance at the NAC, the “rapper with a powerful message” brings his fusion of traditional Indigenous music and hip hop for a colorful clash of culture that will but a mighty exclamation point on Westfest 2018.