By Tony Martins
A Place to Stand, a Place to Grow, Ontari-ari-ari-o! The words to that catchy tourism jingle written for the Expo 67 Ontario pavilion remain etched in my childhood memories. Although sort of self-exiled from my bustling hometown of Toronto, I remain a proud Ontarian who is thrilled that the NAC’s Ontario Scene gives us a relatively rare opportunity to celebrate the vast range of cultural expression rooted in Ontari-ari-ari-o.
As centralized home to Canada’s economic capital (Toronto) and political capital (Ottawa), Ontario is the province that the rest of the country loves to resent. Have we become too unassuming about ourselves as a result? Where is the next great Ontario tourism jingle?
The other cool thing about Ontario Scene: as with all NAC Scene festivals, it will meaningfully showcase the Ottawa scene—but this time within an Ontario context. As the national capital, Ottawa can at times seem distanced from provincial associations, lest we be accused of politically favoring Ontario.
During the NAC’s Ontario Scene, however, all favoritism concerns go to pasture. The publication that you are holding proudly examines Ontario Scene from an Ottawa perspective, collaboratively compiled by three established local cultural media: Guerilla, Apt613, and Herd Magazine. For 12 days beginning April 29, Ottawa is the place to see and be scene.
My Fave Five Music Picks
Ticket packages for Ontario Scene include a very attractive 5/$99 festival pass that lets you select a quintet of events at quite a cost savings. Some restrictions apply, including the really big headline acts such as Daniel Lanois, so I’ll stick to eligible shows here, listed in no particular order.
1. Matthew Barber & Jadea Kelly. May 2. St. Alban’s Church. He’s a little bit country. She’s a little bit neo-folk—particularly in her newest release, Clover. This pairing of evocative singer-songwriters promises to soar in the hushed atmosphere at St. Alban’s.
2. PUP. May 7. House of Targ. Wear earplugs and be prepared to get physical. House of Targ—home to arcade games and pinball machines—is the ideal setting for the Toronto punk powerhouse PUP (pictured above). You can get close enough to invade the personal space of the sweaty musicians and then retreat for a while to play Space Invaders.
3. Women’s Blues Revue. May 8. NAC Theatre. Forget that the performers are all female—this brassy and sassy ensemble will pack in an enormous amount of musical talent (including Ottawa native Kellylee Evans) for a contemporary take on blues without any dudes in fedoras.
4. Goodyear, Gould, and Goldberg. May 7. NAC Southam Mezzanine. My Glenn Gould fandom ignited with the 1993 film 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould. Now another great Canadian pianist, Stewart Goodyear, is going to invoke Gould’s ghost—and on the deceased soloist’s beloved Steinway!
5. Folk Music Ontario Song Circle. May 1. Pressed. Only 65 tickets will be available for this intimate cross section of Ottawa’s strong and diverse folk scene. Songstresses Amanda Rheaume, Jill Zmud, Chris MacLean, Audrey Saparno, and Ana Miura will be joined by revered old boys Ian Tamblyn and Slo’Tom.
Click here for info and tickets
This content originally appeared in Scene, a free newsprint prologue to the National Arts Centre’s Ontario Scene. Available at all Bridgehead Coffee locations, Scene was created collaboratively by Guerilla, Apt613, and Herd Magazine.