March 31, 2023

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Kathleen Edwards helped launch a streamlined version of CityFolk on Thursday with a terrific live performance that marked a few milestones in her lately revived music profession.

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Underneath clear skies and a shiny, full moon shining over Lansdowne Park, the Ottawa singer-songwriter celebrated the twentieth anniversary of her debut album, in addition to the tenth anniversary of her final CityFolk efficiency (then nonetheless often called the Ottawa People Pageant), a gig that happened two years earlier than she stepped away from the music trade, affected by burnout, to open a espresso store in Stittsville.

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That endeavour, dubbed Quitters, propelled her for eight years till she offered the enterprise to Equator, one other native espresso firm, earlier this 12 months. Since then, she’s been totally dedicated to music, and it confirmed on stage.

Edwards, 44, and her top-notch band have been on tour for a lot of the summer season, evolving into a sturdy musical entity that appears to function on instinct and flows from music to solo with ease. The band consisted of grasp guitarist Colin Cripps, who’s Edwards’ ex-husband, pedal-steel participant Aaron Goldstein, Ottawa drummer Peter Von Althen, bassist Ryan Gavel and Kinley Dowling, a P.E.I. singer-songwriter together with her personal solo profession, on violin and keyboards.

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Early within the present, Edwards reminisced about her breakthrough album, Failer, and the truth that the songs have been written whereas she labored in numerous downtown Ottawa institutions, not removed from the place she stood on the Lansdowne Park stage.

“Twenty years in the past, this document ended up within the palms of individuals down within the States, and on the day it got here out in January, I performed on the David Letterman present and my life modified,” she mentioned. “It’s been a loopy 20 years of ups and downs.”

It appears clear that issues are wanting up for her now. Edwards dropped a wonderful album, Whole Freedom, her first in eight years, simply earlier than the pandemic hit, and as she mentioned Thursday, though it “sucked” that she couldn’t tour, it made her understand how a lot she missed the reference to folks.

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“I didn’t understand how essential that have is to play music for folks and see the faces, and really feel the care that they’ve for me,” she instructed the group, expressing her gratitude for followers’ help.

Edwards’ candy, husky voice was sturdy and clear as she led the band via a career-spanning set, reaching again for Failer nuggets Hockey Skates and 6 O’Clock Information but in addition together with newer tracks resembling Choices Open and Exhausting On Everybody, which featured some evocative soloing by Goldstein. There was a rocking model of Change The Sheets, a beautiful Smooth Place to Land and a unique deconstruction of Supertramp’s Logical Track, to call a couple of highlights.

Edwards gave every of her expert musicians the possibility to strut their stuff, however it was arduous to beat the interaction between her guitar work and that of her ex, Cripps. The 2 musicians appeared to encourage one another to achieve for brand new heights, at one level working up a Cortez the Killer-style duel that gave goosebumps. It was nice to see them again on stage collectively, the post-divorce awkwardness evidently behind them. In reality, Edwards was filled with appreciation for Cripps’ help: “When issues have been arduous and issues have been new,” she mentioned, “he had my again.”

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Edwards’ homecoming present was a part of an opening-night invoice that additionally included superb units by two American performers. Nation star Zach Bryan was the evening’s headliner, attracting throngs of younger followers in boots and cowboy hats, whereas roots-rocker the White Buffalo (aka the baritone-voiced Jake Smith) and his band sailed from strummy ballads to grungy rock.

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The primary weekend of the competition continues Friday with The Wonderful Sons, Blue Stones and Sophia Radisch on the large stage, adopted by an eclectic program Saturday that options rapper T-Ache, Canadian nation star Tim Hicks and soulful Can-rocker J.J. Wilde. A second weekend takes place Sept. 15-17.

For data and tickets, go to cityfolkfestival.com.

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