The Blind Boys of Alabama have been performing their special brand of Gospel for over eighty years, and the crowd at the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival soaked in their soulful sound of Southern gospel on a beautiful Sunday evening in our nation’s capital.
The group was founded in 1939, in Talledega, Alabama at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Deaf and Blind. They started entertaining soldiers for loose coins, then won multiple Grammys (including one for lifetime achievement), building their career up to performing for then U.S. President George Bush.
The band kicked off the evening with the powerful gospel number, “Do the Lord Remember Me”, which definitely got the crowd warmed up. “People Get Ready” and “Spirit in the Sky” kept the audience’s toes tapping while singing and clapping along. “I Can See” was very spiritual in its delivery, as the sound of the South filled the air. “I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord” showcased how amazing the musicians in the group are as the interplay between the bass and the guitar was inspiring. “Way Down in the Hole” and “Amazing Grace” were blended together seamlessly, and performed with skill and grace.
The closing song of the evening was “How Ya Doing” which was a playful romp as the lead singer was escorted through the enthusiastic crowd as he stirred up the audience; it was reminiscent of revivals of a bygone era. The “Higher Ground” cover was explosive, as people were dancing, and singing along.
If you are a fan of gospel or spiritual music, I strongly recommend checking out The Blind Boys of Alabama, they are the real deal and a class act.
Do Lord Remember Me
People Get Ready
Spirit in the Sky
I Can See
Nobody’s Fault but Mine
I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord
Way Down in the Hole
How Ya Doing
The next show for us was Jim Cuddy, Greg Keelor, Glen Milchem, Mike Boguski, Colin Cripps, and Jimmy Bowskill, or collectively known as Blue Rodeo. Blue Rodeo’s frontmen Greg Keelor and Jim Cuddy started making music together in the late seventies. From their humble beginnings, Blue Rodeo has had chart-topping successes and sold-out concerts for the last five decades. Blue Rodeo is a Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee and has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame; they are a true Canadian treasure. Last night in Ottawa, the fans got to enjoy the nice weather, the band’s amazing music and the great ambiance of the Jazz Festival.
Blue Rodeo opened the evening with a ripping version of “Trust Yourself”, which immediately got the ball rolling to the joy of those in attendance. “Diamond Mine” followed with Keelor’s voice in fine form and the drumming stood out on this tune brilliantly. “What Am I Doing Here”, offered up some exquisite accordion work, which blended well with the harp playing. The classic track “Five Days in May” featured an incredible guitar solo, that really worked well with the song. “The Railroad” was a newer song, lengthy but interesting, showing the talents of the band.
“Till I Am Myself Again” started a string of their biggest hit songs. “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” was a little softer than the original recording, but it worked well. “After the Rain”, and “Try” were nice selections as the evening drew to a close. “Lost Together” was slowed down a tad, but gave this classic a different take.
As the crowd slowly shuffled out of the venue, there were smiles and happy faces everywhere. A great time was had by all, judging from all the dancing, and joyfulness. I am looking forward to seeing them next time they come around.
What Am I Doing Here
Head Over Heels
Ride Your Bike
Rose Colored Glasses
I Can’t Hide This Anymore
I Owe it to Myself
Five Days in May
Till I am Myself Again
When You Were Wild
After the Rain
Hasn’t Hit Me Yet