5 live music shows to see in Ottawa, Gatineau this weekend

I know February is Black History Month, but I wasn't aware it was ever given Tribute Month status, too. For whatever reason, homages abound this weekend in Ottawa. The musicians that began as J.R. Cash, Nathaniel Coles, James McCartney and Stevland Hardaway Judkins are being saluted over the next four days. If you're wondering what those dudes did to deserve it, perhaps I should use the names these men became iconic under: Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder are a little more familiar. Stevland Hardaway Judkins does have a nice ring though.

Thursday and Friday, Denzal Sinclaire and the National Arts Centre Orchestra team up to perform the Nat King Cole songbook. It may be a daunting task to try to embody such a jazz master, unless you're born with a voice like Sinclaire's. It's about as smooth a baritone as they come. The concert with the NAC Orchestra is billed as the Nat King Cole songbook and more, so Denzal Sinclaire may bust out some Superstition or even Folsom Prison Blues if he so desires (though I doubt it). Those shows are at Southam Hall in the NAC at 7:30 p.m., and tickets start at $23.

Another tribute takes place Thursday at Greenfields Pub in Barrhaven. Dead Flowers and Jonesey and the Greytones celebrate 50 years since the British invasion by performing the songs of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.

Friday night head to Raw Sugar for a demonstration of artificially intelligent folk songs performed by doctor of media studies Henry Adam Svec. Dr. Svec claims to have created software that creates brand-new folk music based on a database of all the Canadian folk ever created thus far. The computer program spit out music and lyrics and then Henry, along with a few musical friends in London, Ont., brought them to life.

We recently chatted about the program he calls Livingston. I asked about my favourite song to emerge from the project thus far, a tune called "S/He Is Like the Angry Birds." I wondered whether Livingston perhaps was crossing data by referencing the popular game for smartphones. Dr. Svec in turn wondered if there was perhaps an old Canadian folk motif about angry birds we needed to do more research about. The thing about Henry Adam Svec is not to forget, or be sure to note, he has a PhD in media studies. He's also studied method acting. One of his projects, The CFL Sessions, duped a maritime radio station into talking to him about the songs he'd unearthed that he claimed were written by CFL players in the '60s and '70s. They had titles like "Song Written Upon Getting Cut by the Argos" and "Life is Like Canadian Football."

One either "gets" Henry Adam Svec and his interesting folk music projects, or one doesn't. I'm a big fan of his performance art and his rather plaintive singing style and quirky tunes. He is a really smart guy and his resulting blend of pop culture, drama, media and folk music into these musical projects challenge us and make us laugh at his ingenuity simultaneously. You can hear my full interview about Artificially Intelligent Folk Songs of Canada at www.cbc.ca/bandwidth. Dr. Svec is at Raw Sugar Friday night, it's $7 in advance and the cafe has writer Craig Calhoun as a opener to marry the musical and literary communities. 

Lovers of bossa nova unite! Or, re-unite as the case may be. Bet.e and Stef shot to fame on the strength of an independently released debut back in 1997. That release went platinum, meaning over 80,000 copies were shipped — practically unheard of for an indie jazz record. The Montreal duo released another platinum record, Day By Day, in 2002, which got them a Juno nomination for new group of the year. Then they disappeared for the next 10 years! They are finally back and they play a sold-out show Saturday night at La Grange de la Gatineau on Saturday. La Grange has added a second show Friday night at 8 pm. Tickets are $28.75 and if you add $34.50 you get a three-course dinner as well.

Johnny may not be around to celebrate his birthday every Feb. 26th, but Lefty McRighty makes sure he's not forgotten. Every year at this time Lefty puts on a hootenanny with Ottawa's country music folk. Much like Johnny himself, what Lefty lacks in vocal prowess he more than makes up for in performance ability. Lefty's own songs are melodically rooted in the rolling-train rhythms of Cash's country, though Lefty's lyrics have a more of a tongue-in-cheek vibe. The Rainbow Bistro will shine like a new pair of cowboy boots with a load of special guests from the city's country-roots scene, including members of Big Jeezus Truck, The Bushpilots, The Kingmakers and Wicked Grin. Lefty McRighty has convened a Johnny Cash birthday bash band called The Whiskey Standards. It promises to be a great party in celebration of the Man in Black's music, complete with prizes (there's an acoustic guitar raffle) and all proceeds go to Carleton Campus Radio station CKCU. $10, 9:30 p.m.

The final tribute of the weekend features The Four Heavies doing Stevie Wonder on Sunday night at Le Grange de la Gatineau. You can do dinner and a show, a perfect way to close off your weekend.

Thursday, Feb. 20

Denzal Sinclaire w/ NAC Orchestra (Does Nat King Cole songbook & more) @ NAC Southam Hall, 7:30 p.m., $23

Ella May + The Zillis @ The Rainbow, 8 p.m., $8

Reggae Night w/ Roots Movement @ The Rainbow, 11 p.m.

The Dead Flowers w/ Terry Tufts (Rolling Stones tribute) + Jonesey & the GreyTones (Beatles tribute) + Rock photographer John Rowlands exhibit/talk, FABGEAR 64 fashion show, Fab door prizes, Charity auction & draw @ Greenfields Pub, 8:30 p.m., $10

Friday, Feb. 21

Denzal Sinclaire w/ NAC Orchestra (Does Nat King Cole songbook & more) @ NAC Southam Hall, 7:30 p.m., $23+

David Usher @ Shenkman Arts Centre, 8 p.m., Reg $43.75/Student Rush $12/Eye-Go to the Arts $5

Three O'Clock Train + Shane Murphy @ Zaphod Beeblebrox 8 p.m., $12

UKRAINIA w/ HydroThermal Vents @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, 8:30 p.m., $10

Henry Adam Svec @ Raw Sugar, 8 p.m., $TBD

The Frank James Band @ The Rainbow, 4 p.m., free

The Gallop (EP Release) @ The Rainbow, 9:30 p.m., $10 

Bet.e & Stef + Jay Atwill @ La Grange de la Gatineau, 8 p.m., $28.75

The Bad Highschool Dance @ Kaffe 1870, Wakefield, 9 p.m., $TBD

Saturday, Feb. 22

Denzal Sinclaire w/ NAC Orchestra (Does Nat King Cole songbook & more) @ NAC Southam Hall, 7:30 p.m., $23+

Sidney York + Kashka @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, 8 p.m., $10

Galacticats + Metronome Jones + The Haig @ Pressed, 8 p.m., $7

Bet.e & Stef + Jay Atwill @ La Grange de la Gatineau, 8 p.m., SOLD OUT

Jeremy Fisher + Andrew Vincent @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, 8:30 p.m., $20 advance

Pat Lepoidvien + Field Museum @ Raw Sugar, 8 p.m., $8

Hornswater @ The Rainbow, 4 p.m., free

CKCU Benefit: Johnny Cash BDay Bash w/ Lefty McRighty @ The Rainbow, 9:30 p.m. $10

Swamperella + Ball & Chain's Mardi Gras Dance & Masquerade @ Irene's Pub, 9 p.m., $12

Chris Page + Yuma County @ Kaffe 1870, Wakefield, 9 p.m., $TBD

The Jivewires in "The Jivewires Roast Series" @ Le Petit Chicago, Hull, 9 p.m., $8 

Evening Hymns @ Almonte Old Town Hall (Folkus Series), 8 p.m., $30

Sunday, Feb. 23

Open Blues Jam w/ River City Junction @ The Rainbow, 4 p.m., $3

Syd Perry's Dub-Step Party @ The Rainbow, 8:30 p.m., $5     

The Music of Stevie Wonder by The Four Heavies @ Le Grange de Gatineau, 7:30 p.m., $10

Jeremy Fisher @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, 4:30 p.m., $20 advance

Agnes Obel + Her Harbour @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, 8:30 p.m., SOLD OUT

Wednesday, Feb. 26

Justice RF + Run Coyote @ Raw Sugar Cafe, 8 p.m., $TBD