Upon first listening to Lora Bidner it wouldn't be off base to think you were hearing Basia Bulat in her early days. Lora Bidner is on track to one day be Ottawa's answer to that autoharp-wielding folk phenom. Perhaps you weren't among the lucky ones to buy tickets to Basia's sold-out show at the Sheep this weekend. Take in Miss Bidner instead.
Lora released a sparse demo-debut back in 2008 (which you can download for free on her site) but she's been busy since then obtaining a university degree and playing with folk trio The Musettes. She's going solo tonight for this RAW showcase, which claims to be a circus of creativity.
RAW started as an idea in 2009 in California. It's an artist collective that holds a monthly showcase of artistic emerging talents, everything from make-up artists to models and musicians. Heidi Luerra started it after she landed in L.A. years ago to pursue her dream of being a fashion designer. She built this template for chapters to spring up around the globe and they have. From Perth, Australia, to Ottawa, folks are digging into the underground arts through RAW. There will be a fashion show, performance art, and you'll also get to dance to local bands The Sick Sick Sicks and Sleepy & the Noise. It's a great excuse to groom your ironic moustache and put on your vintage party dress, because cocktail attire is required! The Mansion is usually a dance club at Dalhousie and Rideau, but it's getting RAW starting at 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $15.
If your after-work drinks already tend to turn into a circus of creativity, a good place to dial it back down after is Raw Sugar on Friday night. There is an early show at 7 p.m. and another at 9 p.m. to accommodate what I hope will be sold-out shows for the incredible voice of Rae Spoon. The gorgeously intimate, fragile track "Sunday Dress" choruses the title to Rae's latest album, My Prairie Home. It's also the accompanying soundtrack to the NFB film of the same name. My Prairie Home is part documentary, part musical, and it features Rae Spoon's compelling life story.
Rae grew up a transgender child of an evangelical Christian family in Alberta. In the film trailer, Rae explains bits about their story. It is exquisitely shot and mixed with the album's music. Anyone I've spoken to who has seen it in its entirety is completely won over if they weren't already a Rae fan. I have been for many years now and have converted a few new ones along the way. I hope Rae's compelling story and voice are enough to convince folks to venture to Raw Sugar tomorrow night for either the 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. shows. Tickets are $12 in advance.
If you do get tickets to see Rae's first show, then I recommend you kick up your Friday a notch after that and hit the Rainbow Bistro for what they do best: the blues. Jon Knight and Soulstack bring their southern roots-rock sect of blues to the Byward Market. Jon's a Toronto guitarist and singer whose recent sophomore album, Five Finger Discount, was nominated for a pair of Maple Blues Awards. Soulstack is doing something I thought was smart and a little bit of a gamble: the guys are carting their gear along the 401 and playing all weekend long on a mini tour — of Ottawa! You can see Soulstack Friday and Saturday at the Rainbow, at The Atomic Rooster on Sunday (6-9 p.m., free) and then Monday at Greenfields in Barrhaven for a live session with blues station DawgFM.
If you need something rocking to save your Saturday night from sleep, Steve Adamyk Band livens up my Monday morning and my Wednesday afternoon, and would most certainly perk up your Saturday night. When one reads "The Steve Adamyk Band" you might suspect a blues or jazz combo. But don't take your grandpa to the show, unless your grandpa cut his teeth on four-chord rock. Steve Adamyk Band is most definitely punk rock. Steve was sick of constantly changing band names after musicians came and went, so he went with the one constant: his own name. He arrived back home in Ottawa this week after making a new record in California, so I'm sure he's itching to get back in front of an audience. See the band at Babylon Saturday night with Tropical Dripps and Brendan Flynn's Terrible Liars at 10 p.m. for $6.
Thursday, Feb. 27
Of Reverie + Dreamer/Deceiver + The Thirteenth Floor + Of Burning Empires + She Cried Murder @ Mavericks, 7 p.m., $12
Scott Ian (of Anthrax) "Speaking Words" Tour @ Ritual, 9 p.m., $20
The Sick Sick Sicks + Lora Bidner + Sleepy & the Noise (RAW Ottawa) @ The Mansion, 7:30 p.m., $15 (cocktail attire)
Medhi Cayenne Club @ Mercury Lounge, 9 p.m., $8
OL'CD + Big Lonely @ The Rainbow, 7 p.m., $7
Railroad: The Pop-Up Poetry Series @ Raw Sugar Cafe, 7:30 p.m., free
Sea Change + Lukas Grant + Marxist Cowboys + Sparrowshanks + Black Dogs (Doldrums Festival) @ Pressed, 9 p.m., $TBD
Paraboles @ NAC Fourth Stage
Friday, Feb. 28
Rae Spoon (2 shows) @ Raw Sugar, 7 p.m. & 9 p.m., $12 advance
Ken Voita + John Carroll @ Pressed, 7 p.m., $TBD
The Fox & the Moon + Weird With Cats + Carolina Hum @ Avante Garde Bar, 9 p.m., $TBD
Danko Jones + Red Rails + Say Yes @ Mavericks, 9 p.m., $22.50
The Frank James Band @ The Rainbow, 4 p.m., free
Jon Knight and Soulstack @ The Rainbow, 9:30 p.m., $12
The Jerry Cans + Saali @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, 8 p.m., $10
Basia Bulat @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, 8:30 p.m., SOLD OUT
Saturday, March 1
Kiyomi Valentine + The Ecstatic Acoustic @ Raw Sugar Cafe, 9 p.m., $12
Jon Knight and Soulstack @ Rainbow, 10 p.m., $12
The Kingmakers @ Atomic Rooster, 4-8 p.m., free
The Cardboard Crowns + The Baxters + Finding Chuck @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, 8 p.m., $7
Steve Adamk Band + Tropical Dripps + Brendan Flynn's Terrible Liars @ Babylon Nightclub, 10 p.m., $6
Composers Josquin Des Prez, William Walton (with poetry by Edith Sitwell), an aleatoric piece by Rzewski, and Terry Reilly's In C. @ St. Alban's Church, 8 p.m., $15 adults, $10 students/seniors
Sound of Lions + Flying Hórses @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, 8:30 p.m., $10
Sunday, March 2
Soulstack @ Atomic Rooster, 6-9 p.m., free
Sweet Potato Pie + The Visit @ Pressed, 3 p.m.
Phil Dwyer Trio @ Les Brasseurs du Temps, Hull, 8 p.m., $10
TWIST (Laura Hermiston of BB Guns & Brian Borcherdt of Holy Fuck) @ Raw Sugar, 5 p.m., $6
Firebelly + Bearshark + Blak Denim @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, 4:30 p.m., $7
Jeremy Fisher @ Irene's, 9 p.m., $TBD
Monday, March 3
Soulstack @ Greenfields in Barrhaven for StudioDawg with DawgFM, 8 p.m.