Bluesfest 2015: Renée Landry Charms Last Day of Festival

July 22nd, 2015 by  |  Published in Concerts


I closed out this year’s Bluesfest schedule on Sunday, July 19 with Renée Landry, a local musician and vocal coach who studied music at Carleton University. I’ve never reviewed a jazz group for Spotlight Ottawa before, so I left Weird Al Yankovic early to make it on time.

Jazz has always been a secret pleasure of mine, reserved for subtle evenings alone with a glass of red wine and a new recipe for baked salmon. Not bloated outdoor music festivals packed with frenetic kids, beer tents and clueless security (which of course are all fine, if you’re there to see a rock band). So I was glad that Landry and her adroit band were moved into the shadowy Barney Danson Theatre, away from the errant stage noise, the fatty food smells, and the prying eyes. Away from the sticky, sweltering Ottawa-in-July heat that was in full humidity-mode, with yet another thunderstorm running its mouth off with threats above us.

There was a much nicer evening to be had inside.

Although the museum’s air-conditioning was a welcome contrast for we in the audience—who were also spoiled with comfortable seats and drinks on ice—it was a different story on stage. Landry frequently wiped sweat from her brow, generated by the band’s steamy performance and her deep, fervent vocal delivery. Not that she cared—she was clearly having a great time anyway, blushing with personal stories and song details.

And her band can play. The six piece jazz combo was tight, cocky and in control, owning every solo the songs allowed them.

Landry’s fun set included covers both traditional (Gershwin’s “Summertime“) and outlandish (the Spice Girls’ “Say You’ll be There”), but it was the originals, taken from her debut EP Chin Up, that shone. The album’s title track is a bouncy, catchy Motown track reminiscent of old Jackson 5 hits like “I Want You Back.” Mr. Postman was a bit bluesier, giving the horns and piano plenty of real estate, yet still featuring plenty of bars for Landry to show off her impressive set of lungs.

Landry and her band play quite frequently in Ottawa, so check them out when you can. They’re a great, fun show that you can dance with—and you’ll want to.

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