Bluesfest locals: The Commotions

July 14th, 2022 by  |  Published in Bluesfest locals, Features, Interviews, News

The Commotions - promo

The Commotions

The Bluesfest locals series will introduce you to the talented music makers from the Ottawa area performing at this year’s RBC Bluesfest. Come on out early to Bluesfest and discover some great new music!

The Commotions

Friday, July 15
6pm to 7pm
SiriusXM Stage


Take a blazing horn section, throw down some bombastic drums, pepper in piano and guitar, then stir in vocals shifting from sweet to soulful to sultry quicker than you can hop onto the dance floor. And you will hop onto the dance floor because that’s a recipe for groove making. It’s ingredients for crowd shaking. It sizzles. It pops. It jumps. It jives. It’s The Commotions and the taste is soulicious!

Putting the motion in The Commotions are 12 band members including three lead singers and a wild five-piece horn section with a mighty dose of trumpets and sax. This group is ready to command crowds with brassy beats and smooth ballad treats, all about bringing back the spirit of those super Soul sounds of the 70s and the Motown rhythms that once had them dancing in the streets.

They’ve brought the funky groove to festivals, television and two smokin’ studio albums. If The Commotions are spinning on your sound system or hitting a stage near you, that bygone beat is moving to the forefront of your feet and a party is about to erupt. You can bank on it!

The Talent

Jeff Rogers – Vocals
Rebecca Noelle – Vocals
Mackenzie Di Millo – Vocals
Jeff Asselin – Drums
Ken Seeley – Bass
David Gaw – Guitar
Deniz Lim-Sersan – Keys
Ed Lister – Trumpet
Eric Littlewood – Trumpet
Brian Asselin – Tenor sax and leader
Mike Lett – Tenor sax
Caelan Roberge-Toll – Bari sax


What was your reaction to the news you’d be a part of Bluesfest and who was the first person you told?
(Brian Asselin) I was beyond thrilled when I received the news we were offered a Bluesfest performance spot. I have played Bluesfest throughout the years as a sideman and I always dreamt of taking my own music or at least music I helped write to the festival. Bluesfest is, in my mind, one of the best festivals in North America and I am so proud to bring our music. Once I got the call I think the first person I told was my wife followed by my parents.

Please describe your sound.
The Commotions is a 12-member soul powerhouse project. The music we write is reminiscent of the Motown/Funk sounds of the 1960’s-70’s mixed in with some Jazz and modern pop elements. The band features 3 main vocalists, a full rhythm section and to top it off a 5-piece horn section. Our motto has always been go big or go home.

How did you get started on your musical journey?
My love for music started when I was really young listening to records with my parents. When it came time for me to pick an instrument, I picked the saxophone and it’s been an amazing journey ever since. After I graduated from my Bachelor of Music from Carleton University, I started to tour with an amazing guitarist JW Jones and watching him run his very successful band really helped me understand music from both the stage side and the business side. Fast forward a couple years and I was fortunate enough to tour as the saxophonist for the Legendary Funk Brothers which looking back now was probably the biggest force of change which led me to what I do now. I always loved the music from Motown – being a jazz musician I was intrigued how one could take elements from pop and jazz and meld them together to create such an iconic sound. After my run with the band I started to write my own music in a similar style and when it came time for me to start recording I reached out to the touring lead vocalist of The Funk Brothers, Delbert Nelson, and he agreed to start the project with me. At that time the band was called Delbert & The Commotions and we released our first album, Let Me See Ya Dance, in 2013. This rendition of the band played around Ontario at several festivals but it came to be too much as Delbert is a very accomplished musician back in Detroit and had other projects he performed in. I absolutely adore Delbert and I cannot thank him enough for his creativity, time, and musicianship. It took me about 2 years after the fact to start writing and I reached out to both Jeff Rogers, and Rebecca Noelle to take the lead vocal chair. I have known both of these musicians for most of my life and I am forever grateful that they both decided to take this journey with me.

We wrote and recorded our 2017 album, Volume II, and we have been hitting the pavement ever since. The Commotions is a power house group with three vocalists, a rhythm section and to top it off a 5-piece horn section. Since the release of our second album, we have performed at many different festivals in Ontario and have been placed on TV shows such as HBO (Looking), ABC (The Fosters), and FX (Snowfall).

We have been working hard for the past two years writing our Volume III release and we hope to get back in the studio in the early fall.

What can music fans expect from your show? Will you be playing any new music at Bluesfest and/or releasing new music ahead of your performance?
We have been writing diligently over the past two years for our Volume III release which has been pushed back due to our current situation. It has been difficult getting 12 people in the same room over the past two years. Having said that we have been writing remotely and we have 15 unreleased songs that we plan on putting on our Volume III release which we expect to have done by next May. We are very excited to be working with some very talented individuals on our next album which we have scheduled to start recording in September. Both myself, Ed Lister, Philip Lassiter (Prince), and Dave Eskridge (Tower of Power) have written arrangements for the band which we are so excited to showcase at our Bluesfest performance in July. We can’t wait to start sharing our new music with you all.

What artists are you hoping to catch during this year’s Bluesfest?
There are so many acts that I want to check out this year it is hard to mention them all but most notably I want to check out The Anders Drerup Band, Colin James, The Cooper Brothers Southern Rock All-Star Revue, Mack & Ben, Matthew Chaffey, Renée Landry, The Texas Horns, and Tal Wilkenfeld.

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