Canada Day on the Hill

Posted: July 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Canada Day festivities on Parliament Hill were very disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong, I still had a good time, but that was more about spending time with Ruthanne than with any success by the organizers.

Let’s start with the performers.

Ruthanne really wanted to see Great Big Sea, and that is fine. They are what they are and that is fine. With the self-destruction of the Barenaked Ladies, GBS is pretty much the go-to band for Canadian events. (Sure beats the days when the go-to Canadian act was Rita McNeil.) These events need something pretty middle of the road… but that leads me to my first complaint. Why book these acts and then only let them do a song or two at a time?

Back to the acts… Sam Roberts is also okay. I bought the EP and first album, like everybody else, but nothing has kept me interested. It is okay, just nothing special.

The only act listed that I would actually go out of my way to see is Dan Mangan. Great stuff. I was looking forward to hearing him live.

Oh, but wait… one song in the afternoon show and one song in the evening show? THAT’S IT? He wasn’t even ON the tv portion of the show? What the hell?!

Let’s see who WERE given a bigger spotlight, shall we?

Well, Soul Influence was pretty good. The P.E.I. singer that they kept making Anne of Green Gables jokes about was fine… The tribute to La Bolduc was quite good.

Who the hell is Corb Lund? Why does this twangy pop country nonsense warrant time enough to do extra songs? My god… how can people listen to that?

But as much as I didn’t like cowboy Corb, he had nothing on the ‘Polar Pop Princess’, Elisapie Isaac. She was absolutely awful. She must get a lot of help in the studio because she couldn’t carry a tune. She was so off-key that I felt bad for her. Ruthanne tried to be gracious and said that it must be because she was nervous about playing on the big stage – or maybe in front of visiting royalty.

But then she came out later and performed the same song again… and it was exactly the same. It was intentional.


Now we are on to my next complaint. I mentioned that Isaac performed the same song twice. LOTS of the performers did that. Most of them, I think. It was pathetic… performing as few as four songs across three performances and you repeat songs? It happened so often that I have to assume they were asked to do that, but why? Why would you subject people to listening to the same song multiple times? It almost reminded me of that Simpsons episode with B.T.O. when Homer made them keep playing “Taking Care of Business” over and over.


Anyway, one last complaint and one last compliment.

The way the police handled all of those people (300,000 apparently) trying to leave all at once was terrible. It was bad enough funnelling everyone through choke points to get IN, but doing the same to GET OUT is just stupid. Whoever had that great idea is an idiot.

OCTranspo, on the other hand, handled the huge outflow of people VERY well. Considering the chaos I was expecting, they did a very good job getting people out of town and on their way.

  1. Well, for one thing I’m a big fan of Corb Lund — not your cup of tea, fine, but he’s very accomplished and awesome.

    More importantly, *don’t go to Parliament Hill, man!* It’s just like watching ads for Canada – not useful for Ottawa residents. One or two songs each, then giant video promos for parks, tourism, etc. The programming there is very restricted by the needs of the broadcasters which is what gives you the middle-of-the-road thing and the lack of depth. I love Jenn Grant for example but I would much rather see her in a bar. Even GBS is a lot better when they play a set. The Parliament Hill portion of the festivities is for the tourists and TV audience.

    Go instead to the stuff at Parc Jacques-Cartier and Major’s Hill! Way better. Full sets, acts with some edge (Plants and Animals, Monsieur Vallaire, Rise Ashen, etc.), more room to walk around, more food, kites flying, no speeches. When you look at it as a whole, the Canada Day programming (especially considering the demands of programming things like this in collaboration with multiple gov’t agencies and departments) was excellent.

    Agree with you on the crowd control points. But we found our way out and were home very quickly (on free transit!) anyway.

    Plus that was by far the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen. I’m a bit sad that you missed all the best stuff, Rusty. Next year check out the other venues. Leave the Parl Hill stuff to the royalists and out-of-towners.

  2. rpriske says:

    Plants and Animals would have been high on my list, but the desire of my lovely spouse to see Great Big Sea was the driving factor that took us downtown in the first place.

    As for Corb Lund, when I composed this in my head, it included a disclaimer that didn’t end up in the finished product. I was going to elucidate the difference between Corb Lund and Elisapie Isaac.

    I didn’t like Lund because, well, I didn’t like it. A simple matter of personal taste.
    Elisapie Isaac, on the other hand, was just plain awful. I could be a big fan of her style of pop and still been scratching my head at her inability to stay in key.

    Corb Lund had no such problem. I just didn’t like his music.

    (Jenn Grant was the name I couldn’t recall. She was decent… but I wonder if the hosts’ insistance on making Anne of Green Gables jokes annoys her. It would me, but then we are also members of ‘the club’) 🙂

    BY FAR, though, the thing that annoyed me was the repetition of songs.

  3. JF says:

    I’m sorry to say that the Canada Day show has been so devoid of class-acts it’s an embarrassment. When I look at our neighbour’s shows 3 days after ours, I can’t believe we can’t come up with something more culture-filled than our usual politically-correct excuse for a show filled with mediocrity. Ugh! Best to head to the lake.

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