REVIEW: Farm Aid Ottawa

The weather may have been cool but the music was most definitely hot. Yesterday, (09/16) a crowd of a few thousand gathered at Ottawa Stadium for a great cause, as well as great music.

Farm Aid Ottawa, put on by DNA Presents, featured performances by great Canadian country talent to raise money that would go directly to farmers to assist them with inflated feed prices and buying seeds for next year’s crop.

Early in the afternoon, Jordan McIntosh, Gail Gavan and Ambush took to the stage to perform a few of their songs. Shortly after, Jason Blaine‘s presence became well known as several female fans spotted him beside the stage asking for pictures. A group of girls immediately assembled to wait for pictures with the country star who took the time to talk to and take pictures with each one of them.

Jason, who won Single of the Year for his song “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore” just last week at the CCMA awards, performed several of his hits, including this latest one. Songs like “Run With Me”, “Good Day to Get Gone” and “Flirtin’ With Me” were just some of the songs Jason entertained the upbeat crowd with. The artist spoke positively of the area and being from Pembroke, just a short drive from Ottawa. While talking to the crowd on stage, Jason spontaneously decided to give all of the proceeds of his album “Life So Far” sold at the event to the farmers, which got a great reaction from the audience.

Next to take the stage was Michelle Wright, one of the Canada’s most famous female singers from the 90s. The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductee danced around on stage, obviously enjoying performing to her fans, as well as the great cause at hand. Michelle spoke about being a farmer’s daughter and thus wanting to raise awareness about the issues farmers are facing. The cheerful singer performed several of her number one hits, including “Take It Like a Man”, “Nobody’s Girl”, as well as her crowd-pleasing song “The Answer Is Yes”. Michelle slowed things down with her song “Your Love”, which showcased the apparent beauty of her voice. Her performance was highly entertaining due to the combination of her raw vocal talent and great stage presence.

Emerson Drive came onto the stage to a very eager and excited crowd as the sun started to set. But nobody looked as excited to be there as the band’s lead singer Brad Mates, who danced around the stage with such intensity and enthusiasm. The band, originally from Alberta,  performed a set that featured many hits and every possible song an Emerson Drive fan would want to hear. From some of their older songs, such as “Fall Into Me”, “I Should Be Sleeping” and “If You Were My Girl” to some of their newer ones, like “That Kind of Beautiful”, “I Love This Road” and their latest single “My Kind of Crazy”, the boys definitely did not disappoint. Brad, backed by the band, showed a softer side when the set slowed down to feature “When I See You Again” and “Moments”, two songs that resonate personally with the band and the fans. Their repertoire of songs indicated just the level of success and talent the band has had in their almost two-decades together. Emerson Drive most definitely put on a show that gave the fans everything they could have wanted and more.

Last but not least, Paul Brandt, the most anticipated performer of the night, was welcomed onto the stage by several screaming fans. The multiple Juno and CCMA award winner came out donning his cowboy hat with his guitar slung around his neck. The fans, who were quick to sing along to the music, enjoyed performances of songs such as “Rich Man” and “When You Call My Name”. Paul, who has been recognized as the artist with the most country awards in Canada, did not disappoint due to his great vocals and charismatic demeanour.

In sum, Farm Aid Ottawa was an event that should have brought out more fans than it did – if not for the great talent, but for the even greater cause. But to enjoy some of the best Canadian country music in our own backyard – hey, it couldn’t get much better than that.

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