051605 Joel Plaskett Emergency, Ottawa, ON

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The Tulip Fest used to be an excellent little addition to Ottawa’s wide offering of annual music.  Setting aside two Spring weeks to honour a continuing gift from The Netherlands, the Tulip Fest is ostensibly a city-wide exhibit of hundreds of thousands of tulips.  And while admittedly this display is a rather stunning part of Ottawa’s yearly reawakening, I sure do miss the old days when the Tulip Fest also offered free nightly concerts in Major’s Hill Park.  

Of course I do.  I’ve seen some great shows up there – Bill Frisell and Trooper come to mind – but May 16th, 2005 wasn’t really one of them.

My notes tell me that the Golden Dogs played at 7pm and I find i difficult to imagine that I wasn’t there for their set after having been completely and utterly blown away when I was first introduced to the band a few months earlier at Cafe Dekcuf*.  It was a Monday so I suppose I was stuck at work.  Stupid life, getting in the way of life like that.

Anyway, I did make it onsite for The Joel Plaskett Emergency (who I enjoyed dramatically less than I surely would’ve enjoyed The Golden Dogs).  Despite a ubiquitousness on the Canadian music scene that has placed Plaskett on stage in front of me on many, many occasions I’ve always managed to maintain an ignorance towards his material.  In fact I only recognized one of his songs at this show, When I Have My Vision, and that’s because the girl I was dating at the time had been singing it all afternoon.  

I wouldn’t say that the show sucked; he just didn’t grab me and that’s okay: I can sometimes be a bit of a slippery, slickery music connoisseur, and maybe a little ornery too.  There were a few tunes earlier in the set where I was at least 50/50 on the guy, but really the last hour just didn’t interest me at all.  If a pop group doesn’t grab me right away then getting me to like them is usually like trying to stuff a disgruntled eel into a half-full whiskey bottle.  Quite a feat that might be, but with little reward.

Finally, even though I’ll always have a soft spot for Billy Joel’s Glass Houses (being the first non-novelty LP I ever bought with my own money) and I hadn’t heard Sleeping With The Television On in a zillion years, Plaskett including Joel’s obscure throwback non-hit still wasn’t enough for me.

But I suppose for a free concert it was certainly worth the money.

*For the record, it had to be specifically pointed out to me that Cafe Dekcuf was meant to be read backwards.  Funny how incognito the name was up until that moment.

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