How nice it was to stand on Lansdowne’s Great Lawn on the evening of September 19th, 2015 and take in such a pleasant night of music. It was the penultimate evening of Ottawa’s Folk Festival (recently dubbed Cityfolk to coincide with the relocation of the festival from an actual park [or two] to a glorified parking lot) and the lawn was sprinkled with good friends awaiting a good show.
While we waited for said show (which would come courtesy of The Barr Brothers) Of Monsters and Men did their thing on the main stage.
Between acts I found myself standing next to my friend Rob. He asked me how plans were coming along for my upcoming trip to Zambia, scheduled just a few days hence. I told him that everything was fine, except I was at a total loss as to how I was going to get eight hundred pounds of donated musical instruments from my house to the Ottawa airport in time for my 6am departure.
“How about if I bring over a van and help you load it up?” he said.
“Are you joking?” I asked, absolutely incredulous. He was not joking. “I could be there at…what…say 3:30 in the morning?” he suggested, completely and very generously obliterating a huge worry that had been hanging over my head for weeks.
And it was in that euphoric, blissful window of relief that the ethereal, almost holy Barr brothers took the stage and effortlessly slid into ninety minutes of tactile spa-like soul-cleansing music that felt like an aural massage.
Adding to the whole affair was the inclusion of a young guy named Joe Grass to the ensemble. Never mind that he was playing my favourite of instruments – the pedal steel – this (previously unknown to me) musician had somehow developed enough musical depth in his short life to easily stand to-to-toe with the sonically enlightened brothers from Boston and their widely talented Canadian cohorts.
In short, it was a breathless night of beautiful music under an urban night canopy with good friends and I (suddenly) had not a care in the world. Thanks to Brad, Andrew, Joe, (et al) and especially Rob.