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Ottawa Bluesfest is ready to rock - Metro US

Ottawa Bluesfest is ready to rock

There are 250 acts named for this year’s Ottawa Bluesfest, and there’s something the big names — like Santana, Iron Maiden, Rush and Joan Jett — and smaller acts all have in common.

They will all benefit from playing the festival.

“Big names and large touring acts are always looking for the right play in a market,” said Bluesfest executive and artistic director Mark Monahan at LeBreton Flats Park yesterday. “And festivals in North America are becoming a really great play for them to do.”

With dozens of acts performing each day from July 6-11 and July 13-18, all performers are likely to see more concertgoers than if they held their own shows.

“And people aren’t always coming to see them,” Monahan said. “People might come to the festival for other reasons, but that allows them to have a crowd of 30,000 instead of 15,000,” he said. “A lot of those acts see that as a great opportunity to turn on new listeners. Even though they’re huge acts, they’re always looking for new fans,” he said. “And festivals are a great opportunity to create that buzz.”

For smaller acts, one of the goals of Bluesfest is to profile the huge amount of talent that exists in Ottawa, said Monahan.

Big outdoor music festivals profile acts that may not yet have the recognition, or the drawing power, Monahan said.

“But we can use those big names to bring in an audience which will hopefully eventually support those other acts.

“It’s part of the formula – you need those big names to draw people to the park, but, really, what a lot of people enjoy most about the festival is seeing those acts they may not know of before coming. It’s kind of a discovery opportunity for people.”

And people here take advantage of it, he said.

“Ottawa is a very diverse city with musical tastes,” he said.

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