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Ice Dragon Boat Festival in Ottawa - Day 1

The BeaverTails Ottawa Ice Dragon Boat Festival “Live @ The Rainbow” presented by Scotiabank is a free indoor concert series taking place between Feburary 2-19. It’s part of Ottawa’s 46th Annual Winterlude at Ottawa’s legendary home of live music, The Rainbow. This years festival is headlined by Aysanabee, Born Ruffians, Chris Murphy, Dizzy, Elliott, BROOD, JJ Wilde, Joel Plaskett, and OMBIIGIZI. Stay turned as Hidden Beats covers it all!

Steph La Rochelle

Kicking off the Dragon Boat Festival at the Rainbow Bistro was Ottawa’s very own Folk singer and songwriter Steph La Rochelle. With Rochelle’s breathtaking vocals and emotive guitar playing, it’s no surprise how she’s earned her CCMA Award nomination, as well as her previous slots in Ottawa’s RBC Bluesfest and Folk Music Ontario showcases. Rochelle’s rendition of Cher’s classic ‘Believe’ drew the crowd into singing with heartfelt longing. All eyes turned to her acoustic strumming as she joked that she had always viewed herself as a wildflower – so it only felt appropriate to name one of her original songs as such. The swelling harmonies of her bandmate’s cello, bass, electric guitar, and piano perfectly complimented her acoustic skills as originals ‘Wildflower’ and ‘If You Change Your Mind’ filled the room. Attendees were even blessed to hear the original song ‘Lost and Found’ for the very first time live. Rochelle’s performance was powerful, soul-arousing, and altogether lovely. It was the perfect kick-off to two weeks of free concerts in the name of charity.

M.T. Walker

Following Rochelle’s stunning performance, all eyes turned to the highly acclaimed Canadian recording artist MT Walker as he and his band emerged onto the stage with confidence. Formerly the frontman for Toronto-based “Turn Off The Stars”, Walker’s music is now regaining rapid recognition among fans as he has taken to the stage once again to debut his solo work. Walker immediately introduced a high level of energy into the bistro as he and the band invited everyone to sing the chorus to the original song ‘Spinning’. Energy remained high as the deep base and bone-rattling bones swept everyone off their feet. Soundtracks that made you feel like you were on a mountainous adventure or traversing through the woods warmed everyone’s heart and left a feeling of positivity long after the band left the stage. I had never heard their music before, but I can say with the utmost confidence that I am a new forever fan. 

Aysanabee

Ottawa’s Ice Dragon Boat Festival’s first night ended with a beautiful bang as astronomically talented singer-songwriter Aysanabee took to the stage. Aysanabee has been making waves in the music industry for years, and it was an honor to watch him perform. He started his very first band at only 15 years old and has played in various bands over the years, until taking the step to create his original music during the COVID-19 pandemic. His debut album Watin, named after his grandfather, was released in 2022 and was named one of the 22 best Canadian albums of 2022 by CBC Music – which also named the original song ‘Nomads’ as one of the 10 best Canadian songs of the year. Aysanabee joked that he had learned how to sing from Bob Marley before immediately sweeping the crowd up with his melodic vocal harmonizations and acoustic aptitude. No stone was left unturned as he easily held the audience’s attention covering originals ‘Ocean Breath’, ‘We Were Here’, and ‘War Cry’. His music utilizes deep earthy beats, and his hearty rugged voice to make anthems for the soul.  It was the perfect end to the perfect night. 

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