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Ice Dragon Boat Festival in Ottawa - Day 6

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!

Alanna Sterling

Kicking off the 6th night of Ottawa’s Ice Dragon Boat Festival at The Rainbow Bistro was the incredible genre-fluid, vocal and instrumental magician Alanna Sterling. From Sterling’s heartfelt lyrics to their dynamic vocal range and instrument experience – this singer-song writer is one to watch. Sterling started off the set with high energy covering fan favourite ‘Chemicals’, a song bringing awareness to the invisible struggle of addiction and the silent dependency upon medications. They commented on their own experience exploring various prescribed medications to “fix her brain”, and how such experiences have informed their understanding and capacity to advocate for others in similar positions. Sterling then slowed the evening with a slow beautiful song ‘Goodbye’, before picking up the pace back up with original ‘I Made It’ – a middle finger to all of those who claimed that Sterling wouldn’t make it in Ottawa’s music industry. Wrapping up the night was originals ‘Alien’, “This Ain’t Love’, and ‘Monsters Under My Bed’. Hearts were left soaring after this powerful, and unforgettable performance. It is glass-ceiling breakers like Sterling that push the way forward towards a deeper understanding of mental illness, recovery, and wellness. 


After a short recess, the stage was taken up by none other than beloved folk-rock singer/songwriter Matty (Graven). Graven, well-known for his wordsmith capabilities, holds an honourable passion for facilitating and generating an inclusive and accepting community of music lovers in his wake. He kicked off the session by sharing a little bit of his background, speaking about his previous delivery job dropping off eggs and lumber, and how he would spend long portions of those drives thinking about songs. Graven then cracking a joke that most musicians are a little narcissistic before introducing the name of his next song ‘Self-Titled’. Originals ‘Comforter’, ‘Simple Complex’, and ‘Just Enough’ wrapped up the night with a thunderously warm, and intimately authentic ambience. Everything from Graven’s inviting husky voice, to his themes of acceptance and community brilliantly showcased his talents as a musician and as a person.   


Riding the high from Graven’s set, the crowd was spinning with anticipation of Juno Award winning indie pop band Dizzy. Attendees were pressing up close to the stage and calling out the band’s name before they even stepped foot onto the stage. Once Dizzy appeared and began to play, the roars of cheering could be likely be heard by passersby outside the venue. Fan favourite song ‘Oshawa’ was an immediate hit, with the band joking afterwards that they were the only people in the venue from the Oshawa area. Gentle melodic beats signaled the start of ‘The Magician’, followed by ‘Roman Candles’ which entranced everyone in the room into swaying side to side in time. Song after song, Dizzy maintained an impenetrably luxurious aura with their soft harmonies and deep bass strokes. Band members anticipated each other’s moves, flowing smoothly between songs and using their own musical talents to compliment one another’s. Dizzy, in its entirety, is an artform – and people will be hard-pressed to find a group more dedicated to their craft. This is the definition of soul music, and the perfect end to a perfect night. 

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