Ottawa’s Tribute Band Obsession

06 May

Hello fans & foes,

I thought I would talk a little bit on the weird attraction that Ottawa seems to have with tribute bands.  Over the past three years of searching and scraping for gigs around town, I’ve noticed that the majority of booked gigs are tributes in some form or another.  The popularity is quite uncanny and weird I think, but I do think there is an explanation…keep reading…

Let’s travel back around 20 years or so.  I’ve lived in Ottawa all my life and remember growing up in this stiff Government town.  One thing that really stuck out is no big touring bands ever stopped in Ottawa.  There were the odd ones, don’t get me wrong, but some of them have only recently come back over 20 years (for example, Van Morrison, the Stones, Springsteen, and on and on).  Sometimes they never come back.  There is a need and a want for bands to come to Ottawa.  I remember I saw KISS in 90/91 I think it was and they came back about 10 years ago for the “make up” reunion tour, but dude it takes a decade for them to return!  No wonder it’s so hard to get tickets to shows.

The Palladium/Corel/ScotiaBank place-center was probably one of the best things to happen to the city (along with Bluesfest…).  This has brought many shows that normally would bypass us, or head to the Civic Center one night, and then either boot West or East.  Thank God we loosened the purse strings a little so these bands would have a reason to come and stay a few nights.  I think the 60’s and 70’s were a little better for wider range traveling shows.  Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, all the greats were here back then.

Reasonable hand-drawn facsimile

Reasonable hand-drawn facsimile

So, this brings us back to why tributes are so popular here….cause the real bands didn’t come here for so long!  We’re starved man!  We’re only just catching up after years of drought in the music department.  I think the real reason is people want to go see a band that plays songs from their favorite band, for $10, near their home, where they can drink a lot of beer…that’s pretty much it.  I have to say though, it must suck for the musicians.  How fun could it really be to pretend you’re someone else, and play their tunes all the time.  I would think it would get boring in about a month or so.  Like everything else,  there are good tributes out there and bad ones.  Most of them are pretty cheesy, posery, trying to live “the life” you know?  I saw a Bon Jovi tribute a while back (God don’t ask me why..) and they were right in there, like they thought they WERE the band.  Very weird…a little sad too.  Oh well, I guess we all gotta get paid eh?  You won’t catch me joining one anytime soon though.

Tributes are here to stay it seems, but let’s not forget the struggling original bands out there trying to get gigs.  Most of the time these bands are overshadowed by tributes hogging every local Friday and Saturday night.  Balance is key people, we need both styles of bands out there.  And remember……uh, they’re not the real band 😉

Cheers,  Bonesaw     mXm

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Posted by on 06/05/2009 in BoneSaw


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