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Holly McNarland back on stage for one night at Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival


The 20th anniversary of Holly McNarland’s breakthrough album, Stuff, happens to land during this year’s Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival, reason enough to lure the Juno-winning artist back to the stage — at least for one night.

“This show may be one of the last shows for me for a long time,” McNarland wrote in an email interview. “I’m not sure when I will play again but I don’t have any plans for the future.”

The singer-songwriter with the striking voice and Métis roots describes music as her “best friend” until her children, now 18 and 10, came along. “Then music became that friend that was constantly luring me away from my kids,” she writes from her home in Toronto. “I do miss playing music in a way, but being able to be here for my kids and watch them grow, as well as staying fully connected to them, keeps me grounded and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

In reflecting on the making of Stuff, her Juno-winning, platinum-selling major-label debut, McNarland describes herself as “22 years old and full of piss and vinegar” with no idea of the “crazy ride” that was about to happen. “After the record came out, it changed my life for a few years, and kept me on a tour bus that took me all over North America. I have so many great memories from that time in my life,” she says.

Listening to the 20-year-old songs in preparation for a round of rehearsals this week has been “blush-worthy,” she adds. “I won’t lie, a few of the songs made my face red. I was so young when I wrote most of those songs. Listening to my musical diary from when I was 18-19 years old is a pretty amazing thing.”

McNarland has assembled a band and will headline the main stage on Saturday in Vincent Massey Park, topping a bill that also includes the passionate soul of Digging Roots, the DJ-meets-throat singing trio Silla & Rise, bluesman Lyle Odjick and his band Northern Steam, and Ojibway singer-songwriter Sarah Decarlo. A fireworks show will close the evening.

The festival starts officially on Tuesday, with a theatrical presentation of Making Treaty 7, part of the NAC’s Canada Scene festival. It’s a large-scale re-enactment of the 1877 signing of a treaty that is considered a founding event of modern southern Alberta. It takes place in Southam Hall; admission is pay-what-you-can.

On Wednesday, which is National Aboriginal Day, a full day of free activities, including music, dance and cuisine, will animate Major’s Hill Park, with an evening lineup that features Elisapie, Florent Vollant, Genevieve Fisher, Rhonda Head and Zachary Richard. Daytime performers include Amanda Rheaume, Shawnee, Relic Kings, Silla & Rise and Cody Coyote.

It’s part of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network’s Aboriginal Day Live Across Canada, a seven-hour, live-TV broadcast of celebrations in eight cities: Halifax, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Yellowknife, Edmonton and Vancouver.

At the heart of this week’s festival is the competition powwow, to be held Friday through Sunday in Vincent Massey Park. Don’t miss the grand entries, when all dancers enter the circle together to kick off the rounds of competition. They happen at 6 p.m. Friday, at noon and 6 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

There’s also a free family fun zone at Vincent Massey Park during the powwow, featuring storytelling, bouncy inflatables, zip line, trampoline, a talent show and more.

Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival

Making Treaty 7: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, NAC Southam Hall, Canada Scene. Pay-what-you-can.

National Aboriginal Day: 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Major’s Hill Park. Free.

Competition Powwow, Main Stage and Family Fun Zone: 6-10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Vincent Massey Park.

More information: Ottawasummersolstice.ca

 

 

 





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