Marvest returns, bigger and better

by Trevor Greenway

Steph La Rochelle croons out an acoustic set at Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s during last year’s Marvest in the Glebe. Photo: Trevor Greenway

When big headliners like Anni Difranco, David Byrne and Hozier close out CityFolk this September, the party will only be getting started in the Glebe.

The fourth edition of Marvest is set to invade the neighbourhood September 14 and 15, and this year’s local music showcase is bigger and better than ever with 24 venues, more than 65 bands and over 70 performances packed into two full days of phonic fun. And all of it is free.

“The idea behind Marvest is to celebrate the vibrant local music industry here in the Ottawa-Gatineau area by bringing together emerging and established artists in conventional and unconventional venues throughout the Glebe to create a unique festival atmosphere for festival goers,” says Marvest program coordinator Emma Francis.

More than 25,000 music fans attended Marvest shows last year, a number that has doubled since the festival’s inception in 2015. These numbers paint a true picture of how much Ottawa loves its music scene and just how deep the city’s sonic rabbit hole goes.

“Ottawa cares about local talent,” says Francis, adding that she sees over 500 artist submissions every year for Ottawa Bluesfest and CityFolk. “The growth in attendance at Marvest over the last three years speaks to local appreciation for homegrown talent as well as the popularity of featuring local openers before touring headliners at festivals and club shows throughout the year. People want to see them up on stage.”

Marvest is a CityFolk offshoot festival that features scores of emerging bands playing throughout the Glebe. Hair salons, pubs, banks and boutique shops will be bursting with music over two days. The festival was modeled on Austin’s acclaimed SXSW festival, and its exponential growth over the years proves it’s here to stay.

What’s nice about Marvest is that most of the shows happen either before or after big headliner sets at CityFolk, allowing both patrons and passersby the chance to catch homegrown talent on the way to see their favourite artists. And once Michael McDonald throats out that final croon Saturday night, music fans can keep the party going all along Bank Street throughout the night. The timing is no accident.

“Marvest adds a fun and free live music alternative to CityFolk festival goers,” adds Francis. “In an effort to encourage patrons to discover new local music and wander throughout the Glebe, much of Marvest’s programming takes place before or after ticketed musical programming at CityFolk.”

Former Marvest acts have included some hefty names on the bill, including funk/soul sinners The Split, indie art rock group Pony Girl, Wakefield emerging indie rock outfit Rebelle and Ottawa folk favourites Gentlemen of the Woods. While this year’s lineup has yet to be finalized, it promises to draw from that same rich talent pool.

Much of this success is credited directly to the community buy-in that has grown from the ground up in the Glebe and its surrounding neighbourhoods. From residents packing into The Papery to see a brother-sister duo stomp out some fiddling tunes to the scores of businesses like Bank of Montreal and Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s that transform their space for one special day or night, it’s clear that there is a thirst for the arts in the neighbourhood. The hyper local music fest is just another contributor to the hip, eclectic and funky vibe that the neighbourhood has always been known for.

Major concerts and sporting events at Lansdowne bring passionate fans to the area, while a suite of innovative restaurants is attracting the city’s food lovers in droves. Specialty shops have made Bank Street a hub for shoppers looking to get exclusive finds as Instagrammers dart through the neighbourhood snapping pics of hip new cafés and the many colourful murals splashed among the tree-lined streets. And the addition of new parks and side street patios has brought a welcoming vibe for families and visitors alike.

“We support unique and quality programming that creates a sense of place here in the Glebe – events that put feet on the street, people in seats and that contribute to quality of life in the community,” says Glebe BIA executive director Andrew Peck.

“Marvest is one of those events that brings the city together to celebrate our diverse local music scene. And what better place to celebrate great Canadian music than in one of Canada’s great urban neighbourhoods?”

Marvest runs September 14 and 15 at various venues throughout the Glebe. Find out more at www.intheglebe.ca.

Trevor Greenway is responsible for communications at the Glebe BIA (Business Improvement Area).

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