What does Sam Roberts Band look for at Ottawa’s Bluesfest?

Roberts on why festivals cure his winter blues and what he's looking to the audience for


When two Ottawa radio stations began playing “Brother Down” 10 years ago, they launched the career of one of Canada’s best performers. The Sam Roberts Band is heading to Ottawa on July 12 to play the RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest, and the guys can’t wait.

“As a Canadian band, especially when you’ve been touring in the wintertime in some snowbound part of the country, running from your hotel room to a van to a venue, then you get to play outside at a festival in the summertime, it’s amazing,” says Roberts.

“You’re hanging out outside; everyone’s in a good mood; you’re happy to be on stage–the shows are very unpredictable. The last thing you want a tour to be is predictable. To feel like you’re going through the motions, to me, is the cardinal sin. It’s a reason to stop and really think about whether you need to step back from everything for a little while until you have the passion again. But festivals make that easy because everyday is different.“

So what is Roberts looking for from the stage?

“Some wild dancers, man, dancing and singing along. That’s the enjoyment I get out of the show. That’s when I feel like the music is making the kind of impact that I want it to make,” he says.

“In my fantasy, when I’m writing the songs, I project forward to when I’m on the stage watching people dance to it in a very sort of unconscious manner. So when I see a good dancer out there, a really wild one who is really going for it and needs more than the allotted personal space because their moves are so wild, I like that.”

The Sam Roberts Band will play the Claridge Homes Stage on Thursday, July 12 at 8 p.m.

Check out the October issue of up! for an interview with the Sam Roberts Band.

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