Ottawa Grassroots will deliver an energy filled experience rich with local Folk, Indigenous sounds and foot stomping entertainment

February 26, 2020 – The Ottawa Grassroots Festival (OGF) celebrated their 9th launch event yesterday with an impressive Tuesday afternoon crowd at the iconic, Irene’s Pub in the Glebe. Bob Nesbitt, Founder and Festival Producer, revealed another gender balanced roster of performers and workshops to eager volunteers, sponsors and festival supporters. Performances by Mia Kelly and Don Bray provided spirited musical interludes and a sampling of the local rich programming at the festival. OGF 2020 will take place from April 23-26, 2020 at its new location, St. Andrew’s Church, 82 Kent St. (at Wellington), in Ottawa Centre.

Nesbitt officially released the full line-up which celebrates the incredible talent residing within the Ottawa/Gatineau region. “I’m really excited about the partnership Grassroots has made with the Performing Arts Program at Algonquin College. The talent night winners will be performing at the festival and I have arranged for a mentor for each of the winners to help them prepare for the debut performance at Grassroots and make them feel at ease.” said Nesbitt. “It’s great to see so many people here today…our best turnout ever!”

Guest speaker, Teri Loretto, an Algonquin College Professor, CBC’s media weather team member, and fill in host of In Town and Out, spoke of the importance in offering students opportunities to perform, network and build connections in the community. “There is so much talent in this area…diverse talent that is underappreciated. The Grassroots Festival has filled a niche in our festival circuit locally that I think is extremely necessary.” Loretto continues, “ACES (Algonquin College Entertainers Showcase) will see 30 students competing for three spots and they will be paid, which is generous beyond generous… It’s places like the Grassroots Festival that offer a safe, positive, nurturing environment for the artists of tomorrow…The college is excited…The partnership is strong and if this goes well, next year we want to open up the competition to our Indigenous Pathways students and the Music Industry Arts Program.” Teri Loretto announced two of the celebrity judges as Rebecca Noelle (The Peptides and 1st runner up of La Voix in 2019) and David Yazbeck (Ravenlaw partner, CKCU radio host of the Thursday Special Blend and FACTOR judge). The third judge will be announced soon. Rowena Pearl, musician and popular music teacher, emceed the launch. She kept the event flowing smoothly with her infectious enthusiasm.

Grassroots’ evening programming announced in late 2019 showcases top local favourites. The 2020 festival kicks off with a high energy co-headliner program featuring bilingual, folky songstress Kristine St-Pierre and Band and the sounds of folk infused, roots, East Coast bluegrass of Jessica Pearson and the East Wind. Newfoundland’s folk pop duo, Quote the Raven are opening the festival with their smooth melodies and lush harmonies.

The Friday night (April 24) line-up is sure to get your feet tapping and your hips swinging with the Vanier Playboys, Ottawa’s first and only Zydeco band. Zydeco music mixes blues, R&B, reggae, and rock from SW Louisiana and East Texas with influences from Africa, the Caribbean and Native American cultures. Their set begins with a Zydeco dance lesson for the audience which they can practice once the band begins! The “blues lady” singer/songwriter, Maria Hawkins opens this Ottawa rich night of performances

Multi-award-winning husband and wife folk duo, Twin Flames (Chelsey June and Jaaji) headline an Indigenous experience Saturday evening at Ottawa Grassroots. Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont opens the evening delivering a prayer/address followed by Larissa Desrosiers, an Anishinaabekwe Singer/Songwriter from Couchiching First Nation in Treaty #3 offering a blend of folk-inspired sounds highlighting Indigenous issues.

Daytime performers confirmed are The North Woods, the Ottawa Baroque Consort, From Away, Janice Jo Lee, David Mayerovitch and JP Lacroix, Orit Shimoni, Don Bray, Sjef Frenken, Chris White. Mia Kelly, and trick fiddler, Jess Wedden. Anne Hurley and Jim Videto perform with Kate Marshall Flaherty. The festival also welcomes Eric Bawden (Spoken Word) and Devianterra (Sophia York Band).

The free daytime programming remains true to Ottawa Grassroots fans with engaging, fun-filled workshops for all ages in a family friendly way. A Saturday afternoon song circle featuring the evening headliners is always a big hit at the festival. Look for Gil’s Grassroots Hootenanny, Neptune Music’s Workshop, KidZone with Selina Bishop and Babies & Toddlers participatory workshop – with Kristine St-Pierre to draw musical inspiration. Open Stage with Sjef Frenken, Local Colour and a Jam Session with Paul Spafford are returning highlights. There are three spots yet to be announced that will be filled by the ACES variety show winners, to be held on April 9th, at Algonquin College.

Online tickets and festival passes for Ottawa Grassroots evening performances are available via the festival website. A festival pass is $59 (online); $60 at the door. Ticket prices for individual nights are: $25-Thurs., $20-Fri. and $35-Sat. The daytime programming on both Saturday and Sunday is FREE – no tickets required!

The Grassroots Festival is a family-friendly gathering of folk music, dance and spoken word. It’s called Grassroots because it is! This not-for-profit organization is run entirely by volunteers and prides itself for the participatory workshops it provides, cultivating community and nurturing inclusivity in a fun and friendly way.

Media contacts:

Bob Nesbitt:
Grace Smith:
Algonquin College:
Teri Loretto:

Ottawa Grassroots and Algonquin College Performing Arts launches ACES in 2020.

Passer à la version française…

January 30 2020, Ottawa. – The Ottawa Grassroots Festival (OGF) is pleased to announce an exciting partnership with Algonquin College Performing Arts called ACES! This spectacular juried event will take place at Algonquin College, Woodroffe Campus in the Studio Theatre, N112, on April 9, 7:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. Algonquin College Entertainers Showcase (ACES) will provide students in the Performing Arts program an opportunity to perform a variety of acts highlighting their talent and creativity in front of a live studio audience.

Ottawa Grassroots Festival Founder and Producer, Bob Nesbitt, couldn’t be happier with this collaboration, “I’m thrilled to offer the winners three 45-minute spots during the daytime schedule at the festival and they will be paid gigs. Including emerging artists in our programming is a core value of the festival”, says Nesbitt. “It is my hope that participating in ACES will be a great experience for the students and will offer them a starting point in their arts careers.”

Teri Loretto who is a professor of Scriptwriting and Performing Arts at the college saw a need in her students for real life experience in the community. “Creating their material (brand) and performing it live will not only help these emerging art students build self-confidence, it will open up opportunities for them in the community” says Loretto. “Ottawa Grassroots builds their line-up with artists of all abilities and I’m really excited and grateful for their support in this new venture. In addition to teaching, Teri Loretto is also on CBC’s media weather team and has hosted CBC’s In Town and Out, when needed.

Celebrity judges will decide on the 3 winning performances to be announced at the end of the show. They will have just two weeks to hone their performances for the Festival! This truly is an exciting opportunity as it offers paid exposure to promising entertainers in the performance world.

Tickets to Ottawa Grassroots – ACES will be $5 keeping prices affordable for students. A sliding scale option with higher amounts can be selected for anyone wishing to contribute more in support of this initiative and can be purchased through Eventbrite closer to the event date. All proceeds from this event will be split equally to benefit The Ottawa Grassroots Festival and Algonquin College.

Online tickets and festival passes for the Ottawa Grassroots Festival evening performances are available via the festival website and physical tickets are available at both Compact Music locations. Tickets will also be available at the door. A festival pass is $55 (early bird online until Jan. 31); $60 at the door. Ticket prices for individual nights are: $25-Thurs., $20-Fri. and $35-Sat. The daytime programming on both Saturday and Sunday are FREE for everyone! The festival takes place April 23-26, 2020) in its new location at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 82 Kent Street (corner of Wellington), in Ottawa Centre.

The Grassroots Festival is a family-friendly gathering of folk music, dance and spoken word. This not-for-profit organization prides itself on the participatory workshops it provides, cultivating community and nurturing inclusivity and diversity in fun and friendly ways. Ottawa Grassroots is made possible by the dedication of over 100 volunteers working together to bring visitors a really special musical experience.

Media contacts Ottawa Grassroots:
Bob Nesbitt
Grace Smith

“The Ottawa Grassroots Festival: Cultivating Community.”

Lancement par le Festival Grassroots d’Ottawa et le Département des Arts de spectacle du Collège Algonquin du programme “ACES” pour 2020

English Version…

Le 30 janvier 2020, Ottawa – Le Festival Grassroots d’Ottawa (FGO) a le plaisir d’annoncer un partenariat fort intéressant avec les Arts du spectacle du Collège Algonquin (ACES) Cet évèvenment avec jurie de sélection aura lieu au Collège Algonquin College, sur le campus Woodroffe dans le Théatre Studio N112, le 9 avril prochain entre 19 et 21h. Algonquin College Entertainers Showcase (ACES) offre aux étudiants dans le programme des Arts de spectacle une occasion de démontrer toute une variété d’actes mettant en valeur leurs talents et leurs créativité face à face devant un public..

Bob Nesbitt, le fondateur et réalisateur du Festival Grassroots d’Ottawa est très fier de cette collaboration, “J’ai le grand plaisir d’offrir aux gagnants de ce concours trois séances de 45 minutes durant le programme de jour du festival et ces places seront rémunérées. La participation de nouveaux artistes dans notre programme est un valeur fondamental du Festival”, dit Nesbitt. “J’espère que leur participation dans ACES sera une belle expérience pour ces étudiants et lancera leurs carrières dans les arts”.

Teri Loretto, professeure de scénarios et des Arts du spectacle au Collège, a senti un besoin pour ses étudiants d’avoir une expérience réel au niveau communautaire. “La création de matériel de présentation et la chance de le démontrer avec un spectacle devant un public leur aidera non seulement de gagner une confiance en soi mais pourra aussi leur offrir des opportunités au niveau de la communauté” a dit Loretto. “Grassroots d’Ottawa propose un programme d’artistes de toutes capacités et compétences et je suis très contente de leur soutien dans cette nouvelle aventure”. Au delà de son domaine d’enseignement, Teri Loretto est aussi membre de l’équipe météo à la CBC et animatrice par occasion de l’émission “In Town and Out” de la CBC.

Des juges célèbres choisiront trois actes gagnants à la fin du spectacle. Ils auront alors deux semaines pour finaliser leurs présentations pour le Festival. Quelle belle occasion d’avoir un emploi payant dans le monde des spectacles.

Billets pour la soirée Grassroots d’Ottawa – ACES seront seulement 5 $ afin d’assurer l’abordabilité pour les étudiants. Pour ceux et celles cherchant à promovoir cet évènement par une souvention aux autres, consultez le site Eventbrite. Tous les profits pour cette soirée seront partagés entre le Festival Grassroots d’Ottawa et le Collège Algonquin.

Des billets et des laissez passer pour le Festival Grassroots d’Ottawa seront disponibles via le site internet du Festival et auprès des deux succursales de Compact Music. Des billets seront également disponibles à la porte le soir même du spectacle. Un laissez passer pour le Festival coùte 55 $ (tarif spécial en pré-vente) et 60 $ à la porte. Les prix des billets pour les soirs individuels seront: 25 $ (jeudi), 20 $ (vendredi) et 35 $ (samedi). Accès aux programmes du samedi et du dimanche sera gratuit à tous! Le Festival aura lieu du 23 au 26 avril, 2020 dans son nouveau emplacement à l’Eglise presbitaire St. Andrew’s, situé au 82 rue Kent (angle Wellington), au Centre ville d’Ottawa.

Le Festival Grassroots est un rassemblement conviviale pour toute la famille de musique folk, de dance et de poésie. Cette organisation a but non-lucratif se fait une grande fierté d’offrir des ateliers avec participation du public, de développement communautaire et de la création d’inclusion et de diversité. Le Festival Grassroots est seulement possible par le dévouement de plus de 100 bénévoles cherchant à offrir au grand public une expérience musicale spéciale

Contacts pour les médias:

Grassroots d’Ottawa::
Bob Nesbitt:
Grace Smith:

Collège Algonquin:
Teri Loretto:

Local Folk Shine in Evening Line-up at Ottawa Grassroots 2020

November 26, 2019 – Ottawa Grassroots Festival (OGF) is thrilled to announce the evening line-up for the 9th edition of this musical gem. Local favourites shine in this gender-balanced headliner roster which includes Twin Flames (April 25), Kristine St-Pierre, Jessica Pearson and The East Wind (April 23), and The Vanier Playboys (April 24). It all happens April 23-26, 2020 at the new festival venue: St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 82 Kent Street, centrally located with ample free parking.

Indigenous performances will fill the sanctuary on the Saturday evening. Albert Dumont, Algonquin Spiritual Advisor, returns to Ottawa Grassroots and will share poetry and an opening prayer. The folk-inspired sounds and social justice issues sung by Larissa Desrosier, an Anishinaabekwe singer\songwriter from Couchiching First Nation and Fort Frances , will open for the multi-award-winning band, Twin Flames. This Indigenous husband and wife duo is made up of Chelsey June and Jaaji. Jaaji is Inuk and Mohawk from Nunavik and Chelsey June, Métis (Algonquin Cree) from Ottawa. Twin Flames push the boundaries of “Contemporary Folk”, with songs that incorporate Western and traditional instruments.

Opening night (April 23) will start with Newfoundland’s Quote the Raven. Jordan Coaker and Kirsten Rodden-Clarke are firing far beyond their artistic age. Their complexities and depth are complemented by effortless syncing of styles and personalities. Bob Nesbitt , OGF’s Festival Founder and Producer has programmed local favourites Jessica Pearson and the East Wind, along with Kristine St-Pierre and her full band in a double bill evening. Both acts have new releases to share with their fans. St-Pierre’s soul-searching ballads and a rollicking bluesy flair, along with blends of folk, roots and East Coast bluegrass by Pearson will make for a delicious palate of folk flavours certain to get the audience moving.

If you love moving, Grassroots 2020 promises to get their Friday audience dancing . “Participation is key at Grassroots and the Vanier Playboys are up for the task. The audience will learn dance steps, then put them to practice”, beams Nesbitt. “It will be a heap of fun.” The Vanier Playboys is the only Zydeco band in Ottawa – made up of Ball & Chain and The Wreckers, plus Antoine Larocque, a great accordion player from Montreal. This evening opens with Maria Hawkins, who combines Roots, Blues, R&B and Funk and radiates energy and confidence with songs that are sometimes funny and always heartfelt.

“Grassroots fans will find Francophone artists woven throughout the 4-day festival programming”, said Nesbitt. “I’m still committed to bringing the two music solitudes together”. The full daytime roster will be revealed at the festival launch in February 2020.

Online tickets and festival passes for Ottawa Grassroots evening performances will be available on the festival website before Christmas. OGF continues to keep its pricing affordable for families (children 15 and under are free when accompanied by an adult). Early-bird pricing for the festival pass is $55. The pass increases to $60, starting Feb. 1 2020. Ticket prices for individual nights are: $25-Thurs., $20-Fri. and $35-Sat. Daytime programming on Saturday and Sunday is FREE for everyone!

The Grassroots Festival is a family-friendly gathering of folk music, dance and spoken word. This not-for-profit organization prides itself on the participatory workshops it provides, cultivating community and nurturing inclusivity and diversity in fun and friendly ways. Ottawa Grassroots is made possible by the dedication of over 100 volunteers working together to bring visitors a really special musical experience.

“The Ottawa Grassroots Festival: Cultivating Community.”
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The Grassroots Festival returns to its roots in Ottawa Center in 2020

Passer à la version française…

October 22, 2019 – The ninth edition of the Ottawa Grassroots Festival will bring it back to Ottawa Centre, this time at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 82 Kent Street (at Wellington Street), Ottawa. The event will take place April 23- 26, 2020. The current church was constructed between 1872 and 1874, replacing the original church building erected in 1828 and modified in 1854. During the 1970’s, a modern office tower was built adjacent and adjoining the church, providing more space for St. Andrew’s staff and congregation, along with improving accessibility to all floors via two elevators. In the early years, the Montgomery Legion on Kent Street was home to the festival, which is just a few blocks south of the new site.

The festival was held at Southminster United Church, in Old Ottawa South, for the last four years. It was a great location for us”, says Bob Nesbitt, Festival Founder and Producer.  “The staff at Southminster United were wonderful to work with. They advised me of the renovation project about two years ago, which would result in the demolition of the adjacent attached building where most of the festival workshops were held. In its place, condominium apartments will be built bringing a new revenue stream to the church. The main church and sanctuary will remain”, explains Nesbitt. “I considered other venues, but St. Andrew’s offered the best space and options and most important, is accessible on all levels. We are excited about the new location. It’s definitely more centrally located which will allow people to get to the festival more easily from all parts of the region, including Gatineau. For those using public transit, the LRT stops at the Lyon station (at Queen) and is only a couple of blocks from St Andrew’s. For those who drive, there is ample free parking on weekends and evenings at the Supreme Court building directly across Wellington.”

 St. Andrew’s is wheelchair accessible and there will be three stages on two levels of the church. The sanctuary holds approximately 600 people with pews surrounding the stage on three sides and all pews have padded seats. Two of the festival’s evening performances will take place in the sanctuary with phenomenal acoustics. “A new venue brings new logistics to work through” explains Nesbitt. “We will need lots of signage to help patrons and volunteers navigate the site. I am confident we will deliver a really fabulous festival for everyone in April 2020. One of the stages at the Ottawa Grassroots Festival in 2020 will offer a totally acoustic sound, which is often the best way to experience folk music.”

 Programming announcements will be released soon and online tickets will be available in time for Christmas. Festival pass pricing is expected to remain the same, ensuring the event remains affordable for families.    

The Grassroots Festival is a family-friendly gathering of folk music, dance and spoken word. This not-for-profit organization is run entirely by volunteers and prides itself for the participatory workshops it provides, cultivating community and nurturing inclusivity and diversity in a fun and friendly way.

Media contacts:   

Bob Nesbitt, E-mail:

Grace Smith:

For more information:

“The Ottawa Grassroots Festival: Cultivating Community.”
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