Bluesfest, from a vantage pointPublished on July 20, 2012

  • Young The Giant - Jacob Tilley. (Photo by Michel Gamache)

I get very excited about Bluesfest each year; when the lineup is finally announced in the spring, I dream up an ambitious plan for the amazing acts that I must see.

The reality is that when the festival actually starts, I find myself unprepared and without tickets for any of the shows. I think it's about the logistics of actually getting there that throw me off.

View a slideshow of the event

The last Bluesfest I attended was in 2009, when KISS put on the heavy makeup and a heavy metal extravaganza. I am an unlikely fan, but nostalgia and memories of my brother's obsession with all things KISS got the better of me. So, a girlfriend and I set out on a rainy night in July and rocked to the classics like teenagers.

Fast-forward to spring 2012. Bluesfest announced a lineup that would rival any major international music festival, with six on-site stages and two off-site locations hosting acts that cover many musical genres and even touching a younger audience with a host of "electro-fied" shows.

When offered tickets, my husband and I decided to plan a night of it; dinner, Sam Roberts and John Mellencamp (minus the Cougar) - how great does that sound?

We enjoyed a fantastic meal on Preston Street, followed by a warm walk to the Bluesfest site. Our tickets were for the Empire Grill Clubhouse Lounge, a cordoned-off area by each stage with dedicated bars and restrooms.

We arrived at the start of Roberts' show on the Claridge Stage, where the Lounge was already standing room only. We took a walk to check out the sights and sounds and found ourselves at the lounge by the main stage.

We could still hear Roberts from our new vantage point, so we settled in with refreshments and took advantage of some great people watching to some remarkable tunes. As his concert came to an end, the crowd shifted to the Main Stage in droves.

Mellencamp put on a fine show befitting a bluesy kind of evening, and the crowd showed its appreciation - at least the lady across from me who screamed every ten seconds showed hers. Ouch!

Based on both experiences, planning is definitely key. Here's what I have in mind for next year:

1. Buy an Empire Grill Clubhouse Passport;

2. Buy Metropolitain Gold Circle reserved seating for the shows that really matter;

3. Go early to enjoy the vast array food and drink that is available on-site;

4. Be grateful to live in Ottawa with access to such fantastic entertainment.

I'll let you know how things work out in 2013.

Follow Krista on twitter @Krikea

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