Ottawa Bluesfest 2017: SARI SCHORR Strokes the Engine

Photos by Roch Parisien ©2017 Rocon Communications

Sari’s debut album is titled ‘A Force of Nature’, and that’s exactly what was on display for 75 minutes on this closing day of Ottawa Bluesfest 2017.

It’s an easy thing to call a big-voiced female blues-rock singer ‘Joplin-esque’, but in this case the comparison is entirely apt. Not in any imitative way, but in the ability the two share to build fluidly from a whisper to a scream while radiating an emotional intensity that grasps an audience by the throat. Not does ‘blues’ or even ‘blues rock’ quite capture the sound, with flavourings of traditional folk, world and progressive elements that make it an exotic fusion all its own.

Much of this instrumental depth comes courtesy of the finely-tuned Engine Room – incredibly, this wasn’t even Sari’s regular band, who are based in England and weren’t onboard for this trip, but rather a set of highly skilled ‘spare parts’ on guitar, bass, drums and keys. Onstage, Sari was a whirling dervish of intensity.

The set was bookended by a pair of killer covers, extended versions of trad folk classic “In the Pines” and Lead Belly’s “Black Betty”, both beginning slow and haunting before building to muscular crescendos of instrumentation over which surfed the singer’s banshee-like wailing. Original material from the album like “Ain’t Got No Money”, “Letting Go”, “Demolition Man” “Kiss Me” and especially the gospel-like fervour of “Ordinary Life”, all resounded powerfully with the audience.

Written by Roch Parisien. Visit: Roch Parisien's Rocon Communications