Marjolaine Hudon: RBC Bluesfest ‘good for people’s souls’

Outdoor music festival returns for first time since 2019, drawing thousands of attendees to downtown area

Editor's Note is supported by the generous patronage of Mark Motors and Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties. Read their stories here.


There’s no need for music lovers to cry the blues anymore with the return of our country’s largest outdoor music festival, RBC Bluesfest.

Thousands of people have been packing the grounds at LeBreton Flats each night since the festival returned Thursday, following two years of live music deprivation. “Look it, people want to get out again,” Marjolaine Hudon, regional president of RBC, told from RBC’s private suite overlooking the thick crowds and the main concert stage for Sunday night headliner Alanis Morissette.

The annual festival continued to have a significant impact on the local economy by attracting visitors from out of town and by infusing life back into a downtown core hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, she said. “It’s good also for people’s souls,” she added. “People have been craving this.”

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To date, Hudon has maintained a presence in the RBC suite each night of the festival, reconnecting with clients and colleagues despite being officially on her summer holidays.

On Sunday, the mood was friendly and relaxed with flamingo-themed pink shirts worn by not one, but two bankers: RBC director of corporate client group Raj Acharya and RBC senior group consultant Matthew Brearey. Guests also enjoyed drinks and food catered by Thyme & Again. 

Among the business leaders was Calian Group CEO Kevin Ford. He’s shown himself to be an avid supporter of Ottawa’s live music scene, as well as of emerging artists, through his efforts to help save the Rainbow Bistro from closure. “Local music — look what can happen,” he said as Morissette prepared to take to the stage in the  city where she got her start. Not only is the artist a multiple Grammy and Juno award winner but her Jagged Little Pill album remains one of the most successful of the 1990s. 

Executive coach and independent consultant Shannon Lambert attended the same Ottawa high school, Glebe Collegiate, as Morissette. She still remembers hearing Morissette’s recorded performance of O Canada play over the speakers each morning at school. “It’s so wonderful to see someone from our hometown become so successful, and it’s great to see her back here,” said Lambert, who was in the RBC suite with her good friend, Lesley Holmes, a Tim Hortons franchise owner.


This year marks RBC’s 11th year as title sponsor of Bluesfest, which is considered one of North America’s most important music events. The financial institution continued to support the event throughout the summers of 2020 and 2021 by bringing live music to Ottawa through the RBC Bluesfest Drive-In concert series and the Room Service concert series with Ottawa Tourism and local hotels. As well, it supported the Ottawa Fall Festivals held on the Great Lawn at Lansdowne last year.

In 2021, RBC and Bluesfest won the Deal of the Year Award in Tourism for their Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, presented to them by The BOBs (Best Ottawa Business Awards).

Also among this year’s headlining artists are Sarah McLachlan, Jack Johnson, Luke Combs, Marshmello, Luke Bryan, Alexisonfire, Rage Against the Machine and Ja Rule.

RBC Bluesfest continues until Sunday, July 17th.


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