DAY ONE - july 17, 2015 

The Trips - Cecile Doo-Kingue - Craig Cardiff - Neil Osborne

After 5 years of success as the Lille Gard Festival, the newly named Bottega Festival started this year. Nestled in among the trees of a 13 acre alpaca farm, the all ages festival celebrates music, arts and entertainment. Proceeds from the event go to New Horizon Romania to support the education and medical services in Romania. 

This festival has a special vibe to it. The people attending are all incredibly respectful and friendly, the grounds are clean, the food and beer available is delicious and the musicians and artists are phenomenal. Attendants set up their own little camps all over the grounds, with lawn-chairs, blankets, and the occasional hammock. If you wanted to take a break from the music you could wander over to the artists' tents to watch art being created before your eyes. Or, you could take a walk along one of the many pathways on the grounds and bond with the alpacas. 

The Trips kicked off the festival with upbeat folk covers and original songs. Their banjo could be heard down the road, getting attendants ready for what was to come in the festival. An eclectic set, at points there was even yodelling. Josh’s voice especially impressed, for its smoothness, but the three musicians harmonizing together was something truly special.

Following The Trips was Cecile Doo-Kingue. Her outgoing personality and quirky stories got the audience’s attention right away. Her soulful, deep vocals held it. In one song Doo-Kingue sings, “Is anybody listening?” and yes, we definitely were. A highlight would have to be the “loaf of bread” drumming for its sheer quirky originality (not to mention - it was a great ice breaker). The set was filled with blues tunes, awesome guitar solos, and hilarious quotes (“The three of us shower together, it’s what makes us a tight rhythm section.”).

Next up was Craig Cardiff, with very thoughtful lyrics and very well organized loops. Creating a sonic wall of voices that was reminiscent of crowds in bars and the people that will talk through your set, Cardiff made for an incredibly sincere and enjoyable performance. Incredibly engaging, he is a true showman, easily getting the audience to sing along to “Love is Louder than All the Noise”, ensuring they would remain enamoured by his act for a long time to come.

54-40 singer, Neil Osborne ended the night with a very calm and slow singer-songwriter set. Preparing to release a new album October 2nd, Osborne played a few new tracks alongside old favourites, and lulled the crowd into a comfortable end to the night. We got to hear old singles like I Go Blind and Ocean Pearl. The audience was happy to sing along.

DAY TWO - July 18, 2015

Windmills - Twin Bandit - Andrew Judah - Ari Neufeld - Paperboy and the Messengers - The Small Glories - Sam Weber - Jordan Klassen - Bill Henderson & Claire Lawrence - Michael Bernard Fitzgerald

Kicking off day two was Windmills, a contestant in this years upcoming Peak Performance Project. While a solo act, the way he used loop pedals to create a full, ambient sound definitely commanded attention. If you’d just walked in and hadn’t seen the stage yet you’d likely be surprised that such an intense sound was coming from just one person. The vocals were phenomenal, and despite being a self-proclaimed “terrible dancer” we found the dance moves to be pretty impressive as well. Windmills is definitely going to be a tough competitor in the Peak Performance Project this year, and we look forward to seeing a lot more from him.

Next up was the soothing harmonies of Twin Bandit. This duo is really reminiscent of eastern folk along the lines of The Rankin Family. Their soft, smooth vocals and classic guitar playing was incredibly calming. A highlight was Tides for the awesome harmonies, and catchy lyrics. Beautiful is simply the best word we can use to describe their set.

Up next was Andrew Judah. The upbeat, high energy music was definitely a fun energy change. Overall that was a great part of Bottega Festival, the way each band was able to bring a unique energy to the stage, whether they were playing uptempo music or something a little more soothing. Andrew Judah’s ambient lyrics, ethereal instrumentals and heavy bass were a great addition to the day’s lineup. 

Ari Neufeld took the stage next with his deep vocals, and impressive whistling. What stood out about his set (aside from the great music) was the confident way he interacted with the crowd. Ari Neufeld held his own and kept us all entertained through his whole set.

One of our favourite Okanagan bands was up next, Paperboy and the Messengers. We’ve reviewed these guys a few times, and again they didn’t disappoint. Their soul-blues style was again an excellent energy shift, and the driving beat of their music kept spirits up as the afternoon sun had begun to settle in. Their music just makes you want to dance.

The Small Glories were next, with their classic folk sound and nice harmonies. A highlight was You’re No Friend of Mine, an unapologetically truthful song that we’re sure many can relate to.

The slow, groovy sounds of Sam Weber were next. Their upbeat sound was a perfect energy builder for the audience. The piano solo was a highlight, and we look forward to hearing more from these guys.

Jordan Klassen took the stage next, with his quirky banter and danceable music. This group has a really youthful feel to it, and an energy that is hard to match. We loved that even in more sombre songs, like Delilah, Klassen is able to keep up the energy and never lose the audience’s focus.

Second to last was Bill Henderson and Claire Lawrence, a fantastic blues duo whose set felt like a really polished jam session – the musicians just lost themselves in their instruments and it felt hypnotic. There were flute solos, tenor saxophone solos, cool vocals. The songs had meaning and told a story (like how voter apathy elects the government). It felt like such a classic old-school festival band, getting the audience thinking about real issues through music. The duo got the audience singing along in a “prayer” which was quite beautiful.

Finally, last up was Michael Bernard Fitzgerald. This was definitely the right band to end the festival. The set started with just Michael on stage, singing slow love songs. By the third song a couple members of the band joined in, bringing the tempo up a little bit. They called up a couple newlyweds to dance to I Will which was adorably awkward. Then, with Man Overboard, the drummer joined the stage and things really got going. The audience was on their feet, and crowding the stage. Fitzgerald’s rapping was impressive, and definitely got the biggest cheers of the festival. The “surprise” encore of Brand New Spaces grew and twisted into a mash-up of several songs, and by the end not a single person was sitting in their lawnchair. A perfect ending to a great festival.

Bottega Festival overall was a great experience. The food, drinks, and amenities provided were excellent. The festival grounds were very clean, and the fact that it was kid and dog friendly made it really accessible to a wide demographic. If you find yourself in Kelowna next summer, this is a great, chill festival for you to check out!