By: Rory MacDonald-Gauthier

Tim McIlrath played at the 2011 Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest with his band, Rise Against. The festival had about 2,700 people volunteering their time last year.

Algonquin students will be able to attend RBC’s Royal Bank Bluesfest for free this year and all they will have to do is volunteer for a minimum of six shifts, lasting roughly four hours each.

Last year Bluesfest had roughly 500 volunteers between the age of 15-17 and nearly 2,200 over the age of 18.

Volunteer services admin assistant Travis Lefebrve and his team of organizers will hold a volunteer information night on April 24 in the Lebreton Gallery at the Canadian War Museum. The meeting will provide information for new and returning volunteers about the different positions available and how registration works.

Lefebrve believes that volunteering at Bluesfest is a great opportunity for students to build their resumes while they search for jobs and careers during and after post-secondary education.

“Aside from gaining experience, volunteering at RBC Bluesfest is fun and rewarding. Being part of a 3000 person volunteer team is really cool; I was definitely mystified the first time I volunteered with the festival and saw just how huge the operation was,” said Lefebrve.

Although the festival is four months away, some students are already planning on volunteering for the event.  Daniel Biddell, a music industry arts student at the College, is looking forward to volunteering as a stage hand and feels that Bluesfest is the perfect place to gain valuable work experience.

“I think it’s important for students to volunteer at Bluesfest because it’s good to learn about the event, especially for the music industry arts students. I’m looking forward to being around the music festival and being a part of the environment,” said Biddell.

Colin Mills, Algonquin’s music industry arts program coordinator, has attended Bluesfest since its opening year in 1994, when Clarence Clemons headlined at Major’s Hill Park. As the head of his program, Mills encourages his students to become involved festivals like Bluesfest to acquire valuable experience, while gaining an insider perspective on how events like these are operated.

“Last year we had students helping out with loading out equipment and the setting up of stages. It’s such a good event for volunteers – you get into the grounds (for free) and see what’s going on on the inside,” said Mills.

Miller believes that the event is one of the top 10 music festivals world-wide, he stresses how important it is for the city of Ottawa and its music scene.

“It’s such a big thing for bringing tourism to the local music scene. It’s a huge impact on the Ottawa economy and I think that alone is a good reason to go out and see some good music,” said Miller.

For those unable to attend the information night on April 24, official registration for volunteering begins on Tuesday May 14. at 7:00 p.m.  Those who are interested can visit Bluesfest’s website at and can find registration forms under the ‘Register Now’ tab.