Monday, 22 October 2012

Week-end in Montreal

This past week-end, I traveled to check out some shows in the lovely city of Montreal. This is something I do every few months. If it were up to me, I'd probably be in Montreal once a week to catch shows.

I started writing concert reviews this year, and so far, I really like it. Before this year's Bluesfest, I approached one of my favorite music website Sors-tu based in Montreal to see if they were looking for contributors. They accepted my offer and I was able to write two different reviews on different days of Bluesfest. This website is fantastic and always keeps me in the loop on upcoming shows in the area.

I knew I was headed to Montreal to catch some shows, so I reached out to them again and they agreed to let me write more reviews on the shows I was going to see. This is really exciting because I adore this website. Also, I get to practice my French writing skills.

Friday night, I headed to the Théâtre Corona to check out Dragonette live.  I wrote a review about it, one that I am extremely proud of. The show was great, especially since they played a lot of their new material from their latest album "Bodyparts". It was a really fun show and I danced a whole lot! The opening acts were good also.

I was also able to write a review on the Black Label Society show. They were playing Saturday night at the Métropolis, my absolute favorite venue in Montreal. I hadn't been there since last May for the Cranberries show. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling well during the show. However, I still managed to enjoy the show.

So in case you haven't already, check out It's a great website. Also, if you don't understand French, at least you can see the awesome pictures.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Julie Goes to the Big Apple

In case you didn't know, I'm not a big traveler. Traveling gives me anxiety and it's no fun! When I do travel, I tend to stick with cities that are close by, like Montréal or Toronto, unless I decide to venture far and go visit my family in NB.

For years, I've been talking about going to visit New York City. Finally, I decided to seal the deal this summer, when Porter was having a sale. I booked our flights, and that was that! We found a great little apartment to rent in the Upper East Side so we were all set.

Day 1 of NYC included a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a visit to the top of the Rockfeller Center. The view from the Top of the Rock is absolutely breathtaking! Also, we stopped by the Lego store, which was so fun. Loved it!

On Day 2, we walked around Manhattan and visited Times Square. We also decided to go for a boat tour and check out the Statue of Liberty. Instead of taking a 2 hour or 3 hour boat tour, we decided to take the 30 minute ride on a speedboat... Why not?!? Well, after the boat ride, we were absolutely soaked from head to toe! But seeing as it was so windy, we dried off as we were walking through Manhattan. Finally, in the evening, we went to a sports lounge and watched the UFC event.

On Day 3, we took the subway and headed to Coney Island. Going to NYC was my idea. When I asked my husband if there was anything in particular that he wanted to do during our trip, he said "eat a hot dog on Coney Island". So I obliged and an hour subway ride later, there we were! Coney Island was absolutely stunning and the weather was wonderful. I am pleased that we went there. Also, the subway is really easy to use.

Later that day, we went to the Museum of Modern Art, then we caught "Avenue Q" off Broadway. It was a great show and we only paid $20 each ticket. An awesome deal! Afterwards, we ended the evening at  Lucille's, which is B.B. King's bar and we listening to some blues, had some drinks and enjoyed a nice meal.

On Day 4, we walked through Central Park (well, parts of it). Absolutely stunning! It's hard to see the whole park, because it's so huge.Then we walked along 5th Avenue and then I stopped by the DryBar to get my hair done before our night out.

During the evening, we went to check out Grizzly Bear at Radio City Music Hall. The music venue is absolutely stunning and the show was fantastic! Definitely worth checking out.

Overall, I had an amazing time in NYC. The weather was perfect and we did lots of fun stuff. NYC is definitely a city that matches my personality and I cannot wait to go back and visit more of the city.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Get Off The Couch! Celebrating With Couch Assassin

Originally published on Couch Assassin.

This Saturday get off the couch and come celebrate with Couch Assassin! On October 13th, Mercury Lounge will be showcasing some of Ottawa's best talent.

Couch Assassin began as an idea by Lisa Zimmerman back in 2009. Having moved to Ottawa from New Zealand, Lisa was looking for fun things to do but found it was challenging to find out what was happening in Ottawa. She decided to do something about it and created a spreadsheet with event information that she shared with a group of friends. "One of my friends suggested I turn my spreadsheet into a blog," says Lisa. She then designed an amateur website and began posting event listings of online.

Lisa was connected with Daniel Spence through a mutual friend. For years Daniel had wanted to do something similar, but couldn't find the right collaborators and knew he wouldn't be able to maintain such an ambitious project on his own. He jumped at the opportunity to partner with Lisa to create a more full-featured Couch Assassin. “Planning a Friday night used to involve visiting 15 different websites," said Daniel. "We decided to fix that and build a resource for the whole community.” Daniel built and designed a more sophisticated version of the website which was launched in January 2011. Since then the website has seen many changes and new features added, including the local artist directory and a blog focused on previewing upcoming events and showcasing local talent. Couch Assassin is also fully mobile-enabled, automatically adjusting to fit smartphone and tablet screens with no need to download a special app.

Couch Assassin offers a user-friendly event calendar, with daily listings organized by genre. The artist directory is a great tool that allows local artists to find each other to set up shows or collaborations, and that helps non-artists discover some of the creativity on offer in Ottawa.

Although the website first went online in 2010, Couch Assassin is finally ready to throw its launch party and let Ottawa know that it's here to get people off the couch. "We decided that now was a good time to throw a launch party, since our team of contributors has grown," explained Lisa. "This party is a great opportunity to spread the word about Couch Assassin, but also to discover and support great local talent."

"It's also our way of inviting everyone to participate in this project with us," said Daniel. "All Couch Assassins are volunteers with a passion for having fun in Ottawa, and we want to involve other like-minded writers, promoters and event organizers to help build an even more dynamic and exciting arts and cultural scene."

This weekend's Couch Assassin party will feature live performances by local artists and musicians, including Dynamite Motel and Loon Choir. One of Ottawa's most exciting female vocalists, Dynamite Motel is a fusion of Blues Classics and Jazz favourites with original songwriting. Dynamite Motel is an anagram for Mindy Amelotte, one of the newest members of the Ottawa music scene. Ottawa's Loon Choir are a seven piece indie-rock/art-pop band whose unique sound and energetic live set has generated growing acclaim. The group has had a busy summer, touring in support of their new record Fire Poems. The band has been gaining momentum from performances at NXNE, JunoFest, Ottawa's Bluesfest and POP Montreal.

Spoken word artist John Akpata will also perform poetry at the event. DJ Magnificent will be entertaining the crowd with his beats throughout the evening. In addition, there will be live art by Adam Fraser Davidson.

On Saturday, be sure to stop by the Mercury Lounge between 8 and 11 and check out an amazing line up of local musicians and artists. You won't be disappointed!

Preview: Get Off the Couch

Since August, I have been working with Couch Assassin, contributing to their blog and helping organize their upcoming launch party. Couch Assassin is a great website that features listings on upcoming events in Ottawa. You can find information on anything going on in the city: music shows, art exhibits, movies, theatre, and everything in between. People can even upload their own events!

Although the website has been launched for some time, my fellow assassins Lisa and Daniel have decided that now is a great time to throw a kick-ass launch party...

Well, it's finally here! Get Off the Couch: A Couch Assassin Party will be taking place this Saturday, October 13th at the Mercury Lounge. There is a great line-up of live performances happening during the evening, including Dynamite Motel and Loon Choir.

I am really excited to check out these bands. I've heard a lot of Dynamite Motel and heard that she is a fantastic performer. I'm also psyched that Loon Choir will be performing. Unfortunately, I missed them when they were opening for the Jezabels this summer.

There will also be a performance by spoken word artist John Akpata and beats by DJ Magnificent. There will even be an artist in attendance who will create live art during the evening. Seriously, we have everything in this line-up! And it's only $5 to get in.... You are definitely getting your money's worth!

Check out our awesome poster designed by graphic designer Miss Vautour (also a great friend of mine).

See you Saturday!