Friday, 12 September 2014

Our Guide to Fall in Ottawa

Originally published on Couch Assassin

Well, it’s that dreaded time of year: the end of Summer! Sorry to burst your bubble but this was bound to happen, folks. Instead of whining about the end of the season, go out and celebrate the cooler temperature with all Ottawa has to offer! Here at Couch Assassin, we welcome Fall with open arms because we know it’s gonna be awesome!

(More) Festivals!

Although summer in Ottawa is jam-packed with festivals, it doesn’t mean the fun stops there. There are lots of events taking place in the Fall. Don’t miss the Ottawa Folk Festival at Hog’s Back Park. Then there’s the Ottawa Turkish Festival, the Ottawa International Animation Festival, taking place at various locations in our city. This year, you can attend the very first Ottawa Burlesque Festivalfrom Sept 19-21.

Love food and drinks? Then you’re in luck! On Sparks Street, enjoy some delicious ribs during RIBtoberfest from Sept 25-28. At the beginning of October, there’s Beau’s Oktoberfest. Head out to Vankleek Hill to check out awesome bands, like Joel Plaskett Emergency, Tokyo Police Club, Radio Radio, Groenland, just to name a few.

Still hungry/thirsty? That’s good because the Casino du Lac-Leamy will be hosting Rendez-vous des Saveurs de l'Outaouais on Oct 15-19. Then there’s the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival at the Ottawa Convention Centre on Nov 6-9. Tons of opportunities to keep your bellies happy!

Clubs, Clubs, Clubs

You want to go out, meet new people and get real sweaty? Ottawa’s got lots of danceclubs that will surely meet your criteria. Head into the Byward Market, and check out establishments like Mansion, Tequila Jacks, Flybar or the always classy Liquor Store. For more queer friendly establishments, check out Swizzles and the Lookout.

Dancing's not your thing? Alright. If you love live music, there are tons of great spots in this city to catch awesome shows. Here's our list!

You like games? Well, Ottawa's got game(s)! House of Targ is a great venue jam-packed with pinball machines, perogies and awesome live music. For board game afficionados, there's Monopolatte and the Loft.

We Love Parties!

For those who love parties, check out Harvest Noir. This modern day harvest ball celebrates local farms and food. The event starts with a pop-up picnic at a secret location, where people will all be decked out in black attire. The fiesta continues well into the night with the after-party Dance Noir, where people can dance the night away (on two different dancefloors!!) Same deal: the location is secret until the very last minute. The event will feature a DJ and an orchestra. And there's a fashion show, where audience members can participate and win prizes! Definitely worth checking out.

Get Your Learn On!

Ottawa is home to lots of museums and art galleries so why not take advantage?! Most of our national museums are here, including the Canadian Museum of Nature, National Gallery of Canada and Canadian War Museum, just to name a few (told you there was lots!)

Ottawa is also home to smaller but really awesome museums and galleries. Check out the Ottawa Art Gallery, Fall Down Gallery, La Petite Mort, the Bytown Museum, the Diefenbunker. They always have great exhibitions on display and they sometimes host really cool events. Check them out!

Run Run Run!

In case you didn’t already know, Ottawa is a city of runners! At any given time, you will see tons of people running, especially along the Rideau Canal and our wonderful NCC trails. Not only is running a good way to stay in shape, it’s a great way to explore our city and meet new people.

Coming up this month, the Terry Fox Run on Sept 14 and the Army Run on Sept 21. Keep checking with the Running Room for any other upcoming runs in the area. Running's not your thing? Then go out and show your support to the people pounding the pavement.

Go Outside!

Ottawa in the Fall is absolutely beautiful! Anyone who tells you otherwise is just plain wrong. So go outside and take it all in. Take a walk along the Rideau Canal, or through the Byward Market, or better yet, venture out to Gatineau Park.

If you have access to a vehicle, why not drive up to the lovely town of Wakefield to take in the lovely sights and catch a show at the legendary Black Sheep Inn. Or head over to Mugshots to catch an open mic night or check out Double Barrel with DJ Magnificient.

So get off the couch, grab your jean jacket and your shoes and head out there, Ottawa. Go exploring and have a great time! As always, don’t forget to keep checking Couch Assassin to check out what’s happening in our lovely city.

Photo credit: Mike Gifford

Monday, 1 September 2014

Getting Intimate With Local Songwriters

Originally published on Couch Assassin.

Photo: Jamie Kronick

If you check out live shows in Ottawa regularly, chances are you've encountered Jamie Kronick. You've either seen him play with many local bands or you've seen him at a show, supporting his friends and fellow musicians. And of course, you just can't forget that hair! But maybe you didn't know that Kronick is a photographer. His exhibition The Songwriter is currently on display at the Ottawa Art Gallery Annex (located in Ottawa City Hall) until October 12.

Kronick plays drums with various local bands, including GoodLuck Assembly, Scattered Clouds, Her Harbour, Keek, Laurent Bourque and André Bluteau, just to name a few. Born and raised in Ottawa, he picked up a camera for the first time about 6 years ago. He has been working professionally as a full-time commercial photographer for 3 years. Kronick explained that the interest came from his upbringing in the band/music world, where he worked closely with photographers. "I was always the one working on the artwork for the album for all my bands. One day, I jumped in and said I feel like doing this." Kronick recently did work for his friends in Amos the Transparent for their most recent album. He also does a lot of promotional photos for various local bands.

The Songwriter is comprised of 28 portraits, 20 of which are currently on display at the OAG Annex. The series features both emerging and established, including a few Juno award winners and nominees Ian Tamblin, Amanda Rheaume, Kathleen Edwards, Jim Bryson. From the 28 subjects in the series, Gabrielle Giguère (Her Harbour) is the only musician that Kronick has played with.

The series has been in the works for a few years. Kronick was a student at School of Photographic Art of Ottawa (SPAO), graduating in 2011. This project started as his graduating series, where students show a body of work when they graduate from the school. Two of the images are from 2010 and the bulk of the projects are images taken in 2011. After graduating, Kronick let the project sit until just recently. The Ottawa Art Gallery approached him to show the work earlier this year. "I was reluctant because I had already been sitting on the images for about 3 years and I wasn't super excited about showing older work, I had so much newer work that I'm more excited about. So I counter-offered them with, if I could do new work for the same series and do an amalgamation of the old and the new, that's something I would be interested in."

In choosing subjects for his project, Kronick tried to show a cross-section of the music scene, musicians from different genres, different ages, trying to represent both genders equally. The one criteria that he strictly followed was the idea of a traditional songwriter. "I really wanted the traditional songwriter so somebody who sits down alone and writes something [...] I wanted the intimate solitude of songwriting."

When asked about the idea that inspired the exhibition, Kronick shared that he's been asked that question so many times recently, and it's only in answering the question that he ended up discovering the series' true inspiration. "I play in so many bands and I work with so many songwriters, in the projects I'm in, I'm typically very involved in the songwriting process [...] But what I realized is that I'm never really there for the inception of the song, I'm never there when the song is formally created, when the person creates something out of nothing. Photography was my way to see what that looks like. I never knew what that looked like, I was never involved in that process so this is my sneaky way to see what it looked like, and to see what it looked like from my peers and from people I looked up to musically."

We can all agree that songwriting is a personal process, albeit different for each individual. But why is that? "These people are committing to words, to lyrics, which I can't imagine ever doing. I'm not much of a wordsmith [...] You can dress it up however you want, and that's where I come in as a musician in the process. You can put any kind of beat or sound to any kind of song but at the end of the day, when you strip away everything, you're left with melody and lyrics."

There were lots of surprises for Kronick when creating the series, especially when he discovering how open and willing people were when asked to participate in the project. "At least two thirds of the subjects in this series, I didn't know personally before this. I knew who they were by reputation or by their music, and I would reach out via email, Facebook or Twitter and say "Hey, this is what I'm doing, here are a few example of photos, would you be willing?" I only had one no." For the most part, these images were taken in the subjects' residence (living room, bedroom, home studio, etc). Kronick was surprised on how wiling people were to give themselves to him and allow him into such a personal space. "They're letting me into their lives, so that was certainly a surprise."

As a musician and someone really involved in Ottawa's music scene, Kronick has nothing but positive things to say about our city. "I think [the scene] is awesome. It's thriving! I feel like as I'm getting to the age where I'm meeting more people all the time and the lines are blurring between genres and people are co-existing from one genre to the next [...] I speak to people a bit older than me who've been in the scene longer than me, and they see now as a time where things are really happening where as I feel I've sort of just grown into it because I'm now at the age where things are happening. It seems to be better than ever, that seems to be the general opinion. That's something that this series touches on as well, the diversity of the music scene, be it in age, in genre [...] There's a whole bunch of insanely talented people in the city."

So what's next for Kronick? Well, you'll have to stay tuned! According to him, he has a lot of stuff on the go and lots of seeds that have yet to develop. Safe to say, Kronick will keep thriving and shedding light on the best our city has to offer. "I think I've done a good job representing Ottawa and the diversity we have," shared Kronick. I think we can all agree with that!

Check out The Songwriter until October 12. The vernissage will be taking place Thursday, September 4th from 5:30pm to 8:00pm.

August 30 - October 12, 2014
9 am - 8pm
OAG Annex (City Hall)
110 Laurier Avenue West