Ariane Moffatt

by PenRei

This post is LONG overdue.

Back in June, a few friends I went to see the awesomely-stellar Ariane Moffatt in concert at The Drake Underground. Who is she? Well fellow readers, I am about to introduce you to a fantastic artist that I’m sure you will grow to love as much as I have.

Ariane Moffatt and her band

Ariane Moffatt is a canadian singer-songwriter-musician with a cathardic and poignant electro-pop sound – occasionally dipping into reggae-rock and drum and bass – that will become an addiction. She’s been around the at least 10 years and has seduced French-Canada and France with her amazing sound. I wonder how it is that I just found out about her last winter. Oh how I’ve been missing out. She is a bilingual artist, which means that her songs are in both French and English, but don’t let one of the languages deter you from her; all of her songs have a rich and complete sound with that will evoke pleasant and visceral sensations within you. There is both an intimacy and power in her voice that you can not deny. What’s even more impressive, she sounds even better live! Her range, strength, and huskiness are not generated by a computer during the music production process of her recordings. It’s the real deal!

Ariane Moffatt

Firstly, Moffatt delivers a killer concert. The drum and bass already present in her songs is amplified to a point that you can feel the music vibrate within you. I swear, my heartbeat probably synched up with it after a while. It was another one of those concerts where you HAD to dance, and luckily, the audience didn’t seem to be effected by hipster-standing-judgement syndrome. That’s right people, dance to the beat of the drums!

Ariane Moffatt, her keyboardist and bassist, and her band

Amongst some of my favourite songs that she played were Mon corps, Rules of Legal Love, In Your Body, and Sourire sincère. All of these are on her latest album MA, released in February of 2012.

“MA” par Ariane Moffatt

Other noteable songs are Réverbère, Je veux tout, and Jeudi, 17 mai from her previous 2008 album Tous les sens (which you should also check out if you enjoy MA).

“Tous les sens” par Ariane Moffatt

She prepared a special treat for us with Jeudi, 17 mai (in English: Thursday May 17th). It has been 4 years since she originally wrote the song and the lyrics were related to events that happend on Thursday May 17th 2008. This year, May 17th fell on a Thursday as well, so Moffatt explained that it seemed appropriate to rewrite the lyrics in relation to the events of the date this year. Her song focused on the new and special temporary law imposed by the Jean Charest government in Québec to help control the growing protests in Québec (especially Montreal) with regards to post-secondary education, but still allow the population to have a voice and continue to protest. I won’t get into that whole political scenario since I have my own very strong opinions about it, and this is not what this post is about. Instead, here is the 2012 version of the song Jeudi, 17 mai.

I can’t tie up this post without mentioning that she did an UNFORGETTABLE cover of the Kate Bush song Running Up That Hill that puts Placebo’s version to shame (and I am a big fan of Placebo’s cover). Here’s hoping that she’ll record it on her next album.

Ariane Moffatt tours a lot in Québec, so check out her website for a concert near you. As for the rest of us, here are some dates:

  • Friday September 14th @ Sudbury, Amphithéâtre Grace Hartman, 7:30pm
  • Monday November 12th @ Paris, Trabendo, 7:30pm
  • Friday November 23rd @ Chateauguay, Salle du Pavillon de l’île, 8pm
  • Friday November 30th @ Waterloo, Maison de la culture de Waterloo, 8pm
  • Saturday December 1st @ Montreal, Théâtre Corona, 8pm (for any of you thinking of travelling to Montreal during this time)

Official website:
Artist’s blog:

Click on the link below to see her music video for the song In Your Body, one of my favourites (vimeo won’t let me insert it in my post). Vive la musique!

A Super Canadian Weekend

by PenRei

Warning: It’s about to get super Canadian in this post, because this is all about the Canadian weekend I had with good company, good food, good music, and nature (which is good in every aspect).

It started off Saturday morning with Nomes, Douggy Fresh and I heading over to the Evergreen Brickworks, as mentioned in Nomes’ previous post. It is such an eco-friendly park that there is not only a garbage and recycling bin, but also a compost bin. What a brilliant idea! I believe that the option of all three separate bins should be everywhere (and I mean across the world). I’ll admit that we Canadians can seem a little self-righteous when it comes to protecting the environment, but I am partly proud of it because our environment is an incredibly important part of everyone’s lives (despite how some may disagree).

We got there a little late to take in all of the festivities, but we were able to partake in a quick look at the various Farmer’s Market stalls (to be repeated in the near future). One stall that especially interested us was a honey stand. A very nice and cheerful young woman ran it. She sold organic honey, which is FAR superior to regular store-bought honey. I can’t remember when it happened, but one day I tried organic honey and I couldn’t go back. To be clear,  I’m not a hardcore organic grocer, but when you can taste the difference, you get my vote. She had wildflower, lavender, cranberry, and cinnamon honey. Of course, I wanted to buy ALL OF THEM, but my wallet wasn’t burning a hole through my bag, so I opted for just one wildflower honey jar. The winning side, IT CAME IN A HONEY BEAR JAR!!! Douggy Fresh pointed out that if you bought various types of honey in honey bear jars, you could make yourself a drinking glass set. She often comes up with brilliant ideas like this out of nowhere. Here is a shot of Nomes and Douggy Fresh with our purchased honey (Nomes got the cinnamon one).

Afterwards, we heard the sweet call of music from The Honeyrunners. As you may know from my previous post, I’m a fan; a fan who is impatiently waiting for them to release their EP (dated to come out in October, in case you’re wondering). We were hoping to hear their original music, but they played a cover set that was still impressive. We also discovered that they have a new drummer with beats as killer as his awesome afro. Since I’ve already gone on and on about them before, I will simply leave you with a few photos I took of their gig and you can imagine the fun time we had.

Starving Artist Jar

Also, here is a photo of them with my jar of honey. After all, I bought a jar of honey than saw The Honeyrunners. How could I not?

The Honeyrunners with my jar of honey

Since it was Douggy Fresh’s first time at the Evergreen Brickworks (and Nomes and I are nature junkies) we had to take a walk around the nature park behind the buildings. It was such a beautiful day. Words can not describe the amazing weather we had, so instead I will leave you with this picture.

On Sunday, it was Canada Day… which to anyone from Ottawa, is a BIG DEAL!!! Even when other people in your city aren’t huge into partying it up, Ottawa people will make their own party.

The three of us started off with a Pride brunch at Johnny Be Good’s apartment. He has a balcony that overlooks Yonge street, hence, the perfect place to both watch the parade and have access to running water, thus keeping at bay dehydration from heat.

Pride Flowers

I’ll start off by saying there was A LOT of bacon. There was so much bacon, that I should show you this photo I took, because you wouldn’t believe me otherwise. There are some sausages in there, but it was about 83% bacon.

Bacon Mountain

Mountain of bacon

It seemed perfect to start Canada Day with a Pride brunch. After all, Canada is awesome with its legal rights, gay marriage and openness to allow same sex couples live full and happy lives out in the open, without shame. I wish I could say that this was everywhere in Canada, but sadly, there are still some small pockets that are evolving in their mentalities. We had an awesome time, eating brunch, meeting new people while catching up with good friends, and dancing to music for 3 hours.

Afterwards, we had to leave the party to continue our Canada Day festivities. Nomes went off to celebrate a friend’s birthday party, so we said our temporary goodbyes.

In the evening, Douggy Fresh and I headed down to the Harbourfront centre. The sunset was GORGEOUS. We had to take a moment to just absorb the pinks, blues, and purples in the sky, the gentle cooling breeze, and the sound of moving water. If you live in Toronto and haven’t experienced the sunset at Harbourfront, I suggest you put it on your list of things to do during your next weekend.

We were primarily there for a free live concert of The Hidden Cameras. They are a 9 piece independent Canadian band that plays an interesting and playful mix of folk, pop, progressive, and rock. I didn’t take pictures of this event since the lighting wasn’t ideal for the type of lens I have on my camera, but I believe that this music video will give you a sufficient idea of how good they are. If you are a fan of Broken Social Scene and other Arts & Crafts bands, I know that you will love The Hidden Cameras. For those of you who are impatient. The song starts around 1:30.

I guess that’s it. HAPPY BELATED CANADA DAY!!!!

Up next, the 4th of July in Washington DC. It’s gonna be CRAZY!

Parks and Recreation or Why We Need More Shrubberies

by Nomes

As a girl born and bred in mostly cities and… small cities, I have somehow always remained a country girl at heart. Perhaps it was the summers spent in rural Quebec or at my Nanny’s farm or at a friend of the family’s cottage or camping (the only way to travel on a budget with 4 kids!). Perhaps it’s that in a past life I was an otter, who can really know? In any case: Nature. I will always and forever love you. No matter how hard humankind tries to emulate your colours, your shapes and your sounds, your sights, your smells and your feel… nothing comes close to sitting on the edge of the highest cliff in Algonquin park and looking down on a vast expanse of deciduous and coniferous forests with their shades of green and earth tones, mingling on the shores of beautifully wild lakes as the sun and the wind dance their dance and make the air just… perfect…

But I digress.

Having almost always had a backyard of sorts and, as mentioned, access and opportunity to roam beautiful parks (Gatineau Hills in the Outaouais region is a good one, and just a short trip from my Ottawa home), I am at a loss when it comes to living in the downtown core of such a vastly concrete city as Toronto. In my previous post, I mentioned the lack of lawns around downtown homes. This results in a few negotiations such as patios (rooftop and other) as well as parks, for residents of these areas. It was a beautiful surprise to me to see wonderful parks such as Trinity-Bellwoods being well used. With facilities such as a kids park, tennis courts, baseball diamonds and a dog pit (…ravine-like portion of the park which usually holds a whole LOT of dogs), this is a buzzing place to be on weekends, day AND night. It occurred to me, rather quickly, that this popularity was due to a few factors, but mainly: the fact that no one had a back yard. When you just have to get out of the house, when you just want a breath of fresh air, what better than a beautiful park, not too far from home, if you’re lucky enough to have this.

Another option is the Harbourfront, the marina, Toronto Music Garden or any other portion of the waterfront not devoted to roads and condos. The Toronto Music Garden is one of my favourite little spots, for its diversity of flora and beautifully original landscaping work. It has several “spots” which were designed with a movement of music or type of musical piece typical of Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach, in mind. Being a music nerd from a young age, this tickled me pink the first time I came upon it, and continues to do so every time I introduce this magical place to friends or family. It is just across from the National Ballet of Canada on Queen’s Quay West and up against a part of the marina which includes fantastic boats and a view of Lake Ontario and islands (namely the Billy Bishop Airport Island). It is a gem of landscape architecture with a little bit of wildlife preservation on the east side.

One of the “music spots” inspired by a musical movement often composed by Bach. This one is the “Courante”, with an upward swirling path, surrounded by wildflowers and leading up to a Maypole. Landscape architect: Julie Moir Messervy

A few weeks back, with my parents, aunt and a friend of my aunt’s, we discovered some interesting Waterfront parks, newly installed which had highly original concepts and architecture. One in particular, a water park near the south end of Sherbourne st was a lovely little discovery. This all gives me hope for the future and maybe we CAN build a beautiful city (if you can name that reference, you get a gold star). With all of this talk of Ontario Place closing, building a casino there and other silly ideas, I have been cringing at the thought of this city becoming more tacky than ever. Though I understand budget constraints and just the need to make money instead of losing it, I believe that there are FAR better ways than building a casino, which, as I have learned usually uglifies a landscape like no other: litter and such, have been known to define the area surrounding a casino, such as in Atlanta: known for its beaches and casinos killer combination. That being said, I do appreciate the efforts to create a beautiful waterfront in other areas, just as long as it is sustainable and eco-logic-al.

My next and final discovery of a natural wonder, is the Evergreen Brickworks/Ravines, just north of Bloor/Danforth, around the Sherbourne area. Not it is a well kept secret for us avid TTC-ers and if it wasn’t for PenRei being such a hiker, we probably would never have discovered its wonders. It’s a short walk north up Glen road, from Sherbourne subway station, to the ravines; a beautiful place, apparently never touched by the city as far as construction goes. The through the ravines a bit of a ways, down various paths and suddenly… there it is: Evergreen Brick Works, better accessible by car or bike but well worth the walk to get there.

Brick Works is the site of the old Don Valley Brick Works, brickyard, where they made.. you guessed it.. bricks. When it closed down, it was preserved for its historical and geographical value, with the quarry nearby creating an interesting bio-system in the area. In the 1990s money was raised to restore it and it opened in 1996 as a beautiful preservation maintained by Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation. It holds many pavilions for exhibits and visits of the old factory as well as interactive areas for children to explore nature. The Weston Family Quarry Garden is also one of the most beautiful havens, where you can forget you’re in the city and just breathe it in. PenRei, her besty Douggy Fresh and I, ventured there last Saturday where we got to enjoy a BRILLIANT Farmer’s Market, complete with organic, local and EXTRA local (tea made strictly from plants grown IN the Evergreen Brick Works!) produce as well as delicious looking meal options from all places of the globe and even our favourite local independent band: The Honeyrunners, performing throughout the morning. We then walked through the quarry garden and just took it all in.

Source : Toronto Life’s article “Wild Thing: the story behind the Brick Works”


This place hosts many activities, year round, but as one can expect, the majority of events are in the summer and fall months with such things as the Kilns where kids (of all ages) can experiment with clay and pottery, Bike-In movie nights as well as a Wild Blueberry Festival in August!

More to discover, as I didn’t even mention High Park and other such green hot spots, but those were my own personal highlights. Nothing makes me quite as at peace, as a good hike in nature, I recommend it to all of you! Get out there, get a little sun and stay hydrated!


T.O. / Montreal sightings : Re-occuring Doorway Incidents

Nomes here.

Couldn’t help but notice I have been rather silent on this blog we call “the struggle”. I have been caught up in my final term at Musical Theatre school, struggling through final classes and first weeks of rehearsal for our final show. It is time for me to recount further tales of woe whilst walking down these city streets and then maybe recount a thrilling tale of many adventures and discoveries of said city’s greeneries and parks(which do, in fact, exist!!).

First on the docket: Nudity in doorways. A re-occuring occurance. Once in Montreal and once in Toronto.

First, “L’incident pré-Ste-Catherine”: a life experience.

Whilst walking with my oldest sister in the streets of Montréal, in a story we quickly started to recount as the Pre-Ste-Catherine Incident. Ste-Catherine (for those who really don’t know Montréal) is a main street (maybe even the main street) in downtown Montréal and at the time we were just about to reach it.

As you may know if you live in a big city, a lot of houses on smaller residential downtown streets are right on the sidewalk. There is simply little to no lawn in cities. A sad reality. So down the small sidewalks we walk and converse, probably about the latest Lord of the Rings movie or youtube video we shared (I forget what year it was but that sounds about right) and we see, up ahead, one of the houses’ front door wide open. Not unusual but what WAS unusual was as we walked by ,there, in the front hallway, naked as the day he was born except for a towel covering his face and head as he dried it (I assume after a shower), was a fully grown homo sapien male. He was walking from what I assume was a room a little further down the front (small) hallway, into what I assume was the front room of the house. Nothing left to be desired and really no way of not getting a front row seat to that one. Again, sidewalk=against house, hallway=small and door=open.

Well my sister and I had been walking in amiable silence and managed to maintain it at the moment of the “incident”. But, both of us having turned our heads in sync we then turned them back to face ahead equally in time and exactly 7 steps past the house we both burst out laughing. It took exactly that much time for it to sink it. We then proceeded to share our thoughts about the absurdity of what had just happened and affectionately name it “L’incident pré-Ste-Catherine”.

You’d think this was a once in a lifetime thing. One of those crazy things of being in the right (or wrong..depending) place at the right (wrong?) time. Well, folks, never underestimate the power of ridiculous happenstance and…the city.

So I’m walking home one day, from school. Once again I was on one of the residential downtown streets at a part where the houses are cramped on the sidewalk but more specifically I was just passing an abandoned storefront/storage space. As is my habit, I look into windows when they are near me and the door to this place had a large window in it and what was there, behind the windowed door? But a fully naked man except for the fishnet stockings he was sporting, crouching, right at the door, and just about to get up. He was looking down (I think!) so I assume he was picking something..up…? But what, I wonder, leads a fully naked (except for the fishnets) man to go to the windowed door and …pick something up? QUESTION MARK!

Well needless to say I quickly looked away in confusion and kept walking home. Should I have gone back and asked if he was part of a Doorway Nudist Society? Asked for a pamphlet on the subject?….To this day I regret not doing so, but what can you do?

That’s all for now, next time, you will hear more on the (more) serious business of parks and nature in these concrete jungles most of us call home. Stay tuned, and stay hydrated!