Sunday, 27 March 2016

Days of Pisces, reflection

Time for chicken curry and Pee Wee Herman. Time to flyer, record bed tracks, and catch up with some new vinyl purchases. My new band, the Therapy, managed a sloppy little debut of sorts at the festival wrap party. Special thanks to Pat E on drums and Mikey S on cheese-bass for tolerating my creative process. Spring cleaning, yard work, all of these signs that the post-festival era will be one of hard work and new projects. 

I've been trying for a week now to figure out how to sum up the experience of our month-long marathon of events, workshops, and concerts alongside the usual café business. 

Thus far, I have failed. 

Perhaps a bit of reflective blogging will shed a little light on the spirit of the festival, and how we measure success and development at the café. Hop on to my train of thought...

So what happened last month?

Well, about a dozen events planned by the café crew blossomed into 3 or 4 dozen various shows, workshops and talks organised by volunteer presenters. We put on more laundromat shows in a month than we did all last summer. Local acts drew capacity crowds, as did workshops like Frank Belleau's black ash basket weaving and the Cultured Club's intro to fermentation. We held screenings for fresh short films, and premiered local artist Chris Shoust's first feature film. We lived, breathed, and ate festival-style. Sometimes we slept. We made new friends and collaborated with café regulars. In a word, it was amazing.

What we do all the time:

Every day (closed on Wednesday) we strive to serve up healthy affordable food and provide a safe space for all of the community.

Every weekend we serve brunch 11-4 Saturday and Sunday. Like our daily menu, the brunch menu is always changing to include seasonal ingredients and to reduce waste. 

Weekly: Mondays we offer Study Hall 4-9 PM, providing a quiet workspace and pay what you want food. We're developing programming and seeking presenters for readings, talks, community kitchen events, etc, so get in touch if you have ideas!

 Tuesdays 6-10 pm, a rotating cast of local musicians and poets hosts the Gore Street Open Mic, an  all ages, alcohol-free space to jam, play covers and originals, and generally have a good time. It is the most accepting and encouraging open mic I've ever attended, and a great place for all manner of performers of any skill level to mingle and entertain.


on a monthly basis we do the Gore Street Supper club, usually on a Thursday, offering a low-key communal fine dining experience at the laundromat table, presenting a coursed meal showcasing local seasonal meats and produce. Also one Thursday a month we put on the Night Market, selling fresh produce on a pay what you can basis.

What does the future hold?

We're booking many amazing shows for the spring and summer. We've got a week-or-two festival coming up mid-June. Fresh local produce is putting a smile on my face and tasty colours on our plates. The Crying Club is in development... 

What do YOU want to see happen on Gore Street? Come get involved and be part of something positive on the downtown Westside. 

And once again, again and again: thank you, thank you, thank you to all festival participants attendees, pass holders, and invisible beneficiaries. The festival is us. The community is in its own hands. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

Days of Pisces, part six

The festival cruises into its final weekend and I begin to assess the laundry situation.

St Patrick's day was a lovely time last night. The Hunt sisters brought Barry's tea and musical friends. Ellen and Georgina sang like angels. Trevor Tchir played mandolin.

Frank Belleau's basket weaving workshop was also packed, and we're confident he'll be putting on another one soon.

Teddy hosted a great session of improv ggames on Wednesday night, and a half dozen brave souls came out to get silly despite the rain.

Tonight at Winnie B's, Patricia's holding a little reception. Vintage styles, ambrosia and rice puddings! 

Glo Burns came round today to work out some details on a follow up showing of the 48 hour Film Challenge selections. Stay tuned for details...

The Tynes Bakery dessert club has been postponed, but will be rescheduled for the weeks following the festival.

Here's a link to the amazing video created for the festival by Byron and E. War:


Oh boy, it's been an exciting month, and there is so much gratitude I can only try to express to all those who have participated in and put on all these wonderful festival events. Change starts with cooperation, and the power to build community is in the hands of the people.

This weekend also features the maple syrup festival at Mill Market, Twilight snowshoeing and Glenview campfire with Don McGorman,  and Michelle Loubert's 'T- shirt revival' workshop. 

Oh, ps: Joonas, Theon, Kody and Sonny Vibe$ rocked the cypher jams last Tuesday. Keep sending local freestylers downtown to the all-ages open mic! 

peace xo

Friday, 11 March 2016

Days of Pisces part five

This last week of the Fishbowl Festival is chock full of interactive arts workshops. In case you missed Monday's Zinemaking and Clay It Forwards workshops, here's more chances to get your hands dirty and your creativity flowing:

Monday  daytime zine workshop
Clay it forward
7 PM hip hop

Tonight is as usual Open Mic night at the Gore Street Café from 6-9 PM, hosted this week by local hip hop artist Sonny Vibe$. Pay what you want.


Frank Belleau's black ash basket weaving workshop runs from 2-4 PM. Registration is full for this workshop.

Seriously Silly, an interactive improv show hosted by Teddy Syrette, runs from 6-9 PM. All are welcome to participate. Pay what you want or free with festival pass.

Valerie King presents Childrens Theatre Workshop at Case's Music. Ages 7-10. Children will be exposed to some of the basic rules of dramatic presentation and work through a well-known story to create a presentation to share at the event's end. PWYW or free with festival pass.

7-9 pm St Patrick's Day celebration: a traditional family gathering of music, tea, and treats, hosted by the Hunt Sisters. PWYW


Day two of the Children's Theatre Workshop at Case's Music. 2 pm-4 PM. PWYW.

5-9 PM, Vintage Fashion Extravaganza and sale at Winnie B's. Awesome clothing, tasty refreshments, and vintage tunes. Prizes for those come dressed vintage:-) free.


10 am-3pm Maple Syrup Festival at the Mill Market. Free.

11am-4 PM, Vintage Fashion Extravaganza and sale at Winnie B's. Awesome clothing, tasty refreshments, and vintage tunes. Prizes for those come dressed vintage:-) free.

3pm-4:30 T-shirt Revival with Michelle Loubert. Bring a pair of acissors and an old tshirt or sweatshirt to modify, redesign, refit and decorate. 10$, 5$ with festival pass.


11-4 Repair Cafe at the Neighborhood Resource Centre 138 Gore Street. Bring your medium sized items in need of fixing, or volunteer to share your fixing skills. Free.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Rae Spoon, Armour and Sunshine

Sam Decter:

 I understand youve crossed the country sixteen times touring by Greyhound coach. How would you describe this experience?

Rae Spoon: 

I used to tour on the Greyhound a lot at the beginning of my career. There was an awesome unlimited pass and I would save a lot of money by using it. It became a
bit of a way of life. It takes three days to go from Vancouver to Toronto on the bus
and about two to go from Vancouver to Whitehorse. 


 What do you eat when you're on the road?

Spoon: I became vegetarian last year, so I basically eat anything without meat and dairy in it. It’s surprisingly hard to find.


How has touring affected your social life?

I think it’s made my social life a lot more spread out. I have friends in lots of cities
and it feels like touring is my way of going out to see people.

I grew up in Winnipeg and I've been from there to Vancouver and back a few times by bus. The imagery and pacing of My Prairie Home certainly jives with my recollection of that sense of space one finds only on the prairies.
How do you feel the prairies have influenced your outlook on life or aesthetic style?


 I’ve lived outside of the prairies almost as long as I lived in them now, but I think
there’s still an influence. I’ve made extensive projects about my history in Calgary
and sometimes I still see that aspect of my life come up.


How has Calgary changed since your youth?

Calgary is both the same place it was and strangely different. There are more
resources for queer youth, but there is still a lot of conservatism. I would say all of
the problems remain but people who are different have had more of a chance to
find each other and connect.

Decter: How has Canada changed in the time you've been active as a performing and recording artist?

I’ve been releasing albums and touring since 2001. The music industry in Canada
has shifted in some ways to become more open, but like anywhere it’s been harder
to sell music. I’ve managed to keep building my career by playing a lot and diversifying what I do. I also make film scores, write books, do speaking engagements and produce other people’s music.

Decter: How has your place in Canada changed, or what is your experience of
establishing yourself as an artist?

I have had a good experience establishing myself. It happened very slowly and was
mostly based in traveling and playing a lot. I like the pace of having a grassroots
following. I like doing a lot of the planning myself.

Decter: Do you travel to the US often? Are there places along the border that show
some continuity of culture, or do the two countries seem sharply distinct from
each other?

I travel to the US sometimes. I find places like Seattle to be very similar to Victoria, where I live, but I wouldn’t say that Texas and the Yukon are similar. The colonial histories of the countries make them have similar power structures.

I've performed with other live musicians, with hip hop beats and metronomes. Playing to tracks offers less surprises, yet presents a different set of challenges. How has your approach to instrumentation in the studio and on the road changed over time?


I used to have a country band I toured with. Sometimes I’d have six other people on stage. Now I tour solo most of the time and sometimes with a drummer.

Decter: Which elements are practical concerns and which are musical ethos?

I really enjoyed playing with a band, but it’s not economical for touring. Electronic music has allowed me to access a larger sound while playing solo because I can play the tracks I produce on stage.


What music are you excited about right now?

I’m excited about projects I’m working on. A band called LAL is releasing a very exciting album called “Find Safety” on my record label, Coax Records, on April 29, 2016. 


Do you perceive a similar degree of awareness and acceptance everywhere in Canada, or have civil rights proceeded at a different pace in different places? 

I think Canada is on par with most western countries as far as civil rights go for
trans people. Different places have different reference points, so I wouldn’t want to
compare how people in countries with cultures less similar to American culture are
organizing getting rights.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Days of Pieces, part four

The past week of the Fishbowl Festival has seen two capacity crowds in the laundromat, hundreds of dollars in wearable art sales, a fateful snowstorm, some borscht, and a deepening sense of community and support between us at the café and the various artists, bands, organizations and community supporters.
What does it mean to support the Fishbowl Festival? Who is the community that gathers at the Gore Street Café?

There's Melisse, who ran the door for us on Saturday in exchange for one of Wildling Tramp's wildly popular bone and leather necklaces;

Peggy Lauzon and Teddy Syrette, local writers whose open mic last week was a wonderful storytelling session;

Vivian Scramstadt, whose first short film was shown last week at the 48 hour filmmaking challenge; Glo Burns, who put that event together; Chris Shoust and Mike Gingras, who also screened quickly-produced shorts full of scruffy humour, and feature lengths made with care, preparation, and deep thought;

Erin Heineman, who comes to the Tuesday night jam some weeks with a song in her head that she's just GOT to share.

 Mike Haggith, who loaned us his bass to record some overdubs, Mingus-style, over the beatbox and guitar tracks we laid down at my weekend performance.

There's Darcy Lavallee, who recorded Saturday night for us in exchange for a large serving of Shepard's pie (vegetarian, with lentils and cheese:-);

and Isabelle Michaud, whose first solo art exhibition will be on the café walls for the next month, and who hosted a lovely open mic last night with her storytelling and a gang of ukelele players.

It takes all kinds, it takes the cooperation and interaction of many different types, ages, races, classes and orientations of people to make up a healthy, thriving, strong, sustainable community. Money must be made, I suppose. But business is best when what's offered is something that people need to be healthy and happy, right?

Even Shannon Moan insisted on performing her set wearing a new Wildling Tramp necklace. 

I'd like to thank everyone again and again for coming out and taking part in the festival, both in putting on events and attending them. It couldn't exist without all of our friends and supporters.

The Crackling put on a spellbinding show for some of us last night, and we wish them well on their eastern travels. 

Here's what the Festival this week will bring:

Wednesday we will learn about worms, as Don McGorman leads a composting workshop.

Thursday night we're hosting a Fish-themed Supper Club at the laundromat table. 

Friday is Soup Ste Marie at 180 Projects, your ticket gets you a vote on whose business proposal will  best benefit the community.

Saturday is the Really Really Free Market
At the Neighborhood Resource Centre
(138 Gore Street).
 Bring stuff, take stuff. It's free!
And a triple feature laundromat concert by Mark Dunn, Trevor Tchir, and Jesse Merineau.

Sunday will be Teddy's talk 'Openly Gay and Visibly Native' at café Natura,
another safe space downtown for good eats and healthy living.

Next Monday marks the beginning of March break, and we'll be putting on many all-ages daytime workshops. 
Crafting, zines, rap music and hip hop poetry, check out the book of faces for more information:

The Darkness: a Documentary premiere

Receiving its first public screening as part of the Fishbowl Festival this Thursday evening is Darkness: a documentary feature film by award-winning filmmaker Christopher Shoust. Admission to the 7pm screening at 164 Gore Street is 10$, 5$ reduced rate with festival pass. 

It is the first feature from the maker of super8 film shorts like Victoria to Vancouver and America Dreamt. 

This documentary was filmed in Garden River, Batchewana, and the Sault. Most of the locations as backgrounds for sets are now demolished or much changed.

Shoust, Dip. J, BFA (honours) is a working artist in Sault Ste Marie and has exhibited his art across Canada. This is his seventh film.

The 55 min feature will be shown with a selection of local shorts by filmmakers Glo Burns, Mike Gingrass, and Chandra Barnett.

Starring the filmmaker as the subject of psychological investigation. Using both super8 film and video it is a brooding journey from desperation to madness and back again.