By Jeremy Brooks
With songs sharing stories of break-ups, boxes (and the far too many moves in one year they symbolized) as well as a cover-cum-homage of Bonnie Raitt’s Too Long at the Fair, from an album Alexa Dirks says “changed my life,” she and bandmates The New Lightweights served up a smooth seven-tune set to kick off the CD release party for friend and fellow Winnipeg musician: JP Hoe.
With her fire red hair, cowboy boots and black dress, Dirks shaped her vocals to the rhythms being served up on guitar, bass and drum. Guitarist Ariel Posen picked his moments throughout the song cycle to provide bluesy riffs, while drummer Ryan Voth lent each tune a percussive punch that never overwhelmed. But the greatest shifts in song texture came from bassist Julian Bradford, who alternated between plucking his stand-up bass, and playing it with a bow; the latter, in particular, adding to the depth of Dirks’ vocals. In between songs, Dirks provided levity to the crowd at the WECC with a unique sung-spoken patter that garnered laughs and implied she was having fun. Not one to take herself too seriously, Dirks prefaced their closing song about a break-up by telling the crowd the band was going to “leave you in a really happy way with a song about a failed relationship.” In anticipation of JP Hoe’s arrival at the mic, a five-piece string section took their seats. They were joined by vocalist Darcie Pankratz Meighen and by the time Hoe introduced the first “little song about being a dumb-dumb” the stage had swelled to 10 musicians. The second tune of Hoe’s 20-plus song set, I Only Did it For Love, offered the first of many lyrics inspired by the tribulations of his friends (he later remarked, “I may start losing friends soon; I keep taking their tragedies and making them mine.”) This one was about a buddy who got the wedding jitters and whom Hoe, through the combination of some Samuel Adams and a heart-to-heart, helped usher back to the altar.
Working his way through tracks from his new album Mannequin as well as older material, Hoe continuously mixed up the sound by adding vocalists or instruments—a horn duet, an accordion cameo—and the performance never lost steam. The sound was lush, but the secondary vocals were too often drowned out, regrettable given the strength they lend to the album. And if there was one weakness to the show, it was the background looping images. They added little to the performance and at one point, put the crowd in the front seat of a car cruising through twisting, turning roads, which almost became nauseating. One, fly-shit-in-the-pepper critique aside, strong vocals ruled the night and, often the case with Hoe and certainly with Dirks as well, comparisons inevitably sprang to mind: Ryan Adams, David Gray for Hoe; Leslie Feist for Dirks. But each singer rose above derivative sound to claim their note-bending abilities as theirs and theirs alone. This was especially apparent when Hoe stretched his elastic voice to tackle Radiohead’s iconic Karma Police without simply trying to emulate Thom Yorke. Lions and Tigers closed Hoe’s set, a powerful pop song he described as being “all about shenanigans”, and fired up the audience for an encore. Hoe obliged, with two songs and one last confession, “This has been a stressful, wonderful show. I’m glad it worked out.” -30-
Scott Nolan took third prize in the Americana category for his song, “You Rock, We Roll” off his 2011 release on Transistor 66 Record Co., Montgomery Eldorado.
The competition received over 16,000 entries from 112 countries, making 2011 the most competitive year ever. The winners were chosen by a prestigious panel of celebrity and industry judges including Tom Waits, Robert Smith (The Cure), Tori Amos, Kelly Clarkson, and Monte Lipman (President, Universal Republic Records). More than $150,000 US in cash and prizes will be shared by the winners.
The International Songwriting Competition (ISC) is an annual song contest whose mission is to provide the opportunity for both aspiring and established songwriters to have their songs heard in a professional, international arena. ISC is designed to nurture the musical talent of songwriters on all levels and promote excellence in the art of songwriting. Amateur and professional songwriters and musicians are invited to participate. ISC has the most prestigious panel of judges of all the songwriting and music contests in the world, offering exposure and the opportunity to have your songs heard by the most influential decision-makers in the music industry.
Nils Vik never liked coffee. On the rare occasion when he could be coerced into ordering it, he cut the bitter beans with so much milk and sugar that it didn’t taste like what he’d originally ordered. By chance, however, while studying Architecture in Montreal his professor ordered him a cup of coffee, which he drank black, and became hooked.
Since then the owner of Winnipeg’s first high-end coffee shop, Parlour Coffee, has become a self-professed ‘coffee super geek’. “I couldn’t find any beans that I liked in Winnipeg” he says “so I started ordering online”, and the rest, as they say, is history. An obsession turned into a business plan, and once the space at 468 Main St opened up it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Does having longtime veteran coffee shops The Fyxx and Mondragon right around the corner worry him? Not one bit. “We’re a different kind of coffee shop”, he explains, “we’re focused exclusively on producing and serving only high-end beans and the equipment that we use to brew them”.
In addition to being served the highest-quality coffee, customers will be able to find out exactly when their beans were roasted -something which no other coffee shops in Winnipeg can attest to. Though bags of coffee regularly have a ‘best before’ date, expired coffee will never make you sick, so people tend to disregard when their beans were roasted. However at Parlour Coffee, everything that’s served will be two weeks off the roast to ensure optimal flavour. Leftover or old bags will be donated to local shelters rather than be served to customers.
Currently Parlour Coffee only sells two different brands: 49th Parallel and Phil and Sebastian, hailing from Vancouver and Calgary respectively. Forty-Ninth Parallel is considered to be one of the best in North America, and is almost completely direct trade with the farmers. Phil and Sebastian are one-hundred percent direct-trade with farmers, and categorize beans like wine: by where they are grown. The beans are marketed per farm, and per season, so an espresso you might try in June may not be there in July so it’s probably a wise choice to pick up a bag (approximately 15$-20$ per pound) if you find one that you really enjoy.
Everything about Parlour Coffee right down to the space is an example of Nils’ eye for detail and perfection. The space is stark-white, with a large wrought iron chandelier (which, luckily, came with the space), countertops made from three-hundred year old reclaimed wood from St Jean-Baptiste, and stainless steel stools from Tolix.
Though they focus primarily on coffee, you can pick up a variety of Norwegian pastries as well, baked fresh from Stella’s Bakery on Sherbrook exclusively for the shop. In addition to selling the high-quality products they use to brew the beans, Parlour Coffee also sells Keep Cups, specialty 8oz and 12oz cups made from recycled plastic and designed specifically for someone who drinks espresso regularly but doesn’t want to waste paper cups.
Between the meticulous nature of selecting the perfect beans, to ensuring that the baristas steam the milk just so, Nils Vik has set a high standard for coffee shops in Winnipeg unlike anything brought to this city before. The days of burnt beans or watered-down coffee are officially over, Parlour Coffee is here.
Article by Alyson Shane
Photos from parlourcoffee.tumblr.com used with permission
Upon entering The Foxy Shoppe, I was swept up in the ultra-girly, ultra-sexy, ultra-energetic atmosphere. Miss. Foxy, who is the quintessential representation of the former characteristics, greeted me warmly with open arms and instantly made me feel at home. We sat in her office, with the first ten dollars she made in the shop proudly pinned to the wall, to talk about how The Foxy Shoppe began. Miss. Foxy said she decided to open a lingerie shop because she wanted a place where women of all ages, sizes and shapes could come and feel good about themselves. Shopping for lingerie is a personal experience and usually results in rapid self-criticizing. Miss. Foxy disagrees when women stop themselves from buying clothing that is form-fitting in the present because they believe that in the future, they will feel more comfortable about their bodies. With The Foxy Shoppe, she creates a playful, light-hearted, shopping experience that lets any woman to come in and find something that will make them look and feel sexy. She believes every woman is uniquely special and deserves to feel good and have strength from within. Miss. Foxy is proud, confident woman who radiates strength, while at the same time, is warm and says she learns from every customer that comes into the shop.
Miss. Foxy has always been drawn to the 1920’s, 1950’s women, pinup and burlesque ladies. The Foxy Shoppe offers everything from sexy heels, playful costumes, hairpieces and various style lingerie sets. Every piece of clothing can be purchased in a size small to a size triple plus. Miss. Foxy said she would love to have a photograph of a line of girls, one in every size, to showcase that every woman can look good and feel good as they are in the present. The shop not only offers sexy clothing and lingerie but peace of mind.
The Foxy Shoppe in on Facebook and holds online contests such as the most recent “Sexy Heel Contest”. Check out the latest from The Foxy Shoppe at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Foxy-Shoppe/195350230506284
story: Sara Nelson
photos: Mike Latschislaw
One of the biggest problems associated with modern bureaucracies is their resistance to change, their very structure designed to delay modernization in the interest of careful consideration. Not unlike all the ‘popular’ kids from high school who ended up married and pregnant in their early twenties, provided they even made it that long; government ministries such as the Manitoba Liquor Commission seem to be stuck in a time warp, only instead of involving melodrama and wasted potential, the problem centers around the definition of ‘live entertainment’. Even though the last decade has seen both electronic music and the DJs and producers behind it become increasingly accepted and incorporated by the mainstream music industry, organizations such as the MLCC and even the CRTC still operate with dated regulations that exclude DJs from being considered as live entertainment or Canadian content.
What the hell does the MLCC have to do with determining the meaning of ‘live entertainment’ and why is it relevant? For starters, in order to serve alcohol at a venue, a liquor license is required, of which there are several types. In this case the issue is restricted to a specific kind, namely a Cabaret License; venues like the Academy, Pyramid, and Pure all fall under this category. As per the Liquor Control Act, “A cabaret licensee shall provide live entertainment in accordance with the regulations during each day on which the cabaret is open.” The act the goes on in defining said entertainment as “… a live professional performance…for which at least one performer is remunerated by the licensee…that takes place on a stage visible to all patrons and which constitutes the main focus of the cabaret; and…that is designed to draw the attention of all patrons; but does not include a disc jockey or master of ceremonies.”
How does this affect venue owners and promoters? In order to circumvent this seemingly archaic and outdated rule, most cabaret licensees hire female go-go dancers to get up on stage by the DJ. As even a rookie party goer can observe, this ends up sending a message to other, less coordinated and more inebriated girls that joining them on stage is a good idea. Lots of drunk girls on stage tend to cause skipped records (vinyl that is), pulled plugs and other mishaps associated with the mixing of clumsy, oblivious people and high tech equipment in close proximity, as many a DJ has bitched about.
According to the MLCC’s internal communications coordinator, Susan Harrison, “The original intent of the regulation was to ensure that cabarets introduced a satisfactorily high standard of performance such as a live band; a DJ playing recorded music simply does not meet the requirement. That being said, we do recognize that this is an emerging entertainment area and that there are certainly DJ’s out there who are of a high calibre. If a cabaret operator wants to include a DJ as a performance, they have the option to approach the Licensing Board for approval. The Licensing Board has recently approved DJ’s who are remixing music in a performance setting in the past, but we have not had enough of these requests to warrant exploring a regulation change.”
Why hasn’t something been done about this? Various people have at one time or another researched and attempted to change the rules to reflect the times. One such person is local DJ cum lawyer, Dan Gilson, who says that the real problem in changing the rules lies in properly distinguishing the talent and artistry from the cliche’d and mediocre. “It’s a tough thing to create language in a document to decide that question.” To further complicate things, the prevalence of digital technology used by DJs has made it “…harder to make the case that they are performers if all they are doing is opening a laptop and putting on traktor.” However, if fun-fur clad go-go dancers manage to qualify, the bar of standards is arguably low enough to include even the most microwaved DJ hacks, (here’s looking at you, Sam Ronson and Steve Aoki).
It should be noted that the mandatory show and subsequent DJ exemption does not apply to other types of liquor licenses. In fact, the cabaret license is the only one that requires live entertainment at all. For example, the various Canada Inns bars, invariably similar in their common mediocrity, fall into a different category only because the are attached to hotels and thus avoid the issue entirely. Though it is rumored that one or more members of the Liquor Commission is connected to said chain and or the Manitoba Hotel Association, no evidence confirming those claims was found in the researching of this article. Ultimately, the bulk of the blame lies in the nature of bureaucracy itself and its inherent resistance to change, regardless of how clearly warranted it might be.
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Story: Miles McEnery