Category Archives: Winnipeg Events

Gord Downie and what it means to be Canadian

I can’t even begin to try to count the good wishes and kind words since Tuesday morning and The Tragically Hip Management released a statement. Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer.  I know many of my world wide friends will not know his name or the band’s music but believe me when that announcement went live across Canada. It was like an arrow was shot into the collective hearts of a nation.

There are very few artists of any genre that capture the soul of a nation, Pierre Burton, Tom Thompson, Gordon Lightfoot captured the rough and tumble nature, angst of my father’s generation.  Leonard Cohen encapsulated the Montreal vibe and took the 70’s not just here but in the heart of the New York jungle with his verses.

To try to understand The Tragically Hip in a few paragraphs is like trying to catch smoke in your bare hands.  I don’t honesty believe that Canada has ever produced an artist quite like what he and the band are together. The often misused word synergy comes to mind, if you’ve seen them live or on youtube you’ll know what I mean.  Watching Gord Downie on stage is like watching a force of nature dipped in gasoline, set on fire after a huge bong hit and energized by his rabid Canadian fans.

But I digress how does this speak to the nature of Canadians?  Well every truly Canadian heart possesses a few key things to live on in the cold of winter and then live in perpetual exuberance in summer.  We tend to be a quiet people, not prone to flag waving, but we are tough as hell. There is a reason why Logan aka Wolverine is Canadian. We will not stop, we earned the respect in every war Canada has been dragged into by other nations. 

Canadians like Gord and The Hip have a very multifaceted soul, this country is not a Melting Pot, but rather a cultural mosaic. Very hard to get your head around at first but if you travel across the country by car or train you’ll see that every community is distinct. Some Metis French, some Quebec separatist, some Hutturite German.  Across our breadbasket, Ukrainian, Finnish, Polish. Every little town and hamlet a different community, but tied together in this huge ides called Canada.

Somehow The Hip have managed to capture the Canadian ideal, the Wheat Field Soul. The hockey rink, that first love, the desperation of a man wrongly accused.  The lyrics take Canadians home, but get us live at a Hip Show and you’ll see another animal all together. Gord riffing, ranting, begging, destroying and creating.  His off course mid song sojourn from song to song. When he’s live you never ever see the same show twice.

And that I guess is the Canadian soul, rock steady, steeped in the traditions of many cultures. The resiliency that our climate brings, it melds people together expecially in the Prarie where the winter winds can kill in minutes and then in summer we celebrate.

These things the great Canadian artists understand. The things that make every part of Canada different but also make us great. 
The power of Canada has never  been in military force, but in uniting as a people when the chips are down on last call.
I think of the Fort McMurray fire, Terry Fox and his selfless run across Canada on one leg, and now to rally behind one of our poets and song writers in his family’s moment of need.

If nothing else speaks to the Canadian soul it’s our resilience. Our sports have months long playoffs where people regularly lose teeth, sometimes get an artery cut and almost bleed to death on the hockey ice.  Football in fog, mud and the chill of a Canadian cold snap going down into -20c.
But we hardly bitch and moan.  Lest to say it’s a dry cold.

These artists really get that Canadian enui, our cold silent nature.  All the while giggling at anyone that doesn’t get us.

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Mid-Winter Mardi-Gras: Let the Good Times Roll!

Well, here we are again Winnipeg, mid-January with the cold and snow firmly entrenched and no end in sight. For those of you, like myself, unable to travel somewhere tropical, there is a reprieve in sight. The good folks in The Vatican came up with the idea of Lent a couple of centuries ago and wouldn’t you know it the industrious citizens of New Orléans know an opportunity to eat and carry on when they see it. Fat Tuesday, or Mardi-Gras to our Creole and Cajun friends to the South is just the excuse to let loose, eat and drink till you can’t do that no more.

Tom McGouran lampshade at the ready with Alix Michaels rocking out with an Aligator at Mardi Gras Media Night

Tom McGouran lampshade at the ready with Alix Michaels rocking out with an Aligator at Mardi Gras Media Night

Held at The RBC Convention Centre February 13th and 14th this Mardi Gras celebration marks the tenth anniversary of the event in Winnipeg. Fabulous food, entertainment and two themed nights are planned to please and surprise those who have a shine on their shoes and spring in their step.

Announcing the festivities for Mardi Gras at media night.

Announcing the festivities for Mardi Gras at media night.

Friday, February 13th is Zombie Night. The living dead will be roaming the room at the RBC Convention Centre. Come dressed as one of the living impaired and join the Undead Newlyweds as they seek fun, dancing and brains!! Those who dress to impress the undead get free admission to the Friday the 13th event.

Tom McGouran and the Zombie Bride 2

Tom McGouran better eat quick he’s being sized up for lunch by the Zombie Bride!

Don’t have a date or a mate to bring to Mardi Gras on Valentine’s Day Saturday, February the 14th? Don’t worry, you can wear your heart on your sleeve and maybe meet that special someone who will sweep you off your feet and rock the night away. Cut out hearts will be available at the door to pin to your outfit and mark yourself Looking for Love! I can personally attest to hearing some very heartfelt testimonials from people who were looking only to dance the night away and found that special someone to make the night magical.

Tom and Alix

Tom McGouran and Alix Michaels

Speaking of magic, back by popular demand, all the way from New Orléans, Louisiana is Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellrasisers. The perennial party band is a sweet treat for your ears and your feet. You’ll be jumping and shaking with music so good you’ll want to slap yo mama!

Even Country Girls like Mardi Gras. Leanne The Boss Lady Cater in full plumage at Mardi Gras Media Night

Even Country Girls like Mardi Gras. Leanne “The Boss Lady” Cater in full plumage at Mardi Gras Media Night

If that’s not enough for y’all, don’t forget The Lindsays will be performing throughout the night.  Featuring Sword Swallowing, Juggling and feats that will  amaze and surprise young and old alike!  Showgirls and yes ladies Showboys will be on display for your roving eye.  Of course we can’t forget Beads! Thank goodness it’s an adult party with no children to protect from the giving of Beads! Wink Wink Y’all!

Fresh shucked oysters

Fresh shucked oysters

Now all that moving and shaking is going to be putting a fierce hunger in that belly. Why not try some of the flavours of Louisiana. The menu this year includes fan favourites such as Deep Fried Pickles and Sweet Potato Fries, screamingly fresh P.E.I Oysters, shucked just for you and of course Peel and Eat Shrimp. New to Winnipeg Mardi Gras, sample Authentic Alligator Fritters, be careful though these may bite back!

Freshly flambéed Shrimp with Pasta

Freshly flambéed Shrimp with Pasta

Looking for something a little more hearty? Try the Louisiana Style Shrimp with Pasta, French Quarter Gumbo or Bourbon Street Creole Style Jambalaya! I’ve personally tried all the above and they are spectacular.

Jambalaya

Jambalaya! Need I say More?

Gentlemen, why not treat your own zombie bride to be or Valentine date to a sweet treat. This year’s desert special is Basin Street Pudding with Bourbon Laced Caramel Sauce.

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

With all of this activity y’all are going to have a mighty powerful thirst going on. Don’t worry, they have you covered. Major drink sponsors include Fireball Canadian Whiskey, Wine O’ Clock, Diabolica, Molson/Coors and Heineken. Naturally, you can’t have a party Louisiana style without Jack Daniel’s or Southern Comfort so they’ll be there as well!

Come visit Kristjana the Fireball Girl at Mardi Gras

Come visit Kristjana the Fireball Girl at Mardi Gras February 13th at the RBC Convention Centre.

I know that personally I can’t wait for the chance to shake off these winter blues and dance till my feet can’t dance no more. Come join us, it’s going to be one hell-raiser of a good time.

Media Celeberties laugh it up at Mardi Gras Media Night

Media Celeberties laugh it up at Mardi Gras Media Night

Authors Note: I do have a few free passes to give away for both Friday and Saturday nights. So to win, leave a comment detailing what night you’d like and what you’ll do to get them. For example, if you want Zombie Night, tell me what your costume plans are. If Valentine’s Day is more your style tell me why you absolutely need to meet that special someone this year. Winnipeg and area only please, I will be in contact with the winners to arrange pick up of the tickets.

Winnipeg Indie Music Lovers Rejoice: The Real Love Music Festival is Almost Here!

Real Love ButtonWinnipeg has always been a hotbed of musical innovation.  From the 60’s community club scene that saw The Guess Who and Neil Young dominating the Rock and Roll charts.  To smaller bands like The Jury who never quite got the big break they deserved.  Some music scholars have theorized that it’s all part of the isolation Winnipeg enjoys geographically and meteorologically.  Let’s face it although Winnipeg is in the center of the continent we’re in the middle of nowhere and our winters can be brutally extreme.

What this does to people is debatable but one thing is for sure it breeds creativity.  The Real Love Music festival, happening June 6-8th, is proof of that in spades.  Taking place at Gimli Motorsports Park in Gimli, Manitoba The Real Love Festival hopes to give people of all ages and backgrounds an affordable and memorable music experience.

Real Love Festival Poster
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Go Go Godzilla!

godzilla_2014_poster_51784

As luck would have it the fates have smiled upon me once again and gifted me a set of passes to the Winnipeg première of Godzilla.  I have high hopes that this incarnation of the giant fire-breathing lizard will be head and shoulders above the craptacular Mathew Broderick version of a few years ago.

From what I have seen so far from the trailers on-line there very well could be a battle royal between Big G and what appears to be a Rodan like creature.  In any case I will have all the goodies in my head as of May 14th with a movie preview post on May 15th.

So grab your dinosaur slippers if you have them and stomp around to the musical madness of Blue Oyster Cult as they sing Godzilla!!

Godzilla Slippers

Oh No There goes Tokyo. Go Go Godzilla!

 

 

1954 Godzilla

 

2014 Mardi Gras is shaping up to be Mardi Great!

Being a blogger to my mind is its own reward. When I write I normally have something to say or to bring to the attention of the masses, however now and then there are a few side perks that pop up.  Last night Dar and I were the guests of RAS Creative who are doing the promotions for the upcoming Winnipeg Mardi Gras celebration.  It was a media and blogger night to get a taste of the event, the colours, the atmosphere and of course the food!

Mask with feathers From jugglers and drag queens, zydeco dancing, fancy southern cocktails and of course heaping helpings of Cajun and Creole food favorites straight from New Orléans.

Masks on Table

Two Beauties

Our evening started out simply shaking hands and getting to know the assembled crowd.  It turns out that one of Darlene’s co-workers is also a Winnipeg blogger and writes the webpage PegCityLovely.  From there our grumbling stomachs lead us on to the amazing food. I decided just to work my way around the room and try a little bit of everything.  My partner in crime Darlene humbly accepted the challenge of being the night’s beverage taster since I had to drive us home.

DSC00238

PegCityLovely

The first selection of the evening is a New Orléans classic sandwich, the fried oyster po’ boy along with a side of deep fried pickles the combo knocked it out of the park.  Crunchy and rich in flavour paired with the acidity of the deep fried pickle matched incredibly well together.

Oyster Po' Boy Sign

Deep Fried Pickles

Next up was a stop to my most frequented stand of the evening.  Raw shucked Glacier Bay oysters, peel and eat shrimp and the most decadent rich and velvety smooth gumbo this wordsmith has ever eaten.  I love a good briny oyster, nothing fancy just meaty slippery goodness.  Even more than the taste is watching people’s reactions as you wolf down a dozen or so of these beauties.  Revulsion and abject horror often flash through their eyes.  Yummy!

Oyster Bar

Rounding the corner another set of tables loomed ahead, spaced perfectly with food, beverages, and food.  Needing some serious sustenance now a pasta dish looked to be the way to go and we were not disappointed.  The rosé farfalle pasta was amazing.  Complex flavours in a creamy sauce covering pillows of perfectly cooked pasta. The dish also included a oven dried tomato and a cheese crisp (chip) that added just the right zip to the velvety pasta and sauce.

Pasta Dish

Pasta PlateFireball 1

Dar seemed to be up for a challenge as we worked our way around the room and was game for a shot of Fireball whiskey.  The lovely bartender encouraged her saying that the shot tasted just like a cinnamon heart candy.  Dar did the shot like a trooper and even got a souvenir flashing shot-glass to mark the occasion.

Fireball Girl

Seafood is definitely a way of life down in New Orléans so a dish like bourbon flamed garlic pepper shrimp on a bed of rice pilaf is a natural. Like everything else we had tried up to this point the rice and shrimp were simply mind blowing. The aromas coming from this table were incredible, frying garlic and briny shrimps being flamed in top shelf bourbon I’ll let your imagination do the rest.

Garlic Pepper Shrimp

One last turn and we were into Dar’s favorite stand of the night the mixed cocktails.  liking a sweeter beverage Darlene tried two of the house favorites.   The Agent Orange and the Southern Hurricane.  Darlene preferred the Agent Orange due to it’s fruity flavour and deceptive power.  “You can’t even taste the booze in this, it’s dangerous” she exclaimed!

Southern Comfort Menu

But don’t think that’s where Mardi Gras stops as I said the party planners are bringing in top notch entertainment in the form of Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers.  Playing the best in washboard music and swamp pop that your ears have ever heard. I guarantee!

Two masks

Social Media Page

Come for the food, come for the fun and flamboyance. Come for the Ambiance and the Zydeco, how’s that for an A to Z fun time.  Come on down I guarantee you’ll have a great time.  It’s taking place at the Winnipeg Convention Center February 14 and 15th

If you live in Winnipeg and are a fan of Exploring Winnipeg and Beyond, I have some free passes to give away. But there is a catch.  Comment on this post and tell me how I got my start blogging.  It’s easy just go into the archives and look it up.  I’m looking for where I went (City) and the reason (event) I went there.
Comment on this blog posting an I’ll hook you up with some passes for Mardi Gras at the convention center.

Now do yourself a favor and check out the musical madness of Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers!

Christmas Giving: The Gift That Gives Back.

Hey folks, I know it’s been a while since I’ve been around.  But I decided to poke my head out of my hiding hole for a little while and get on my hickory stump for a bit of an old country lesson.

The theme of this message is… It never hurts to help.

Now people I am not saying that you have to give up the family farm or put yourself in hardship.  But given the things people all around the world are going through it hardly seems wrong to chip in a little in any way to help those that have less than yourself.

It could be a dollar into a Charity Hamper, or a nickel into the that Salvation army kettle with the singing Santa. It could be donating some time to a worthy cause, like serving soup for those less fortunate.  All I am saying is that in this economic climate everything helps.

You may ask Bob…What did you do to help those in need.  Well my friends I deliver hampers to the less fortunate in Winnipeg.
I take a few nights out of my year and grab some like-minded friends and go spread the Christmas cheer.

I throw on a Santa hat and knock on doors for a cause, I don’t do it to help me but in some way I do.  I give my time and my effort for free, and all I get in return is the smiling faces of children who would otherwise have no Christmas.  I get the respect and hearty handshakes of immigrant fathers who have fled war-torn countries in search of a better life.  Not understanding the generous ways of Winnipeg or even the tradition of Christmas.

In giving back to those who have less, we see more than just poverty.  We see the kindness of faith and the redemption of the spirit of charity.

I think that in giving back we can all grow, It does not have to be Christmas, but all faiths can give and become greater.

In the words of my faith Merry Christmas One and All

Bob

Winnipeg by Winnipeg: Exploring Winnipeg and Beyond gets picked for printing.

I write because I enjoy it, I’m not paid to craft these pages it’s a labor of love.  A few months ago local bookseller McNally Robinson issued a call in local newspapers for photo submissions for a book that would be about Winnipeg by locals. Thus the Winnipeg by Winnipeg project was launched.

McNally Robinson Store in Grant Park Shopping Center

McNally Robinson Store in Grant Park Shopping Center

 Over the course of almost five years of blogging I’ve amassed hundreds of photographs of my adoptive city, any number of which would be great for such a publication.  I spent hours digging through my archives looking for just the right shots for submission.  Lighting, composition, and content I knew were going to be judged to be worthy of inclusion in the book.  Last night was the book release event and I had made the cut with one of my photos gloriously reproduced and put into print for the world to see.

Photographers and guests crowd the store to capacity.

Photographers and guests crowd the store to capacity.

 Over one thousand photographers submitted photography and less than 100 were chosen to be included in the book, I was in rare company indeed.  Last night we all gathered together eager with anticipation to see the finished product in a swanky affair hosted at McNally Robinson’s flagship store in Grant Park Shopping Center.  Photographers were professional and amateur, young and old, from every strata of society, giving a true cross-section of life in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg by Winnipeg Cake.

Winnipeg by Winnipeg Cake.

 Photographs from the book were shown on a large screen as each artist was called to the front to receive congratulations and copies of the book.  Some of the shots were simply amazing, creative and revealing.  Showing not only the highlights of Winnipeg but also its darker and arguably more interesting sides.  Darkness and light, beauty and despair all coming together to make this city we call home.

St. Boniface Cathedral from the Red River.

St. Boniface Cathedral from the Red River.

 My shot shows Winnipeg relaxing on Canada Day, a single kayak paddles down the Red River in sight of the St. Boniface Cathedral.  One of many photographs taken at the Forks Market.  I am proud of my accomplishment in making the final product.  But my personal pride is secondary to the feeling I got last night when I saw so many Winnipeggers come together to celebrate our city with warts and all.

Celebrating with my copy of Winnipeg by Winnipeg. Check out my image on page 17 of the book.

Celebrating with my copy of Winnipeg by Winnipeg. Check out my image on page 17 of the book.

 Do yourself a favor explore Winnipeg; check out the back alleys and the boulevards.  Get to know its friendly citizens if not in person then in the pages of Winnipeg by Winnipeg.  You’ll be glad you did!