Jen’s Jibberish: Warm Your Soul this Weekend with Atlantic Voices

January 27, 2012 3:30 pm

Feeling the after-effects of a few too many ‘wee drams’ after Robbie Burns Day?  If so, you are likely hunting for other ways to lift your spirits this weekend.  There is no better way to feed the soul than with the sound of music. This coming Sunday afternoon, January 29, at 3 p.m. you can feast on melodies from the Maritimes sung by local choir Atlantic Voices. (

Atlantic Voices have been singing tunes from Newfoundland, Labrador, the Maritimes and other Celtic songs since 2002 and the choir consists of approximately 45 singers, most of whom have roots in Atlantic Canada.  Their shows often focus on one Atlantic province and this first concert in the Voices’ 10th anniversary season will put the spotlight on PEI.  It is also the first time the Birthplace of Confederation has been highlighted.


Choir Director Scott Richardson (who hails from Nova Scotia) says the first half will focus on traditional PEI songs and folk music, some of which has been arranged for the occasion by local composer Dave Eagles and by Richardson himself.  The second half will include a musical tribute to PEI songwriting legend, the late Gene MacLellan, (who composed Put Your Hand in the Hand, Snowbird and other great songs.)

Other fare will include Acadie de nos coeurs by PEI songwriter Lennie Gallant and of course any PEI shindig would be incomplete without a medley from the Charlottetown Festival’s musical Anne of Green Gables.

A pre-show jam session will be provided by the Fumblin’ Fingers, a band made up of about half a dozen musicians that includes fiddlers, guitarists and even an accordion player.  They will warm things up starting at 2:15 p.m.  (

The Voices’ mascot, a Newfoundland Dog named Tikka.

While technically speaking, you won’t be hanging around the stove and fridge, it will definitely feel like an Atlantic Canada kitchen party.  Even The Voices’ mascot, a Newfoundland Dog named ‘SS Maritime Atlantiika’, a.k.a. “Tiika,  will be onhand, chilling at the front of the church, taking in the tunes.

The family-friendly show: …And They’re From Prince Edward Island takes place this Sunday, January 29th at Centretown United Church, 507 Bank Street, at 3:00 p.m. Check out the Voices at www. or find them on facebook.

Tickets at the door are $18, kids 12 and under are free. (If you’re organized enough to buy in advance, you can save yourself $3 per ticket.  Email with the number of tickets you want and get ready to warm your soul.

Ottawa Food Bank Hits Record Numbers With Holiday Campaign

January 16, 2012 8:47 am

Every year the Ottawa Food Bank provides assistance to families in need in our nation’s capital; this year was no exception.  During its 2011-2012 annual Holiday Food Drive, the Ottawa Food Bank collaborated with 430 local organizations to collect canned goods, 50 more than the 2010-2011 campaign. In addition, many organizations organized their own fundraising events and separate food drives to assist the Ottawa Food Bank in their efforts this season, including Hot 89.9 FM, OC Transpo and CTV Morning Live.

Holiday Food Drive's grand total for this year is 276,000 pounds of food and over $60,000 in donations.

The Ottawa Food Bank is proud to announce that the Holiday Food Drive’s grand total for this year is 276,000 pounds of food and over $60,000 in donations; this is an increase of 36,000 pounds of food collected last year. “Our warehouse team was astonished by the amount of food that was being brought into the warehouse throughout the campaign,” said Maggie Rose, Event Coordinator at the Ottawa Food Bank. We are so thankful to all the businesses and organizations that organized a food drive or held a fundraiser this Holiday season and helped us break a new Holiday Food Drive record.” When combining the amount of food collected and funds raised, the Holiday Food Drive is the Ottawa Food Bank’s biggest food drive of the year. Because of Ottawa’s commitment to help hungry members of its community, 45,000 individuals will benefit from the Ottawa Food Bank every month.

The Ottawa Food Bank not only depends on the donations of the community, they rely heavily on the work of volunteers, especially during their busy season. During the holidays, the Ottawa Food Bank welcomes around 40 volunteers a day, 5 days a week. “During the 2010/2011 fiscal year, our volunteers totalled nearly 24,700 hours of work,” said Rose. “This amount of hours equals to the number of hours of almost 13 full-time employees!” Although the Ottawa Food Bank has a staff of 20 employees, the volume of work is so heavy during the large food drives that it could not get done otherwise. Volunteers do everything from sorting food to helping at fundraising events.  The work of volunteers is crucial to the successful operation of the Holiday Food Drive. “The overwhelming number of food drive pick-ups would not be possible without the help of all these volunteers,” explained Rose.

There are many ways that you can help.

Year-round, the Ottawa Food Bank focuses on collecting and distributing food to its member agencies, who serve people in need in the Ottawa area. To collect the necessary food and funds to fulfill their mission, a number of events are organized every year, including the Holiday Food Drive, as well as Food Aid and Lunch Money Day.

Interested in helping the Ottawa Food Bank in 2012? There are many ways that you can help. Food can be donated in the red bins, found in local grocery stores.  You can organize your own food drive or fundraising event. The Ottawa Food Bank also accepts donations through their website and they are always looking for volunteers to help out in their warehouse and for special events. For more information, visit the Ottawa Food Bank’s website.

Ottawa Rock Lottery in Review

January 3, 2012 3:38 pm
ottawa voice box

“Why have a scene when you can have a community?” This is the Ottawa Rock Lottery’s mantra, one fitting in regards to its latest friendship with the Ottawa International Film Festival (OIFF). Now that 2012 has graced us with its presence, let’s look at the last significant film event to take place in Ottawa in 2011.

As far as film events in the Capital City of Canada go, the Ottawa Rock Lottery generally doesn’t get recognized as one. And why should it? In has traditionally been a music-only event. In its third time around in 2011, the Ottawa Rock Lottery had a special place in OIFF’s burgeoning Filmmaker’s Spotlight Series. It’s the coming together of two often disparate worlds in Ottawa’s arts scene: film and music.

And yet, this is not OIFF’s first taste of Ottawa’s music community. For the two years it’s been on, the last day of the festival was exclusively devoted to a highly popular music video competition – the 72 Hour Video Challenge. This year, they’ve taken their musical infatuation a step further, by including the Lottery as part of the Spotlight Series. A key figure in both collaborations is Samantha Everts, who both hosted the Music Video Challenge, and the organized the Lottery.

Amos the Transparent. Photo: ottawa's voice box

Still not understanding the connection to film? Let’s unpack the Lottery’s premise. In May 2011, the Lottery took 25 people from five local bands, mixed them up in random groupings, and gave these makeshift bands 24 hours to produce a thirty minute set that they then performed at a final concert. This year’s twist was that a documentary film crew – Ottawa film collaborative the Indefinite Project – was following the bands around. They shot both the individual experiences of each band, as well as the final concert with all five bands. The final product was a 22-minute documentary, which was screened on Wednesday, December 14. The proceeds of the sale of the DVDs were $250, all of which went to the Ottawa Food Bank.
Daniel Tauno, Ottawa filmmaker and actor in the Zebrassieres video, called the Lottery “a shining light in Ottawa. He further said that “this event was genius in how it tied together the music community and the film scene with OIFF.”  He also noted that, “The more integration in the arts community the better, and the healthier it will be. With tonight acting as a rare occasion to bring together disparate forms and different crowds. There are a lot of musicians here, as well as a lot of filmmakers.”

Ian Keteku, spoken word poet and star of the Capital Slam poetry scene, was surprisingly one of the artists involved in the Lottery. Ottawa Life got special report that Keteku is in works on a new project with one of the artists with whom he collaborated, band member from Tiger and the Playground. He was amazed by the “super talented individuals” in his band, noting that “some people had to jump off their regular instrument to make up for holes”. As for the collaboration, he says that,  “It’s still yet to happen, but 2012 is on its way. And Tiger and the Playground will be in the mix for sure. “The Ottawa filmmaker scene hasn’t really been tapped yet in terms of musical artists. So for me, it was bringing those things together: poetry, music, video.”
Meanwhile, Alan Neal – host of the documentary screening and renowned broadcaster of CBC Radio Ottawa’s All in a Day – noted that he “was actually amazed at how good everyone sounded.”

Alan Neil. Photo: ottawa's voice box

One of the real challenges was in actually getting the filmmaking rolling. In the case of one of the bands, the filmmakers showed up to the house, but could not get an answer at the door. When filmmakers were finally able to get in through a wayward window, they found out that the band was rehearsing, and simply playing too loud. It looks like the creativity of the collaboration got the better of their time-keeping skills.

The night of the documentary screening ended when all the musicians come up on stage and, in impromptu fashion, broke out into “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to laughs and cheers from the crowd.

Everts talked to Ottawa Life about her experiences with the Lottery and the documentary attached to it, and what she sees for it in the future. Here are the details of that interview:

Ottawa Life: How did the idea for a documentary for the Rock Lottery come about?
: I met the filmmakers in college and we’ve been friends ever since.  I’m a big supporter of the independent arts scene and actually hold a degree in Film Studies, so when they approached me to shoot it, I was all for it!  I had no idea that my project would end up on the big screen at an international film festival.  The whole thing was about celebrating the music and arts community that has so supported me for the last 9 years- I wanted other people to see how amazing and inclusive it really is. I’m really proud with how it turned out.

Ottawa Life: What do you hope last night’s showing will accomplish?
Everts: I hope that people that have been involved in Rock Lotto has given musicians in Ottawa new connections and opportunities.  I also hope it has become a source of pride and confidence in that they were able to get together with strange and create music, beautiful or not.
Last night’s show proved how the film and music scene really do belong together and must strive to work together in the future for people to be informed and just become fans of the music and art happening in their city.

Kalle Mattson video still from "Thick as Thieves"

Ottawa Life: Overall, how do you think it went?
Everts: It went amazing!  I’m so happy with how it went- I’m exhausted today as it’s been about three months planning but while watching the films and bands turning around and seeing a hundred people enjoying and being exposed to new art and music- well that’s the whole ethos of the rock lotto there! “Why have a scene when you can have a community.” This event really bridged the gap between the independent film and music scene.  I was amazed that Ian Keteku was not only back in the country for the screening, but that he had asked me if he could perform a poem.  All around me jaws were dropping and people kept asking me, who is this guy?  Same happened with the group Kalle Mattson – they’re a really REALLY young band of 20 year-olds that actually live up my street!  They’re new to the city so having them see exactly what’s possible for groups to accomplish when they get thrown together to create music is a huge motivation.

Ottawa Life: What do you see for the future of this project – be it the Rock Lottery itself or the documentation of it via a documentary film?

Everts: Well, I’m already in the process of organizing the next lotto for April of next year.  I’ve been working on some grants and corporate sponsorships. The film crew at The Indefinite Project are also looking forward to next year with the possibility of doing a feature length documentary to be entered in further festivals like SXSW.  A lot of that is in the beginning planning stages, but we’ve got some pretty big ideas of where we want to take it!


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