Keeping You In The JUNO Know: Awards Show Fever Is Here

February 27, 2012 4:26 pm

With less than a month before the festivities commence, talk of the JUNOS is revving up in the capital city.

Early media events have slowly started to divulge information about the Canadian music awards show and the inevitability of it consuming the attention of Ottawa during the last week of March – and there’s no doubt that the hype will continue to grow along with the long list of globetrotting Canadian artists and celebrities who are expected to attend the April 1st event at the Scotiabank Place.

On Friday afternoon it was announced that William Shatner, Canadian actor and celebrity host who originally hails from Montreal, will be handling hosting duties from behind the microphone on the big night – introducing the performing likes of Nickelback, Hey Rosetta!, Feist, City and Colour, deadmau5, Hedley, Sarah McLachlan and Blue Rodeo as well as a live dance “Mix Tape” performance by new dance artists Alyssa Reid, JRDN, Anjulie, Mia Martina and Dragonette.

Melanie Berry

“We’re delighted to welcome one of our nation’s shining stars to Canada’s biggest night in music,” said Melanie Berry, President & CEO, Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) and The JUNO Awards. “William Shatner is a Canadian hero, and with his love for music, the stage, and entertaining as a whole, it’s sure to be an incredible show.”

The week prior to the red carpet affair and music-filled televised event will see an influx of national media and Canadian artists into the capital region to participate in JUNO publicity events, such as a collaborative visit to the National Gallery of Art with Canadian artists called the JUNO Tour of Canadian Art, as well as PANDAMONIUM at the Civic Centre, JUNO Hoops at the University of Ottawa, JUNO fanfare at the St. Laurent shopping centre and JUNOfest, a multi-venue showcase featuring 100 local, regional and national acts to take place the weekend of the awards show. Further East, Toronto is holding a number of showcases and lead-up events that will collect some of the biggest names in Canadian music before they trek to Ottawa for the Sunday night broadcast.

Press at the Juno press release.

Perhaps one of the most intimate prelude events is the JUNOS Songwriter’s Circle, hosted this year by famed folk-rock artist Dan Mangan, and designed to bring together talented Canadian singer-songwriters for a cozy trading of strums and stories on stage at the Centrepointe Theatre. Mangan will conduct the dialogue, perform his own acoustic Canadian hits and introduce CBC Radio 3 artists like Max Kerman of The Arkells, David Francey and Lindi Ortega during the ticketed musical gathering.

On Saturday, March 31st, pop-punk band Simple Plan is to be honoured with the 2012 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award during the 2012 JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards. The award, which recognizes outstanding Canadian artists whose humanitarian contributions have positively enhanced the social fabric of Canada, will be given to the band for their launching of the Simple Plan Foundation, an initiative that has donated more than $750,000 to youth-focused charities since December 2005 and helps both young people in need and children facing life-threatening illness in Canada and abroad.  The group’s most recent benefit concert with the Montréal Symphony Orchestra raised a whopping $1 million in donations to go towards the Foundation.

Canada's brightest stars will be honoured at the Junos.

On receiving the award, lead singer Chuck Cormeau said, “Words cannot express how grateful we are to be the recipients of this award. To be recognized by CARAS and the JUNO Awards is a true honour for us. As a band we have been very fortunate to receive the constant support of our fans, which has allowed us to continue doing what we love for the last ten years. Because of that, we believe that it is extremely important for us to give back, and the Simple Plan Foundation is our way to do this.”

All-Star games, another successful Winterlude and now the biggest evening in Canadian music taking place in Kanata are all proof that Ottawa has a substantial place on Canada’s culture map in 2012 – so stay tuned to Ottawa Life online as we celebrate Ottawa’s presence with more emerging updates and live coverage on the night of the broadcast.

For more information or tickets to any of the JUNO events, visit http://junoawards.ca or

*All images courtesy of Quame Scott of Q3 Studio*

Last Weekend to Experience Winterlude in Ottawa

February 16, 2012 8:33 am

A winter highlight in the capital region since 1979, Winterlude offers adults and children alike the opportunity to embrace the carnival benefits of living in a snow (and ice) covered landscape. If you have not taken part in Ottawa’s Winterlude activities in 2012, this weekend is your last chance.


Outdoor festivities are held in three main locations, each offering a fun and unique experience. The Rideau Canal Skateway attracts droves of tourists and residents, creating a festive energy despite the likelihood of frigid weather. Learn to skate or perfect existing skills on the world’s longest skating rink. Or, enjoy activities such as Echoes from the Past, which explores old-time lifestyles and the canal’s history. Meanwhile, over the bridge at the Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park, children bundled in excessive layers of clothing can forget about their frosted cheeks and chilled toes as they tackle the giant slides, obstacle courses, mazes and hope for a chance to ride in a tethered hot-air balloon. Wrap up this enjoyable outdoor weekend appreciating the magnificent ice sculptures in the Rogers Crystal Garden at Confederation Park, which are arguably the highlight of Winterlude.

Ottawa Fashion Week

If you are not one for the outdoors, you can take advantage of the multitude of indoor activities offered as part of the festival. Fashion buffs can enjoy Ottawa Fashion Week exploring designer clothing and jewellery. Art junkies can view free screenings of award-winning The Clock in its Canadian debut at the National Art Gallery. Finally, foodies can indulge their taste buds with Winter, Wines and Beer, an event offering a selection of ice ciders, wines and winter beers from some fifteen microbreweries, cider mills and wineries. Otherwise, plan a dinner at the newly-renovated Summit (formerly Merlot Rooftop Grill), which rarely opens its doors to the general public nowadays.


How should you get to Winterlude? Make the journey part of the adventure and introduce your young children to public transport, successfully avoiding the hassle of finding an appropriate parking space or having to pay high fees. Once on location, there is no need for a car with free Sno-Bus Shuttle service between sites.

Controversy and services

Lots of fun for kids and adults alike!

New this year are the controversial chalets built along the Canal to accommodate visitors, which cost the NCC over $5.25 million for seven of these huts. The heated shelters (four of them change rooms and three washrooms) provide a convenient and comfortable space for people to change into their skates, store their boots and use the washroom. While many residents question the expense of the new facilities, none can deny that replacements were needed given that the previous shelters were in use since the 1970s. In addition to the chalets, visitors benefit from a range of services at their disposal, from skate and sleigh rentals to skate sharpening and a delectable variety of food venders, namely the famous Beavertails.

Winterlude is an excellent reason to make your way downtown or over to Quebec. While you are in the area, take the time to visit Parliament, stroll the Byward Market, see a show at the National Art Centre or take in an IMAX movie. Rebel against the tendency to hibernate indoors and make the most of the last Winterlude weekend instead.

Jen’s Jibberish: Want to score? Get her tickets to the Viennese Opera Ball

February 14, 2012 6:05 pm

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Ok, so we’re down to the wire here.  If you are in a last minute panic, can’t get out to a shop and are scrambling to come up with an original yet romantic gift, how about taking a new approach to Valentine’s Day?

Last weekend, I had the incredible experience of attending the Viennese Opera Ball, held at the National Gallery.  It is an annual event that has been taking place since 1996 and it is actually one of only five international Viennese Balls officially sanctioned by the Austrian government.  (You can read more about Vienna and the ball season in the current print issue of Ottawa Life.)


It was an absolutely enchanting evening and everything you would expect a ball to be.  In fact, it was pure magic. With waltzes, amazing Austrian/Canadian cuisine and incredible music, including The Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra and The Stevens and Kennedy Band. The event even featured opera thanks to the members of the Opera Lyra Ottawa Studio program, whose beautiful voices filled the Great Hall.

So this year, why not surprise your honey with the promise of a couple of tickets to next year’s event?  Print off some photos from the web site (, put them in a card and voilà, you have the perfect Valentine’s Day gift that will involve two nights of fabulous instead of just one.


As if that is not enough, you will be helping the arts community in Ottawa.  There were two charitable beneficiaries this year, Opera Lyra Ottawa Studio Program ( for aspiring young opera singers and OrKidstra (, a musical instruction and instrument program for children in the city who could not otherwise afford it.

Keep an eye out next January for Jen’s Jibberish on OLM where all the details for next year’s Viennese Opera Ball will be posted. In the meantime, surprise your partner with that new approach to the Day of Love.

Jen’s Jibberish: Let Your Kink Out This Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2012 6:50 pm

Looking for a unique last-minute Valentine’s Day gift this year? Even if you missed this weekend’s 5th annual adult consumer show Sexapalooza ( held at the new Ottawa Convention Centre, fret not. Whether you are in the market for some lingerie, books, videos, classes or perhaps you are into exploring the wilder side, there is still time to unleash the kinkster in you or your partner with a purchase from any number of Ottawa adult entertainment stores. However, mark your calendar for next February to keep an eye out for Sexapalooza. One of the great things about the event is having access to Ottawa’s diverse adult entertainment community in one location, catching some interesting seminars and live entertainment.

Let that burlesque diva in you come out!

Here’s a list of ideas or places you can visit to find appropriate gear or gift certificates to let that inner kitten roar.

Let that burlesque diva in you come out with a little pole dancing.  And you will get a kick ass core workout too.

Cherry Blossom Pole Dancing

Other pole dancing locales include 3Sixty Dance and Fitness and Ottawa Pole Fitness.

For something a bit more exotic, try a belly dancing class. Halyma’s Belly Dance, is a great place to start.

If you prefer a party for two and need some gear, check out Wicked Wanda’s Adult Emporium (www. on Bank Street in downtown Ottawa.  This is the perfect place to learn about the wild side.  Don’t let the name scare you off, the staff are great and will go out their way to help.

Don't forget to mark your calendar for next year's Sexapalooza!

Classixxx Adult Stores (  The place has been around forever and like Wicked Wanda’s, has helpful and knowledgeable staff. There are different locations across the city.

Tuesday’s the Romance Store (  located in Westboro.

Venus Envy,  Also located downtown.  Great place for books and educational resources, oils and various accoutrements.

Whatever your desires, somebody in the Capital is here to help make your Valentine’s Day the best ever, even at the last minute.

Spend Valentine’s at the Movies

February 10, 2012 3:49 pm

If you’re anything like me, seeing a good film is the highlight of your day and, dependent on the film, a highlight you will carry with you always. And so it follows that the perfect Valentine’s Day, and week leading up to it, is one in which I get to do something film-related. On this holiday, I let my boundaries fall by the wayside and I give in to temptation.

That is, I give in to the pleasure of submersing myself in wonderful feel-good romances while letting time slip through my fingers. Noting that “feel-good romance” is a subjective term, mine ranges from the sappiest of romcoms to the obscurest couplings. In the end, quality still wins out. So I hope the following list of films has something in it for everyone’s taste.

Friday – Sensual shorts

Mayfair Theatre: Painted Lips and Lolly Licks: The Sexy Film Festival at 9:30 p.m.

Painted Lips and Lolly Licks

This year is the fourth installation of the festival which is run by the Mayfair. On the Mayfair website, the festival uses titillating wordplay to describe it “return[ing] to prematurely, uh, celebrate Valentine’s Day.”  This festival has elements of sexuality and sensuality, but also offers a range of genres. Here is what Lee Demarbe of Mayfair said in a 2011 XPpress article: “We’re not showing porn, just short films dealing with sexuality in one way or another. Some are animated, some are funny, some border on XXX, and all are very entertaining.” The festival also opens up with a live performance by Ottawa’s Sin-Sisters Burlesque group.

Saturday – Dinner at the movies

TV: TVO’s Saturday Night at the Movies, Big Night (1996) at 8 p.m.

As it has done in the past, one would think that TVO’s Saturday Night at the Movies would make this week’s theme love. Instead, it’s “dinner at the movies.” It might not be a conventional romance, but Big Night is a work of love. It is a movie with subtle charm that professes love to food and family. Set in the `50s, two brothers open an authentic Italian restaurant in which the food looks so good you want to just through the screen. It is also undeniable that food and romance have a special relationship. The film starts at 8 p.m., which leaves time to do some couply cooking beforehand. Make some fettuccini with your date, and then eat it alongside the scrumptious food on the screen.

Sunday – Drive from the seat of your couch

Rental: Drive (2011)

Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan in Drive

Ryan Gosling once described Drive as Sixteen Candles (1984) with violence. To him, the John Hughes film would have been a masterpiece had it included that not-so-minor addition. That’s just what you get with Drive. It’s the action film for those that disdain action films and the romance film for those that avoid romances. An `80s throwback and one of the best films of 2011, this film feels, looks and breathes like a dream – self-encapsulated, otherworldly, and incomparable. Plus, Monday morning won’t feel so bad with Sunday evening still on your mind.

Monday – Odd-couple evening

Mayfair Theatre: Harold and Maude (1971) at 9 p.m.

It’s a shame that North America doesn’t take to dark comedy like Europe. It is conceivable that Woody Allen walks the line between neurotic and dark comedy, but at times it feels like this side of the Atlantic can only handle dark themes if they come out of the drama category. So it’s nice to see Mayfair showing a film about one of the quirkiest odd couples in the history of film, and doing it a day before Valentine’s. And quirky they are, as Maude is 79 and Harold is in his early 20s. It is also likely that Mayfair is showing the cult classic early this year as the Criterion Collection will release a special edition of the film on blu ray and DVD in April, 2012.

Rental: My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

My Beautiful Laundrette

Daniel Day Lewis. That may be all I need to write in order to get you to rent this film. As much as he adds to the film, it’s the whole package that shines. It’s been called a milestone of both British and LGBT cinema. It’s a film about sexuality, race, and politics all playing out against a backdrop of a couple in love. The oddity of the relationship between the two central characters has nothing to do with their sexual orientation. This is what is so wonderful about it. It’s their circumstances in life that make this couple part of a bizarre and selfish world. In turn, the protagonists’ relationship seems like the purest and most natural part of the whole equation.

Tuesday, THE BIG DAY – An evening with the classics

Bytowne Cinema: Casablanca (1942) at 6:50 p.m.

Casablanca is one of those classic romances that paved the way for the rest. It’s unabashed love in a time in Hollywood when clichés reigned. Rotten Tomatoes consensus dubs it “perhaps Hollywood’s quintessential statement on love and romance.” And while it spawned a Hollywood-type of romance narrative, it gave intrigue-filled romances the world-over a good name. Moreover, it defined both Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s careers. It’s a must-see for all cinephiles and Valentine’s-philes alike. Plus, seeing it on the silver screen at the Bytowne can only add to the experience.

Mayfair Theatre: Annie Hall (1977) at 7 p.m., Amélie (2001) at 9 p.m.

Annie Hall

Two classic films. Two neurotic tales. Two unparalleled female characters. For some, it might be hard to sit through four straight hours of great film. To that I reply, “Really? I could sit through 12.” But if it is too much for you, here are some pointers to help you choose which one to see. Annie Hall oozes Woody Allen – that is, the new and reinvented Woody Allen. The film was a turning-point for the filmmaker, as he transitioned from just comedic material to comedic material that has a serious edge to it. It is all about relationships in the modern world, and the idiosyncrasies both women and men have to deal with when in relationships. Amélie is yet another treasure. The title character goes through life in awe of simple pleasures and meets some of the most bizarre yet endearing characters in the process. In the end, the two films helped define two different generations of women, and the different ways love develops in urban settings. So, this night may be a night for choosing the familiar or the unknown. With either choice, you can’t go wrong.

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