The Igloofest 2014 lineup is ouuuuuuut!
The best part? Organizers booked the delightfully deadpan Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. If you think Orlando Tobias Edward Higginbottom's original compositions are fabulous, wait until you hear his DJ mixes.
Bonus points for tacking on Pete Tong the same night as Higginbottom. If you're a seasoned electrohead, you'd recognize Tong's voice anywhere. He's been the host of the Essential Mix for BBC Radio 1 since 1993, though he first debuted on the station back in 1981, spewing weekly gossip on the dance music scene. As a producer and/or DJ, making it on his show is huge. It's no secret that you spin the top of your game if Tong comes knocking at your door requesting a two-hour guest mix. Some of the best DJ and/or producer compilations I've ever heard were on the Essential Mix. So imagine what one of electronic music's leading figureheads will pull out of his hat come January 23, 2014, which brings me to the worst part.
Tong and Higginbottom are booked on a Thursday, Igloofest's notoriously slowest day of the fest, which I suppose isn't such a bad thing considering how sardine-packed Fridays and Saturdays can get. Whatever. You probably thought the worst part was the weather ;-)
*Don't worry about missing out on tickets. They only go on sale next week, December 10, 2013. I'll have all of your must-sees covered well ahead of time.
When I spotted an invite in my inbox welcoming me to join a small group of journalists at Auberge St. Gabriel for an exclusive tasting of Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select Whiskey, my first reaction was "but I hate whiskey."
My second reaction? At $300 a bottle, could this whiskey really taste that bad? Could it really make me cough, gag and lunge for the closest glass of water like Jacky D's good old fashioned Tennessee standard?
According to Brown-Forman national sales director and Jack Daniel's brand ambassador John Breckon, the reason straight whiskey would induce a cringe in the first place is because I'm doing it wrong.
Downing it like a shot? Wrong.
Drinking it fast like it's water? Wrong.
Taking a significant gulp of any kind from the get-go? Have I learned nothing.
According to Breckon, if you find yourself recoiling, it's because your tongue completely missed out on the sweetness. Chances are the whiskey went down so fast, it barely mingled with the taste buds. So the drinker would only feel a rough kick from the alcohol but miss out on all the flavor. Rather, one must gently savor whiskey, at least at first, making sure the first sip is a small one that "touches the tip of your tongue," he insists. As for sip number 2 and 3? "Go for it," says Breckon.
Frank Sinatra certainly did. A longtime fan, the famed crooner apparently dubbed Jack Daniel's whiskey the "nectar of the gods,", allegedly displaying an overt fondness for the brand throughout most of his career.
So in honor of Sinatra's upcoming birthday centennial in 2015, Jack Daniel's is releasing a special edition whiskey setting back mere mortals a piddly $300 a bottle. Available in limited quantities until its global launch in about a year's time, Montreal is one of a handful of cities --New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles-- offered a head start on tasting the single-barrel, 90 proof spirit. Raising the proof above 80 is a big deal for the brand since they dropped their regular down to 80 over what Jack Daniel's claims is a customer preference for a gentler whiskey over the boldness of 45% alcohol.
So with all things considered, including the high proof, how does it taste to a whiskey hater like myself? Rather glorious, actually. It goes down so smooth and has a pervasive vanilla aroma. It's really quite lovely. And for the first time in my adult life, I actually finished a glass of whiskey straight, let alone took a second sip. If I had an extra $300 lying around, I'd snap up a bottle pronto.
Breckon compared the flavor of Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select to Cracker Jack's candied popcorn and peanuts, claiming that there is "so much more caramel, so much more butterscotch" permeating courtesy of the deep, spiraling grooves carved on the inside of the Sinatra oak barrel staves, barrels which are toasted and charred prior to the maturation process. No other whiskey barrels get this treatment at Jack Daniel's. And the Sinatra barrels are only used once.
Last I checked, there are a mere 15 bottles left at the downtown Signature SAQ at Complexe les Ailes on Ste. Catherine Street in downtown Montreal.
One last thing. While I was at the event, there were four whiskey cocktails being served and the one I chose - the Bunker-- was so good, I just had to have the recipe. Its creator, Auberge St. Gabriel bartender Axel Boivin happily and generously obliged. What I loved so much about this cocktail was not only its elegant presentation but its bold, but not too bold, and sweet, but not too sweet appeal. It's perfect for the holiday season.
How to Make:
- The Bunker
Quick note folks: your Montreal December 2013 events are posted! From free holiday fun to must-see events and activities, I've got you covered.
And do come back every week for updates. Or better yet, join my community on Facebook.
*That was like the 30th take. It was a long day.
Unless you've been recently avoiding all forms of social media --can't blame ya there-- you must have known about Uber Taxi's three free $20 cab trips which many a Montrealer cashed in on the week of November 13 to November 20, 2013.
It was an introductory promotion offered to users new to the GPS-based taxi dispatching service which just set up shop in Montreal, more than a year after its debut in Toronto.
Good news, folks. In a totally unexpected email, management claimed Uber wanted to make up for the fact that I didn't have a chance that week to take full advantage of the free taxi week promo. So they extended the promotion for me until November 30.
AND... they gave me a nifty promo code to spread the joy. In other words, if you sign up via the link in my just-published Uber Taxi article, YOU TOO can get access to three free $20 cab rides on Montreal soil now through November 30, provided you're a new user who hasn't opened an account yet.
So to reiterate, if you're curious about how Uber Montreal works, what I thought of the service, or if you just want those free cabs, then click here for the scoop.
Rubberbandance founder and choreographer Victor Quijada never was one to fit the mold. Earning the nickname "Rubberband" from his b-boy days on the streets and in the clubs of Los Angeles, the once eight-year-old breakdancing whiz was invited straight out of high school to join the prestigious Twyla Tharp Dance Company in New York. There was just one thing. He was the only member with no ballet training.
At the time, ballet didn't quite "get" street. And street was no place for pointe work. One movement language is young, raw, all over the place, accessible to anyone willing to put in the time and is in constant evolution while the other is bathed in centuries of tradition and rigid adherence to form which, incidentally, costs a small fortune to learn. Yet Victor's everyday had room for both. When he wasn't practising ballet during business hours, he was perfecting new moves in hip hop clubs at night.
He eventually formed Rubberbandance back in 2002 right here in Montreal out of this desire to bridge the gap and create a new dance language altogether. Not a breakdance/ballet hybrid, not a this-meets-that, but something else, something deconstructed. Something completely different.
As an amateur/closet dance fanatic myself --a friend eventually christened my style "kung fu ballet" for lack of a better term, I moved in ways he hadn't seen before so he didn't really know what to call it-- I remember three key dance moments that marked me, moments that stuck in my mind for weeks, months, even years. The first was as a kid seeing Louise Lecavalier pitch herself in midair in a CBC commercial announcing the premiere of La La La Human Steps' Infante C'est Destroy. The second major jaw drop was years later, when La La La's Amelia came out.
So when Victor's team approached me to ask if I would be interested in collaborating with them, I was stunned. Flummoxed. On the floor.
Victor himself admitted it took him a long time to be comfortable with the idea of letting an outsider come into their space and watch the creative process unfold to then share their impressions. For whatever reason, this team of mavericks I hold in such high regard asked me to be that person.
So I said yes. I had to.
Three months later, I'm still stunned.
Premiering worldwide tonight is the troupe's latest work, Quotient Empirique, otherwise known as Empirical Quotient. It features six dancers new to the troupe, all handpicked by Victor. One is a Capoeira practitioner and hand-balancing circus artist with no dance training whatsoever. Two are recent Juilliard grads. If you haven't heard of Juilliard, Google it. It's arguably the most prestigious performing arts school in the modern world. Another two are Ballets Jazz de Montréal alumns who both have this amazing stage presence.
I wrote about the whole ensemble in the first part of my The Making Of Empirical Quotient series, which is already live on the Rubberbandance site. Each dancer brings a remarkable and unique edge to what may very well become my favorite work from Victor yet.
Rubberbandance's Empirical Quotient runs November 20 to December 7, 2013 at Place des Arts' Cinquième Salle in Montreal. Admission $33 plus taxes/service/shipping/box office charge, less for youth ages 30 and under. Buy tickets.
- The Making of Empirical Quotient: Part 1
- The Making of Empirical Quotient: Part 2
- Rubberbandance: Ten Years in the Making
- Rubberbandance's Gravity of Center Explores Power Struggles and Post Apocalypses
- Rubberbandance: A Montreal Dance Troupe Bio
Having spent the better part of last Wednesday evening rubbing shoulders with a who's who of Quebec luminaries to catch the Montreal premiere of Cirque Éloize's Cirkopolis, everyone from Robert Lepage to respected thespian Anne-Marie Cadieux were in attendance along with a theatre teeming with political figureheads. Former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe, recent Montreal mayoral candidate Marcel Côté and former Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand were just some of the power players spotted by yours truly. I could have probably recognized a few more if I wasn't fumbling with my notepad and smartphone, researching the show and taking notes before curtains up. Though I did catch a glimpse of stage director and Cirque du Soleil as well as Robert Lepage collaborator Neilson Vignola two seats to my right. A talent-heavy audience to say the least.
Running now through December 7, 2013 at Place des Arts' Théâtre Maisonneuve, Cirkopolis has already done the touring rounds of Europe, having debuted worldwide in September 2012 at the Helsinki Festival in Finland. So it's safe to say the Montreal-based troupe had ample time to iron out the usual premiere kinks.
So. How did the show go? Read my review of Cirque Éloize's Cirkopolis.
Hot off the trail of their Gershwin Tribute announcement, the Montreal Jazz Festival 2014 organizers made it official today that modern-day crooner Michael Bublé will be yet another key performance highlight come the international jazz fest's 35th anniversary edition, running this June 27 to July 6, 2014.
Fine timing for a gent who kicked off his latest tour last June only to sell out all ten 17,000-seater shows at London's 02 Arena and then sell out again in Dublin in the form of five nights in a 10,000 capacity arena. Then there's that slew of sold out gigs he pulled off in 80 American cities between 2010 and 2012 via his Crazy Love Tour. But I digress. It will be interesting to see what the B.C. native will pull out of his hat between now and his Jazz Fest gig scheduled July 4, 2014 at the Montreal Bell Centre, be it a new album or viral coup (see below).
Tickets go on sale as of Friday, November 15 at noon. Visit the Evenko website or call 1-855-310-2525 for admission information and to buy tickets.
DECEMBER 6, 2013 UPDATE: A second performance has been added to the roster. Michel Bublé also performs July 5, 2014 at the Montreal Bell Centre. Tickets go on sale as of Friday, December 13 at noon. Visit the Evenko website or call 1-855-310-2525 for admission information and to buy tickets.
With Christmas shopping season nipping at our wallets, I decided to get a head start on evaluating potential gifts, stocking stuffers, what have you.
And one Montreal-centric gift idea was recently run by me. It's called Coffret MMM. So I did a little inspecting... read more
Locals have barely acclimatized themselves to fall's recent wintery temperature dip and yet the Montreal Jazz Festival 2014 edition is already looking forward to its summery 35th season slated to pre-debut June 26 --the fest actually starts June 27, 2014 but organizers typically bookend the fest with pre-openers and post-closers-- with none other than a Gershwin tribute directed at the legendary composer's career-making classical jazz symphonic crossover, Rhapsody in Blue, both his first major work and his most popular piece, in spite of mixed critical reception at the time of its release back in 1924.
You don't know Rhapsody in Blue, you say? Oh, but you do. You just never knew what it was called. Listen up.
Celebrating the work's 90th anniversary come 2014, the Montreal Jazz Festival proposes The Gershwin Legacy, a revisiting of Gershwin's career with live orchestra renditions of Concerto en Fa and Cuban Overture in addition to Rhapsody in Blue. Local pianist Alain Lefèvre takes the solo lead on the latter in concert with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Expect top acoustics under the roof of the Maison symphonique de Montréal inside Place des Arts.
Tickets go on sale as of noon on November 6, 2013. Visit the Place des Arts website or call (514) 842-2112 or toll-free at 1-866-842-2112 for admission information and to buy tickets.
December 4 Update: A second Gershwin Tribute was added to the roster, scheduled for June 27, 2013 at 7 p.m. at Place des Arts' Maison symphonique de Montréal. Tickets go on sale as of noon on December 5, 2013. Visit the Place des Arts website or call (514) 842-2112 or toll-free at 1-866-842-2112 for admission information and to buy tickets.
- Montreal Jazz Festival Dates & Deets
- Montreal Jazz Festival 2014 Edition Books Modern-Day Crooner
- Montreal's Hottest Summer Events