SLIDESHOW! “More than just an ice rink,” Rideau Canal offers accessible adventure for paddlers

BY MATT HARRISON

Claude Galipeau, getting set to embark on a three-day kayaking trip with his brother, Paul, and Ben Welland Photo: Ben Welland

“It’s more than just an ice rink,” Paul Galipeau says emphatically. Rather, the Rideau Canal water-way can be seen as a natural and historic treasure that’s right in our backyard. And yet, as the photographer and Parks Canada employee points out, most Ottawans have not, and never will, venture out onto its waters — except for a tiny frozen stretch in the heart of the city, while wearing skates, in the dead of winter.

What’s stopping them? Galipeau speculates that perhaps it’s because people think kayaking on the 202-kilometre-long Rideau Canal waterway — also a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is expensive, difficult, and complicated.

Yet Galipeau proved otherwise last summer when he set off with his brother Claude and photographer Ben Welland. All are (or were) novice kayakers. They chose a 40-kilometre stretch — roughly from Kingston to Westport — that was not only doable but unforgettable.

Paddling in 17-foot-long sea kayaks, the trio travelled for three days through various locks, under old bridges, and past historic towns, camping alongside the canal. Since two out of the three are photographers, naturally they documented their trip — at times shooting in 35mm film — capturing what Welland describes as a “local treasure that’s only accessible by boat.”

Having kayaked among the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River the previous year — a difficult and sometimes hair-raising experience — Galipeau says the Rideau Canal trip was easy, not to mention relatively inexpensive. “It’s ridiculous that more people haven’t taken advantage of this park,” he says. Welland agrees that the tour was very relaxed. “Getting picked up by our shuttle was the only deadline.”

 

FOLLOW THEIR ROUTE:

 

GAME DAY! Time to get pumped with Metallica, The Trews, Blackwell, and more

By GLENN NUOTIO

Songs have been an integral part of sports and public spectacle, perhaps even before music was itself one of the contests alongside the physical events of the ancient Olympics.

A giant inflatable REDBLACKS helmet welcomes fans to the pep rally at Marion Dewar Plaza, Ottawa City Hall. July 17th, 2014. Photos by Glenn Nuotio

When the July 17 pep rally was announced to cheer on the OTTAWA REDBLACKS before their Friday, July 18 sold-out home opener against the Toronto Argonauts, the football fan in me had to check it out. With the added news that popular Atlantic Canadian rock band The Trews were chosen to play Friday’s first-ever pregame show at TD Place, the musician in me wondered how else music would play a part in the festivities.

At one point in the pep rally, mascot Big Joe flipped his axe handle over into a pretend mic and lip-synched a Shania Twain song. That was followed by Ottawa-based country vocal trio Blackwell singing “REDBLACKS style”, a modified-version of their new single “Redneck Style,” which will be released to radio next week.

Questions swirled: With a sold-out stadium crowd on Friday and a diverse city with CFL players from all over North America, would the soundtrack to motivate this new generation of #RNation take a regional Ontario approach?

Not being a huge country rock fan, was I just being a music snob?

Did our new CFL team have an official song yet?

What kind of music did the REDBLACKS as a team play in practice getting ready this week?

What about each player? What music do they need to prepare for the big moment?

I surveyed others at the rally to see if I could find out some answers.

Read the rest of this story »

ARTFUL BLOGGER: “Have a great Latter-day!”

By PAUL GESSELL

The Book of Mormon

There is nothing sacred in The Book of Mormon.

Likely Ottawa has never laughed so hard. There’s a campy Christ; a Hitler disco-dancing in Hell; a murderous African warlord with a name too racy to repeat here. OMG!

This Tony Award-winning musical from the company Broadway Across Canada, and which is currently playing onstage at the National Arts Centre from July 15-27, is perhaps the most politically incorrect production to pass through town since the tart-tongued, cross-dressing Dame Edna Everage last visited, tossing gladioli and insults at the audience. Mormons are mercilessly caricatured in this musical. Ugandans are racially stereotyped. Baptism assumes sexual overtones.

It is difficult not to feel guilty laughing at all the jokes. After all, the jokes are mainly at the expense of people who are pretty serious about their religion.

I kept thinking: What would a Mormon think of this? So, once home, I Googled that very question and found news stories quoting some supposedly important Mormons as saying that the success of The Book of Mormon during the last few years has increased interest in the religion and people are now more likely to answer the doorbell when two fresh-faced, young men in white shirts and black ties come calling with promises of everlasting paradise. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has even been known to buy ads in playbills of The Book of Mormon.

“People will become more aware that we’re a Christian church, that we’re not a cult, and that we don’t force our views on anyone, but that we’re happy to share them with those who are interested,” Elder Steven Bennion, a top church official, is quoted as saying.

Now, that makes me feel better. It’s great to have a religion with a sense of humour — which isn’t always the case. Back in 1979, there was outrage from various pockets of the Christian community over a movie caricaturing the life of Christ in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. And we all know about the sense of humour demonstrated by fatwa-invoking Muslim ayatollahs.

The plot of The Book of Mormon involves two naïve young American men — Mormon missionaries — who are sent to rural Uganda. The Ugandans aren’t interested and the missionaries make no converts until one of the young Americans spices up the evangelizing by adding elements from science fiction and The Lord of the Rings. For example, sinners in Mormonland get sent to The Fires of Mordor. The Ugandans become intrigued. They get baptized. And that’s when the problems really begin for the two Mormon missionaries.

In the end, this is a feel-good musical in the vein of Hairspray — except in The Book of Mormon, it’s a fat boy, not a fat girl, who emerges as the hero.

It is simply a perfect production. The songs are catchy. The dance numbers rock. The set changes are magic. Everybody leaves happy. As fat-boy Elder Cunningham would say: “Have a great Latter-day!”

The Book of Mormon

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEKENDER: What to do on the (week) weekend of July 16 to 19

The Kestrels play at Pressed on Friday, July 18

Kestrels play at Pressed on Friday, July 18

Bad Ass Dash
So, you think you’re a real bad ass huh. I suppose, then, you’ve already signed up for the Badass Dash? It is yet another outdoor obstacle course challenge (a la Tough Mudder, Death Race, Cops and Robbers Run, Spartan Race) for competitive thrillseekers. On Saturday, July 19 competitors will hurl themselves through The Human Car Wash, The Claustrophobic Crawl, The Horrendous Heavy Bags, and the dreaded Australian Back Crawl challenges, which are just a few of the 30+ obstacles along the 7km course. Sadly, the event closes for registration by Thursday, July 17 (register here), but the bad ass you are means you’re likely already signed up. If you missed this year’s registration, come out anyways; spectators are welcome. More info — visit the website. The event starts at 8 a.m. and takes place at the Wesley Clover Parks (formerly Nepean National Equestrian Park).
Wesley Clover Parks is at 401 Corkstown Rd.

Pickled Turnips & More
Shawarma — it’s long been Ottawa’s go-to fast food. We love the stuff, which is why there’s so many shawarma shops dotted around the city. Then there’s the potatoes, the salads, the pickled turnips (insert drool) — these and other Lebanese culinary mainstays can be had at the 24th annual Ottawa Lebanese Festival, which takes place Wednesday, July 16 to Sunday, July 20 at the St. Elias Cathedral, directly across from Mooney’s Bay. Enjoy Middle Eastern food, musical entertainment, and even a midway! Admission is $5 opening night, $2 for remaining nights. Festival hours are: Wednesday to Friday 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Musical Mormon Mummery
Poor Mormons — Marilyn Manson burned their Bible onstage at a Utah concert in the 90s; HBO cast a not-so-glowing light on aspects of their faith in the series, Big Love; and more recently, South Park creators (who proudly take aim at everyone and everything with their comedy) get their jabs in with the highly popular Broadway musical: The Book of Mormon. The story involves two missionaries who travel to Uganda where a warlord holds sway over the population — one which is less concerned about “God’s word” and more about everyday violence and disease. As such, the missionaries’ naivety is exposed and hilarity ensues — in song and verse, of course. The musical opened in Ottawa this week at the National Arts Centre, and it has showings on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday — and on, until July 27. Check out the NAC’s website for times. Tickets: from $63.
The NAC is at 53 Elgin St.

Zainab Hussain’s Little Urban Myths (Derelict), 2014, one of her pieces showing in a group exhibit at Blink Gallery from Thursday July 17 to July 27

New Uses for Maps (FREE)
Maps, mostly replaced by GPS now, continue to function in ways beyond simply getting from point A to point B. Blink Gallery’s first summer exhibition features Ottawa artists exploring unique ways of “mapping” the city: Stephanie Morton uses audio and Polaroids to document a moment in a journey through the city; Jessie Raymond documents the waste/garbage (the archeology of the space) he finds in the Hurdman area; and Zainab Hussain examines re-zoning of nature, records tiny fairy communities, and displays the skylines of Ottawa/Gatineau through mirrors, while a stereo audio component is split between the two, so that in each skyline, a different side of the compensation can be heard. The show, curated by Anna Paluch, opens on Thursday, July 17, from 6-9 p.m., and continues until July 27. Blink Gallery is open Fridays, from 6 to 9 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 5 p.m.
Blink Gallery is in Major’s Hill Park.

Kestrels Ride Chrome Waves
I may not be Allan Cross and this is certainly not The Secret History of Rock, but here’s my take on a little-known subgenre of music: shoegaze. It describes slow, distortion-heavy, early 90s music where, unlike the “heavy metal” or performance-based bands of the 80s, musicians (mostly English) would stare down — seemingly at their shoes (they were in fact focusing on their instruments) — focused less on the “show” and more on producing artful, fuzzed out, guitar-based music. The genre has continued to persist, and even more recently, is seeing a resurgence/reinterpretation of sorts. It’s unsurprising then to find a new shoegaze-influenced band emerge from Halifax — especially with its Sub Pop history. The band Kestrels are, perhaps, more explosive and bombastic than other shoegaze bands of old, and draw comparisons to the louder, faster, more melodic moments in the catalogs of My Bloody Valentine, Ride, or even Brooklyn’s Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Currently, they’re touring their newly released EP, out on Sonic Unyon, The Moon is Shining our Way. Kestrels play at Pressed on Friday, July 18, with Harsh Reality and Mnemonics. Tickets: $7.
Pressed is at 750 Gladstone Ave.

Amelia Curran, award-winning singer-songwriter from Newfoundland/Halifax plays at The Black Sheep Inn on Saturday, July 19

Amelia Curran, singer-songwriter from Newfoundland/Halifax, plays at The Black Sheep Inn on Saturday, July 19

Amelia Curran
Now that Bluesfest is over, The Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield is once again filling its evenings with talented musicians. Few are more worthy of the accolades heaped upon her (Juno-winner, East Coast Music Awards, etc.) then Halifax/Newfoundland’s Amelia Curran. Some have compared her to Leonard Cohen or Patsy Cline — but really, her songs are plainly heartfelt, musically deft, and poetic. She’s taking a break from recording her upcoming new album to play at the Inn on Saturday, July 19. Tickets are $25, and the show’s at 8:30 p.m. Note: if you’re driving into Wakefield for the show, Valley Drive is presently closed, so you either have to drive down Rockhurst or all the way around to the end of the highway and double back into town. Fun times.
Black Sheep Inn is 753 Riverside Dr.

DAYTRIPPER: Visit Perth for cute shops and foodie finds

By DAYANTI KARUNARATNE

Once voted the prettiest town in Ontario, Perth is dotted with specialty shops and restaurants, many in century-old stone buildings. Go for the boutiques, antiques, and good eats — all just an hour’s drive from the city.

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen.

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen.

Backbeat Books & Music
6 Wilson St.
613-466-0663
Finally, a used-book store that doesn’t feel like a cramped closet. This cozy spot sells new and used books and vinyl. On one side, there’s a careful selection of new fiction and non-fiction titles (and a couch). Mosey over toward the cash to find high-end turntables and well-organized shelves of records, from vintage and re-releases to indie albums from rising stars like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Click the thumbnails to see more places to visit in Perth:

 

 

 

 

 

ARTFUL BLOGGER: National Gallery show reveals how Gustave Doré’s 19th century illustrations haunt us still

By  PAUL GESSELL

Gustave Doré, Oceanids or Naiads of the Sea, c. 1878 Oil on canvas, 127 × 185.4 cm Lawrence B. Berenson

Gustave Doré, Oceanids or Naiads of the Sea, c. 1878
Oil on canvas, 127 × 185.4 cm
Lawrence B. Berenson

Gustave Doré is hardly a household name. But this 19th century French artist is the main attraction this summer at the National Gallery of Canada’s exhibit Gustave Doré (1832-1883): Master of Imagination. So, take a look. You will be pleasantly surprised to realize you have vague recollections of having seen his work before. Hundreds of times.

Doré was a prolific and talented illustrator. He produced illustrated copies of many great works of literature, including Don Quixote, The Bible, Dante’s Inferno, Paradise Lost, and many traditional fairy tales.

The images (or their spin-offs) he created for these books are still regularly seen today. Some of the mythical creatures in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy, Lord of the Rings, were lifted straight from Dore. Or the Puss-n-Boots-like character in the Shrek 2 movie? Dore did it first. Or remember Charlton Heston as Moses in the Hollywood blockbuster The Ten Commandments? The scene in which an angry Moses smashes the tablets with the commandments was inspired by Doré. On and on it goes. He is even given credit for inventing a relative of the beast we know as King Kong.

Gustave Doré, The Triumph of Christianity over Paganism, 1868 Oil on canvas, 300 × 200 cm Art Gallery of Hamilton, Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Collection, 2002 (2002.33.18)

Gustave Doré, The Triumph of Christianity over Paganism, 1868
Oil on canvas, 300 × 200 cm
Art Gallery of Hamilton, Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Collection, 2002 (2002.33.18)

The 100 or so works in the National Gallery summer-long show include film clips allowing visitors to see the uncanny and repeated use of Doré-like images in popular culture throughout the 20th century and beyond. No other 19th century artist has had such a strong influence on pop culture today.

Read the rest of this story »

OUTSIDE VOICE: Amanda Rheaume on the responsibility and opportunity of writing family stories

OUTSIDE VOICE  is a new feature. It follows musician and writer Glenn Nuotio as he chats with artists, musicians, news-makers and community builders. This new column is published at OttawaMagazine.com.

AMANDA RHEAUME  plays her 6th Ottawa Bluesfest RIVER STAGE FRIDAY July 11 at 6PM PHOTO CREDIT- KIM VINCENT

Amanda Rheaume plays her 6th Ottawa Bluesfest Friday July 11 at 6 PM on the River Stage. PHOTO CREDIT- KIM VINCENT

I am, at best, an awkward morning person. I get my chance to call songwriter and performer Amanda Rheaume at 9:15 a.m. during the week she’s preparing for her Ottawa Bluesfest performance on Friday, July 11th at 6 p.m. on The River Stage. I’m certain this is her first interview of the day, but she does have to take another call at 9:45 a.m.

Amanda Rheaume: I’m awake early a lot, actually.

Glenn Nuotio: How many gigs are you doing a year right now?

AR: I didn’t count it this year yet, but it’s usually between 150 to 180 or so. It really depends if I have an album and if I’m doing more touring.

We talk about her latest album “Keep a Fire” (2013). Amanda details the early co-writing process of songs with John MacDonald, leading her to learn more about her Métis heritage and interpret her personal family history. Listening to the album’s shift of historical and emotional elements, I notice the differences in arrangements between “Keep a Fire” and her last album “Light of Another Day.” Both were produced by Ross Murray.

AR: I first met Ross years ago. First of all he’s a fantastic musician, but he’s just so good at kinda getting the best out of me, song-wise, but also vocally. I find that’s he’s just so great …  if I bring a song to him, and there’s just voice and guitar, he’s really good at keeping that original essence of the song. His vision is just really good at working with the artist and maintaining the original vision of the music and the songs. He plays drums and percussion and all sorts of other hilarious things on the album as well. It’s just this big, creative, fun time.

GN: What was it like to embody the emotional contexts of your ancestors?

AR: There was a panic that all of this information would leave once people passed away. It became really important to me to have family stories and Canadian stories. People have said to me ‘ Oh I wouldn’t even bother looking back. There’s nothing interesting.’ You know, you’d be surprised. You just have to ask and you just have to look. I mean, we all come from somewhere and somewhere important. Decisions are made for our life to be this way. I think it’s important to honour that.

Read the rest of this story »

THE (WET) WEEKENDER: 5 watery events happening in and around Ottawa this summer

By CINDY OLBERG

Photo by Rod Beauprie for Bring on the Bay.

Photo by Rod Beauprie for Bring on the Bay.

Bring on the Bay 3K Swim
July 12
For the eighth year, swimmers of all levels will take part in the Bring on the Bay 3k Open Water Swim. Proceeds from the event go to Easter Seals Ontario, which raises money for children with physical disabilities. Registration from $50. Nepean Sailing Club, 3259 Carling Ave., bringonthebay.com

 

The Ultimate S.U.P. Challenge
July 18-20
The Ultimate Stand Up Paddle Challenge at Owl Rafting in nearby Forester Falls is the first of its kind in Canada. All levels of stand-up paddleboarders are invited to take part in whitewater and flatwater races. Cash prizes total $2,500, and clinics with instructor Dan Gavere will be big draw. A portion of reg- tration fees will go to Lupus Ontario. Registration from $45. 40 Owl Lane, Foresters Falls, 801-554-2236, theultimatesupchallenge.net

The starting line of the Morrisburg Tubie race. Photo by David Trattles.

The starting line of the Morrisburg Tubie race. Photo by David Trattles.

Tubie Festival
Aug. 2-3
At one point, the much-loved Tubie Festival was in danger of being cancelled. Luckily, the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce swooped in and saved the day. So blow up your homemade watercraft, and head to Morrisburg for a fun weekend of tube races and family fun. Free. Waterfront Park, Morrisburg, 613-543-3982, southdundaschamber.ca

National Capital Regatta
Aug. 9-10
The National Capital Regatta is one of the oldest annual events of its kind in eastern Ontario. Over one weekend, the Britannia Yacht Club hosts a number of friendly compe- titions between novice and experi- enced sailors alike on a range of sailboats. There will be three separate courses for those who want to hone their skills; see page 37 for more information. Registration from $80. 2777 Cassels St., 613-828-5167, byc.ca

Dunrobin Kids of Steel Race
Aug. 25
Sanctioned by Triathlon Ontario, Kids of Steel (KOS) races give children and youth the opportunity to try out the popular sports event in a fun and safe environment — the open-water swim is in the Ottawa River; the bike race is along well-paved, closed roads; and the run is through fields and on dirt roads. $50. 1620 Sixth Line Rd., 613-323-5255, bytowntriathlon.com

WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of July 10 to 13

Lemuria, a garage/punk band from the 'lost continent' of Buffalo, N.Y. plays at House of Targ on

Lemuria, a garage/punk band from the ‘lost continent’ of Buffalo, N.Y. plays at House of Targ on Thursday, July 10.

Driving Miss Daisy
Driving Miss Daisy — the Pulitzer-prize winning play, which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy — comes to Ottawa Little Theatre. The division, tensions, and relationship between African-Americans and White Southerners during the tumultuous period of the 1960s play out in the relationship between a stubborn matriarch and her indomitable chauffeur. The play is on this weekend, with shows on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday — at 7:30 p.m. all three nights — and runs until July 26. Tickets from $25.
Ottawa Little Theatre is at 400 King Edward Ave.

The Lost Band, Lemuria
We’ve all heard of Plato’s lost city of Atlantis, but what about the lost continent of Lemuria? Once thought to have existed in the Indian Ocean, Lemuria or Mu (or the ‘motherland of Mu’) was believed to have been the missing land-bridge that connected Madagascar with India. Like the ‘lost continent’, the three-member group Lemuria, which hails from Buffalo, N.Y., sounds like something from the past too — perhaps The Lemonheads, or Superchunk. Like these 90s bands to which Lemuria cites as influences, their sound is made up of girl/guy vocals combined with guitars and drums to create a garage/punk sound with surprisingly ‘pop’ lyrics — all of which is combed over with a low-production feel. Catch them at House of Targ on Thursday, July 10.$10 advance; show’s at 10 p.m.
House of Targ is at 1077 Bank St.

Coco Riot for Change
Believing that “art is not a tool for social change, but social change itself,” queer Spanish artist Coco Riot creates ‘social change’ through his art, incorporating mural, on-site 3D installations, and sculpture to connect with the viewer’s everyday experiences and create an emotional response. On Friday, July 11, Orange Gallery will be unveiling a mural by Coco that challenges gender-based violence. Local arts activists and groups, including Artswell will, in connection with this event, be holding workshops from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Art Is In Bakery will also be serving light refreshments.
Orange Gallery is at 290 City Centre Ave.

Manotick Beer Mill
Me and my gut are currently on a hiatus from beer — but that doesn’t mean you should be. Especially during this season of seasons for beer drinking. Manotick’s Watson’s Grist Mill, a working flour mill from the 1860s, will be host to a craft-beer event on Friday, July 11 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sample beers from local craft breweries, snack on tasty treats paired to select brews, enjoy some jazz, and converse with other beer enthusiasts and bring your questions for a Q&A session with brew masters. Tickets are $35. For more details, follow the event (there may be some last minute changes) on their Facebook site.
Watson’s Mill is at 5525 Dickson St., Manotick.

Kevin James and I
Comedian Kevin James and I haven’t gotten off to a great start. He was mentioned, strangely, during our wedding ceremony by the minister in an off-the-sleeve reference to Hitch; I suffered through James’ starring role in Mall Cop on an airplane; and in some forgetful fit, I rented Grown Ups (which also stars James) on an adolescent idea that Adam Sandler was funny — he isn’t. But hey, comedy is subjective. And so, if you want to catch James in a non-Hollywood setting (I’m betting he’s much funnier on-stage), he’ll be bringing his ‘hilarity’ to the National Arts Centre on Saturday, July 12. Tickets are from $59. Show’s at 7 p.m.
The NAC is at 53 Elgin St.

FROM THE PRINT EDITION: The pills, thrills, and chills of an MDMA trip

The popularity of electronic music in Ottawa is rising — as is its go-to drug, MDMA. This article, in which author David Meffe explores the local scene following the tragic death of a friend, first appeared in OTTAWA Magazine’s May issue. We’re releasing it online following two recent drug-related incidents in the city. 

By DAVID MEFFE

I was on the dance floor when the drugs kicked in. Caught between the elevated DJ booth and a crowd of hundreds, I was aware that something primal was happening in my body, in my brain. I had taken the pill almost an hour earlier, and the telltale signs were manifesting in the tips of my fingers.

Barrymore’s Music Hall on Bank Street was packed solid: punks, ravers, hipsters, jocks, students, greasers, preps — you name it. German electro-trance duo Cosmic Gate had just commandeered the booth to the rising shouts and screams of the audience begging for what they had paid to hear.

Just about everybody was on something, but MDMA — an amphetamine better known as ecstasy — was electro’s all-powerful soup du jour, the raver’s panacea. Pills, caps, or powder, it was everywhere — in pockets, under tongues, on gums, up noses, and in drinks.

I had spent the past hour misinterpreting every shiver I felt as a manifestation of the drug, but doubt evaporated as my senses aggressively sharpened against a rapidly revolving whetstone in my mind. Movements felt exaggerated and elongated, as if they were expressions of a buried instinct.

Cramped together in our communal womb, floating in the nurturing amniotic fluid of bass and electronic sounds, our tribe was moving in unison. Every brush against my skin was a cascade of warmth, a bathing baptism of the cortex, an orgasm of the mind. Flashing lights danced around my dilated pupils, and I lost myself, feeling content to stay there forever if need be.

The side effects I had feared — hallucinations, paranoia, grogginess — were absent. No stifling feelings of deep synthetic insight or forced introspective revelations, just an overwhelming feeling of oneness with the grinding mass. It felt like an endless rabbit hole of unbridled euphoria, an overarching sense that whatever we were doing was right, that nothing could ever be wrong as long as we all kept dancing. But only if it was with others; oh God, I couldn’t do it alone.

At that time, I had no idea that in a few months, the death of a friend would expose the narrow line that separates youthful excess and the dark side of amphetamine use, the short ride from a rave to the grave.

Illustration by Anthony Tremmaglia

Illustration by Anthony Tremmaglia

Ottawa + Electro + MDMA
Music and drugs have always seen eye to eye, but if MDMA married electro music, Ottawa — despite a short stint in the rave days of the 1990s — showed up late to the reception, long after regular party guests (i.e., Toronto and Montreal) had already passed out drunk at the bar.

Over the past five years, Ottawa has found itself an emerging hotbed for electronic-music concerts. Top artists who previously ignored the nation’s sleepy capital in favour of more established party hubs are beginning to recognize the interest in their brand of music. The summer Escapade Music Festival, which started in 2010, has now become a Canada Day staple that draws concertgoers from across the province to see iconic acts such as DJ Tiesto, Deadmau5, and Avicii.

“More people are willing to come to the city, artists we originally thought would never want to,” says Maninder Virk, of Ottawa-based concert promoter DNA Presents, the company behind Escapade. He says agents are beginning to trust that promoters can ensure a packed audience when their headliners take the booth.

“When people see that Ottawa can sustain a large atmosphere and has a lot of support for the electronic movement, we’re only going to keep getting bigger concerts,” says Virk. “You’re going to see more electronic music incorporated into events like Bluesfest.”

My MDMA
My own MDMA trip started on a street corner — one hand held the ubiquitous raver’s water bottle, the other fidgeted nervously. It was time to take the dive. I kept looking at my chest, where a little plastic bag lay in my left breast pocket.

Read the rest of this story »