March 14, 2009

Pat LePoidevin - "Blue Tornadoes" CD Release Party at George's Fabulous Roadhouse in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada

Last night was Pat LePoidevin's CD Release of his new album Blue Tornadoes. I heard him before at Stereophonic 6 at Vogue Cinema, and was excited to hear him again. It is great to be able to such a small venue in such a small town and see a really talented artist like Pat.

Side note: the concert was at George's Roadhouse, which made it to CBC Radio 3's top ten live music venues in Canada:

Top Ten, here we go! Over the past week we have collected thousands and thousands of your Searchlight votes along with hundreds of your blog comments narrowing down your favourite live venues in Canada... and now, we slash another 10 venues from our Top 20 to reveal the TOP 10!
Aeolian Hall, London ON
Amigo’s Cantina, Saskatoon SK
Baba’s Lounge, Charlottetown PE
Call The Office, London ON
The Capital Bar, Fredericton NB
George’s Fabulous Roadhouse, Sackville NB
The Grad Club, Kingston ON
Phog Lounge, Windsor ON
Starlight Social Club, Waterloo ON
Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ottawa ON

Information about George's from CBC Radio 3:

George’s (Fabulous) Roadhouse

Sackville NB

How long has the Club Been Open:
It’s been open as a bar in one form or another since the early 1970’s

Why It Should Win Searchlight:
Because we are the little town that could.

Five Of The Best Bands That Have Played Your Club:
Corb Lund, Roomfull of Blues, Final Fantasy, Watermelon Slim, Eric’s Trip

One Of The Most Memorable Moments:
About 2 years ago we decided to raise the stage, and in order to accommodate this we had to remove part of the drop ceiling which held about 50 bags of blow in insulation. We must of missed some, because during one of the shows part of this insulation fell down onto the band and crowd making people think that the roof was coming down. No one seemed to care and they keep on partying and dancing.

A Little-Known Fact About Your Club:
The building itself has been around since the early 1900’s it used to be a three story hotel

Your Secret To Success:
Our relationship with the university students and the community

What You Would Do To Celebrate If You Win:
Would Love to throw a free show with a big name artist.

The Field Museum and the John Wayne Cover Band opened for Pat. They were entertaining but I came to see the main act. It was worth the concert beginning an hour late to hear some of his new songs. Below finally here are some pictures from that night and a full video of George the Polar Bear.

As I mentioned before, some of his music is available on the CBC Radio 3 Website. I'm far too busy and inexperienced to write a quality review, but I expect you'll see one from the phonetic elephant and/or Kellen the Aging Allisonian in the near future if you're interested.

Here's the full version of George the Polar's not the best video/sound quality...but I figured I should get a more complete recording, so here it is:

...and here's a shorter recording from Stereophonic in January:

March 11, 2009

Canadian Music: 49 Songs from North of the 49th Parallel

As I've noted a few times Canada has an array of talented musicians. Recently the CBC decided to ask what songs President Obama should listen to in order to understand what Canada is all about. (I pronounce it about, not a boot).

Obama's Playlist Revealed!

2-9Insert drum roll here! The top 49 pieces of music that make up Obama's Playlist are as follows.

The Top 49 (Listed by artist):

Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)
Barenaked Ladies - If I Had $1,000,000
Beau Dommage – La complainte du phoque en Alaska
Ben Heppner - We’ll Gather Lilacs
Bruce Cockburn - Wondering Where the Lions Are
Buffy Sainte-Marie - Universal Soldier
Daniel Bélanger - Rêver mieux
Daniel Lanois - Jolie Louise
Daniel Lavoie - J'ai quitté mon île
Diana Krall - Departure Bay
Gilles Vigneault - Mon pays
Glenn Gould - Goldberg Variations
Gordon Lightfoot - Canadian Railroad Trilogy
Gordon Lightfoot – Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Great Big Sea - Ordinary Day
Harmonium - Pour un Instant
Ian & Sylvia - Four Strong Winds
James Ehnes - Barber Violin Concerto
Jesse Cook - Mario Takes a Walk
Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now
Joni Mitchell – A Case of You
Karkwa - Oublie pas
k.d. lang - Hallelujah
Leonard Cohen - Democracy
Leonard Cohen - Suzanne
Malajube - Montréal -40°C
Marie-Jo Thério - Évangeline
Marjan Mozetich - Affairs of the Heart
Measha Brueggergosman - I’m Going Up a Yonder
Mes Aïeux - Dégénérations
Michael Bublé – Home
Moe Koffman - Swingin' Shepherd Blues
Neil Young - Rockin' In the Free World
Neil Young - Helpless
Oscar Peterson Trio - Hymn to Freedom
Oscar Peterson – Place St. Henri (from Canadiana Suite)
Parachute Club - Rise Up
Raymond Lévesque - Quand Les Hommes Vivront D'amour
Rush - Closer to the Heart
Sam Roberts - The Canadian Dream
Shad - Brother (Watching)
Stan Rogers - Northwest Passage
Stompin' Tom Connors - The Hockey Song
The Arrogant Worms Canada's Really Big
The Guess Who American Woman
The Tragically Hip - Wheat Kings
The Tragically Hip - Bobcaygeon
The Rankin Family - Rise Again
The Weakerthans - One Great City!

So there you have it, folks. Discuss, debate, celebrate as you will!

March 10, 2009

Google Street View: Int'l Bridge to Canada

I've been experimenting with the Google StreetView and came across a somewhat familiar image...the sign for the border to Canada in Calais, Maine. I have a similar picture I took the night I came to Mount Allison. It's pretty interesting that as time passes personal photos are being outdone by commercial companies. I would hope that sometime this service will be available in Canada, as it is in most populated areas in the US, and parts of Austrailia, Japan, and Europe.

Canadian Specialty: Poutine

One Canadian specialty I haven't had in a while is Poutine. You can get it from a few places in town...but it's generally not as good as I remember Harvey's to be. Here's a little snippet from the CBC back when Poutine was just becoming popular:

Oh Canada, we stand on guard for … poutine?

By Adam Day

There is a secret Canadians whisper to each other when no foreigners are in the room. It is a fledgling secret, passed on like a rumour. But it represents nothing less than the emergence of a distinctly Canadian culture.

They are whispering: "Hey, dude, I’m hungry, let’s go have some poutine."

Not so long ago it was pretty difficult to define Canada’s national identity. Suggested definitions were usually based on exclusions, trying to reveal what we are by listing what we’re not.

Central to this type of definition was the inevitable claim that we are not American, combined sometimes with vague assertions about how pleasant we all are to each other, even the people we don’t like very much.

The core of this inability to positively define ourselves was a lack of concrete cultural artifacts. Food, for example, plays a key role in defining a nation’s culture. Can you imagine Italy without pasta and pizza, India without curry or China without chicken balls?

Fear not. Canada now can join the old and well-established cultures of the world. It has poutine – a unique dish made of French fries, cheese and gravy that evolved in Canada as a response to the cultural and environmental qualities of Canadian life.

The father of poutine is a Quebecois named Fernand Lachance. Now 80, Lachance first had his great idea in 1957 at his small restaurant in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. At first he was offering only fries and cheese curds mixed together in a plastic bag as a take-out specialty. Then one day, a local truck driver placed an order for the messy specialty and a side of gravy. Once Lachance gave him the order, the truck driver dumped the gravy into the bag, sat down at a table, cut the bag open and began to eat. Poutine was born.

The word poutine comes originally from la poutina of Southern France, which was derived from the English word pudding. The word first appeared in Canada in Acadian cuisine, where a dish of mashed potatoes, pork and spiced sauce is called poutines rapees. Roughly translated, the word poutine means "stuff stuck in a mess of other stuff which is also quite saucy."

Today poutine is available in some of Canada finest restaurants. The Ritz-Carlton constructs its poutine out of goat cheese, rendered duck skin and Yukon gold potatoes. One serving costs $24.

During the past few years, poutine has even become available in Canada from large multi-national outlets like McDonalds and Burger King.

Charlene Lo of Weber Shandrick Worldwide, the public relations company representing McDonalds Canada, says the chain is constantly searching for "specialty dishes" to introduce into national markets.

"With poutine, McDonalds did a market test in Quebec lasting nearly 10 years. Once that was determined to be successful, the decision to carry the product nationally rests with the individual franchise," Lo says.

Poutine has been picked up by franchises all across the nation. And why not, it’s a hit.

McDonalds franchises in Kamloops began selling poutine in September 2001. Anna Meyers, assistant manager of the Aberdeen McDonalds, can’t believe how well it’s selling.

"People love it, since it’s gotten cold we’re going through two pots of gravy a day," said Meyers. "At first people were a little reluctant, but now, for some customers, we have to use a special carton to give them larger portions. The regular size just isn’t big enough. … I haven’t seen anything like that with our other products."

The secret to assembling a high-level poutine? "Make sure your gravy is hot and your cheese curds are thawed, that’s the secret to making it right," Meyers says.

Still, not everyone is a poutine fan. Stephanie Koch, who works at the McDonalds in Valleyview, thinks poutine is both foreign and repellant.

"It’s gross," Koch says. "I don’t know why people eat it. It’s so fatty."

She’s right about the fatty part. According to one scale, a medium-size serving of poutine can contain more than 20 grams of fat and 450 calories. Over the course of several servings, those stats are going to add up to a lot of extra insulation, which is useful when you live in a place where the temperature drops to -30 Celsius in the winter.

Having a national identity based on nothing more than a shared dislike of the United States and being pleasant never really did seem like a solid plan. But now, thanks to Quebecois visionary and national hero Fernand Lachance, we have the first tangible (and edible) evidence of our emerging national identity.

And, as a bonus unique to cultures in advanced free market economies, the new icon of our nationality is available for eat-in or take-out.

March 9, 2009

It snows in Canada...

Another note about my blog from Student Bloggers. Check them out for links and some of the best posts from student bloggers from the US, Canada, and a few other countries.

The snow might be starting to thaw from the East Coast’s big storm this week, but student bloggers in New Mexico and Canada are still in winter wonderlands. Check out the wicked winter pictures. [JakeCast; Geoff at Mount Allison]

March 8, 2009

Saskatchewan featured on CNN: "Saskatchewan a jobs 'hot spot' in Canada"/"Thousands of jobs open if you don't mind moose."

Except for Obama's trip to Canada last month, it has been a long time since I saw a major story about Canada in mainstream American news. But just the other day, of all the places in Canada, CNN released a story on the front page of its website about Saskatchewan. Perhaps best known for being the first province to have Medicare (the informal name used to refer to Canada's publicly funded health insurance program) or the birthplace of the NDP, Saskatchewan is also well known for being ignored by central Canada.

Unfortunately, I honestly can't remember many times
before coming to University I gave much thought to Saskatchewan except when naming all of the Canadian provinces. But now I'm proud to say I have friends the Prairies and can spell Saskatchewan correctly, and so I was happily surprised to see this story:

Saskatchewan a jobs 'hot spot' in Canada

  • Story Highlights
  • Saskatchewan projected to lead Canada in economic growth in 2009
  • Province helped by infrastructure investment, oil production
  • Premier: We are "a story of success" that wants to help those struggling
  • Relocation services business sees more people looking to move to province
By Mallory Simon

(CNN) -- Normally, "hot spot" isn't the first phrase that comes to mind when talking about Saskatchewan, Canada.

But with most of Canada suffering from devastating job losses, this cold province is becoming exactly that.

It's an asterisk to the entire country when it comes to the economic climate, and Premier Brad Wall is shouting it as loud as he can.

"It's a great time to come to Saskatchewan," said Wall, who even called the Toronto Star newspaper to tout his province's economic success and let Ontarians know there were jobs for the taking.

"For those who are losing their jobs, we need them to know we have thousands of jobs open right now in both the private and public sector," Wall said. "We have a powerful story to tell, a story of success and that's something we want to share with those who are struggling."

Wall's province is one of the exceptions to the unemployment increases battering provinces across Canada. Saskatchewan's unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent in January from 4.2 percent in December, making it the only province recording a decline. In Ontario and the city of Toronto, unemployment rates rose to 7.2 percent and 8.5 percent respectively. To the west, British Columbia shed 68,000 full-time jobs in January.

More Saskatchewan jobs should be on the way. To stave off any possible recession, Wall announced a $500 million infrastructure "booster shot" to help keep the economy strong. Learn more about different towns in Saskatchewan »

"All across the country, industries are getting quite ill," Wall said. "We aren't immune to it. We see some impacts in terms of layoffs and new vehicle purchases slowing off, and so we want to be proactive in staying ahead of the curve."

On Tuesday, the Conference Board of Canada released a report that said Saskatchewan will likely continue to lead the nation in economic growth in 2009 because of the infrastructure investment and tax reductions.

The province has also been reaping the benefits of an influx from nearby Alberta. When the government in Alberta decided to raise the oil royalty rates, oil exploration and expedition companies decided to move their operations to Saskatchewan in hopes of making more money.

With the province's growing opportunities, David Montgomery, president of Calgary's Qwest Haven Relocation Services, said he is moving more people to Saskatchewan each day.

"Alberta has always been the gravy train of oil," said Montgomery, who is also a former resident of Regina, the capitol and second-largest city in Saskatchewan. "But with the new royalties, oil companies are saying 'Why stay here and make less when the opportunities right next door are even better?' Many other companies may start to follow suit."

Montgomery said people looking to move have said that cheaper land and insurance prices are among the other reasons they are headed to Saskatchewan.

"There, government insurance is cheaper than anywhere else in the country and it comes with your license plates," he said. "With the amount of jobs, cheaper opportunities and great way of life, the government there has made it very attractive to move there."

That means more business for Wall's province and more jobs coming to the area.

Not that there's a shortage of jobs. On Tuesday night there were nearly 6,000 private- and public-sector jobs on the Web site

A constant stream of revenue from oil production and exports also buoys the economy in the province.

Saskatchewan falls just behind Alberta, as the largest oil exporter in Canada, and Wall's province sends more oil to the United States than Kuwait. Wall said the province is the leader in uranium production and produces a third of the world's potash.

The province continues to keep ahead of the curve, Wall said, finding ways to diversify its resources and embark on ambitious green projects and new oil projects. The province is working with Montana on a $212 million climate change initiative that would create the first major greenhouse gas storage project in North America. The carbon dioxide from coal-fueled power plants would be stored in the ground in Montana and later be withdrawn for use in oil production.

Wall also said what may be the largest discovery of sweet, light crude oil in the southeast part of the province means it could have even more oil to work with. The Bakken Formation could potentially have 413 billion barrels of oil, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That would be another huge untapped revenue gold mine.

Despite the growth of nearly all sectors across the board, Wall cautioned that it is possible his province may see economic stress, just later in the game than other places.

"We need to be circumspect and prudent about promoting our province," he said. "We are not immune; we do see the impacts. It isn't some sort of panacea or answer to economic questions that don't exist elsewhere. We are a bit of an asterisk that says there is some stress, but it's relatively calm here."

Wall encouraged people not to count out a move to the province based on stereotypes that it is "only winter here," and "all of the land is just rolling hills."

"'It's a beautiful, big place where life is great and right now there's also opportunity," he said. "I'm very, very biased, but I can't imagine a place I'd rather be, especially with what's going on economically around the world."

To give you an idea of how uncommon it is to have a major front page story on a major American news source about the Prairies, at least 30 Canadian news sources ran articles about CNN's article in the past week.

Many of them were reprints of this story from Canwest news service:

CNN takes notice of Saskatchewan's hot economy

Cassandra Kyle
Saskatchewan News Network

Saskatchewan's renewed popularity may be old news in Canada, but in the United States, word about the province's economic boom is causing a stir.

An article written by a journalist about the number of jobs available in Saskatchewan became the most viewed and second-most emailed story on the media giant's website Wednesday. By 5 p.m. local time, the story had accrued 926,403 page views, according to internal CNN data. The website, which averaged 36.4 million unique visitors per month in 2008, attracted readers to the article with headlines including "Frigid Saskatchewan a jobs ‘hot spot,'" and "Thousands of jobs open if you don't mind moose."

The story's author, Mallory Simon, thinks the article on Saskatchewan's economic success is so popular because it's full of a rare commodity: Good news.

"We've been doing a lot of stories on the economy and a lot about people losing their jobs and it seems like there's bad news every day, so we were really trying to find if there was anywhere that there was good news," Simon said in a telephone interview from CNN's headquarters in Atlanta, Ga.

"A lot of people are looking for hope right now, they're looking for places that have this glimmer of hope, and it seemed like this was really a great opportunity to showcase a story where the government was doing as much as they could to put money into the economy."

Simon quoted Premier Brad Wall boasting about the local economy as well as the president of a Calgary, Alta.-based moving company who told her more and more people are moving to Saskatchewan every day. The story also references a Conference Board of Canada report released Tuesday that forecasts the province to lead the nation in GDP growth in 2009 as well as the number of jobs currently posted on - more than 5,700.

Saskatchewan's resource sector was also featured in the article, with Simon mentioning the province's oil, gas, uranium and potash reserves.

"Saskatchewan is the largest producer of oil in Canada and exports more oil to the United States than Kuwait. It is the leader in uranium production and produces a third of the world's potash," she wrote.

According to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources, the province is the second-largest oil producer in Canada behind Alberta.

Advanced Education, Employment and Labour Minister Rob Norris could barely contain himself over the CNN story, describing Wall variously as "one of the top ambassadors in Canada," "a champion" and "the best premier going."

"Saskatchewan's message is obviously spreading right across the country and right around the world. It's a message of optimism. We know we're not immune from what's going around us but at the same time on a relative scale we're as well-positioned as any jurisdiction to continue our growth," he said.

Meanwhile, Kent Smith-Windsor, executive director of the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, said "it's very cool," to be on The chamber is comfortable with the attention the province, and its largest city, is getting from the online report.

"We genuinely have hope in a way (that) too little of the developed world has right now, and that makes it extraordinarily newsworthy," Smith-Windsor said.

Simon believes the article shows that despite the recession, there are still places where the economic mood remains upbeat.

If you get one person who doesn't have a job that considers it, if one more person decides that they want to move there that's great," she said. "If we can give people the option to just look, whether they find something or not, that's what we're trying to do."