RIAC’s Summer Cultural Festival found its home–and wants you to find one, too.

    Posted on: Thursday, July 17th, 2014

The Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council (RIAC) announced the lineup for their fourth annual Summer Cultural Festival yesterday afternoon.  Ouroboros, Waterfront Fire, Emily Locke, and Brianna Gosse will be headlining the festival’s afternoon concerts on August 23 and 24 in Victoria Park.  This is the second year the festival is taking place at Victoria Park and Festival Director Esteban Rivera says he is happy the festival has found a home.  After all, home is what the festival is all about.

RIAC helps newcomers make their homes in St. John’s and the Summer Cultural Festival is a big part of that. While the legal aspects of settlement are necessary (and can be nightmarish) a sense of community is just as important and it is a ton of fun.  You just got to do a little dance, eat a little lunch, and get to know each other. The Summer Cultural Festival brings newcomers and Newfoundlanders together to celebrate their diversity and their shared love for food and music.

To give us a taste of the music at this year’s fest, Brianna Gosse played a few tunes at the announcement.  She’s got a great big voice, and an album, Aera, coming out tonight!  The CD release is at the Fat Cat starting at 10 pm.

Brianna says she’s excited to be involved with the festival for a second year and to be contributing with her music. Music, she says, is a great way to communicate different cultures. “There’s a lot of culture and heritage that can come through in a song.”

The Summer Cultural Festival is a great big housewarming for everyone from here and away–not to be missed!

Photo by Brian Carey

Photo by Brian Carey

For ticket information, visit riac.ca

We Shoot, We Score!

    Posted on: Saturday, March 8th, 2014

This afternoon, you can see and hear how four of St. John’s best musicians would score one of Canada’s best documentaries.

Oh, and Rae Spoon will be there, too.

My Prairie Home, directed by Chelsea McMullan, follows singer-songwriter Rae Spoon as they travel back to the Canadian prairies where they grew up. The musical-documentary tells the story of Rae’s struggles coming of age in a strictly kept house flanked by grain silos and churches.

The film premiered at Sundance this year. It screens tonight at the Hall, as part of our Scene & Heard festivities, and will be followed by a Q&A with Rae Spoon hosted by Ailsa Craig.

We gave three short clips of My Prairie Home to Mark Bragg, Joanna Barker, Alison Corbett and Matthew J Thomson (seriously, have you heard his album?). They wrote music for each of the three scenes.

This afternoon, we’ll play the scored scenes and they’ll discuss the process with Rae Spoon. If you’re a filmmaker, a musician, or just a lover of film and music, you’re going to want to head to the Hall for 1pm to check it out. You can buy tickets here.

Here are the musicians on their film scoring experiences.

mark braggMARK BRAGG

You’re composing three scenes ranging from 0.48s to 2.5 minutes — which one is the most challenging?
Every scene has it’s own challenges. In this case for the first two
tracks I opted to go with “Songs” as opposed to just music, so the
challenge for these is in the lyrics, writing lyrics that capture the
mood of the scene but aren’t so narrative as to mess with the flow of
the story.

So, in order to keep the lyrics “out of the picture”, I’m focusing on locations (Calgary, Alberta, etc) and imagery supporting that, as opposed to the real subject of the film (Rae). It would be completely presumptuous to
write about anything else I think! My goal here is to complement and
not distract.

Here’s a little peice of Mark Bragg’s score.

joanna barkerJOANNA BARKER

What’s the biggest challenge so far?
Apart from working with limited video segments and time constraints which is all very new for me, I’d say the biggest challenge has been creating for something I felt very outside of. This documentary is a very personal story. I don’t know Rae Spoon. I haven’t even seen the full doc. I kind of felt like, ‘Who am I to participate in this story?’. I was really aware of being sensitive to the fact that this isn’t my story to tell. I just needed to write music. So getting into a head space where I could create appropriate work to accompany their work – it was challenging.


What gear/method/process are you going with?
Gear: Pro Tools, mics and preamps to track the songs.
Instruments used are acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, bass, organ, Rhodes, drums and glockenspiel.

My method is to first watch each scene to get a feel/mood for it. Next is to figure out the pace or bpm of the scene. I also pay attention to what may he the most “important” clips of the scene to figure out how the song should move and be accented throughout the shoots.


How’s it going with your film score composing?
The process has been stressful, fun, and inspired! A quick deadline gets my creative ideas flowing, including doing some musical numerology with the name Rae Spoon and working it into a composition.

What’s been your biggest challenge so far?
Biggest challenge so far was matching my composition for the dance scene to their movements. I wanted to be pretty precise about how the music matches the movement but also wanted the composition to have its own inherently cohesive structure.

The most challenging scene so far has been the shortest scene. The compositions for the opening scene and the dance scene realized themselves very quickly, but I have yet to settle on something for the short scene. Film music should obviously accompany the visuals, but I am interested in having a composition that matches the tone of the images while having its own structure, as well. I think this is hard to achieve (but totally possible!) in 0.48s!

Poverty Cove challenges theatre and theatre accepts the challenge

    Posted on: Friday, February 21st, 2014

Poverty Cove Theatre Company is a deceptively small company with an exceptionally large mandate: to challenge the perception of what theatre is. And next week you’ll have a chance to get in on the action.

Founded by writer/producer Megan Coles and director/producer Shannon Lynn Hawes, Poverty Cove now has two massively successful productions under its belt and has grown to include a board with six members, whom are themselves a mix of artists and non-artist professionals living in and around St. John’s.

Poverty Cove’s first production, The Battery, was performed in the vacant second floor of a popular downtown pub. Through ingenuity and might the space was transformed into a 55-seat theatre and staged a set that doubled as a bar and the craggy cliffs of the harbour narrows. One minute the cast were dancing on the bar, drinks splashing about in their hands while belting out all the words to AC/DC’s Thunder Struck, the next they were hopping from rock to precarious rock, the sea churning and surging a hundred feet below, to perch and purge their innermost secrets.

Their second production, Our Eliza, toured the province last year on just about every stage and non-stage you can imagine, from the Barbara Barrett theatre in St. John’s, across the island in Arts & Culture Centres, and up the Northern Peninsula in gymnasiums and community centres.

Both productions, written by Coles and produced by Hawes, played to sold out crowds and found audiences both in and outside of the traditional theatre sphere.

By all accounts, Poverty Cove is not only hitting their mandate’s mark but operating as a shining example of a successful theatre company. And like most theatre companies, the funds to mount their next production, Rabbit Rabbit, an awarding-winning Canadian play to be directed by Hawes and produced by Coles, remain elusive.

To solve this problem, Poverty Cove recently issued a challenge to their surrounding arts community: give us something you’re currently working on and we’ll give you a venue to showcase it. The community responded and next week’s event, Friends of Poverty Cove, was born.

pctc fundraiser


Friends of Poverty Cove will feature performances, readings, screenings, music and standup comedy from the likes of Greg Malone, Robert Chafe, Ed Riche, Amy House, Matt Wright and many more. There will also be a silent auction featuring packages and services from Quidi Vidi Brewery, David’s Tea, and Chef Mark McCrow to name just a few.

And in keeping with Poverty Cove’s love of non-traditional spaces (among other things), Friends of Poverty Cove will be hosted at the Quidi Vidi Brewery – where the bar will indeed be open.

Friends of Poverty Cove kicks off at 8pm on Wednesday, February 26th. Tickets are $20 at the door, which opens at 7pm.

Something for everyone

Because we love you

    Posted on: Friday, February 14th, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here are a few presents for you: two sneak peaks of upcoming events and one killer dance party playlist. Shake it, mes amis.

1. Oh yes.

2. Oh yes, yes.

3. Oh yes, yes, yes, yes, yesyesyesyesyes*.

*This is a KILLER one-person dance party mix from Bitch magazine featuring Tina Turner, Janelle Monae, the Talking Heads and Robyn.

Politics suit women, too

    Posted on: Tuesday, February 11th, 2014


Our first female premiere has just stepped down and St. John’s has its first all-male council since 1969. Why should we care about the lack of women in government and what should we do about it? I asked Sheilagh O’Leary, former St. John’s City Councillor at Large, what she thought and talked to her about an upcoming Equal Voice St. John’s forum on women in politics.

I just saw on Twitter that you’re organizing a forum for women in politics. Can you tell me about that?
It’s the local chapter of Equal Voice. Equal Voice is a national non-partisan organization that aims to encourage women to get involved in the political sphere. They’ve been on the go for quite some time and we’ve had a local chapter that’s oscillated back and forth for quite some time and it’s mostly been inactive, but there seems to be a new wave of interest in getting it going again. The beauty of Equal Voice is that it is non-partisan, so you get people from all different parties. And it’s all different levels of government: provincial, federal, municipal, it doesn’t matter.

I would never vote for somebody just because they were a woman or man, but you need to have more people encouraged to actually put themselves forward for that call.

Why should we even care if there aren’t many women in our governments?
Women do have a different perspective. When a woman steps up to the plate, [she] brings different life experiences. Not just about being a mother, but certainly women who are mothers and juggle childcare and balancing work and family life, it’s a big issue. So we know that those kinds of issues are going to be dealt with in a different way when you’ve got women in those roles. Maybe daycare’s not as huge a priority for the male sector as it is for the female sector, I’m not saying yes or no, but I’m saying there are many issues that affect women that don’t get represented if they’re not at the table.

(Interesting tidbit from Equal Voice’s Fundamental Facts: “The United Nations says that a critical mass of at least 30% women is needed before legislatures produce public policy representing women’s concerns and before political institutions begin to change the way they do business.” – Ed.)

For me, personally, we’ve had a lot of interesting comments lately because we had our first female premiere and a number of female premieres across the country which has given a bit of false security about the numbers of women that are actually in politics… Oh, can you hold one second?

[No kidding: she pauses to take a call from her son’s school, as he is home sick and she’s in charge of the child care.]

sausageroundtableBut the stats actually show that we’re still so far behind. Having a couple of women that have risen to premiere is phenomenal, but it’s not really representational of the full scheme. And as we can see on the local level in the city, we have no female presence on our city council. If you look at the provincial government (pictured left, as tweeted by then-priemere Kathy Dunderdale), it’s the same thing. The numbers [of women in government] are extremely low. Look right across the country, you’ll find the same thing.

My personal feeling is that we are in a regressive time right now and it is our responsibility to encourage young, vital women — and they are out there — to get involved in politics.

And that’s what Equal Voice is about, it’s about encouraging young and older women who have something to offer, and to be a supportive organization to let them know that there are learning tools out there, and that everyone has to start from scratch. Often times women are the ones in the communities who are behind the scenes working on boards and committees and they need extra encouragement to actually be the front runners.

Why do you think this is a regressive time?
That’s my personal feeling, I don’t say that as a representation of Equal Voice. Look at the federal scene, under a Harper government. We’re certainly not seeing much in terms of extra supports to women, we’re not seeing a lot of women represented in the federal government. Again, same thing at the provincial level it’s and certainly now on our doorstep in St. John’s. It seems like it’s gone backwards. And that concerns me greatly. I’d like to see more multi-cultural representation, as well.

What will happen at this forum?
It’s in the formative stages right now, but there seems to be a lot of new energy: I’ve had a lot of younger women come up to me and tell me that they’re doing political science, that they’re really involved and really interested, but that they don’t know where to start. I guess the first thing is demystifying the process, so that people aren’t fearful, and letting them know that everybody has to start from zero but that there are supports out there.

Ultimately, one of the things that happens with Equal Voice is mentorship. For me, personally, the former deputy mayor Shannie Duff was an important mentor for me and I was fortunate enough to have some encouragement from her to push myself forward. And I know that I’m not the only one that she encouraged. But to have strong female role models like that, I think, is crucial. So I think that will be the focus. And to have representatives from all political parties come in and talk about their experiences, and share their experience, I think there’s nothing greater than that: mentorship is it.

The Equal Voice St. John’s forum will take place on April 26th in the E.B. Foran Room at City Hall. Times and more details TBA. Main photo by Adrian Wyld / CP files, taken from this National Post article.