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Le Hip-Hop Café
4801 avenue du Parc
Montréal, QC H2V 4E7
(514) 439-2771
www.hiphopcafe.ca

I love finding good coffee, and I also love supporting independent cafés. Good thing Montréal has both, and some of my favourite cafés can be found downtown, in the Plateau, and the Mile End. Le Hip-Hop Café is a relatively new addition to the Mile End neighbourhood and I had been meaning to drop by and check out the place since it opened in February. Mind you, the establishment situated at the corner of avenue Parc and rue Villeneuve is not just a café but more of a business with a concept — one that happens to offer good coffee and eats but operates for the purpose of promoting hip hop culture in Montréal.

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Tam Tams Drumming Sessions
Every Sunday (depending on weather)
George-Étienne Cartier Monument at Mount Royal Park
Montréal, Québec, Canada

Living in Montréal means that I often act as hostess to various friends and family visiting the city. My guests usually know what they want to do while they’re here — visit cool bars, go to the Old Port, and eat poutine at 4 am. Often, however, they have never heard about the Tam Tam sessions in Mont Royal so if we have a lazy Sunday in the works we’ll make our way over to the mountain after brunch. It’s hard to explain, though, what the Tam Tams are about and really, even, why we should go and see this event. Hippies drumming and free-flow dancing in a circle? I admit, it’s not for everyone but it’s a big part of this city and it’s a different part of Montréal living that I like to expose my guests to if they’re open to alternative cultures.

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Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
(Montréal Jazz Festival)
Métro Place-des-Arts
Montréal, Québec Canada
June 26th to July 6th 2014
1-855-299-3378 (in North America)
www.montrealjazzfest.com

The last night of Montréal Jazz Festival, officially known as Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, closed on Sunday after eleven days of free and outdoor concert events, ticketed attractions, and lots and lots (and lots) of roaming spectators across the grounds at Place des Arts in Montréal.

The 35th edition of this annual summer festival did not disappoint. The lineup of free and outdoor, or ticketed (with fees) events included a range of artists that were not only rooted in jazz but meandered into the other usual genres such as pop, hip hop and rock. This year’s participants had heavy hitters such as Cassandra Wilson, Angélique Kidjo, Keith Jarrett, married couple Elvis Costello and Diana Krall (who performed individual events), Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, and Mulatu Astatke; Canadians Rufus Wainwright, Nikki Yanovsky, Coeur de Pirate, Barenaked Ladies, and Michael Bublé; and contemporaries represented by Snoop Dogg, Of Montreal, St. Vincent, frequent participant Ben Harper, Bonobo, and Deltron 3030 who closed the festival with a free outdoor concert.

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What does your Valentine’s Day sound like?

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays rife with confusion and controversy. Some of us like to call it “Another Hallmark Holiday” (said with a sigh), or Singles Awareness Day (accompanied by rolling eyes), and for others it is the day to take out all your cheese (fromage) reserves and lay it all down for your partner. Others shrug “meh” and I definitely fit into this category year after year, whether or not I have a date once the 14th of February rolls around.

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Puces POP at POP Montréal 2013
Église St-Michel
105 St-Viateur ouest
Montréal, Québec
www.popmontreal.com

Oh wow, POP Montréal was three weeks ago! Alas, I never got around to blogging about it until now. But I had such a great time wandering around the Mile End and partaking in various events of the indie music festival, including the very much loved arts and crafts fair, Puces POP. Hence, this is worth mentioning now though we’re already midway through October.

It was actually my first time dropping in at Puces POP which, as part of the POP Montréal festival was held in the basement of Église St-Michel, the looming landmark in the Mile End neighbourhood. A few years back I had attended the performance by the Montréal art bands The Luyas and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, but every September I am so swamped with fall time busyness that POP Montréal comes and goes without a blip. Until this year. I had a good friend visiting me from Toronto and because she is always in the city for work, I figured it would be fun to show her around other parts of the island and indulge in some artsy-fartsy-ness, a throwback from our old days in art school.

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Flame-haired American songstress Tori Amos turned 50 this month. Fifty years old! Above is her video from her first solo album, 1992’s Little Earthquakes, for the single Silent All These Years. The simple piano accompaniment throughout most of the song is very characteristic of Amos’ early works, and I actually really enjoy the vintage feel of the music video. When I think about Tori Amos entering her fifth decade, I think about the talented female musicians today, and the debates about feminism in pop culture. And there sure are a lot of talk about the feminism label amongst female musicians these days.

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I have just over one month to go until my second half-marathon, and I feel the fire lighting from underneath. Black toe nails? Yep. Sore legs? Definitely. Unsightly tan marks? That, and my summer freckles have crashed my diligent skin care regimen once again. But I still have a lot mileage to cover meaning I have time to turn another shade deeper by the end of September no matter how much sunscreen I’m using.

Aside from great running shoes, a GPS watch, and lots of Gatorade G2, I rely on good music to keep me going. And when I run, it’s really the only socially acceptable time that I can kinda bop to the music in public, which I understand is a no-no during my study sessions at the library. I bring along my ultra small and ultra light iPod Shuffle that I use solely for my workouts, and I blast music of the thumping kind that usually don’t make it to my study music playlists. Of course, I have a separate playlist for my running sessions and though I update my iTunes library every few months or so, lately I have been adding a lot of new and different artists to my running soundtrack.

The standards are the same: Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, MSTRKRFT, Robyn, and Underworld. But I have been loving tracks from Disclosure’s new album, Settle, since they released the garage-pop track Latch last year which reminds me a lot of the electronic music I first started listening to over a decade ago. Can you believe that the British brothers are only 18 and 20 years old? Well, when I blast favourites like White Noise I think about the Disclosure kids kicking my butt and it makes me run. (I also think about RuPaul telling me, Girl You Better Work!. Anyways.) Other new music additions include the new single by Annie, a remix of Young Galaxy by Peaking Lights, Toro y Moi, and Stockholm’s Kate Boy. So here is a list of a few of my new and standard running music favourites to get you motivated, running, or both. Click on the tracks to open streaming links.

Disclosure’s White Noise featuring AlunaGeorge

THE HALF-MARATHON TRAINING PLAYLIST

Annie, Invisible
The Chemical Brothers, Hoops
Daft Punk, Rollin’ and Scratchin’
Disclosure, When a Fire Starts to Burn
Disclosure, White Noise featuring AlunaGeorge
John Hopkins, Open Eye Signal
Kate Boy, Northern Lights
The Knife, We Share Our Mother’s Health
Lupe Fiasco, Kick Push
Lupe Fiasco, I Gotcha
Method Man, Release Yo’ Delf
MSTRKRFT, Bounce featuring Nore and Isis
Outkast, B.O.B.
Outkast, Knowing
Robyn, Cobrastyle (Bloody Beetroots Remix)
Robyn, Because of Boys (Yelle cover)
Slava, Girl Like Me
Thunderheist, Jerk It (Nasty Nav & JFK Remix)
Toro y Moi, Say That
Underworld, Pearl’s Girl
Young Galaxy, Pretty Boy (Peaking Lights Remix)