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Ottawa Hot Dates

Hot Date: Yukon Blonde Invades Ottawa for Three Nights

Yukon Blonde play Ottawa Nov. 16-18, opening for The Sheepdogs at Ritual Nightclub

Life on the road is never easy. There are the strange hotel beds, the lack of sleep, and, perhaps worst of all, the excessive time spent cooped up in the old tour van. Add in a lost passport, a few traffic jams and a stint at an American police station, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to be feeling a bit worn down.

Not so for Kelowna, B.C.’s Yukon Blonde. Following a gig in Atlanta, Georgia late last month, frontman Jeff Innes discovered his passport was missing. After a grueling morning with the local authorities, the guys were forced to head back out on the road – sans passport. WHERE Ottawa’s Erica Eades caught up with Innes as the road warriors made their way down to Birmingham, Alabama for the next stop on their tour — which includes three shows in Ottawa, November 16-18 at Ritual Nightclub. Despite the day’s events, he was endearingly optimistic as he spoke about their latest tour, the evolution of the group, and what’s up next for the shaggy-haired indie-rockers.

You’ve been touring incessantly since releasing Tiger Talk back in March. Have you had any downtime at all?
No, not really. We’ve been on tour non-stop since September. We also didn’t really have any time off this summer because we were playing a lot of festivals around the United States, and we did some stuff in Europe and Canada.

With all that time on the road, have you guys even thought about your next record?
We have three months off coming up, so we were discussing whether or not we wanted to write and record a record in that time. Three months is typical for how we work – we try to get some songs done quickly and then record them. But I think we’re actually just going to take this time off to write a bit and then just rehearse. We want to get our live show really good and find the right guys to come tour with us.

Tiger Talk was a major departure from your self-titled debut album. What inspired this change?
Well, touring, for one. That was a big eye-opener. We’d be playing songs every night, and the songs that we just started naturally gravitating toward were the faster, more upbeat songs on our first record. We kept writing songs that never made it on anything, but we just kept touring them because they were fun to play. Then I started listening to a lot of 80s punk rock — a lot of Buzzcocks and Misfits — so that was pretty inspirational too. But I think we were mostly just inspired by playing.

Do you think the band’s found its sound with Tiger Talk?
Well, I don’t want to force anything. And I don’t want to make the same record, that’s for sure. But I do think we’re onto something. I just think that we’re still finding our path. I’m really proud of Tiger Talk, and everything that we’ve been up to lately, but I don’t want to stay on that course. I’d like to challenge ourselves and make something different.

You mentioned that your latest album was inspired by 80s punk rock. What have you been listening to lately?
We’ve been listening to a bit of new stuff, actually, which is weird, because we don’t listen to a lot of new music. Have you heard the new Ariel Pink record?

No, I haven’t.
OK, well, everybody hates it. But we put it on and we decided to give it a shot, and we all really like the record. It’s so weird. You’ve got to listen to it. But overall, nothing’s really moving me right now. Nothing’s blowing my mind. As a band, we always just go back and listen to our favourite albums of the early 2000s. We just remember that as this golden era of music. And then I start to feel old. We’re like those 80s mullet guys who are just refusing to listen to anything new.

You’ve got three back-to-back shows booked in the nation’s capital this weekend with Saskatoon’s the Sheepdogs. Why did you team up with them?
Um, because they’re awesome dudes. They’re the coolest guys ever. We hadn’t really crossed paths with them before, and then this year we’ve been seeing them everywhere. Finally they were just like, “Come on tour with us!” I just thought it would be such a cool thing. Despite the fact that they’re the raddest dudes ever, it’s also allowing us to stop off in a number of cities for a few nights. That’s so leisurely for a tour! I love it. It seems like it’s just going to be a really, really good time. And I think we could use that right now.

What should audiences expect from the shows?
Well, it seems like it’s going to be a bit of a party tour [laughs]. Yeah…it’s going to be a party.


Yukon Blonde will be opening for The Sheepdogs Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at Ritual Nightclub.


Hot Date: La Bohème

Ottawa’s Joyce El-Khoury stars as Mimi in Opera Lyra’s La Bohème. Photo © Dario Acosta

After a brief hiatus last year, Opera Lyra is back and starting its new season with a bang — a production of one of the most beloved operas ever composed. Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème tells the tale of young bohemians in Paris’ Latin Quarter in the 1840s. The part of Mimi, the mortally ill seamstress, is played by Ottawa’s own Joyce El-Khoury, whose international career has been thriving and landing her gigs at the likes of the Met Opera in New York and the Welsh National Opera.

Sept. 8, 10, 12, and 15. National Arts Centre, Southam Hall, 53 Elgin St., www.nac-cna.ca.

Hot Dates: Rideau Canal Festival

Aug. 3 to 6

Rideau Canal Festival

The Rideau Canal is one of Ottawa’s most recognizable landmarks, as well as one of the most historically significant features of our city. The Rideau Canal Festival celebrates the 180th anniversary of this wonderful waterway with activities for the whole family along the length of the canal, from the Ottawa Locks and the Bytown Museum to Dow’s Lake Pavilion. Catch a parade of lights, a crafter’s market, walking tours, a flotilla, and lots more, plus food trucks, wine and beer, and live entertainment. The party also honours the 5th anniversary of the canal’s UNESCO World Heritage designation.

Hot Dates: HOPE Volleyball Summerfest

July 14

HOPE Volleyball Summerfest

On Saturday, thousands of volleyball players and spectators will descend upon the beaches of Mooney’s Bay to bump, smash, and dig their way to v-ball glory during HOPE Volleyball Summerfest. This action-packed fundraiser (HOPE raises money for charities such as the Children’s Wish Foundation and the Canadian Diabetes Association) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and is throwing a suitably large party, with crowd-pumping performances from Mother Mother, Treble Charger, and Ill Scarlett.

Mooney’s Bay Beach2960 Riverside Dr., 613-742-4673 www.hopehelps.com


Hot Date: Canada Day

Ottawa has a reputation for hosting the best Canada Day party in the country, and this year’s celebrations do nothing to dispel those sentiments. Check out free performances by Feist, Simple Plan and Roch Voisine (to name a few); look to the skies over Jacques Cartier Park to see the SkyHawks perform a daring parachute demo; learn the ropes (literally) with a lasso demonstration at Major’s Hill Park, get up close and personal with the Grey Cup in Jacques Cartier Park; or just wander around downtown and revel in the high-energy atmosphere. As usual, the day’s festivities are capped off with a spectacular fireworks display at night.

Canada Day fireworks on Parliament Hill. Photo: NCC