|Besserer Street, Ottawa|
I realize that in terms of working my way into the Niagara literary scene, I’m doing myself no favours by continuously writing about Ottawa. But having just returned from a three-day trip to our nation’s capital, wherein virtually every waking hour was committed to visiting friends or exploring favourite haunts, I feel compelled to share a few spoils.
We arrived late on Saturday, checked in with our bed and breakfast, and then immediately set out for Genji take-out. They have the best sushi downtown. We ordered as if we hadn’t eaten a bite over the six-hour drive. At 7am, we awoke from our sushi-coma and dressed while a Claude Leveillee and Andre Gagnon LP – probably the most famous (but still little-known) Quebecois jazz record of the 1960s – played from the bedside. It sounds superfluous to prioritize retail-therapy over, say, visiting Hog’s Back Park but there are some things you simply cannot buy with ease in a small city: namely, lots of jazz records (thank you, Jake & Mike at CD Warehouse) and, tragically, Irving Layton’s A Wild Peculiar Joy.
|CD Warehouse on St Laurent Blvd|
Our impulsive trip was a week early for Writers Festival but still proved impeccable timing for two unique events. After a Sunday dinner at Green Door on Main Street, we settled in at Umi Café on Somerset for a stunning IMOO (Improvised Musicians of Ottawa) set of electronic-tinged jazz. The quartet, composed of Adam Saikaley, Craig Pedersen, Rolf Klausener and Pat Johnson played a mix of Saikaley’s originals and dubstep/electronic covers from semi-obscure independent artists. I was drawn to the event as a fan of Pedersen, a trumpeter who first surprised me during his quartet's opening slot for Jerry Granelli in 2011. He has since released two excellent records – Days Like Today and the live quintet LP Live In Silence. The IMOO collective also has a few compilations available to buy and/or download.
|(L-R) Craig Pedersen, Rolf Klausener, Pat Johnson & Adam Saikaley|
|Good green tea|
On Monday, we caught Ottawa-based writer Shane Murphy taking the stage at Absolute Comedy’s Open Mic night. A comic, screenplay and Cable TV writing machine, Mr Murphy’s set covered everything from lazy Nazis in his apartment building to prostitutes he drove around during his stint as a city bus driver. He was a highlight on a bill filled with impressive talents.
|Comic Shane Murphy|
We departed Tuesday morning, having done about a fifth of the things we would’ve liked to but still finding time for a leisurely walk around Major's Hill Park. A big thanks to those we met this weekend who promote Ottawa’s ever-thriving culture.
|Major's Hill Park, Tuesday morning|