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Posts by Jamie O'Meara

Meet a Montrealer: Anne-Marie Withenshaw

One of the most recognizable names on the Montréal media landscape, popular television and radio host Anne-Marie Withenshaw has long been an unofficial ambassador for the city’s thriving arts and cultural scenes. No longer: Withenshaw is official now as the 2015 ambassador for the annual MTL à TABLE restaurant event, 11 days of gourmet festivities and culinary discovery at 159 restos across Montréal, October 29 to November 8. Like Withenshaw doesn’t have enough on her plate(s), she also co-hosts TV show À couteaux tirés with world-renowned Montréal chef Chuck Hughes. It pits two top-shelf Québécois chefs against each other in a friendly, albeit crazy and unpredictable, competition each week. The program airs on CASA TV every Monday (5:30 pm), Thursday (9:30 pm) and Saturday (12:30 and 6 pm). We caught up with the food- and life-loving Withenshaw in between shooting. What’s the coolest, most interesting thing you’ve done so far this year? “I guess probably raise a toddler. It’s funny, my life has really changed a lot since I had a kid. Maybe four or five weeks before I got pregnant I was on tour with Rihanna. I did five cities in five days for [Montréal radio station] The Beat…… / Read More →

Montréal’s healthy appetite for the Alouettes

Pro football in Montréal, both on and off the field, is typically far from boring. This year is no exception for the city’s Canadian Football League (CFL) franchise, the Montréal Alouettes, as the team hits the halfway point of the regular season and readies for a drive sure to satisfy football-hungry (and hungry football) fans. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster season so far for the Alouettes: Late-2014 season saviour Jonathan Crompton (replacing retired star quarterback Anthony Calvillo) was injured in the season opener and is still out. First openly gay pro football player Michael Sam joined the team with much fanfare, and then left. And then joined the team again, and then left for good citing personal issues. Now much-missed former QB Calvillo has returned to help his old team in the role of co-offensive coordinator. And none of this even includes the fast-action drama that the Als deliver on the gridiron game in and game out. While the Als may be down in the overall CFL standings at the moment, the beauty of the Canadian game is that rebounding teams can remain in contention, so look for the Als to deliver on the promise of an exciting… / Read More →

10 great places to see indie bands in Montréal

Internationally acclaimed, Montréal indie music artists like Arcade Fire, Grimes, Patrick Watson, The Dears, Wolf Parade, Plants and Animals, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Half Moon Run, for example, all had to start out somewhere. And fortunately for bands and fans alike, Montréal has a veritable treasure of venues catering to the city’s thriving independent music scene. The following are, in no particular order, 10 of the great places to see indie bands in Montréal. La Sala Rossa (4848 St. Laurent Blvd.) With its Spanish-community-hall-meets-high-school-prom-type vibe, Sala Rossa is without a doubt unique. And also without a doubt one of the best, and most beloved, indie venues in the city. The high stage affords good sightlines, the back bar keeps the focus on the action up front and anyone of note in Montréal’s music scene will have graced its stage at least once. Casa Del Popolo (4873 St. Laurent Blvd.) Directly across the street from sister venue Sala Rossa, Casa Del Popolo (founded by Godspeed You! Black Emperor bassist Mauro Pezzente and wife Kiva Stimac) was where Arcade Fire first started drafting their army of fans. A cozy café/bar side complements the always-busy showroom, and the leafy rear terrasse is… / Read More →

Montréal Canadiens 2015-16: By the numbers

The unbridled pride and unconditional love for Montréal’s professional hockey team, the Montréal Canadiens (known affectionately to fans as the “Habs”) is deeply woven into the fabric of the city. And with the 2015-16 National Hockey League (NHL) season set to kick off on October 7, Montréalers will once again be wearing their hopes for the Habs on their tightly knit sleeves. So let’s look at the Habs, and the city they call home, by the numbers. 24 The number of championship Stanley Cups the most storied team in the NHL have to their credit. ’Nuff said. 21,273 The number of hockey-crazy fans for each home game at the Bell Centre, which boasts the most electric atmosphere in the NHL courtesy of one of its most exciting teams. 10 Years of consecutive sold-out home games since the Canadiens moved to the Bell Centre from the former epicentre of Habs hockey awesomeness in the city, the Montréal Forum. The Montréal Forum is now an imaginatively repurposed entertainment, business and resto complex that pays innovative tribute to its former self. 41 Regular season home games that make Montréal vibrate for six months from October until April. It’s not uncommon to see players… / Read More →

KidCon: A fun first for Montréal families

FanCons and the like can be scary (and not just because of all of the presumably fully grown adults pretending to be their favourite comic book, gaming or sci-fi movie/TV character). No one knows that better than the organizers of the inaugural edition of new Montréal convention event, KidCon. “We’ve done a lot of work in the world of FanCons,” says David Newman, president of Crabapple Events, who are producing KidCon. “People would come to them and bring their kids. But as an organizer, people would approach me and say, ‘You know, we’re having a great time but there’s stuff here that’s not really appropriate for our children,’ like comics with violent scenes or sexual content, or bloody costumes… So it inspired me to create something that was, instead of an adult event where you bring the kids, a kid event where you bring the adults.” FanCon becomes FunCon at this ambitious, activity-filled and G-rated endeavour, which takes place at Montréal’s Uniprix Stadium Sept. 26 and 27. Geared to the 3-to-12 crowd, KidCon features a special screening of the Frozen Sing-Along Edition movie, live performances courtesy of characters from popular kids TV shows and Star Wars, video and board games… / Read More →

The Montréal Rock’n’Roll Oasis Marathon explained… in songs

Running a 42,2 km footrace is a fairly rock’n’roll endeavour in and of itself, and the annual Montréal Rock’n’Roll Oasis Marathon ups the awesomeness by adding live music to the action on the course. From Sept 18-20, the Marathon – which celebrates 25 years this year – will see thousands of runners pounding the pavement to the beat of flesh and blood bands culminating in a special post-race headlining concert. The following rock’n’roll classics will help explain the Marathon madness. Run Through the Jungle (Creedence Clearwater Revival) There are five different races under the umbrella of the Marathon, which takes place Sept. 20: 1 km, 5 km, 10 km, the Half-Marathon (21.1 km) and the Marathon (42.2 km). They all have different starting points, but they all end in Parc Lafontaine in the city’s happening Plateau neighbourhood. The Marathon starts at the Jacques Cartier Bridge and winds through Île Notre Dame (the site of the annual Canadian Grand Prix Formula 1 race) and the picturesque Île Ste-Hélène (home to Six Flags amusement park La Ronde and Parc Jean-Drapeau, where internationally renowned music festivals Osheaga, Heavy Montréal and Île Soniq take place). It continues through Old Montréal and the Old Port to… / Read More →

Meet a Montrealer: World-class speed skaters Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais

In the case of world-class speed skaters Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais, it’s all about heart. It’s what propelled the young Montréalers individually to several Olympic medals (Hamelin has three golds and a silver, and St-Gelais has two silvers) as well as numerous national and international championship titles between them. It’s what caused Canadians to fall in love with them during their incredible medal run at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. And the fact that by that time they had fallen in love with each other didn’t hurt either. We caught up with the winning and winsome couple in advance of the ISU World Cup Short Track in Montréal, the first World Cup speed skating competition of the 2015/16 season, which will be held at the Maurice-Richard Arena in the Olympic Park from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1. The elite facility houses one of Canada’s two National Training Centres for high performance short track speed skating, and it’s home base for Hamelin and St-Gelais. First of all, how exciting is it that the ISU World Cup Short Track is in Montréal? Charles: “When we have a World Cup in Montréal it’s always fun because that’s where we live, and… / Read More →

10 things under 10 minutes from Saint-Laurent metro station

Saint-Laurent metro station, on the green line, spills out onto Saint-Laurent  Boulevard – known affectionately to Montréalers as “The Main” – and into the historic red-light district, now reborn as part of the downtown Quartier des spectacles, a year-round hive of arts, culture and entertainment activity. One-of-a-kind, character-filled performance venues, bars, restaurants and shops are a staple of this lively and dynamic part of the city. To help you get to know the neighbourhood, here are 10 unique and popular spots within 10 minutes walking distance of Saint-Laurent metro station. The Must: Quartier des spectacles Walking time: Between 2 and 9 minutes, depending on the venue Visitors to the roughly one-square-kilometre downtown Quartier des spectacles may notice the red-lit sidewalks in front of many of the 80-plus cultural venues located within this district, a nod to the area’s colourful history. In the present, the Quartier des spectacles is home to classy and classic state-of-the-art venues like Monument National, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, Metropolis, Club Soda and, the crown jewels of soft-seater theatres, the centrally located Place des Arts complex. The Underground Experience: Les Foufounes Électriques Walking time: 4 minutes Foufounes Électriques (which translated means, yup, “electric buttocks”) is Montréal’s – and arguably… / Read More →

Your August guide to Montréal summer music festivals

Osheaga Music and Arts Festival (July 31 to Aug. 2), which has been winning hearts and minds for exactly 10 years this year. Osheaga offers an incomparable outdoor festival experience that takes place in the aforementioned awesomeness of Parc Jean-Drapeau. This year’s special 10th anniversary edition promises the best in rock, pop, indie, hip-hop and more, courtesy of headliners like Florence and the Machine, Weezer and Kendrick Lamar. Having so much fun you can’t bring yourself to leave Parc Jean-Drapeau? Then don’t. Six anticipation-laden days later, Heavy Montréal blasts big chunks of hard rock, Aug. 7-9. Death metal, hair metal, black metal, hard rock and hardcore are all on the agenda, and this year’s line-up is sick with the likes of Slipknot, Faith No More, Korn, Iggy Pop and NOFX, to name a few. If the winter blues bring you down, the summer blues have been known to have quite the opposite effect at Festiblues International de Montréal, Aug. 6-9. Taking place in the rolling and tree-lined Parc Ahuntsic, the fest (which turns a very grown-up 18 this year) attracts thousands upon thousands for top-flight blues from more than 50 national and international artists. Then it’s back to Île Ste-Hélène where Parc Jean-Drapeau is again… / Read More →

Your survival guide to Jackalope, Montréal’s urban action sports fest

When we talk about surviving a Jackalope, we’re not talking about surviving the fearsome half-jackrabbit, half-antelope creature of lore. Rather, we’re talking about wringing maximum satisfaction out of the fourth edition of Montréal’s unique urban action sports festival Jackalope, which takes place July 17-19 on the outdoor Esplanade of the Olympic Stadium. Let this be your guide to getting in on the action. What to expect at Jackalope: Thousands and thousands of adrenaline junkies and urban action sports enthusiasts gathering for three days of high-level competitions, demonstrations and participation in an eclectic range of sports disciplines including skateboarding, wakeskating, motocross, slacklining, highlining, rock climbing, a fixed-gear bike race and more. Enhancing the experience are over 40 pop-up shops and food trucks, DJs and, of course, the after-parties. Where you’re going: From a sports, architectural and entertainment perspective, you’re going to one of the coolest places on the island of Montréal. The Olympic Park, built for the 1976 Montréal Summer Olympics, is the site of the city’s one-of-a-kind Olympic Stadium, formerly the home of the Montréal Expos, and the winter domicile of the city’s professional soccer team, the Montréal Impact. While there bus lanes that connect to the east Montréal Olympic Stadium, the easiest,… / Read More →