The weather is most definitely getting nicer and while we won’t have Osheaga this summer, we do have plenty of local arts and music to keep you busy. This week we have two new music video releases and a Mother’s Day burlesque show (tonight).

Let’s get started:

Po Lazarus Launch Despair, Too EP and Video

Shortly before the pandemic hit, Montreal rockers Po Lazarus recorded twelve new songs with veteran Canadian producer Mark Vreeken at The Tragically Hip’s Bathouse Studio in Bath, Ontario. On April 30th, they released a three song EP from this session called Despair, Too and today they released the music video for the title track.

When in-person shows resume, we’ll surely get to see Po Lazarus’ live show once again, but for now, we can enjoy them in recorded form. Here’s the video:

Po Lazarus’ Despair, Too EP is available on Spotify

Hot Mamas Burlesque Mother’s Day Fundraiser is Tonight

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and in anticipation, Salty Margarita Burlesque has put together a virtual show streaming tonight called Hot Mamas Burlesque. It’s an event designed to show all the women in your life “how special they are, but in a unique way”.

The event features local burlesque stars Lou Lou La duchesse de Rière and Foxy Lexxi as well as a slew of other local performers and burlesque talent from out of town and is hosted by Jimmy Phule. It is also a by-donation fundraiser for the Native Women’s shelter of Montreal.

Here’s a trailer:

Hot Mamas Burlesque takes place online Friday, May 7 at 8:30pm. Tickets are by donation and available through viewstub.com A fundraiser for the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal

FRASE Set To Release Fanny Pack Music Video on Wednesday

You might know Montreal-based singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist FRASE from performances at Jazz festivals such as Kaslo Jazz and FIJM, or maybe from EDM raves like Bass Coast and Shambala. This coming Wednesday, though, we’re getting his latest music video Fanny Pack (featuring Lexodus).

This will be followed on June 17th with the release of his EP We’ve got time. For now, though, please enjoy a previous video:

Fanny Pack (featuring Lexodus) will be release on FRASE’s YouTube Channel Wednesday, May 12th

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Montreal museums are finally opened, though at limited capacity, and who’s to say for how long. Still, I’m glad to be back at the MBAM, watching the sunlight filter in, gazing at Leo’s mural, hand over his heart, warm smile in his eyes as he stares back. Not all the pavillions are open, and I’m not a Riopelle fan, but I’m here to see everything I can.

The pandemic has provided laser focus of what’s important to me via the things I missed, as well as the creature comforts I found a way maintain (the espresso machine was a great choice, and if you need to know where to buy incense when you can barely buy basics, I know that too). Museums are one of my happy places, and while I took a pop art MOOC, and AR’d countless artworks into my living room (thanks, Google Arts & Culture), none of it was the same as being there.

Based on the response to this round of reopenings, I wasn’t the only one who missed in person visits. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has been selling out weekends since reopening (albeit at 25% capacity), and they’ve even added extra weekday hours. The Musée d’Art Contemporare has sold over 500 memberships since restrictions eased, but it isn’t likely to be enough in the grand scheme.

A May 2020 survey by the International Council of Museums found 13% of global museums, including 10% of North American museums, were forecasted to close.

“Museums are in crisis, and that was before the pandemic. There were issues at some of these major museums with the heads of various organizations […] for various reasons, being unceremoniously let go, and so there’s something systemic there. And in my mind, and I as an individual, I’m always looking for change. If it’s not broke, break it, and maybe put it back together the way it was, but you should always be looking at, is there a better way of doing things.”

I’m on the phone with David Marskell, and as CEO of Kitchener’s THEMUSEUM, he has some experience with reimagining and reinventing. The space itself has gone through its own transformations to become what it is today. Originally a department store, it became the Waterloo Regional Children’s Museum in 2003, which didn’t meet expectations. David was brought in to fix what was broken, and instead built a new vision, opening THEMUSEUM in 2010.

” We had the opportunity to be whatever we wanted to be, but we didn’t have a collection. So we realized […] we didn’t want to be pigeonholed, and we could be very quick to move to something that was topical of the day and so on. So, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, we called ourselves THEMUSEUM. One word uppercase without even the collection.”

With interactive art, an all ages MakerSpace, and audio experiences, THEMUSEUM isn’t interested in whispering corridors or pretension, but rather the hands on immersive experience of Arts. David tells me that there’s nothing comparable in North America right now, and I’m jealous, because I want one in Montreal.

Much like THEMUSEUM itself, The MakerSpace is a dynamic and organic creation; an idea and space that grew to fill the needs of the community, proving that despite the distractions of the digital age, necessity remains the mother of invention.

“We began creating it with younger people in mind, but very quickly, seniors came and said ‘hey, I want to know about 3D printing, […] and by the way, I can be a mentor and help volunteers show other people how to solder, or use the sewing machine’. And then we’d get the millennials who would show up with their doorknob, trying to put it together and they don’t know how to use a screwdriver, simple little things like that.”

The MakerSpace even hosts a beer night, an inadvertent reminder that intergenerational skill sharing is also a social interaction we’ve been neglecting for too long. You can learn an awful lot over a beer with the right company.

The future is in progress, and art — both how we do it, and view it — is evolving. All this makes it the perfect time for the inaugural Museums/Musées Canada Conference, and THEMUSEUM the perfect collaborator.

In the context of the conference, the umbrella term “museum” is a broad one, and rightly so. The conference will include leaders and workers from galleries, science and technology centers, aquariums, zoos, and traditional museums from across Canada. With an eye toward networking, honest dialogue, and learning from one another, the conference aims to reimagine the concept of such gatherings before they even discover what they can envision as a group.

This year’s AltCon, the Alternative Conference for Emerging Professionals, will be a part of the 2022 Museums/Musées Canada Conference. AltCon started four years ago as a way to bring together up-and-coming industry professionals who are all too often shut out of prohibitively expensive and intentionally exclusive conferences.

Part of The Rolling Stones UNZIPPED

THEMUSEUM is also hosting the only Canadian date for The Rolling Stones UNZIPPED, the first international exhibition by and about the band and their nearly six decades of rockin’n’rollin.

The timing provides an opportunity for the exhibit itself to become part of the conference, an ideal learning tool to explore how it was curated, and the intricacies that go into hosting a travelling, multi-media exhibition.

What happens after the conference, and what will it mean for the future of the industry? David wisely, and humbly doesn’t know.

“I’m trying to stop everybody else telling me the outcome. I don’t know it, and nobody should know it. […] As a white male of a certain age, I don’t want to be the head of whatever ends up if something more formal comes of this. I shouldn’t be the head of this, somebody else should be the head of this. I’m happy to be the catalyst, and use the Rolling Stones exhibition and AltCon to host this national dialogue, but if there is a board, if there is a new entity, it needs to reflect Canada and it shouldn’t be people that look like me.”

Expanding on that point, he says:

“If you put 10 people under 35 (and I’m just picking that number) to come up with programs for diversity, equity and inclusion, the output would be much different than if you put 10 people that look like me in a room and came up with that.”

Speculating on the future of art itself might be easier. When pandemic restrictions forced every industry and individual to reimagine how they do the things they once took for granted, and while the process has been disorienting, there are bright spots where the results have proven innovative.

(When asked about the MAC’s virtual Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything exhibit, David said he thought they did a marvelous job with terrific execution, and I felt unduly proud as a Montrealer who had nothing to do with it.)

THEMUSEUM also tried some new tricks, and maybe even surprised itself.

“We did drive thrus with dinosaurs, robotic dinosaurs back around Thanksgiving for three weeks, And we attracted, you know, pandemic stressed families in the safety of their cars, and we drove half of our annual attendance in three weeks. Why didn’t, we think of that? Why did we have to wait for pandemic to think of that?”

While he doesn’t want to lead whatever comes next, David does have some predictions: the future of art will be immersive, interactive, and yes, like it or not, Instagrammable.

“I think that with all respect to, you know, art that hangs on a wall and you know the traditional types of things that you would see in a museum and symphony and things like that. I think young people are gravitating and showing that you have to be emotional, you have to be Instagrammable.”

Whatever it becomes, I can’t wait to see it.

Featured Image: The Markerspace (part of THEMUSEUM)

Museums/Musées Canada Leadership Conference is January 16 & 17, 2022

AltCon is January 16 – 18, 2022

Travelling Exhibition Summit January 17 – 19, 2022

Rolling Stones Unzipped arrives at THEMUSEUM on November 30, tickets on sale now

Host Jason C. McLean is joined by Stephanie Laughlin and Jerry Gabriel of the Professors of Pop Podcast to talk about this year’s Academy Awards: predictions for the major categories, what the event might be like and controversies or lack thereof.

Follow Professors of Pop on Instagram @41productionsfilms

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter @jasoncmclean

Osheaga and Île Soniq, two huge music festivals run by Evenko that have become summer staples, won’t happen in 2021 as planned. Instead, the 15th anniversary of Osheaga will take place July 29th-31st, 2022 and Île Soniq will happen August 5th and 6th, both at Parc Jean-Drapeau.

This is “due to an ever-evolving COVID-19 situation and our commitment to the safety and health of festival attendees,” according to organizers in social media posts announcing the postponement.

With hopes that the COVID-19 situation would improve and everything would be back to normal or at least semi-normal by late July, Evenko scheduled these events and even announced the Osheaga headliners late last year. Unfortunately, there is still much uncertainty over where we will be pandemic-wise by then, and festivals like this can’t be planned on short notice.

Osheaga founder and Evenko Senior Vice-President Nick Farkas explained in the same Facebook and Instagram posts sent out this morning:

“We’ve been working since last summer to try to deliver the full festival experience to fans. We are keenly aware of how important live music is to our fans and our city, and how much everyone misses it. We want to be back there in the midst of it too, but the truth is it takes several months to line up the various elements to create a festival, and with the current uncertainty, we don’t have that luxury. We remain hopeful that the situation will improve enough.”

– Nick Farkas

Evenko’s other summer events, such as Heavy Montreal, hadn’t already been scheduled for 2021. Those who purchased tickets for the 2020 or 2021 events can have those tickets honoured at the 2022 events or get a full refund.

Featured image from Osheaga 2018 by Joe McLean

This week, we may not have the nice temperatures we enjoyed last weekend, but we do have a virtual transdisciplinary exhibition, a live virtual concert and a movie about the making of the 2009 POP Montreal music festival.

Let’s get started:

Van Grimde Corps Secrets’ Virtual Exhibition Embodiment 2

Dance company Van Grimde Corps Secrets has been all about collaborating with other artists from different milieus since the early 2000s. Their latest project, a virtual exhibition called Embodiment 2, is no different.

In 2015, the group founded by Isabelle Van Grimde began sharing its research into the EVE 2050 triptych with other artists to foster collaboration and discussion. The result was the EVE 2050 web series.

Now, they have combined that series with Brad Necyk and Gary James Joynes’ film The Birth of the World to create this virtual exhibition.

Embodiment 2 is available as a virtual exhibition from April 8-May 8 on the Van Grimde Corps Secrets website

Sean Kosa Plays Ctrllab’s Esc Series

Ctrllab is an art gallery and performance space, though during the pandemic, the venue on St-Laurent has been functioning mainly as a media production company. This Saturday, they welcome back one of their favourite in-person guests for a virtual performance.

Electro Minimal Tech artist Sean Kosa has been part of the music scene since he was 14 in Toronto. Over the years, he moved to Montreal, then to Asia and now back home to our city where he has performed in various venues all across town.

Here’s some of Kosa’s music:

Ctrllab Esc Series 008 with Sean Kosa streams Saturday, April 17 at 7pm on Twitch, Facebook Live (on the Ctrllab page), Mixcloud and YouTube 360. This is a FREE performance

The POP Movie Now Streaming

In 2009, Andi Slate had just completed a feature film and decided to go back to basics. The filmmaker shot over 55 hours worth of footage of her POP Montreal colleagues putting on the festival as well as shows during said fest.

11 years and at least two projects later, Slate returned to that footage and put together The POP Movie, which first screened at the 2020 Edition of POP Montreal. Now, it’s available for all to stream!

The POP Movie by Andi State is now streaming for FREE on YouTube

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Okay, sure, it snowed on Thursday. Maybe that was Mother Nature’s way of playing an April Fools joke on us.

In general, though, things are getting much nicer outside, but for the time being, most of us are stuck indoors after 9:30pm. Fortunately, there are tons of local arts and music you can enjoy from home.

This week. we’ve got a festival, a movie and a virtual concert from a local venue. Let’s get started:

Shigawake Festival Presents Full Concerts Throughout April

The Shigawake Music Festival has been celebrating Quebec-based musicians since its inception in 2009. There wasn’t an in-person event in 2020 for obvious reasons, but organizers decided to hold its 12th edition anyways, albeit a bit differently.

They filmed The Barr Brothers, Martha Wainwright, SoCalled and a slew of other acts performing in the festival’s namesake town of Shigawake (in the Gaspe Region, population 338) last summer, with a plan to let the general public virtually attend this spring. In March, they streamed the event as three full days of festival performance highlights and now, in April, will be presenting full concerts throughout the month.

It kicks off tonight (April 3rd) at 8pm with Martin Henry.

The 12th Shigawake Music Festival presents Full Sessions for FREE from April 3-30 2021 at ShigawakeMusicFestival.com

Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt’s No Ordinary Man

Billy Tipton was a transmasculine jazz musician whose career ran from the mid 1930s to the late 1970s. He was long portrayed as an ambitious woman posing as a man to have a better music career, but now Montreal director Aisling Chin-Yee along with Chase Joynt hope to give some justice to Billy’s legacy and question the representation and treatment of transgender individuals in media and society.

Along with with his son, Billy Tipton, Jr. and several members of the trans community, the filmmakers have put together a documentary called No Ordinary Man to celebrate Billy’s life and career. It was released this week, to coincide with the Transgender Day of Visibility (which was March 31st).

Here’s the trailer:

No Ordinary Man opened in select theatres on April 2nd, 2021 and is available to rent and view online

Urban Science Brass Band Close Out Les dimanches couvre-fun

For the past few weeks, Indie Montreal has been offering us a weekly dose of virtual local shows, complete with streaming from a local venue. Tomorrow is final edition of Les dimanches couvre-fun (for now), and they’re going out in a big way, a big band way, with the Urban Science Brass Band performing at Café Campus.

Of course, this group, that sometimes comprises as many as 40 performers (musicians and dancers), is best known for reinventing hip hop classics and performing on the street, flashmob-style, to the huge crowds out during Montreal’s festival season. This year, our fingers are still crossed for a festival season, or at least part of one and the crowds at night aren’t there because, for the moment, they can’t be.

At least we get to bring some of that spirit back this Sunday with the the Urban Science Brass Band. Here’s them doing some of what they do best:

Urban Science Brass Band perform virtually at Café Campus as part of Les dimanches couvre-fun on Sunday, April 4, 8pm. Tickets available through ThePointOfSale.com

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

The weather outside is spring-like, but we’re still under a curfew. Fret not as there is plenty of great arts and music to enjoy from home.

This week, it’s all music, though one entry is a film. Let’s get started:

Eve Egoyan in Duet for Solo Piano

When you see the name Egoyan and the word film appear in the same sentence (as they did in this post’s title), it’s only logical to assume that celebrated stage and screen director Atom Egoyan has a new flick. In this case, though, you’d be wrong, we’re talking about his sister Eve.

Eve Egoyan isn’t a filmmaker, rather she is recognized as one of the 25 greatest Canadian classical pianists of all time. And she is the subject of the documentary Duet for Solo Piano directed by Su Rynard currently playing (online, of course) as part of the 39th edition of the International Festival of Films on Art.

The film delves into the events that have shaped Eve and left a mark on who she is today. It sets out to offer “rare insight into the creative process and the complexity of developing new work that pushes the boundaries of art, instrument and self.”

Here is the trailer:

Duet for Solo Piano is available across Canada for online viewing until Sunday, March 28 as part of the 39th Edition of the International Festival of Films on Art. Get your tickets through LeFIFA.com

Titelaine Perform at Le Ministère Virtually

Indie Montreal’s Sunday virtual concert series from real venues, Les dimanches couvre-fun, continues. So far the likes of Elephant Stone, Millimetrik and The Liquor Store have performed at different venues around town and now, this week, Titelaine will perform at Le Ministère.

This Montreal duo offers nostalgic downtempo songs that you can dance to. Their scenography was specifically designed for this show and this venue.

While you wait, here is some of their music:

Titelaine perform at Le Ministère as part of Les dimanches couvre-fun, Sunday, March 28th, 8pm. Tickets available through LePointDeVente.com

Gayance Launches Fruta Gogoia

Montreal/Hatian DJ Gayance has spent the past few years opening for acts like Princess Nokia and Kaytranada, playing events such as POP Montreal and Osheaga and directing documentaries on the Piu Piu movement and the Montreal beat scene. She also had a winter arts residency in Salvador, Bahia (Brazil) for the past seven years.

She will be releasing her first EP Not Toning Down For Sh*T in the fall and the first track is a Bahia folk song called Fruta Gogoia. For Gayance, “it’s a mantra that calls women, especially Black women & queers, to take all the space they need to take without compromise.”

Fruta Gogoia will be available March 26th. You can pre-save or pre-add the track or check back tomorrow when we’ll update this post with it. In the meantime, enjoy some of Gayance’s DJ work:

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

We seem to be getting more live art and music (virtually, of course) as the weeks go by and the weather gets nicer. This week we’ve got a couple of live events and a band formed during the pandemic’s first single release.

Let’s get started:

BIG BANG & The Aussenwelt Collective Stream Virtual Nuit Blanche Performances as Part of Art Souterrain

This Saturday night is Nuit Blanche, the showcase event of the annual Montréal en lumière Festival. Unlike every other year, though, the Metro won’t be open all night, museums and galleries won’t be receiving throngs of people in the wee hours of the morning and crowds of people won’t be packing the Quartier des Spectacles to enjoy tir sur glace or a ride on the winter Ferris wheel…because of, well, the cufrew.

Nuit Blanche will still be happening virtually and one of its most popular attractions is back: Art Souterrain. The installation part, featuring art in Montreal’s underground city, will still be happening as of April 10th, but tomorrow night, they will be streaming performances from the Aussenwelt Collective and Stéphanie Décourteille’s BIG BANG dance formation live.

Violet Hébert and Joseph Blais will provide the musical accompanyment for these three performances. Here’s a promo video to give you an idea of what it might look like:

Art Souterrain, the Aussenwelt Collective and BIG BANG will stream an evening of multidisciplinary performances Saturday, March 13, beginning at 8pm, on the Art Souterrain YouTube Channel

The Liquor Store Play Cabaret Lion d’Or Virtually

If you thought to yourself “Wouldn’t it be nice to catch a Big Band playing Cabaret Lion d’Or again?” well, this Sunday you can, virtually, of course.

The Big Band in question is The Liquor Store and they will be performing at the aforementioned very stylish venue on Ontario East as part of Indie Montreal’s Les dimanches couvre-fun series. It’s a chance to catch not only the music part of going to a show, but the venue part as well, without leaving home or watching an old video.

Speaking of an old video, for now, here is the same band playing in a different venue before all the lockdowns:

Indie Montreal presents The Liquor Store Live from Cabaret Lion d’Or as part of Les dimanches couvre-fun, Sunday, March 14th at 8pm. Tickets available through ThePointOfSale.com

Scarlet Wives Debut Single Dream Funeral

When two musicians have their tour plans scrapped due to a pandemic and then have their rhythm guitarist and drummer drop out, they could just sit at home and wait or form a new band with a new drummer and write and record music. Alice (vocals, guitar) and Mike (bass) chose the latter when they formed Scarlet Wives with Zenab (drums).

They also joined up with three other musicians and sound engineers to form Lack Haüs records. Scarlet Wives’ first single is also the label’s first. Called Dream Funeral, it was released March 5th and the next one is due out in April.

They describe the song as “a heavy-hitting dose of fairy grunge” but you really should just give it a listen at one of the links below or check out this teaser video (*** WARNING: Video may trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy):

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Scarlet Wives (@scarletwives)

Scarlet Wives’ first track Dream Funeral is available on (and subsequent tracks will be available on) Amazon Music, Bandcamp and most major platforms

Featured Image: Scarlet Wives

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

How’s your March Break going? Still inside at night (by law) and trying to get out in the day? Working an essential job? Looking for some music and arts to get you through the early March snow and cold?

This week, we’ve got an album launch, a film screening and live virtual shows that should feel more like actual shows.

Let’s get started:

Les dimanches couvre-fun Kicks Off with Millimetrik

Indie Montreal is waiting to get back to doing what it is known for: promoting local shows in venues. While that is not currently possible, they have come up with the next-best thing to do as we wait for things to get back to somewhat normal: promoting local shows in venues – virtually.

They have launched Les dimanches couvre-fun (for those who don’t speak it, couvre-feu is curfew in French), a weekly series of virtual concerts streamed from venues around the city. We’re scheduled to see performances from Cabaret Lion d’Or, Ausgang Plaza, Le Ministère and Café Campus/Petit Campus over the next few weeks.

The series kicks off this Sunday at 8pm with Millimetrik performing at Piedestal’s virtual amphitheatre. Future shows will feature The Liquor Store, Elephant Stone, Titelaine and the Urban Science Brass Band.

In the meantime, please enjoy the dreamlike groove of this Sunday’s headliner and prodigal son of Quebec City Pascal Asselin, aka Millimetrik:

For info and tickets, please visit lepointdevente.com

Institut Launch L’effet waouh des zones côtières

Okay sure, Institut isn’t a Montreal band, they’re from France. But we are including acts that have a connection to here and this one sure has its Quebec roots.

They have worked with director and cinematographer Michel La Veaux on the score for the feature film Labrecque, une caméra pour la mémoire while Denis Côté produced the music video for ici aussi off their second album.

Now, they are releasing a new album, L’effet waouh des zones côtières, which offers “a clever mix of afrobeat and new wave to which ingenious mixes are added each time. The songs themselves cover today’s realities candidly and with ample irony – reinvented romances, pleasures at a distance and home delivery.”

L’effet waouh des zones côtières launches today (March 5th) and will be available through institut-bonjour.com For now, enjoy the video for ici aussi:

Vision Nocturna (Night Shot) @ Cinema Politica

Cinema Politica is known for screening politically-charged films at places like Concordia’s Hall Building (but also at other locations around the country and the world) followed by discussion with the people behind the films and their subjects.

During the pandemic, they have opted to do the same, only virtually. This month’s offering is Vision Nocturna (Night Shot) from Carolina Moscoso.

It’s an “experimental film composed out of fragments shot over years as the Chilean director reckons with the trauma of her rape. Artistic cinematography and sound composition create a visceral experience as the emotional artifacts of Moscoso’s story collide with the systemic burden of a justice system that has ultimately failed to prosecute the perpetrator.”

On Sunday, journalist and author Dawn Marie Paley will moderate a discussion with Moscoso joined by Mexico City-based artists Amanda Ruiz and Cerrucha.

You can stream the film as of March 4th at 7pm until Monday, March 8th at 7pm and the livestream the webinar Sunday, March 7th, at 7pm and visit CinemaPolitica.org for more

Featured image from Vision Nocturna (Night Shot)

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Jason C. McLean speaks with comedian Preach, the host of this year’s Gala Dynastie, a celebration of Black excellence from across Quebec. They talk about comedy during COVID, this Saturday’s online edition and this year’s theme: The Rise of the Engaged.

The 5th Edition of Gala Dynastie streams live this Satruday, March 6th, at 6pm. For tickets and for more info: GalaDynastie.com

Follow Aba & Preach on YouTube and Facebook

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter @jasoncmclean

February is almost over, nicer spring-like temperature is around the corner and a vaccine is on its way, and with it, the possibility we all may be able to be out past 8pm once again. For now, though, there is plenty of Montreal arts and music we can enjoy online.

Let’s get started:

Black History Month Wraps Up

February is also Black History Month and in Montreal that always means plenty of music, film and other artistic performances as well as conferences and panel discussions. The 30th official edition hasn’t let the pandemic slow it down by going virtual and surely won’t be slowing down in its closing weekend.

There is a Nuits d’Afrique concert tonight, there’s a Black Utopia panel discussion tomorrow courtesy of the Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival and much more.

For details and schedule, please visit MoisHistoireDesNoirs.com

Wake Island Release Nouvelle Vague

Wake Island, the duo composed of producers Philippe Manasseh and Nadim Maghzal, are no strangers to Montreal music fans, ditto for those in New York and Beirut. They offer an “80/90’s electronic esthetic with melodies drawing from their Middle Eastern roots.”

With Nouvelle Vague, the latest single from their album Born to Leave, they are doing something so very Montreal. They are releasing the French version today and plan to release an English version in exactly one month, March 26th.

Here is the tune in French:

Firas Nassiri Releases Music Video for Taksim Featuring Christina Enigma

Montreal electro music fans may know Firas Nassri from the the 2020 GAMIQ ectro EP of the Year winners Beige-à-Coeur. Last January, he released his first solo album La Levantine.

With it, he hopes to “explore the bridges between electronic music and his oriental influences” in a style heavily influenced by his Syrian origins.

Nassiri’s latest single, released today along with a music video, is called Taksim. The lyrics are taken directly from the poem On Death by Lebanese-American poet Kahlil Gibran and recited by Canadian vocalist Christina Enigma.

Here is the video:

Featured Image of Firas Nassiri and Christina Enigma courtesy of Indie Montreal

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Jason C. McLean and Special Guest Dawn McSweeney go through the week’s big news stories:

Quebec Premier François Legault injects himself into the campus “free speech” debate and considers restricting English school enrollment.

What Montreal events and festivals will go online in 2021 and which will happen in person?

Ted Cruz leaves Texas freezing.

Justin Trudeau’s new gun control measures.

Dawn Mc Sweeney is an author and FTB contributor, follow her on Twitter @mcmoxy

Jason C. McLean is the Editor-in-Chief of ForgetTheBox.net, follow him on Twitter @jasoncmclean

Since both of this week’s entries relate, either directly or indirectly, to Nuit Blanche, it’s probably a good idea to start by briefly explaining what Nuit Blance is, for those who don’t know.

In a nutshell, one night a year, most museums and galleries, some other businesses and the Montreal Metro stay open all night. There are parties, events in Quartier des Spectacles and the Old Port and even the Biodome gets involved.

This year, it’s not possible for most people to be out of their homes after 8pm due to the curfew, let alone on the metro at 3am, but some of the key Nuit Blanche events have found their way online.

Let’s get started:

Art Souterrain Festival is Back Online and in Physical Space

Every year, the Art Souterrain Festival is the highlight of many Montrealers’ Nuit Blanche. This event normally sees several artists fill Montreal’s Underground City with installations and perform live art shows.

This year, of course, will be different. Roughly 30 artists will take part in the festival’s two parts:

From tomorrow (Friday) until April 30th, you can take in free online activities such as recordings of performances, podcasts, round table discussions and artist portraits (with quite a few of them happening next Saturday, aka Nuit Blanche 2021). Then, from April 10th to 30th, the regular public installation part of the festival will take over the Underground City.

The 13th Edition of Art Souterrain begins online Friday, February 19th on the Art Souterrain website

Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything from the MAC is Now Online

Speaking of Nuit Blanche, Back in 2017, that’s when we covered (and very much enjoyed) the Leonard Cohen exhibit A Crack in Everything at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC). It was an immersive and impressive multimedia experience and a fitting local tribute to our legend who had passed away the year before.

Now, while the MAC is open once again to the general public for in-person visits, they have decided to bring back the Cohen exhibit for anyone (in Canada, that is) at any time with a free virtual version of it. It obviously won’t be the same as exploring the exhibit in person, but given the amount of recorded video and audio content in it, it should transition well to this format.

Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything Virtual Exhibit is available online for free until February 22, 2024. You can explore it on the MAC website

Jason C. McLean and Samantha Gold discuss Lucasfilm firing, or rather, not re-hiring The Mandalorian star Gina Carano after months of transphobic, anti-mask and finally anti-Semetic tweets. Will the role be re-cast? What about the fans still backing her?

Samantha Gold is an artist, disability activist and FTB contributor. Follow her artist page on Facebook @samiamart

Jason C. McLean is the Editor-in-Chief of ForgetTheBox.net Follow him on Twitter @jasoncmclean

This week we’ve got a film and arts festival dedicated to LGBTQ+ works that highlight members of Black communities, a music video premier from a local alternative folk rock group and a Valentine’s market from the people behind POP Montreal.

Let’s get started:

The Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival

We’re in the middle of Black History Month and the Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival is set to return for its 13th edition. This year, the theme is, appropriately, Resistance.

With all that is going on south of the border and around the world, resisting is key. The festival also plans to resist any negative effects COVID might have on their ability to reach audiences by making the entire event free and online.

With seven feature films 23 short films and representation from nine countries, the conversation is sure to continue. There will also be found tables, a comedy show and even speed dating.

The 13th Edition of the Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival runs February 12 – March 12. For the complete schedule and more info, please visit massimadi.ca

Aquarius Dreams Release Music Video for Flora’s Earthtones

Montreal-based alternative folk rock group Aquarius Dreams released their lastest EP Flora’s Earthtones way back in pre-COVID 2019. While they are planning to go on a “reformative hiatus” and then re-emerge when the pandemic is done, they are first releasing a video for the EP’s titular track this weekend.

Directed by Callum Sheedy, the video “alludes to the degradation of the relationship between humanity and nature, the dance between moral volition and action.” Part of it is also clearly shot on Mount Royal, which always leads to some spectacular visuals.

Puces POP is Back Online for Valentine’s Day

The annual POP Montreal music festival is all set for an in-person edition this fall, but while the curfew and other COVID restrictions are still in effect, their popular Puces POP market has reinvented itself, just in time for Valentine’s Day. They have an online catalogue available until March 1st.

You can buy products from over 70 local artisans. We’re talking body products, clothing, jewelry and much more.

You can find it all at PucesPop.com

Featured Image: Screenshot from Flora’s Earthtones by Aquarius Dreams

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Mylène Chicoine is no stranger to horror. She founded Festival de la Bête Noire as a way to share what helps her to de-stress.

While some turn to comedy and laughter, for Chicoine and those like her, it’s horror and horror-themed art that allow them a form of catharsis, freeing themselves from their demons by confronting them head on.

Festival de la Bête Noire is a horror theatre festival that normally has hosted shows that audiences take in on site and in-person since 2018. But the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a great toll on the arts.

Theaters are closed, and gatherings that would allow for live shows are banned for now. For those needing to keep art and culture alive, the pandemic and the ensuing public health measures have presented a lot of challenges and the name of the game has been adapt or die.

Festival de la Bête Noire has decided to go online this year and I spoke with Mylène Chicoine about what that means.

“We’re not doing in it an actual physical space,” she said. “It’s a multimedia online event from people’s living rooms. We’ve removed the physical aspect completely.”

In order to keep the authenticity of live theater consistent with the spirit of past festivals, Chicoine and her team decided to have as little postproduction as possible, meaning that recorded shows should try to minimize editing and video effects after recording.

“We are NOT a movie festival, we are a THEATRE festival. We still want to see theatre, and performance, and live art even though it’s technically not live.”

When asked about the response to the change in format this year, she said most of the responses have been extremely positive, admitting that Bête Noire almost didn’t happen this year due to the pandemic. The festival happened because of the outpouring of support from the theatre community and its fans.

“We had a lot of demand from the community: Are we doing it this year? Are we doing it? Is it going to happen? We need it. The biggest motivation for the team was the community wants it so we’re going to give it to them.”

Festival de la Bête Noire has 16 shows this year. Two of the shows are mixed shows featuring separate performances within a single show.

The virtual festival has a few alumni, including the The Malicious Basement, Quagmire Productions, and Marissa Blair. In the name of transparency, I myself am acting and handling design for Quagmire’s Poe in the Snow.

Chicoine says that festival alumni were given an extra week to apply knowing that they are faithful participants who have provided good content in the past.

“We like to have repeat performers because it gives them a name and a platform that they need.”

The virtual format has not been without its challenges. Many artists expressed concerns about the ban on post-production, claiming that the festival was trying to restrict their art.

“We don’t want to restrict their art, we want to restrict their technology, that’s the big difference. If you’re in a venue, you’re not using a green screen, you wouldn’t use one in your living room either. We don’t want to make it look like a movie, but of course we’ve had to be a bit more flexible, especially with the new lockdown.”

Chicoine says the festival’s limits on technology this year were among some of the biggest challenges for performers. It forced performers to stretch their creative muscles and think outside the box.

Other challenges for the Festival de la Bête Noire were unfortunate realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. People involved with the companies and performers or their loved ones were exposed to the virus and either got sick and/or were forced to self-isolate. The pandemic itself resulted in some theatre companies dropping out of the festival entirely.

“We understand completely that these things are going to happen and we have had production meetings with every company that has required one to formulate a different kind of plan, whether it’s an extension, being more flexible on technology, but unfortunately we did lose a couple of companies to COVID.”

Most of the companies that dropped out were outside of Montreal and could not participate due to the pandemic, while some participants even got sick and died. It has been really upsetting for everyone involved with Bête Noire, but Chicoine and her team anticipated this happening.

Festival de la Bête Noire 2021 is fulfilling its mandate by giving artists and performers a platform to explore the horror genre by performing, creating and watching, and being a part of something, bringing people together in a socially distant way.

When I asked Chicoine if there were any advantages to going virtual, she pointed to fact that it allowed for more international entries, speaking of participating companies in the US and as far away as Japan. Chicoine mentioned The Peony Lantern by The Yokohama Group, a multimedia performance that takes place in the World Peace Theatre in Kawasaki, Japan.

Given the unpredictability of the pandemic, Mylène Chicoine is preparing for disaster, but it has not dampened her excitement for the shows on offer this year. When asked if there were any shows she was particularly excited about, she mentioned Pento by Mad Paradox, a show about mental health issues.

As for the technicalities regarding the accessing the shows, Chicoine and her team demurred from using sites like YouTube and TikTok because they’re too restrictive. In order to avoid the censorship that comes with those sites, all ticket holders will be sent a Google Drive link to their show which gives them one week to watch it at their convenience. Viewers don’t need a Gmail account to access the link.

Festival de la Bête Noire is running virtually from February 17, 2021 to March 15, 2021. For more info check out LaBeteNoirFest.com