Panelists Cat McCarthy and Der Kosmonaut discuss political art following the Trump victory and the legacy of the late, great Leonard Cohen with host Jason C. McLean.

News Roundup Topics: Pence at Hamilton, Montreal Police spying on journalists, historic building burned, Sarkozy losing power and the International Infringement Conference.


Cat McCarthy: Burlesque performer, artist and FTB contributor

Der Kosmonaut: Spoken word artist, author and blogger

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagha (video)

Reports by Hannah Besseau

Recorded Sunday, November 20, 2016 in Montreal



Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

In this podcast, panelists Ellana Blacher, Cem Ertekin and Vincent Simboli discuss for one last time the Presidential Elections happening in the US, the spoken word scene in Montréal, the Dakota Access Pipeline and more in our News Roundup segment. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha


Ellana Blacher aka Joy Low-Key: Spoken Word Artist and FTB Contributor

Vincent Simboli: FTB Contributor

Cem Ertekin: FTB Managing Editor


*US Election Report by Hannah Besseau



Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

When the 2013 Montreal Infringement Festival closing weekend arrived, I was ready. This was, after all, the 10th edition and I had been to all the previous incarnations, but I soon remembered that when it comes to the Infringement, it’s best to expect the unexpected.


Thursday night, the Montreal Infringement was supposed to be a night of theatre featuring Buffalo’s 420 The Musical. Unfortunately, the show wasn’t able to make it (insert whatever stoner joke you want here).

That didn’t stop some of the members of the troupe behind it from coming down and Infringing anyways. We were treated to musical sets from Lola and the Creen Machine and Dozo My Lady, who both brought the house down.

The house, of course, had changed to Cafe Sierra. I’m glad I had the chance to check this venue out, it’s a cool new artistic cafe on Prince Arthur and it’s worth a visit.

Lola and the creen machine
Lola and the Creen Machine

I’m also glad I got to see a set by Atlantic City native Lucas Simmons. This mentalist had been in town since the beginning of the fest, drawing portraits of whoever wanted one at various Infringement events and now the stage was all his.

I have to say his performance was both entertaining and impressive. It felt like someone you’re having a beer with all of a sudden starts doing magic tricks, except these tricks are damn good.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how he did most of them, including when I was pulled up from the audience, not once but twice. I thought I had figured out one trick, but then was reminded of one crucial detail which I could not explain. Mind…blown.

Thursday was also the night the fest went into overtime, unofficially that is. I got to hang out with the performers and out of town guests like Hannah and George Hampton who came all the way from Buffalo just to check out the fest. True Infringement spirit if I’ve ever seen it, and believe me, I have.


crazy knows crazy
Crazy Knows Crazy

We partied into the wee hours, so making it down to the fest on Friday was a bit of a challenge and one I’m glad I met.  I’m also glad that Bianca David was covering Sunshine (check out her review and interview), but I will mention that Montreal band Crazy Knows Crazy’s first show was, um, loud to say the least and heavy, very heavy.

I couldn’t make out all of the lyrics, but I think that was the point. It didn’t stop the tunes from being really catchy.


I headed out to Smoke n’ Mirrors on Saturday not expecting to perform, but alas, in the Infringement, it’s a good idea to expect the unexpected. There were a couple of last-minute cancellations and Infringement music coordinator Nikolai Kush and I filled the gaps.

Nikolai impressed not only me but the whole audience with his beat boxing, vocal and harmonica skills. I love the one man band aesthetic and Nikolai pulled it off.

I did a bit as a politician who chose to celebrate Montreal’s corruption. It was fun and got a rise out of the crowd, which I was happy with considering I followed the very definition of a tough act to follow.

What started as a spoken set by Math Boylan (who runs the — gallery where the show was taking place) quickly turned into a burlesque performance when Sandrine Charbonneau walked out topless. She danced as Boylan spoke and painted her body. Again, in the Infringement, you have to expect the unexpected.

nikolai kush
Nikolai Kush

Jay Manafest, who normally hosts this now unhosted show, performed a few of his socially conscious hip hop tracks throughout the evening. This time, though, he gave some back-story, which made his catchy tunes more relevant.

That was the planned part of the evening. After the break, though, it turned into a jam session.

We all took part in this jam. I performed a few songs and even took part in a positive rap battle (a great idea: compliment each other instead of dissing).

For me, this was the end of my infringing in Montreal for the year. The next day, there were two events: Infringement Therapy and everyone hanging out on the mountain.

That’s right, no show, no plans, just infringers enjoying each other’s company and planning for the future. While I missed the closing, I plan to be a part of that future.

You see, next year is the 10th anniversary of the Montreal Infringement Festival. But wait, you might be thinking, wasn’t this year ten? Well, it was the 10th edition, but the anniversary is next year.

A trick? Nope, just some fun with numbers and yet another reminder that in the Infringement, you’ve got to expect the unexpected.

Can’t wait till next year for more infringing? The Buffalo Infringement Festival runs July 25 to August 4. Check for details.

* Photos by Hannah Hampton. For more of her photos, please visit Top image of Lucas Simmons (2nd from left) and audience volunteers.

After an exhilarating and tiring weekend, I was ready to return to the Montreal Infringement Festival. Usually the early week is reserved for more sober activities like poetry, theatre and film screenings. But this time around, we were going to start things off by rocking out at Barfly.


For me, Tuesday began with drinks at Bifteck with Brooklyn infringers Sunshine (Bianca David will tell you all about it). Then, we walked up St-Laurent and in on Chorale du Peuple leading the whole bar in song, protest song, that is. There were lyric sheets on every table with the words to songs like “Old Monsanto had a Farm (GM, GM, O).”

As their set was concluding, we started hearing sporadic drum and bass accompaniment. Turns out this was coming from the next act, Mr Parker Quebec, and the flow was seamless.

Dan Parker, a prominent member of the Chorale, sang while drumming in this rocking two-piece. This prompted one of the members of Sunshine, also an organizer of Brooklyn Infringement, to mention that he’d love it if Parker played the Brooklyn fest (Dan, if you’re reading this and are interested, get in touch:

chorale du peuple
Chorale du Peuple rehearsing outside of Barfly (photo Donovan King)

Next up was Niagara Falls, New York punk band Jump The Blinds.They were tight and loud. Montreal’s NooM closed things out, giving a nice trippy rock vibe to the end of the evening.


I went to the festival Wednesday wearing two hats: reviewer and performer. I was scheduled for a brief set in the Infringement spoken word show at the Concordia Co-Op Bookstore.

I won’t tell you how my performance was from an audience perspective, but going through acoustic versions of a few tunes from my normally very loud band [sic] with Jerry Gabriel on guitar was fun as hell. While it was my only scheduled performance in this year’s fest, in true Infringement fashion, it wasn’t my last time on stage.

Our little musical interlude wasn’t the only music I would hear that evening. Sunshine treated the crowd at the bookstore to a very lyrical acoustic set in anticipation of their plugged, full band performance Friday.

Music aside, this was a spoken word show and there was plenty of interesting poetry, courtesy of very clever Siberian native Maria Bronnikova and Montrealers Steven P. Frasier, Rebecca Anne Banks and emcee Laurence Tenenbaum, who delivered his works throughout the night. We even got some hilarious real world conversations from British native Robert Wringham.

The night also had a special audience member: Buffalo’s Josh Smith, a spoken word performer and comedian in his own right. This was a surprise visit and he brought his car, too, which worked out great for me because he was able to offer a lift halfway across town to Labo where the night’s other evening of poetry was happening.

Louis Royer’s Grand Récital Fractal was in full swing when we arrived. It was a mostly francophone evening of words and song.

I say mostly because there was an English performance from rapper and Infringer Jay Manafest. There was also a bilingual French-Spanish poerty duo KoraZón NordSud.

I was also pleasantly surprised when Pasqui Paz, whom I hadn’t seen since the 2005 Infringement, took the stage mixing beats. The in-character performance by L’Abbé Tizumen caught my attention too (if you don’t speak French, the joke in his name would take too long to explain).

For me, the highlight of this part of the evening was Vitamine Bleue. This guitar and vocal duo, all decked in blue striped outfits with blue hair and performing in front of a blue curtain were clever, cute and entertaining.

Their personalities really came through in their performance. And personality in performance is one of the main things the Infringement is all about.

* Top photo of Vitamine Bleue by Yvon Jean.

Stephanie Robert
With the New Year comes new beginnings for me at Forget the Box. I have to admit that part of me regrets moving on from Friday Film Review, although after two weeks I’m happy to report that new FFR writer Thomas O’Connor is doing a great job. That being said, I am thrilled that my new role as an administrator and general arts reviewer means this film geek will actually leave her house from time to time and discover a plethora of fun and interesting events out in that thing called the real world.

The first event I’ve decided to cover is Montreal’s annual dance festival Bouge D’ici, which kicked off its 2012 edition this past Friday at Mainline Theatre. The inaugural event was a dance themed edition of Confabulation aptly entitled Just Dance!

I’ve known about Confabulation for a little while now thanks to Montreal filmmaker/producer/adorable know it all Paul Aflalo. Along with being a producer for Bouge D’ici, Paul was on hand recording the evening for both posterity and his weekly radio show Edge of the City on CJLO 1690AM.

What is Confabulation you ask? Created and hosted by Uncalled For’s Matt Goldberg, it’s a monthly event (inspired by New York City’s The Moth) in which storytellers share true life stories without the help of any props. Even with Matt off in Toronto and a snow storm raging outside, folks gathered at the Mainline to hear stories from an all female lineup that included former tango dancer Lucianna Gravotta, Dance Animal founder/choreographer Robin Henderson and  Montreal Fringe Festival director Amy Blackmore.

Standing up and telling stories… simple, right? Sure, with a few drinks in them most people can easily ramble on about events we find make us seem engaging, but being a truly gifted storyteller is in fact a difficult task. This is the second Confabulation event I’ve attended, and while the producers have always snagged interesting people, it’s fascinating for me to ponder what makes some people better storytellers than others.

Lucianna Gravotta

Everyone has an interesting story to tell, but to be a truly engaging storyteller, you need that crucial combination of confidence, elegance and wit. With some of the storytellers, for instance, nervousness clearly gets the better of them. For others, their confidence and witty anecdotes makes it impossible not to cheer at the end of their stories. It’s perhaps not terribly surprising but Amy Blackmore was the most confident speaker of the night, recounting her amusing stories working as a dance choreographer with children.

My personal favourite storyteller for the Bouge D’ici edition of Confabulation, though, was Stephanie Roberts, an Ontario native who despite having a glass eye went on to be a successful artist and dancer who spent her high school years touring with a musical dance troupe. Roberts had that perfect combination of wit and confidence, and has intrigued this writer to see what she does next.

If you’re interested in checking out Bouge D’ici, I’m happy to report that the festival goes until January 21st and is filled with tons more interesting workshops and events. And, of course, don’t forget to read Forget the Box over the next week to see my report on what I checked out during the rest of the festival.