BY JOHN STRUGNELL
Earlier this week I caught Dan Neumeier, bassist of the Saskatoon based Rockabilly band The Classy Chassys on the phone before they packed up to leave on their western Canadian tour to promote newly dropped EP Rebel Heart. With Jasper being their first stop at the Whistle Stop Pub, their excitement is riding high to make some noise this side of the prairies. Rebel Heart is an early taste of what is to come working with producer Danny Craig of Canadian rock band Default fame. Here is some of our conversation.
When I read your band’s biography it mentions having influence from sources like rock, jazz, and rockabilly. When I listened to your EP, it really is exactly like that. I hear rock and roll, rockabilly, swing and big band sounds. What direction does that come from, for such a unique sound?
Well, when we started the band we really had the stray cats in mind and like you said big band and swings things in mind, and then our minds gravitated back to the rock and roll, hard rock sound. Incorporating things like AC/DC and punky stuff like Flogging Molly and Rancid.
Yeah, you can hear that. One song starts out very rock driven, then that rhythm hits and it takes a very different swing, heading in a different direction. It’s very fun. So tell me about the band name, the Classy Chassys. Is it a vehicle reference?
Well when we started the band we were looking for something that just had that 50’s flair to it. We started looking for slang terms and that one really stuck out for us. We thought it was pretty sweet.
Urbandictionary.com defines “chassy” as a fit body.
(With a chuckle) Yeah it sure does! People spell it wrong all the time, but it’s all good. Its supposed to be with an “I” but we do the “y”.
Do you find that being on tour in the full swing of things with the band helps to produce creativity?
Yeah! When you take a few days and you get in to travelling it hasn’t really sunk in yet but when you’re at it day after day your head gets into a different mindset kind of, and it’s totally inspirational. Especially for me, with writing words.
How is it going working with [producer] Danny Craig?
Well the coolest part is he dropped us a line on twitter one day, after hearing our music while working with another Saskatoon band One Bad Son. Working with him, we gelled pretty good. He didn’t come in like “oh we’re gonna change this.” He likes what we do and he was really good from a song writing sense. When we’re working on songs he can say “we should probably chop this here, or maybe this will work better” he definitely didn’t come in and start changing things around.
So you’ll be back in the studio with him in November?
Yeah, we actually got a $10,000 grant from Rawlco Radio just in the winter, and we’ve got to use it within the year and we definitely want to get some more songs down anyway, so it’ll work out perfectly.
How many dates do you have on this tour?
We’ve got 12 or 13. We play Moosejaw on Saturday and then off to Jasper for Tuesday. Then we head west to Vancouver and play pretty much nine or 10 shows in a row.
That sounds busy. Especially with your high energy sound. How is that transition from working full time to touring, having to put on shows every day?
Well it changes when you put on an actual show, but we’re practicing and jamming so much and even just doing two shows in a row last weekend is a good way to get into it because it is tiring, it’s a lot of work playing show after show every day.
I’m looking forward to the show very much, I’ll let you get to packing.
This will be a show not to miss.
Roots-rock act Geoff Smith opens for hard rockabilly group The Classy Chassys at the Whistle Stop Pub on June 2.
Ken Wylie was always drawn to the mountains. To escape the stress he felt as a teenager in a large family, he immersed himself in them, learning to climb and ski and experience the “freedom of the hills.”
Throughout the 1990s, as a mountain guide, Wylie was leading clients on adventures. But upon reflection, he said, he wasn’t a leader at all.
“I was more of a follower,” he said. “I wasn’t somebody who trusted my own good intuition.”
That mistrust in himself would be fatal. On January 20, 2003, despite having a strong feeling that he was in an unsafe place, he kept his judgement to himself. While ascending the Durrand Glacier, in the Selkirk Mountains, the group ahead of him triggered a huge avalanche. He and 12 ski touring clients were swept away. Seven people died. Wylie was dug out, but his taking responsibility remained buried.
“I continued to run from things for many years after,” he said. “It was easy to hide in [lead guide Ruedi Beglinger’s] slipstream as he took the brunt of the media questions.”
But the guilt would not be hidden from. For six years Wylie was carrying a backpack filled with anger, shame and bitterness, he said. The weight was so heavy his body shut down.
“I came to the point where I collapsed on my office floor and as I did so I said ‘OK, I’ll write.’”
And so like he had done with ice climbing and mountaineering 20 years previous, Wylie immersed himself in writing. He quit his job, sold his house and lived on equity. After two “false summits,” wherein he thought he was done the project but then was told by his publisher that he needed to do a complete rewrite, he finished his book. Buried took three years, but it was something he had to do.
“What it was about was stopping and actually doing the second part of what’s important in life: reflecting,” he said.
Today, Wylie is helping others to reflect. He runs a company, Mountains For Growth, which helps clients not only succeed as adventurers, but as human beings.
“The mountains are an incredible tool for developing self-knowledge,” he said. “If we know who we are, we will make better decisions.”
Often, however, that process of developing self-knowledge can be hampered by another element always at play in mountain communities: social pressure. Wylie said that as a young guide he had plenty of physical courage; what he lacked was social courage.
“I discovered I was willing to put myself and my clients at risk with my physical courage when what the situation required of me was social courage,” he said.
Wylie is touring with Buried. He speaks in Jasper about risk management, decision making and social pressures at the Jasper Museum on Sunday, March 8 at 7 p.m.
Shawna Woelke’s passion is creating a fair amount of hoopla.
Thanks to Woelke’s Spiral Motion workshops, hula hooping is in full swing in Jasper.
“Ever since I picked on up it’s been my focus,” the 26-year-old said. “Hooping has taken me over.”
She’s not exaggerating. When she isn’t working in the terrain park at Marmot Basin, Woelke is either teaching hula hooping, building hula hoops or practicing new hooping tricks in her living room.
“I sold a bunch of furniture on Buy, Sell and Trade to make room [to practice],” she laughed.
Lately, she’s been practicing a lot. She’s preparing for her performance at the Jasper In January Street Festival on January 24.
“I’m just hoping it’s warm,” she said.
She’s also hoping to expand the hooping revolution. She currently has six people signed up for her seven-week workshop, but she’s hoping for more.
“I want to get more people into it,” she said.
The secret, for people who’ve had the hoop rattling embarrassingly around their ankles, is in the hips.
“A lot of people think you have to move your hips in a circle, you actually have to move them back and forth,” she said.
That, and a heavy hoop.
“It will do all the work for you,” she said.
Find out what all the hoopla is about by visiting Spiral Motion on Facebook.
My name is Andrea. I’m a graduate student at SFU, a former Jasperite and I’m an eco-holic.
I wasn’t always this way. There was a time when I didn’t give much thought to what I put in the trash, where it ended up and how I might be contributing to global warming, consumerism and society’s general ignorance when it comes to protecting the environment. Then my roommate Ashley and I watched a documentary about zero waste. Then we watched another about purging plastic from one’s life. We were hooked.
But even though Ashley and I were inspired to make changes, going completely waste and plastic free seemed extreme. It seemed impossible. However, what we had seen couldn’t be undone. We needed to take the plunge. We have since cut out all single use items and disposable packaging from our lives. We no longer consume items that come in plastic. Ashley asked me the other day when we last took the garbage out. Neither of us could remember.
Our new life has been daunting, challenging and stressful, but it’s also been exciting, inspiring and rewarding. As Christmas approaches, I have suggested to my family that we attempt a zero waste Christmas. When I first brought it up, they thought I was insane. But when they considered the fact that Canadians produce 900,000 tonnes of waste during the holidays, and the fact that once a plastic item is created, it remains in the environment forever, they soon came on board.
Each holiday, the pressure to buy more stuff increases. But for me, this year is going to be different. Here’s some of the ways I’m going to have a zero waste Christmas:
Creating memories, not garbage
This year I am buying fewer goods. I would rather spend my money on experiences that promote quality time with love ones (eg. movie tickets, a nice dinner, skydiving lessons) than on items that will inevitably end up in the landfill.
Homesteading to the max!
Making thoughtful and practical gifts is cheap and surprisingly easy. Ashley and I are making homemade toothpaste and deodorant for stocking stuffers. Soaps and lotions are relatively simple, too. We are also making flavoured sea salts from bulk salt, reduced wine and dried herbs. I know I appreciate homemade gifts; I expect the receivers of these ones will be delighted, too.
Previously loved and package free
Second hand stores have become my go-to. I have found great kids toys, movies and books by hitting the local thrift shop. With a little creativity, even my annual gift for my brother—Kernels cheesy dill popcorn—can be done eco-friendly. Instead of buying the stuff in the disposable packaging or expensive tins, I fill a once-loved tin from Value Village at the Kernels counter. What products I can’t find used, I look for locally as this increases the chances it will be straight from the source so I can request no packaging. Recently I ordered mascara, blush and foundation in refillable tins from Twink Beauty (Etsy), who will also ship plastic free upon request. Fable brand lip balm comes in a compostable paper tube and I was expecially excited to find Whistler brand chocolate bars comes in compostable packaging.
Wrap your head around wrapping
Who needs wrapped gifts, anyway? Most wrapping paper is not recyclable due to non-paper additives. If I use wrapping, it will be re-useable and at the very least, recyclable. After I’m done reading this newspaper (and only after!) I might just use it to decorate my gifts.
Overall, finding gifts this year has taken a bit more time, but has been much more fun. It has been an exciting challenge figuring out how to get things I want in environmentally-responsible ways. Can I find it used? Can I acquire it in my own packaging? Can I make it at home? If I can’t find an alternative, then it is likely a product I can live without.
Living waste free is not as extreme as I originally feared. The hard part is changing our habits, but we can each take small steps. My name is Andrea. If I can admit to being an eco-holic, you can too!
An entire field of fresh celery. A swimming pool’s worth of hummus. Palates upon palates filled with hams, soy milk, produce and bread.
All destined for the trash.
Every year, Canada wastes $27 billion worth of perfectly-edible food. Meanwhile, one in 10 Canadians are “food insecure.” On December 15, documentary makers Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer will show Jasper filmgoers why that discrepancy is worth chewing on. Because although food waste is happening all across Canada, the reality is, the problem is out of sight and out of mind.
“I could not believe that 40 per cent of food is being wasted.” Rustemeyer said. “We wanted to see it, to show it.”
With Just Eat It, the filmmakers do just that. The production follows Rustemeyer and Baldwin as they uncover egregious examples of waste at every level of food production, from farm to wholesaler to retailer to consumer. By choosing to live entirely on discarded food, the couple also shows us that our biases about food cosmetics and best-before-dates are not only ingrained, but illogical.
“It should really be called surplus food, not food waste,” she said. “It’s completely sellable one minute and the next it’s in the bin.”
Just Eat It comes on the heels of the filmmakers’ other waste-related documentary, The Clean Bin Project, in which Baldwin and Rustemeyer challenge each other to go garbage-free for an entire year. While touring that film, during a presentation at a Vancouver school, the couple noticed unopened puddings and granola bars had found their way into the trash. At that moment, the seed for Just Eat It was planted.
“Sometimes our films are on the silly side,” Rustemeyer said. “But I think that’s what makes them accessible and fun.”
On December 15, the film and the filmmakers will be accessible to Jasperites. Two screenings will allow high school students and the general public to learn about Canada’s food waste problems and discuss ways to address them at the local level.
“The idea is to spark discussion on what we can do locally in each area,” Rustemeyer said.
The general public can see Just Eat It at the Activity Centre’s Multi-Purpose Hall December 15 at 7 p.m.
Nic Bazin wants guys to talk about their plumbing.
And not the type that involves a pipe wrench.
“Men are afraid to talk about health issues,” he said. “We need to break the taboo.”
To help in that aim, Bazin is putting his best face forward. Well, maybe not his best face...unless you like the Super Mario look. The 32-year-old assistant maintenance manager at the Sawridge Inn has joined the Movember movement, growing a mustache for the month of November to raise awareness of the realities of prostate and testicular cancer, as well as mental illness, among men.
“No pain, no gain,” he laughed, scratching at his 12-day stubble. “If I want to raise some money I have to show I’m serious.”
What’s serious is the toll that avoidable health issues take on the male population. Bazin has been researching prostate cancer and while the statistics surprise him (prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men), what scares him is the idea that guys aren’t talking about it.
“I think it’s due to pride or the idea that we know better,” he said. “But we should be talking about the consequences of not paying attention.”
On November 30, the conversation will get a boost when the Sawridge Inn hosts a Movember gala. Besides an exquisite dinner prepared in collaboration with the Sawridge’s culinary team and chefs from NAIT, the night will feature comedians and guest presenters, including TED-X speaker and current Jasperite, Jodie Rogers. The idea is to break the ice with humour to get men more comfortable with the idea of getting themselves checked out. A sense of solidarity among “Mo Bros” helps too, Bazin suggested.
“It’s a good time of year to create a sense of community around issues that affect a lot of people,” Bazin said.
Certainly the Sawridge staff have gotten into the spirit. As Bazin’s finishes a bowl of soup at the Hearthstone Lounge, his waiter, sporting a pencil-thin Clark Gable-style ‘stache, breezes by. A few moments later, General Manager Tony Bielec is spotted with his own gravy grabber and soon enough, inquiring diners at the next table take the bait. Bielec tells them the whole staff is on board.
“You can see that it doesn’t take much to get talking about it and have a good laugh,” Bazin observes.
Keep the conversation going by visiting ca.movember.com and by checking out the Sawridge Inn’s Movember promotions.
In park warden Ben Matthew’s world, black is black and white is white.
But when poaching, protection and community traditions collide, it’s not long before things start to turn a little grey-green.
Matthews is the protagonist in George Mercer’s new book, Dyed In The Green. Ambitious, unwavering and passionate about his role in protecting wildlife, Matthews is a warden’s warden, according to the author.
“He’s pretty typical of the intensity and eagerness that a lot of wardens bring to the job,” Mercer said from his home in North Saanich, B.C. “And it’s hard to say how much is ego and how much is dedication and passion.”
With Dyed In The Green, Mercer, who spent nine years in Jasper as a wildlife biologist, brings readers to the lush landscape of Cape Breton. But in discovering the majesty of the Cabot Trail and the rich salmon pools of the Chéticamp River, Warden Matthews also wades into the dark sub culture of the local community, where poaching is a way of life and outsiders are looked upon with disdain.
“He learns that poaching is only one of the many challenges that Parks people face,” Mercer said.
As those challenges begin to unfold, a cat-and-mouse chase with local jacklighters morphs into something much more dire. And while Mercer admits the storyline bends towards a what-if scenario, readers familiar with park wardens’ battle to bear arms won’t need to read too deeply between the lines. Mercer knew more than a few wardens who would rather go against policy than make the ultimate sacrifice.
“Some felt the need to carry something beyond a flashlight and a Stetson,” Mercer said.
Designed to be the first part of an ongoing series which will take its characters to different national parks across Canada, including Jasper, Dyed In The Green is less of a regional book than it might first appear.
Poaching, of course, is a global problem, but Jasper readers will recognize other issues which crop up when big agencies attempt to tackle bigger problems: the difficulty of working with outside organizations, management chill and getting the greater community on board. Wardens of a certain era, meanwhile, will sympathize with Matthews’ ongoing struggles with archaic equipment and the expectation to patrol huge swaths of park land.
“Often times you’re there on your own and there’s no such thing as backup,” Mercer said.
Mercer wrote the bulk of Dyed In The Green 15 years ago, when he worked in Jasper, but retirement has given him the opportunity to give the story new life. He now pursues writing full time, including maintaining Write Nature, a writing company which focuses on environmental themes and creative fiction.
Dyed In The Green is available at the Friends of Jasper National Park.
Jasper kids ditched their BMXs, skateboards and scooters in favour of brooms, shovels and garbage bags on October 24.
Twenty youth, with the assistance of outreach workers from the Jasper Community Team, scraped, shoveled and swept the Jasper skate park in an effort to get the wheels rolling for a new and improved space.
“This one is outdated,” said 12-year-old Ezra Jenkins, who started a petition to attract awareness to his peers’ cause.
The current Jasper skatepark was created in 2003 after local youth ambassadors, including Patrick Harvey, Wendy Hall and Terry Olsen, helped raise funds under the Jasper Skate Association banner. Portable table tops, quarter pipes, boxes, curbs and rails are located behind the Jasper Activity Centre. A light, on the other hand, is not.
“It gets sketchy,” Jenkins said. “Parents don’t like their kids coming here when it’s dark.”
Luke Eady supports his friend Ezra’s ambition. He said the skatepark is popular among his peers.
“Everyone in my class comes here,” Eady said.
Anna DeClercq, youth and teen outreach worker, was helping the kids focus their ideas. She facilitated a meeting between the youth and an expert skateboard park consultant out of Calgary and will help get the group organized so they can present their ideas to the Culture and Recreation board.
“We’d like something with bigger features, and better cement,” Jenkins said, before launching 10 feet into the air on his BMX.
It is Sunday, September 14 at Jasper’s Centennial Park and Stephanie Lavoie looks exhausted.
But she also looks thrilled.
As the volunteer coordinator for the Jasper Folk Music Festival, Lavoie and her fellow organizers have not only had an extremely demanding weekend, but also a rigorous few months, each day leading up to September 12th’s opening set compounded with just a little more stress than the last.
“The worst part of the festival is the waiting, thinking 'how are we going to do?'” Lavoie says. “Then, when the gates opens on Friday and people rush to get into the festival it is an air of relief.”
Quebec-born Priscilla Long was one of those who rushed the gates on the opening day. Seduced by last year’s event and determined to get three days off to enjoy the full show in 2014, Long was taking in the Royal Streets when the Jasper Local caught up to her.
“What I love the most are the awesome vibes,” she says. “Being here in the middle of the Rockies, listening to great music, with the snowy mountains behind is like a dream.”
Simon Chisotti knows something about that dream. He and a small group of executive board members had been dreaming of the moment they could relax and enjoy the music since work began on the event nearly 12 months ago. As the media and promotions coordinator, Chisotti has for months been pounding the pavement for sponsorships, selling swag at the Jasper Farmers’ Market and liaising with reporters, bloggers and whomever else could help spread the word. Understandably, he was dancing a cathartic boogie as the Royal Streets spread the musical love. Before Bright Light Social Hour closed Saturday night, Chisotti maintained that the organizing committee is not looking to make any radical changes for 2015.
“We don’t want to grow too much,” he says. “We want to maintain a friendly family environment.”
Certainly Fiona Baker can appreciate that sentiment. The Kiwi-cum-Jasperite is hanging out on a picnic blanket during the laid-back Sunday afternoon jam when we ambush her with a notepad. Meanwhile, Baker’s one-year-old daughter, Cedar, is making fast friends with those around her.
“Jasper is such a family town,” she says. “The folk fest is the perfect place to hang out for us.”
Nearby, Edmontonian Eileen Heideller is sketching in a notebook. It is her 49th birthday and her present to herself was a ticket to the festival. Although she had a hard time finding a danceable groove the night previous, her Sunday is panning out to be just what a birthday girl could want. Next year, for her 50th, she might invite her friends.
“I couldn’t find a better place to celebrate,” she says.
Fifty metres behind Heideller, Art Judson is drawing too—drawing a crowd. The owner of Crab Joint, a food cart specializing in guilty festival pleasures like burgers, dogs and poutine, Judson has seemingly fed half of the crowd and most of the volunteers. Hailing from Lethbridge and vending the Jasper Folk Music Festival for the second year in a row, the King Crab appreciates the relaxed atmosphere, good tunes and hungry dancers.
“You get to listen to great music while you’re working,” he says, spooning a ladle of curds on a customer’s order.
Holly Penton has definitely built up an appetite over the weekend. Volunteering for her pass, some of her pre-festival duties included poster distribution and scrubbing the rented tents. On the big day, she was happy being a gopher for the bands. “I love doing it,” she says about volunteering. “Lots of my friends are here.”
Lavoie, the volunteer coordinator, may have had something to do with that. Approximately 100 people helped put the festival together, she says. From website coordination to gate duties to tent set-up to music coordination, “we had an amazing team of volunteers this year,” she gushes. “It takes about 100 people putting their heads together. We definitely exceeded our expectations.”
A popular book set in Jasper has helped two teachers win the prestigious Governor’s General award.
On Mountain Top Rock, by former Jasperite John McLay, brings its readers to 1954 Jasper, were exploring the outdoors and discovering the mysteries of the natural world occupies the waking dreams of its two young protagonists. A mystery wrapped in a history lesson, the novel appeals to teens and adults and has won acclaim for its evocative story telling and sense of place.
Those elements were part of the book’s draw for B.C. teacher Laurie Cassie. When Cassie found On Mountain Top Rock by chance in a B.C. Ferries gift shop, she was immediately enamored.
“On my very first read I knew this was a gem,” she said. “It spoke about Canadian history so beautifully.”
Cassie and her co-teacher, Sharon Moy, teach language arts and social studies to Grade 5, 6 and 7 students in Vancouver. Their humanities-approach to learning gives students an opportunity to work on an in-depth project all year long. In 2012, inspired by McLay’s words and the opportunity to bring their students to Jasper’s Palisades Stewardship Education Centre, 58 students embarked on a trip to Jasper to learn about Canada’s past through the fur trade, the railway and local war history projects such as the Ice Ship Habakkuk.
“So many people in Jasper helped connect the novel to history and to wildlife,” Cassie said.
On Mountain Top Rock, at its essence, is a story of the freedom of childhood. Cassie said the childhood described in the novel is markedly different from the one which her students live in the city.
“My students live under constant parental management,” she said. “Children today need to read about what the world was like.”
McLay’s book is partly autobiographical. He grew up in Jasper and visits often. When he was contacted by Cassie, who told him she believed the book could be a valuable teaching tool, he didn’t hesitate to get involved. He was part of a local contingent that greeted the students upon their arrival by train, and he introduced them to local characters that helped further their practical studies.
McLay said it was a joy to observe two teachers so passionate about engaging their students.
“Their efforts, their creativity, and their genuine love for what they were doing, made the study of history so enjoyable,” he said. “Their enthusiasm worked wonders, not just for students, but for everyone.”
Cassie and Moy will fly to Ottawa in November to accept the Governor’s General History Award for Excellence in Teaching.
This September 27, Jasper will be anything but short on cinema culture.
The first annual Jasper Short Film Festival will bring 20 movies of all genres to the Chaba Theatre. Coordinator Marianne Garrah is proud to bring in a festival that has been curated entirely by community members.
“This will be the first time we’ve had a festival chosen by Jasperites,” she said, referring to one-day film events such as the Best of the Banff Mountain Festival, selections of which are chosen by outside adjudicators.
The types of films shown at the Jasper Short Film Festival will be as varied as their lengths. From 45 minute dramas to 10 minute animations to two minute comedies, Garrah thinks there will be something for everybody at the festival.
“There’s broad appeal,” she said.
At least one film was made specifically with the festival in mind. Local filmmaker Ryan Bray teamed up with amateur script writer Ian Vaydik to produce Exquisite Taste, a quirky, stylish treatment of one man’s ode to debauchery. Shooting the film in a single day, Bray said the inspiration for the story came from a series of emails Vaydik wrote to his girlfriend. Locals will be able to identify several different backgrounds behind the actors and may recognize in the cinematography a tribute to one of Bray’s film heroes, Wes Anderson. Deadpan line delivery, centered compositions and complex panning shots add to the new school nuance.
“There were a lot of technical shots that we just barely were able to get in,” Bray said.
While he’ll be excited to see his work on the big screen, Bray is eagerly anticipating the slate of other works in the festival lineup. The 27-year-old is looking forward to meeting other filmmakers from around the province during the social event apres-film, taking place at the Jasper Inn Bar and Grill.
More than the event itself, however, Bray loves what the festival represents: more support for the arts in his hometown.
“I’m excited this is happening here,” he said. “This is a huge part of my life, it’s what I live and breathe and to have it happening here is awesome.”
He added that with today’s evolving technology, it’s easier than ever to get into the industry.
“You don’t need a big budget you just need a little bit of imagination and inspiration,” Bray said.
The Jasper Short Film Festival takes place September 27 at the Chaba Theatre from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Advance tickets can be purchased for $10 at Tekarra Color Lab.
The Royal Streets
The Royal Streets are coming to Jasper via a big white Chevy passenger van named Hilroy. "She's the heart and soul of the band and if you've seen us play in the last two years, she's the one who's got us there safe and sound and on-time,” they claim.
Coming from Royal Fern Street in Waterloo, The Royal Streets would like to see their music (and Hilroy, God willing) cross the Atlantic.
"Our goal is just to keep on pushing our music to the masses,” says guitarist Michael Demsey. “We love touring and we love writing music, so getting the band to a point where we can do this full time would be the dream.”
The Royal Streets do not have a main composer, as all of them "bring ideas to the table and expand from there,” each member of the band bringing their own influences which contributes to the music they do. Demsey is necessarily vague: "an indie rock sound with some folk influences,” he suggests.
The Waterloo/Kitchener-based band tells us that after the show they love interacting with festival goers, so if you don’t find them fraternizing post-set, look for a big white van named Hilroy.
The members of Willhorse are fairly typical prairie boys: they enjoy Saturday night beers, listening to tunes and jamming on acoustic instruments around a bonfire with friends.
The difference is, their fireside jams can be transferred to the stage. Any stage.
“If the small crowd is into the show, the energy can be so much more intense. However, the big stage is nice because we get to really move around and rock out!"
They might have made the move to mountain-hemmed Golden, B.C. from big-sky Saskatchewan, but that doesn’t mean their perspective has shrunk. Their independently recorded debut album contains honest songs about love, loss and life on the road.
Catch them at the Folk Music Festival on Friday night Jasperites, and be ready to rock.
The Bright Light Social Hour
Even if their music has been coined as psychedelic, rock 'n' roll, organic funk, indie, sweet pop or southern soul, The Bright Light Social Hour’s Jack O’Brien doesn't think music belongs in boxes: "It’s music, for anyone who comes upon it to enjoy if it speaks to them," he says.
However one defines it, it has been speaking to people. As well as playing huge U.S. festivals including Lollapalooza, SXSW, Austin City Limits and Sasquatch, the Texas-based band recently took home six SXSW music awards, including Band of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year.
Releasing a new album early next year, the Jasper Folk Music Festival’s Saturday night headliners are touring with a full head of steam. After Jasper, they will be flying to Houston, New York, Orlando and New Orleans. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
"We’re storing a surplus of cosmic fluid and open-heartedness particularly for Jasper Folk Festival", Jack says.
Shred Kelly is why small towns have jam nights.
That’s where Tim Newton and Ian Page Shiner were when they met their future bandmates, Sage McBride and Jordan Vlasschaert. Since those humble beginnings, the Fernie-based band has taken their collaboration to new heights.
The band has taken folk music traditions and instrumentation, namely the banjo, and infused it with electric guitars, synth and pounding drums to create music that people from any walk of life can get up and dance to.
“We know we are going to have a weekend full of great music, great scenery and awesome times,” Newton said. “We are thrilled to be included in such a great lineup and cannot wait to get back to Jasper.”
Shred Kelly will headline Jasper’s Friday night performances. Bring your stompin’ boots.
His hands stained black, his arms glistening with sweat and a nasty looking bruise on his elbow, David Clow slumped in his wheelchair near Jasper National Park’s east gate.
“I’m exhausted,” he admitted. “It was a tough day.”
Clow, a 35-year-old environmental activist and social justice crusader, had every reason to feel spent. He had just logged 40 kilometres in 30-degree heat. His wheelchair wasn’t rolling true. And just as he stopped to rest for the day, he was put in the awkward position of having to defend his mission to an impassioned follower—one who felt his cause was misguided, to put it lightly.
“She was agitated,” he laughed. “She was working herself up.”
Clow is used to engaging with passionate people—although typically they’re supporters, not critics, of his decision to wheel himself from Bruderheim, AB, to Kitimat, B.C. to raise awareness of the environmental dangers of the impending Northern Gateway Pipeline which will follow that very route. On July 30, however, after fighting with his wonky wheel and nearly getting blown over by every passing semi truck and motorhome, he just wanted to enjoy the views.
“This is incredible,” he said, reaching for his camera.
Most would suggest it’s Clow who falls into that category. His actions to hold British Petroleum accountable for the Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, or his gonzo-journalism efforts in Billings, Montana following an ExxonMobile pipeline rupture in the Yellowstone River would swell the hearts of modern activists. He is revered in Costa Rica for anti-poaching activities and the photos on his website alternately show him in the offices of highly-powerful politicians and on the front lines of hugely important environmental battles. His friends include the Lakota artist Frank Wain, anarcho-primitivist author Derrick Jensen and environmental journalist Cherrl Foytlin.
These days, however, it’s on the Yellowhead highway, all alone, where Clow is making his statement. After participating in the Tar Sands Healing Walk in Fort McMurray in June, he was moved to do more.
“I got a bunch of positive feedback from people after the Healing Walk. I thought ‘that was 14 kilometres. What kind of attention can I get from one hundred times that?’”
And so in a mathematically satisfying moment, realizing that the Northern Gateway Pipeline is proposed to extend (approximately) 1,400 km, he decided he would make the same journey which Alberta petroleum products are slated to make on their way to port. Except he’d do in his wheelchair.
“I want to use my disadvantage to our mutual advantage,” he said.
Although his arms and chest ripple with muscle, Clow claims he is anything but the picture of health. He isn’t raising money (although donations help him purchase food and shelter) and truth be told, he has a hard time accepting assistance.
What he does want is for people to take notice of what’s around them. He wants Canadians to “maximize their potential”—by which he means do what they can for what they know is right. He doesn’t preach, but he will recite documented facts and use logic, not emotion, to make a point.
“I’m doing this so I know I’m the person who I think I am,” he said. “I think I have the potential. I want to maximize it.”
Clow will push his potential into Jasper on Friday, August 1. He hopes people will feel inspired to talk to him, to learn about his journey and perhaps, to begin their own.
They’re hot, they’re sweaty, they’re vulgar and they’re demanding.
And this year more than ever before, Jasper’s commercial kitchens are understaffed. While recent changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers program will have an impact on Jasper’s restaurant recruitment, the underlying problem, according to industry veterans, is not the salary, but the status, of a cook.
“Unfortunately, a cook is still seen as a servant, not as a professional,” says Tekarra Restaurant Chef and owner David Husereau.
While Husereau’s staff is in place, other restaurants in town cannot say the same: The Jasper Brew Pub, Earls and Mountain Park Lodges, among others, have for weeks been advertising for kitchen staff. At Syrahs of Jasper, where Chef/owner Jason Munn recently finished assembling his back-of-house team, his two-person line (which includes himself) had worked more than 40 days straight since opening in mid-May. Munn says a new hire has to have a great attitude.
“Time management, sense of urgency and understanding priorities are also important,” he said.
Shea Robinson, kitchen manager of Jasper Pizza Place, adds mental tenacity and an ability to work under pressure to that list.
“During rush hours in the kitchen we don’t have time for pleasantries. There is no time for please and thank you. A lot of people do not feel comfortable with that."
Perhaps these are reasons why—outside of Instagram and the Food Network—the profession doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
“It’s not a glamourous job [but] people aren’t aware how much fun it can be,” Robinson said.
Restaurant rookies are often not be willing to put in the hours to climb the ladder, Husereau suggests. But starting as a dishwasher is how most of Jasper’s top chefs started their careers.
“Kitchen staff have to start from the bottom, and they have to grow professionally, step by step,” said Husereau, who is also the corporate executive chef of Bearhill Brewing Company. “Most people don’t like to start from the bottom, but we have to go through all the levels to be successful.”
José Antonio Fernández Álvarez cooks at Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria. He notes that in Jasper it’s hard to take those steps because many restaurants chop their staff’s hours during the winter.
“During winter is really difficult to work full time in a kitchen,” he said. “People know it, so they do not want to be in kitchens in summer and then have to find another job.”
Higher salaries would help with retention, he believes—something echoed by Kelly Mckenzie, from the Astoria Hotel and Papa George's. Compared to Calgary and Edmonton, where wages start at approximately $18 per hour, Jasper cooks make on average $14 per hour. The heated resource economy also works against Jasper chefs.
"Restaurants in Jasper cannot compete that,” Mckenzie said.
Sam Spades is coming up aces.
The three piece outfit from Edmonton, headed up by Jasper’s own Sam Heine, have been laying down tracks in the studio. On June 20 and 21, they’re coming to Jasper to show loyal fans what they’ve been up to.
“Things are really, really good,” Heine said over the phone. “The momentum is rolling, it feels good.”
Last year Heine moved to Edmonton to pursue his musical dreams. It took some time before he found his groove, but since hooking up with bassist John Richards and drummer Greg Hann, Heine said he’s been producing the best music of his career.
“All three of us are really committed to this project,” he said. “Hopefully we can create something truly exceptional.”
The trio has a forthcoming album coming out. The record will feature guest appearances from the Ray Gun Cowboys' Jon Christopherson, Jessica Heine (sister of Sam) and Danica Long on piano.
“The quality of musicians living in this city is superb,” Heine said. “It’s a really collaborative scene.”
Sam Spades has been filling rooms all over the city. He’s privileged to be part of a vibrant arts community, he said.
“It’s beautiful to be part of and watch it grow.”
Sam Spades plays the Olive Bistro this Friday, June 20, followed by a show at the Jasper Legion on Saturday, June 21.
In the year 2000, at a certain bar in Jasper, patrons could get a beer, a slice of pizza or a hotdog for $2 each.
You didn’t need $75 to see Corb Lund back then. He was part of the price of admission—which was also $2.
The venue wasn’t exactly a licensed establishment. And it certainly didn’t keep regular hours. But if you knew when Cowboys Bar was open—and more importantly, if you knew where to find it—you’d discover the good times were always rolling.
“We were unofficial,” reminisced the bar’s former “manager,” long-time Jasperite Eddie Wong.
“And we had lots of fun.”
Along with hosting concerts and slinging $2 beers, Wong, who (incredibly) will celebrate his 51st birthday this year, watched a lot of movies, fixed a lot of computers and slung up a lot of gear after partaking in a lot of adventures in his former home.
He spent 18 years as a renter at apt 203, 900 Geikie St., an extensive tenure in a transient town.
That’s why it was such a big deal for Wong’s friends when, on May 1, The Ramparts Apartments lost their longest-serving tenant. A day before that, Wong had taken possession of his new home, one of the 64 units in the recently-developed Caribou Creek Housing Co-operation.
“It feels great knowing it’s mine,” he said, sorting through an open toolbox to find a stud-finder. “I can do what I want to do here.”
Not that he’ll be hosting Corb Lund concerts anytime soon (Corb might not be into giving free concerts these days, anyway). But looking behind his house at the to-be-finished backyard, Wong can envision home-owner stuff: a deck, maybe. Or a fire pit.
“There’s a lot of options as an owner,” he smiled.
Such is the case when you're not writing a rent cheque every 30 days. Over 18 years, the monthly price of renting his share of the apartment—for he always took in roommates—was approximately $350. The Jasperite who has been a waiter, ski instructor, raft guide, freesytle skiing coach, computer repair shop owner, bus driver, software instructor, ski technician and restaurant manager paid out approximately $75,000 in rent money. That might seem like a lot of dough, but it would have been twice that amount had Eddie not been willing to sacrifice his space by taking in roommates.
Now that sacrifice is paying off.
“I wouldn’t have been able to save for a house if I didn’t always have roommates,” he said.
And there were a lot of them over the years. Some of those former roomies helped haul boxes and furniture from the Ramparts to Caribou Creek. Valemount resident Neil Mumby was happy to repay the karma.
"It doesn't feel like that long ago," he laughed, looking at a photo album Wong created from "The Wall," a collection of hundreds of 2x3-inch photos of all the people who have passed through Wong's Jasper life.
Those photos show people paddling on the river, sharing a cheers over a summer BBQ, hiking to the top of a local mountain or skiing at Marmot Basin—all things Eddie still likes to do today.
The timelessness of Jasper isn't lost on him.
“Every year seems to fly by faster than the last one,” he said. "But sometimes it feels like I just got here."
The cap worn in Jasper’s professional skiing community has been adorned with four new feathers.
Jasper’s Barb Sharp, Mat Charet, Jesse Milner and Max Darrah each completed their respective Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) certifications recently, marking a significant nod to local ski programming, mentoring, industry and terrain.
“We have talented mountain athletes across the board here,” said Darrah, who on May 12 officially learned that he would be joining the likes of Jasper mountain guides Peter Amann, Steve Blake, Rupert Wedgwood and Matt Reynolds. “This is not a golf course or ski resort community. People here have chosen to live here because of the mountains.”
Milner, who grew up near McBride but who has skied all over Jasper National Park en route to passing his apprentice ski guide exam this spring, echoed those sentiments.
“It definitely reflects on the community,” he said. “I know I wouldn’t have got here if not for the people that I had the opportunity to learn from.”
The ACMG’s mountain program has three disciplines: alpine guide, ski guide and rock guide. While Darrah has now completed all three components of the program, becoming a fully-certified mountain guide, Milner, Sharp and Charet continue to work on the ski guide discipline. Their apprentice ski guide exams behind them, they can now concentrate on going after their full ski certification.
“Over the next three years I’ll be trying to find a variety of work experience, planning some trips and hopefully challenging the ski exam,” Sharp said.
That all four skiers made the cut may not be a co-incidence.
For the past six winters, Sharp and Darrah have worked closely together through Parks Canada’s visitor safety program; Charet and Sharp bagged peaks all winter together during their season in Revelstoke; and Milner, Darrah and Sharp are good friends who not only ski together during days off, but come together in a variety of ski-related work opportunities, including jobs at Cariboo Cat Skiing and Rockaboo Mountain Adventures.
“I think we’re all really supportive of each other,” Sharp said.
Adding to that encouragement was Milner’s receipt of a special scholarship to help pay for his exam. The Claire Dixon and Cornelius Brenninkmeyer Award is given to the ACMG’s top ski guide candidate. The first year it was given out, it was Darrah who was judged to be most deserving.
And now Jasper can be proud that its ski community is a little more connected to the internationally-recognized ACMG. After all, it takes a community to raise a ski guide.
“This was a big send for Jasper,” Darrah said. “A lot of people have been a big part of these successful hoop jumps.”
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT.
That was how Brenda Shepherd described meeting Jeanine D’Antonio back in 1993.
“She lived simply, boldly, beautifully and with a sense of the greater good,” Shepherd said. “Everyone who knew Jeanine saw and felt immediately the beautiful ways that she could connect to people.”
Those connections, intertwined as they were throughout Jasper’s various community organizations, circles of friends, neighbours, co-workers and teachers, were frayed and fragmented when the shocking news of D’Antonio’s death rippled through Jasper last month. The strong, buoyant, vivacious woman who was a wildlife biologist, educator, warden, community volunteer, friend, twin sister, wife and mother lost her battle with depression on April 16. It was so painful to know, one friend said, that even the brightest light in the room could be in such a dark place.
“They say love doesn’t heal depression,” Layla Neufeld wrote. “It has to be true.”
At Jeanine’s celebration of life, friends remembered a woman who uplifted and inspired wherever she went. The equally devastating and beautiful ceremony saw 200 grief-stricken friends and family members trying to comprehend their loss.
The following Thursday, friends organized the first annual J9 Sparkle Run. The gathering, in which community members dressed up in costumes to celebrate D’Antonio’s carefree spirit, will help raise awareness for depression and mental health issues.
Her widower, Mike D’Antonio, said he wants something good to come from all the pain and suffering. He implored people to talk about depression, to listen to their loved ones who might be hurting.
“Depression can take a person like Jeanine down in a matter of months,” he said. “We don’t necessarily need to have the answers to the questions, we just need to support the people asking them.”
The last cocktail has been slung, the last dance has been had and the ugly lights have come on for the last time at The Horseshoe Club.
“It’s the end of an era,” Alex Derksen said.
Derksen, who five years ago opened the Horseshoe Club with partners Soc Korogonas, Brett Ireland and Dan Rodrigues, decided to make last call on March 31. After creating The Horseshoe Club in the space formerly occupied by Pete’s Nightclub for 15 years, the group concluded the nightclub business was no longer exciting for them. They decided not to renew their lease.
“We decided it’s not the direction we wanted the business to go down,” Derksen said.
Instead, with new ventures fermenting in Grande Prairie as well as Calgary, the group will focus their attention on their expanding brewpub empire. After establishing presences in Jasper (2005) and Banff (2010), parent company Bear Hill Brewing poured its first pint at the Wood Buffalo Brewing Co. in Fort McMurry in January, 2013.
“We’re concentrating on the pubs,” Derksen said. “I think the actual nightclub scene is a dying business.”
Although the closing of The Horseshoe means late night revelers have one less option for their dancing needs, Derksen acknowledged party patrons can still get their fix at the AthaB Nite Club and Downstream.
“I think those places have all the tools to give a great experience for a younger crowd,” Derksen said.
Andrew Yakielashek can’t sleep in these days, his brain is too busy making to-do lists.
“I’m more excited than I’ve been in a long time,” he says, his blue eyes lighting up.
Who could blame him? The long-time food and beverage server, restaurant manager and front-of-house specialist is embarking on a venture that every foodie dreams of at some point: opening his own restaurant.
Well not completely his own. Yakielashek—or Yak, as veterans in Jasper’s “industry” know him as—is partnering with another first-time business owner, award-winning local chef Jason Munn. Together the two are reopening Syrahs of Jasper in the space that formerly housed Andy’s Bistro.
“I spent 15 years as a chef making other people wealthy,” Munn says, with vintage half-sarcasm. “It’s exciting to say ‘I’m going to my restaurant.’”
The duo, who have worked together at various fine dining establishments in Jasper, including The Pines, Evil Dave’s, Papa George’s and most recently, The Jasper Inn Restaurant, envision a back-to-basics approach.
“The goal is to develop a local following again,” Yakielashek said. “When I moved to town Andy’s Bistro was the place to go. The idea is to bring that vibe back to that room.”
Syrahs of Jasper closed its doors September 14 after building owner D.J. Bowen couldn't find a viable owner-operator.
Munn, who is more than happy to wear that title, is experimenting with menu ideas, but he’s committed to focusing on regional fare.
“Food will be simple, nothing pretentious. It’ll be good honest food prepared well,” he said.
Yakielashek, who clearly brings the marketing sense, pitched the new Syrahs as having “inspired food, exceptional wine and friendly, sincere service.”
Yakielashek, 33 and Munn, 40, signed the lease on April 7. Since they got the keys, their eyes have been opened to the intricacies of running a business.
“That’s the exciting part for me, learning the behind-the-scenes business aspects,” Yakielashek said.
Munn is just pumped to get to work.
“I’ve got a lot of cleaning to do,” he said. “It’s awesome.”
Cowpuncher will play the Jasper Legion for an Ultra Sound Cause.
The five-piece outfit will be riding the success of their most recent record, Ghost Notes, when they roll into Jasper for the April 4 gig.
Known for their high-energy live performances, Cowpuncher's country-flavoured rock songs range from boot-stompers to heart-breakers. They draw influence from punk, indie, cowboy soul and blues.
The night will benefit the Ultra Sound Cause, a local campaign to raise money for a Portable Ultra Sound Machine at Jasper's Seton Healthcare Centre.
Dr. Declan Unsworth said the community support has been overwhelming.
"It's amazing to see how many groups and individuals have come on board for this drive," he said.
The Ultra Sound Cause has a goal of $60,000; last week the group was more than half way there.
Smitty's Restaurant is hosting an Asian themed gourmet dinner and silent auction April 11 for the project; Oka Sushi recently donated $1,200 from its charity chopsticks program; and the Jasper Brewing Co. is currently brewing an Ultra Sound Cream Ale that will encourage patrons to raise a glass to charity.
The Jasper Film Club will help shed light on a rare genetic condition that one family in Jasper has been living with for the last seven years.
When Gabrielle plays the Chaba Theatre March 6 at 7:30 p.m., Joe and Patti Urie hope that the critically-acclaimed film will help Jasper viewers understand how Williams syndrome affects their 11-year-old daughter, Athena.
“Not many people know what [Williams syndrome] is,” said Joe. “We’re really excited for people who share the community with Athena to learn about the condition.”
Williams syndrome, which affects one in 10,000 people, is characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning disabilities. These occur side by side with striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities and an affinity for music.
Athena, who was diagnosed at age three, has some trouble with fine motor skills and has difficulty focusing. She doesn’t always connect with children her own age, but she is outgoing and charming, and befriends adults easily.
“I always say the world could use a little dose of Williams syndrome,” Joe said. “Athena is so caring and loving.”
Occasionally, the Urie family worries that Athena’s trusting, social nature will get taken advantage of. It’s another reason they’re delighted the Jasper Film Club is screening Gabrielle.
“Athena’s missing the shy gene,” Patti said. “She would go anywhere with anyone.”
Gabrielle is the story of a musically-gifted but developmentally-challenged woman whose relationship with her choir partner cause difficulty for her care givers.
The Quebec-made film was Canada’s contender for the Ocsars’ Foreign Language Film category, but it did not make the final cut. Louise Archambault (Familia) directed Gabrielle Marion-Rivard, who lives with Williams syndrome, in the lead role.
Although Joe and Patti take one day at a time and try not to worry about what future health problems Athena may or may not develop, having the chance to meet an adult with Williams syndrome—albeit through the filter of a feature film—appeals to the Jasper couple.
“It might give us a little foresight into what possibilities are there for her when she’s older,” Joe said.
“There’s nothing we can do to change genetics. But I can’t help but wonder what Athena’s future will be like,” she said.
The Uries know the film, which is already earning rave reviews, won’t be a crystal ball, but it should get people talking. If that conversation can include Williams syndrome, Athena’s world might get a little bit easier.
"Maybe through greater understanding we'll see a little more compassion,” Joe said.
Gabrielle plays the Chaba Theatre on Thursday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. Jasper Film Club members get a discount at the box office.
When 15-year-old skier Bryn Malcolm tried his first backflip—and landed it—his buddies were stoked.
“It was pretty sick,” said Sam Wall.
“I was jealous,” admitted Brandon Lawson.
“I tried and landed on my neck,” Tristan Nissen laughed.
The friends were happy for Bryn, but they were even happier that they caught the moment on video. For several years they had been lugging around clunky camera gear, trying to capture the essence of their biking, climbing and skiing exploits.
“We had hundreds of pictures of the same angle every time,” Nissen said, rolling his eyes.
The backflip represented something of a turning point. Not only were their skills as athletes progressing, they were starting to figure out the keys to creating good footage.
“That was a breakthrough,” Wall remembers. “After that the videos progressed...the edits started getting cleaner.”
Then came a request from Jasper’s Tristan Overy. The local artist has a reputation as someone whose lines down a mountain are as funky as the ones he paints. When Overy asked the young videographers to put together a video promotion for his art, the boys didn’t hesitate. They hatched a plan and, with the help of a 3 a.m. ride from Nissen’s dad, rode and pushed their bikes up Signal Mountain to catch the sunrise. They got the shot they wanted.
“We pulled up on the ridge, ate a peanut butter sandwich, then Noah [Bangle], Tristan and Patrick [Mahler] biked down the ridge,” Wall recalled.
“It was the first really good shot we had,” Nissen said. “It was definitely cinematic.”
In late November, Wall, Nissen, Mahler and Lawson uploaded a mash-up of videos they’d shot from the past year. With an ethereal soundtrack, silky edits and impressive array of footage of themselves on local climbing crags, kayak runs, bike jumps and ski hits, the premiere of Dialed In Media looks like something produced by an accomplished studio, not cranked out by a bunch of high schoolers.
“It was a lot of effort,” Nissen said.
Before the long and technical work of editing, cutting and splicing, the boys had to get the shots. Not only did that take hours of planning, but it meant everyone had to stay motivated. Locations were scouted, jumps were built and patience was tested while the filmmakers waited for the perfect light and athletes were required to re-do a run.
Once they got it Dialed In, however, it was all worth it.
“The first time you watch it when it’s finalized...” Lawson said...“it’s sweet,” Wall said, finishing his friend’s sentence.
For a hint at what’s to come from these young filmmakers, check out Dialed In Media’s premiere.
Patrick Mooney is a Community Outreach Worker in Jasper. He’s not a professional therapist, but he is a student of addictions and a practitioner of meditation. His job, and his life, have given him a wealth of experience so that he can speak to something that affects all of us, in varying degrees, especially at this time of the year: depression.
Depression is commonly thought of as a bad thing, something to be feared. And while depression could be stemming from trauma that we’re trying to cover up, sometimes, Mooney says, people just need a little guidance for getting through these passing feelings. In that respect, Mooney talks about how a feeling of darkness can actually help us heal, if we let it.
“We don’t like to live with it, sit with it and observe the darkness,” he said. “But that’s our shadow side creating space to work. Our psyche has a phenomenal capacity for healing.”
The post-Christmas blues are common, even more so at high latitudes such as Jasper’s, where winter days are short and nights are long. Mooney believes we hurt ourselves more by going against the grain of nature and expecting to feel joyful just because it’s a holiday. It’s natural, he says, to be in a dark space when the stars are out longer than the sun.
“We try to find love and compassion and attention to our families during the darkest time of the year,” he says. “And Christmas is a huge holiday in our culture...we tend to make a big deal out of it.”
When a client talks to Mooney about feelings of sadness or apathy—two common symptoms of different types of depression—he reminds them that our lives are made up of feelings, emotions and thinking, but that those subjective expressions and reactions are separate from the person experiencing them. It’s important to remember that we are the observers of a full range of thought and emotion—including the darkness. That disassociation eases the pain, because we are no longer possessing it, Mooney has learned.
“If you simply observe it and not attach to it it’s going to be easier to deal with,” he says.
Of course this all sounds easy, but it’s not. Mooney knows from his own experience of living with depression that figuring out what our emotions have to teach us is a difficult task. However, it starts with knowing that letting depression go unchecked, or thinking we can numb it by sleeping or overeating or engaging in other compulsive behaviors, are not going to help.
“We become very clever, very skilled, at hiding. We won’t let our co-workers know we’re feeling this way. We think ‘this is such a weakness,’” Mooney said. “But it’s OK to be weak.”
No matter who we are and how joyful or happy we try to be, depressed feelings will pass through us from time to time. Mooney reiterates that these are moments from which to learn, to identify that the feelings are not who we are, and that everything has a natural course.
“It’s the law of impermanence,” he says. “Nothing lasts, everything rises until it passes away. Life does that.”
You can get in touch with Community Outreach Services at 627 Patricia Street, Jasper or by calling 780-852-2100.
To learn more about depression, start at www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-types
A former Canadian cinema producer is playing a leading role in getting the word out about a deadly disease.
In Bryan Hofbauer’s past life, he was a movie producer. Tonight, the teacher at the Jasper Jr./Sr. High School will reflect on that past when he debuts Three Needles in Jasper in honor of World AIDS Day.
“It’s about letting the film live and commemorating those who’ve passed,” he said about the screening, which will take place at 7 p.m. at the Jasper Senior’s Centre on December 1.
Hofbauer, who studied film at New York University, is credited as a producer on several critically successful films, including Three Needles, which stars household-name actors such as Lucy Lui, Sandra Oh and Shawn Ashmore.
But it’s not always glitz and glamour. Three Needles sheds light on the worldwide AIDS crisis; films dealing with social issues are a tough sell for mass audiences, Hofbauer said.
“People want to know what an actor is like, they don’t really want to know about AIDS,” he said.
While the subject is indeed heavy, the film itself has been praised as “mesmerizing,” “breathtaking” and “a triumph.”
“Stunning photography and powerful performances,” Time Out UK raved.
For his part, Hofbauer’s best performance may have been keeping his cast and crew safe. The set locations included South Africa, the Thai-Burmese border and Montreal.
“There were bouts of tick-bite fever, near drownings and car accidents,” Hofbauer recalled.
Depending on the relationship with his director, a producer’s role is difficult to define, but for Three Needles, Hofbauer got involved with everything from set building to promotion to fundraising to contract negotiation. The high pressure and inconsistent pay was balanced out by the adventure and job satisfaction, he said.
“It’s an amazing way to see the world,” he said.
To see the Jasper debut of Three Needles, which is put on in part by the Jasper Municipal Library, check out the Seniors‘ Centre, 303 Bonhomme St (Jasper Activity Centre, east side) at 7 p.m. December 1.
A Jasper based organization is creating educational opportunities for villagers in rural Myanmar.
And now Jasperites have the opportunity to contribute to the cause.
U-R Building Knowledge (URBK), a non-profit organization created to build schools in the country formerly known as Burma, is hosting its third annual fundraiser gala at the Jasper Legion on Thursday, November 7.
A gourmet Indian dinner, prepared by Chef Sush from Tekarra Dining Room, live music performed by Samson’s Delilah and a treasure-trove of auction items will give Jasperites even more reasons to contribute to the cause.
All funds raised will support the construction and furnishing of schools in Myanmar.
Gilly Thomas, founding member of U-R Building Knowledge, was inspired to help villagers in rural Myanmar after visiting the country in 2005. Having connections to the former British colony as her mother was born there, Thomas discovered she could make a significant difference in the lives of villagers with a relatively small financial contribution.
“It’s incredible how far a Canadian dollar stretches in this part of the world,” Thomas said.
To date U-R Building Knowledge has built five schools in rural Myanmar and contributed to many more. The November 7 event will help continue this aim, raising money for supplies, including construction materials, books, computers and other educational materials. This past year, URBK identified a need for a solar-powered electricity generator; the villages in which the schools are located rarely have electricity.
“We’re talking about villages that can only be accessed by traveling for hours along bumpy, dusty roads,” Thomas explained.
In rural Myanmar, school attendance traditionally suffers for the villages’ isolation. Students in remote regions have traditionally had to travel many kilometres to access the next level of education. URBK’s other founding member, Jasperite Sandra Hodge, says the organization has built schools in centrally-located villages to lessen the distance students have to travel.
“When you have to walk for hours just to go to middle school it’s a major impediment to continuing your education,” Hodge said. “By building schools close to their homes, we’re helping making it easier for students in villages to choose to go to school.”
U-R Building Knowledge works with a Burmese and Thailand-based non-profit organization to facilitate the construction of schools. The Myanmar government provides the teachers for any school built to their specifications.
In January, Thomas—along with Jasper’s Bob Covey and Nicole Gaboury—visited 10 schools in villages near Mandalay, Inle Lake and Yangon, the country’s capital. Gaboury was pleased to see the Canadian funds raised were being put to good use.
“It’s amazing to see the effect a little bit of fundraising can have on an entire village. I know we are making a huge difference in these villagers’ lives,” Gaboury said.
with Kyprios and MC Lozen
Tuesday, October 22
A B.C.-based hip hop band is planning to bring out your inner animal at the AthaB.
"We're having way too much fun," said Garnet Clare, one of three "anti-role-models" that make up Animal Nation.
Crusin' through Jasper this Tuesday on the back of their album, "Don't Grow Up to Be Like Us," Animal Nation is promoting naughty behavior and—presumably because the beats they're cooking up are cool, catchy and contagious—they're getting away with it.
"The idea for the album came about in a high school parking lot in Invermere," said Clare. "We were getting elegantly wasted and shooting bottle-rockets and Roman Candles at each other while waiting for that night's venue to open up for sound-check."
The rest of the story is even-less mature, but then, Jasperites know full-well what living in a resort town will do to you. Animal Nation grew up in the Grand Poobah of bubble communities, Whistler.
"Whistler is a town that changes every five years," Clare said. "It was a logging town when I was young, then it was a heavy ski town, now it's a party town."
The band plays homage to all influences, seemingly: Like good loggers, their cuts are sharp; they link lyrics like skier-eights; and they're undoubtedly bringing the life to every party they play.
The Animal Nation rises up at the Athabasca Hotel this Tuesday, October 22 at 9...ish.
Tower of Song: A tribute to Leonard Cohen
Oliver Swain and Glenna Garramone
Sunday, October 20
A Victoria-based collaboration is bringing their musical tribute to a Canadian icon to Jasper.
Glenna Garramone and Oliver Swain’s Tower of Song is a collection of rare and classic selections from legendary poet and performer Leonard Cohen’s repertoire. The duo’s creative homage will take place at the Jasper Legion on October 20.
“One of my goals with this project is to bring Cohen’s music to my generation,” said Garramone. She and Swain have put in countless hours, she said, re-imagining Cohen’s songs so that they’re accessible to people who haven’t necessarily discovered the legend’s lyrics and harmonies.
“He’s a master,” Garramone continued. “He writes about love, sex and death but always has a lightness or humor.
“There’s this sense of witnessing himself even when he’s in those dark places.”
Garramone said the feedback she and Swain have received has shown them they are having success in stripping down Cohen’s songs to their foundations. Canada’s greatest bard’s timeless songs are arranged for two voices, banjo, string bass, piano and guitar.
“I think a lot of people my age who grew up in the 1980s listened to a more-produced Cohen,” Garramone said. “If we strip away the production those songs are incredible.”
Tower of Song will also include several original compositions and readings.
For more information, see www.towerofsongmusic.com.
Theoren Fleury is best known for his on-ice achievements.
He is a Stanley Cup Champion, an Olympic Gold medal winner and a World Junior Champion. One of the smallest players of his generation, Fleury nonetheless played huge. He amassed 1,088 points in 1,084 games with the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks. The Oxbow, Saskatchewan, native’s meteoric rise was equalled only by his spectacular crash: Fleury was forced into early retirement in 2003 after years of battling drug and alcohol addictions.
Today, Fleury is a best selling author, advocate and public speaker. Telling his own story of surviving sexual abuse, he has helped victims speak out, and ultimately, to heal. Fleury spoke to The Jasper Local’s Bob Covey about proving doubters wrong, not letting Wayne Gretzky down and the power of honesty.
Bob Covey: in an era where big men dominated NHL rosters, how did you prove you were fit for the pros?
Theo Fleury: There was no magic formula, it was all about hard work. But you have to figure out ways to get room on the ice. I needed to work on my skating but I also realized I could never show any weakness. It also helped that I played on a line with Tim Hunter and Brian MacLellan (laughs).
BC: Who did you look to for inspiration?
TF: When I grew up I watched anyone that was having success as a small player in the NHL: Mats Naslund, Dennis Maruk, Denis Savard. Savard was probably the most exciting player of his era. Those were guys I looked at and said ‘hey, if they’re having success there’s no reason I can’t.’
BC: Can you reflect on that incredible rookie year you had in 1989 with the Flames?
TF: When you’re playing road hockey under the street light in Russell Manitoba when it’s minus 50 degrees, you dream about playing in the NHL. Then when you get to the NHL you dream about winning the Stanley Cup. For me both of those things happened in the same year. I was fortunate to be with an organization at that time that was big, mean and could play any style. They were looking for a player to provide a spark, to add some excitement, and I just happened to fit that role. When it’s all said and done there’s probably 10 or 12 of us that could be in the Hall of Fame. And not only that, they were just really solid, great wonderful people.
BC: What was your attitude like back then? How did you define yourself?
TF: I wore my heart on my sleeve. That’ll never change and I’ll never apologize for that. That’s helped me today more than anything else, being able to get honest, be open and be vulnerable. Those are qualities that have helped me tremendously in the last 10 years since I left the game.
BC: Could you tell me about winning gold at the Olympics? What sort of space were you in at that time?
TF: Well, I was very adaptable to every situation. There were a lot of people who put a lot on the line to have me be on that team—Wayne Gretzky was one of those guys‚ and I didn’t want to let him down. I’ve always prided myself that the bigger the game the better I played and the Olympics was that times 10.
BC: Tell me a little bit about what’s rewarding now for you. Are you someone who believes everything happens for a reason?
TF: Yeah, I think everyone has a story. Everybody has skeletons in their closet, everybody’s gone through some sort of pain or trauma in their life. I just wanted to tell the truth in my life. Little did I know it would help so many other people. I always say you’ve got to keep going because someday when you’re healed you’re going to be able to share your story, and be able to save someone’s life. Really, I think that’s why we’re here.
BOB COVEY // BOB@THEJASPERLOCAL.COM
The Perseid meteor shower was last month, but Jasper still has the opportunity to see a shooting star.
Singer-songwriter Alex Cuba is currently spending time with his family in his adopted home of Smithers, B.C., but soon enough he’ll be taking flight, streaking through the musical stratosphere with a stop at the Jasper Folk Music Festival’s Saturday night stage.
For Cuba—who was born Alexis Puentes—the down time is necessary to recharge.
“You’ve got to know your limits,” he said.
While he’s staying within his limits, his music is not. Cuba was just released in Colombia, and he recently collaborated with Nelly Furtato.
“I still get excited showing people who I am,” he said.
The Juno award winner, who first played in front of an audience at age four with his father’s band in Cuba, says when he distills his craft to its essence, he hopes he’s building a bridge between the listener and a higher power.
“I want to bring down a message,” he said. “That keeps it magical, mysterious and exciting.”
RACHELLE VAN ZANTEN
Right now, Rachelle van Zanten is picking and plucking until her fingers turn blue.
It is, after all, huckleberry harvest season.
“Life is more simple, but also more challenging when you don’t depend on a grocery store,” she said from her home in Northern B.C.
The songstress and slide guitarist is well known for her aggressive yet melodic style. Since 2005, when she moved back to her home near the headwaters of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers, her name has also been connected to a aggressive stance on environmental protection.
“I really started to see how industry was impacting my lifestyle, my parents’ lifestyle and possible my future,” she said.
Using her powerful voice and her blazing guitars to sing about her life experiences, she is spreading the word that we are tenants of this land and it’s our responsibility to preserve it for our children. Her musical heroes are John Bonham and Jimi Hendrix but her social heroes are the grandmothers of the Tahltan First Nations and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Wade Davis.
“Every time I see Wade Davis speak I get inspired to do the same with my own voice,” she said.
Bronwynne Brent admits she often feels like she doesn’t belong.
“I’m in limbo,” she said in her Mississippi drawl. “I sometimes don’t know what drives me to do this life.”
Perhaps Brent is from a different time. After all, most of her songs are about love; she pines for the days when an artist wouldn’t have to worry about the complications of the internet; and she hasn’t left the U.S. since she was a little girl.
“Canada’s a long way off,” she said about her impending trip to the Jasper Folk Music Festival.
If Bronwynne’s southern decency and Mississippi roots begin to box the singer-songwriter in, her music quickly defies the stereotypes—and any genres that critics might try to place her in. Her progressive sound fuses the folk and blues that played on her parents’ turntables with poignant, soul spinners which make indie kids peek over their horn rims. While Brent’s voice is velvet, her backing band provides spooky guitar bends and clanky piano riffs—sounds which tumble to their own cyclone in and around the Austin music scene.
Listening to Brent is like discovering that gorgeously upholstered chair is actually meant for sitting.
“The way I see it is don’t try to compare yourself with others,” she said.
Oscar Lopez is taking life step by step these days.
But just try to keep up.
“I feel like a million bucks man, I feel good,” Lopez said from his home in Calgary.
He’s got reason to feel good. Lopez just came out of the recording studio after laying down what he believes is his best work to date.
“This album is the strongest thing I’ve ever done,” he said.
Lopez didn’t always feel so strong. He’s open about past struggles with depression. Talking to him today, however, his energy is infectious. “Music has been my therapy,” he says.
Lopez’s new album—Apasionado—captures his renewed passion for life. At 59-years-old, the two-time Juno winner said what keeps his spirit alive is being open to learning every day.
“The process never stops, you keep learning and you be yourself. If you put a mask on, your audience can tell,” he said.
Born in Chile, Lopez moved to Canada in 1979. His performances have sold out all over North America. His signature style of flamenco fingerpicking underpins all of his forays into different genres. As he prepares to headline the Jasper Folk Music Festival, he warns festival-goers to buckle up.
“People better be prepared,” he laughed. “They better get their seat belts on, it’s going to be an amazing show!”
Ray Elliott is coming full circle.
Having grown up in Jasper, the Saskatoon-based musician moved to the prairies 11 years ago. Eleven years before that, he was playing a festival that included David Lindley and Sarah McLachlan, just before her career soared to new heights. The setting? The Jasper Folk Festival, of course.
“That festival is what sort of got the whole ball rolling for me,” Elliott said while taking a break from his carpentry duties last week.
The narrative is fitting for Elliott, whose folk-rock songs weave stories into the music. His popular single, “Last Run Back,” tells the tale of he and his brother visiting their dad, who was a railroader, on his last train trip. Local railroad expert Harry Home took the brothers to Red Pass and showed them the relics of an old ghost town.
“It was a simple, special experience. And there was a song there,” Elliott said.
Today, besides showing festival-goers his band, Elliott is looking forward to showing his own children the town that is still holds a large part of his heart. The house he grew up in, where his brother lives now, overlooks the Centennial Park festival grounds.
“It’s nice to revisit life,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing friends and family I haven’t seen in a while.”
Over the past 10 years or so, James Lamb has inundated himself in live music.
It’s paying off.
Born in Nelson, Lamb moved to Vancouver after high school with good intentions of going to school, maybe getting a “real” job.
But something happened.
“I ended up dating a girl who went to UBC. I would go to all the open mics there. Eventually I put a band together.”
Lamb wasn’t a musical neophyte. His grandparents were musicians and his dad was a songwriter with diverse tastes.
“There was lots of AC/DC, lots of Bad Company,” Lamb laughed.
Today, Lamb looks back at that eclectic mix with reverence and brings the same spirit to his songwriting, mixing not only different styles from working musicians but harvesting a few sounds from folks just banging around.
“Touring across Canada I would always run into people who would be creating for themselves,” he said. “I like to harvest a few of their songs and share them.”
Dressed in silver leggings and a homemade dress, Ken Chin, AKA Mr. Chi Pig, came to Jasper on July 9 ready to party.
As front man for a revolving crew of musicians in the legendary Edmonton punk band, SNFU, Ken Chin has been ready to party for 30-odd years. And they have been odd. For those who have never heard of SNFU or Mr. Chi Pig, first impressions can be shocking. A volatile man with a penchant for drink and drugs, Pig’s shows are historically messy. The Jasper event at the Horseshoe Club was no different. Unhappy with the sound system and about 15 beers deep, Mr. Chi Pig tore through a set of classics with only two new songs from the band's upcoming album, Never Trouble Trouble Until Trouble Troubles You (to be released September 2013).
Since they didn't take the stage 'til 1 a.m., half the crowd left pretty quickly, although they probably weren't expecting a 50 year old man in a dress to spit through a blistering set of ripping punk rock, either. The few of us that remained were there as much for nostalgic reasons as to slam around, having watched the trials and tribulations of SNFU for many years.
What started out as a career with endless possibilities for big breaks has now turned into a career which has ended (and began again?) with possibilities of a major breakdown. SNFU is still Edmonton’s most famous band and the group continues to sell out shows throughout Canada, however, it just wasn’t their night at the Horseshoe.
That being said SNFU helped raise a generation of punkers, including myself. Their lyrics have been engrained in my head just as mosh-pit bruises from their shows have covered my body. Chi Pig, an unlikely hero, has established himself as a legend—not for his drunken antics but for what he writes, how he sings and how he can carry an audience. While I hesitate to write a “review” of the show, I do wish to pay tribute to a man and a band and a scene that gave a generation of misled youth a reason to be true to themselves. Perhaps it’s not strange that a wasted punk wearing a dress has inspired others to be unique and look at themselves critically and be the best they can be. For in Ken Chin’s words:
The Moonshine Express is boarding, but the soul train is staying at Jasper station for another night.
Funky fellows, soulful sisters and anyone who likes to groove, take note: the Olive Bistro will be once again hosting the sweet sounds of this East Van-based five-piece tonight (June 25).
“We had so much fun [Monday] night we’re going to do it again,” said Pat Garcia, lead vocalist for the group.
Garcia’s sensual singing was the silk cap on the perfectly-fitted suit that is the Moonshine Express. Crisp beats, quick licks, funky bass bombs and a confident, flirtatious horn combined to make Monday night’s show a sweet score for music lovers. Tonight’s deal is even better: there’s no cover charge.
“Come on down,” said the Olive’s Darryl Huculak.
Having escaped the flood in Banff via an 11-hour reroute through Fernie, the group showed up in Jasper three days later. The park’s already making an impression.
“This is the most beautiful place we’ve ever been,” said Garcia.
Half way through their Rum Runners Tour, the group will load up the gear tomorrow, so hop aboard while the train is in station. Show starts at 9 p.m. See moonshineexpress.com
Local musicians Emma Acorn and Some Irish Pirates will showcase their talents at the Jasper Folk Music Festival this September after coming out on top at last Friday’s Battle Royale.
Some of the community’s best musical talent was strumming, singing and slamming to earn a slot in September’s Folk Festival.
The Jasper Heritage Folk and Blues Society event packed the Legion on May 24 in a night designed to feature local entertainers while raising funds for the much-anticipated festival.
The battle featured two categories, one for solo or duo performers, and another for bands. With only two songs to impress the judges, the solo performers had to come out firing and singer/songwriter Emma Acorn got them started. Her original songs got the crowd moving early, her witty sass coaxing knowing smiles. Melanie was next, serenading the crowd with a Tom Waits cover, followed by Chrisely Larson whose smooth grooves on guitar were accompanied by the blues of Jasper's resident harmonica blower, Willie. All three women made the judges’ job unenviable.
The bands category amped things up a notch, with Some Irish Pirates’ screechy punk blasts winning over the tight Queen covers and the catchy rock ballads of the other competitors.
Host Matt Cushing announced the champions but reflected that the real winners this night were the crowds at the Legion and the legions of crowds targeted by the Jasper Folk Festival. For infomation on volunteering at the festival, check out the Jasper Heritage Folk 'n Blues Society's Facebook page.
Supporting her first ever solo release, “Where the Darkness Goes,” Awna Texeira is no stranger to life on the road. A touring musician with noteworthy Canadian acts, including the award winning Po’girls, Texeira has the experience to stand alone, as demonstrated at Jasper's Olive Bistro and Lounge Sunday May 19.
Funding her solo effort with a kick-starter campaign a la Amanda Palmer, Texeira has shown her following in the Roots and Blues scene is web-savvy, as she raised over $12,000 to create a polished debut album in a Chicago Studio.
Texeira played to a quiet but bubbly crowd at the Olive on Sunday night, and her musical vibe matched the mood. With powerful subtlety, her voice held the audience’s attention through both her sets. Heavily influenced by her Portuguese roots, the accordion played a major role in her performance.
The Olive is a great venue for singer songwriters but it’s not easy for a performer to quiet a room of half-buzzed tourists and long-weekend-primed Jasperites. With good food in their mouths and a gorgeous vocal-led performance by Texeira in their ears, however, this reviewer would judge that all the audiences’ senses were satisfied.
if there's a Wil there's a way
May 7, 2013
Wil Mimnaugh needn't have told a sold out Olive Bistro and Lounge Friday night to Remember to Breathe.
Because even though a few patrons were likely holding their breath for Mimnaugh to play Travel Alberta's hit campaign song, Roam, between hollering, whistling and dancing, most of the audience had to gulp plenty of air.
Mimnaugh, who performs under the handle WiL, alternately pulverized his steel stringed acoustic to create apocalyptic jams or bent, wrung and slapped it to coax out ethereal soul scratchers.
The Vancouver Island-based songwriter played with drummer Kevin Haughton, whose subdued kit mastery was the yin to his frenzied front man's yan. Haughton's crisp kicks and sizzling snares added enough of a foundation to keep Wil from oscillating right off of the stage, where, combusting and colliding, the electrons of appreciative audience members pulsated to the evening's harmonious friction.
It was a Friday night in Jasper to remember. Check out Wil Mimnaugh at ibreakstrings.com. Better yet, check him out live.
MAY 1, 2013
Jasper's Sam Heine said so long and thanks for the memories during an intimate concert at Jasper's Cafe Mondo April 30.
The 29-year-old singer/songwriter, who performs as Sam Hate, played a lively acoustic set, reminding the private audience why he's remained one of Jasper's premiere acts whether headlining his own shows or opening for bands on tour.
"Spending an evening performing for friends is a perfect way to say thank you," Heine said before kicking off his first soulful croon.
Bold lyrics, a stunning vocal range and rockabilly rhythms have been Heine's hallmarks since he broke onto the Jasper music scene with his former 3-piece, Sam Hate and the Jackals. And while his solo act retains some of those galloping guitars and dark themes, delicate finger picking and lilting lyrics
intersperse the fierceness and the fury to make the work more accessible and frankly, more interesting.
Heine plans to cut a record in Edmonton sometime this summer.
For now, listeners can get a taste of Heine's handiwork by downloading tracks from a previous live performance here.