August, 2014

  1. The Amazing UVic Writing Program

    August 28, 2014 by Nevin Thompson

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    We’re stoked: Shane Koyczan, who stunned billions of viewers around the world with his impassioned performance of We Are More at the 2010 Olympics, will be appearing at Experience Tectoria in a couple of weeks.

    But did you know that Tectoria also plays a leading role in Canada’s literary scene, thanks in part to the hard work of UVic’s visionary Department of Writing?

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    “An invaluable training ground for a TV-writer-in-the-making”

    “The UVic Writing program was an invaluable training ground for a TV-writer-in-the-making, even though I studied fiction when I was there,” says Daegan Fryklind, executive producer of Bitten, a popular Space/SYFY series that documents the lives of werewolves.

    One of Television’s Most Innovative Showrunners Has Tectoria DNA

    She’s also recognized as one of North America’s most innovative and creative “showrunners,” an emerging class of creative masterminds who wield overall creative authority and management responsibility for a particular television program.

    Fryklind is getting attention as a showrunner everywhere from  CBC’s The National to Variety Magazine, and she got her start at UVic’s Writing Department in the early 1990’s.

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    “The UVic Writing program’s workshop process teaches you to write to deadline and take feedback to incorporate into your next draft,” says Fryklind.  “It was a supportive community of writers in which I was able to hone my voice.”

    While Fryklind went on to study at Concordia (“I was following in the footsteps of Tamas Dobozy,” she says) and Canadian Film Centre’s Showrunner Bootcamp, the UVic Writing program’s DNA can still be detected in her work.

    UVic Writing Graduates Are Winning Stacks of Awards

    “UVic’s writing program has a huge impact on local culture and the national literary scene,” says department chair David Leach, one of North America’s hottest creative non-fiction writers who also attended the Writing program in the early 1990’s.

    “W.P. Kinsella is our most famous early graduate,” says Leach. “One of his baseball books got turned into the Kevin Costner movie, Field of Dreams.”

    More recently, UVic Writing grad and Langford resident Esi Edugyan had huge international success with her novel Half Blood Blues, which has been published around the world and won a stack of awards, including Canada’s Giller Prize.

    “Every day, though, I learn of one of our graduates launching a new book or landing a new job,” says Leach. “For example, one of our grads Erin Frances Fisher has been receiving awards and recognition, and has even been published by Granta, which is kind of the British equivalent of the New Yorker.”

    Transforming How We Think About Victoria

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    “Most people don’t know we’re part of a Fine Arts Faculty, rather than in an English Department like most other creative writing programs, so our colleagues are visual artists, musicians and theatre professionals,” says Leach.

    Scott Amos is one UVic Writing grad (and now an instructor) familiar to Tectorians that is mixing visual arts with writing.

    Besides designing the kinetic sculptures that are transforming Victoria’s visual style, the UVic Fine Arts alumni is one of the creative minds behind Tectoria-sponsored Thinklandia, which is launching on September 2, and will last until mid-September to coincide with Rifflandia and Experience Tectoria.

    Writers as Entrepreneurs

    Victoria writers also represent the mixture of creativity and entrepreneurialism that is helping transform Victoria into a vibrant technology hub.

    “Writers are scavengers by nature, turning scraps of experience and bits of ideas into art by making connections that nobody has seen before. That’s the same DIY ethic behind innovation and entrepreneurialism,” says Leach.

    Showrunner Daegan Fryklind says entrepreneurialism is a key skill in her medium.

    “If you want to get your own show on the air, you’re going to have to learn how to pitch to studios and networks,” she says. “It’s tough, but honestly, no one will be able to pitch your vision better than you, and it’s a skill that can be learned. And when you’re first starting out, before you have an agent, the best way to get work is to put yourself on the radar of other writers and showrunners who will bring you into the fold. It’s being an entrepreneur wherein the business you’re selling is yourself and your talent.”

     


  2. Vintage Funk

    August 20, 2014 by Nevin Thompson

    What’s the only retail store in Victoria with its own karaoke stage? If you guessed Vintage Funk, you would be right! They even offer singing lessons for anyone who walks in off the street.

    We all know about the trendiness of LoJo, and the cool collection of comic book shops and specialty toy stores that cluster up the block around the Broad Street intersection.

    And now, with the solid success of Vintage Funk over the past few years, the eclecticism and pure delightfulness of shopping on Johnson Street has cemented a beachhead on the east side of Douglas Street.

    While calling itself a “thrift store” and selling everything from funky clothing and rock T-shirts to vintage phones, furniture and art, Vintage Funk also serves as a creative space for our community.

    Says one devoted repeat customer:

    This is one of those places where you wish you had hours and hours to spend because it would take a day just to peruse everything that’s here. It is chock-a-block full of crazy, awesome, unusual stuff. She had some beautiful kilts, a huge vinyl collection, a fantastic collection of converse all-stars, some really cool vintage toys and a couple of neat record players. 

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    The store is owned by Ozzy fan Susan L’Heureux, who has developed a reputation in the Tectoria community for her kindness and generosity. Vintage Funk is also staffed by volunteers, and many of them live with some kind of health challenge.http://bsideoftheticket.ca/vintage-funk/

    A passion for karaoke

    While customers to Vintage can step up on stage, grab a mic and belt out their favourite tunes any time they want, L’Heureux also runs a karaoke show at the Esquimalt Legion on Wednesday nights from 8 to midnight, with everyone welcome.

    L’Heureux took up singing about a decade ago after getting a lung virus that she says almost killed her. To strengthen her lungs she took up singing.

    L’Heureux teaches karaoke to folks living with special needs, and has competed in the late-great Sopranos’ Vancouver Island karaoke championships. She won first place.


  3. The Churchill: the Quiet, Refined Alternative

    August 15, 2014 by Nevin Thompson

    As we await the launch of Category 12 this fall (they are busy renovating their new brewery space as we speak), we’d like to let you know about another entirely new addition to Tectoria’s thriving craft beer scene.

    Our story starts with Garrick’s Head, one of Victoria’s most charming and authentic pubs.

    As any Tectorian knows (or really ought to know), Garrick’s Head pub on Government Street is one of the oldest remaining English-style pubs in Canada.

    Garrick’s Head dates back to 1867, when “Hanging Judge” Matthew Begbie imposed law and order on the bustling Gold Rush boom towns of BC from his law courts above Bastion Square.

    Victoria’s largest selection of beer on tap

    More recently, Garrick’s Head has been renovated, expanded and generally beautified, and now shows off the gorgeous red brick and exposed wooden beams that give Victoria its classic look.

    Most importantly to anyone who loves beer, Garrick’s Head pub prides itself on maintaining Victoria’s largest selection of craft beers on tap.

    With exclusive taps, one off casks and beer launch events, Garrick’s Head Pub is ground zero for craft beer enthusiasts in Victoria.

    Its beautiful sister-pub The Churchill takes it up a notch.

    The Churchill: quiet and refined, but still offering great beer

    The Churchill, which just opened this past June in the Bedford Hotel next to Garrick’s Head, is the brainchild of Garrick’s Head general Manager Jay Nowak.

    Nowak started out as a cook at Garrick’s Head in the late 90’s, and has since worked his way up in the world of Victoria’s innovative culinary scene.

    By 2012, Jay had put Garrick’s Head Pub through a renovation, doubling the floor space and ratcheting up the beer lines to the current 55.

    And he was just getting started.

    When the Bedford Regency’s The Ledge closed in September 2013, Jay saw the unused liquor license as an opportunity to created quieter, slightly more upscale but casual spot.

    He got to work, and created an intimate space for enjoying great beers, fine wines, and cocktails over a good meal.

    The Churchill just opened in June 2014. Now, fifty new draft lines run down to the basement, where The Churchill’s original namesake, a seedy 1970s dive bar was once located. The basement is now The Churchill’s new taproom.

    Amazing fact: there are no duplicate beers between Garrick’s Head and The Churchill.

    The Churchill also serves beer brewed at Bay Street’s Moon Under Water brewpub, and a Vanilla Stout from local favourite Lighthouse Brewery.

    The Churchill also features beer from Glutenberg, a Quebec brewery that makes nothing but 100% gluten-free beer.

    Stave off malaria at The Churchill with local tonic

    The Churchill also offers cocktails invented by Ryan Malcolm, part owner of local New Theatre Spirits.

    New Theatre tonics contain real Peruvian cinchona bark, agave nectar, and loads of citrus. The DNA of the recipe dates back hundreds of years and is similar to what British sailors would have been drinking to stave off malaria.

    LOCAL BREWERIES ON TAP AT GARRICK’S HEAD and THE CHURCHILL:

    Garrick’s Head anticipated Victoria’s appetite for craft beer and thus doubled the taps, eventually bumping the total number of lines to 55, with more to come!


  4. Weird Party

    August 6, 2014 by Nevin Thompson

    Victoria’s very own Weird Party has just announced the release of their new vinyl recording Mellow Funk – Vol. 1 on Softtone Records.

    Weird Party is an amazing side-project by some of Victoria’s most respected musicians, and really shows how the local music scene is continuing to evolve and grow. This supergroup combines elements of funk, ambient, jazz, and psychedelic grooves, with a lot of spoken word samples thrown in.

    There is absolutely no excuse to not give these guys a listen: Mellow Funk is available on iTunesBandcampSoundcloudYouTube, and of course on the Weird Party website itself.

    The band features former members of Jets Overhead, Seven Year Old Poets, and Whip, and features performances by The Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness, and members of Gold and Youth on their recently released album.

    They say their influences range from Air, St. Germain, Brian Eno, Propellerheads, United Future Organization, Greyboy, Ubiquity Records, Acid Jazz, Bob James, to Tortoise.

    They recommend listening to Mellow Funk as an eclectic evening soundtrack while drinking a glass of wine.


    Weird Party’s eponymous debut was recorded at Victoria’s Infiniti Studios by noted journeyman indie musician Ted Gowans, who has worked as touring guitarist in Tegan and Sara‘s backing band.

    Since then Gowans has played and recorded music with Margaret Cho, Matt Sharp, Louise Burns and Chris Mansfield (Fences). The debut release was mastered by Adam Sutherland, who runs Infiniti Studios and was a guitarist for the currently hibernating Armchair Cynics.

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    If you like to enjoy Weird Party locally in Victoria, why not head down to Ditch Records at 784 Fort Street and pick up a copy for yourself. The vinyl will run you just $21 and comes with a free digital download.

    Victoria Indie Music Scene Geeky Factoids

    Victoria supergroup Weird Party’s lineup:

    Chris Mackenzie – Drums
    Piers Henwood – Guitar
    Andrew Poirier – Guitar
    William Farrant – Bass

    Anand Greenwall – Saxaphone

    Featured performers on Mellow Funk:

    Thomas Shields – Vocoder, Synth
    Neil Cooke-Dallin – Percussion, Synth
    Abi Rose – Vocals
    Matthew Lyall – Synth/Keys
    Dave Hyldig – percussion