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Posts Tagged ‘Raw Sugar Cafe’


November 11th, 2010 by Matt Ouimet

This Friday don’t forget to come to the RAW SUGAR November 12th (that’s this Friday) to see FRIENDS ON FRIENDS tackle one of (if not The) most influential recordings in pop history THE BEACH BOYS “PET SOUNDS”.

The trio consisting of:  world-renowned musician Steve Boudreau (keyboards, melodica, background vocals), universally loved engineer/produc /drummer Philip Shaw Bova (drums and other things you hit to make music) and internationally questioned but tolerated hit maker Matt Ouimet (Guitar, Lap Steel, background vocals) will play the ground breaking record, in it’s entirety, all instrumentally letting your subconscious fill in the words.

As Booker T and the MG’s did “McLemore Avenue” (their instrumental version of Abbey Road) FRIENDS ON FRIENDS do to PET SOUNDS. All Instrumental All Awesome!  All of it!

This is a show not to be missed, a milestone in local music awesomeness, the best thing ever on that day!

Set 1 will be the “FRIENDS” album (start time of somewhere near 9:30-10)

Set 2 will be the “PET SOUNDS” album (start time somewhere near 10:30 -11)

And for only $5 at the Door!!!

(There will also be FRIENDS ON FRIENDS swag, travel mugs, messenger bags, for prices to yet be determined)

The Raw Sugar is at 692 Somerset West 216-2850

See you there.

your friends,


The House Band Art Show and book launch

October 26th, 2010 by BMcNally

The House Band Art Show

 on the walls of Raw Sugar Café

during the month of October, 2010

House Band Art Show Preview Video

The House Band Art Show features the framed photographs and chapter books (in shadow boxes) from the novel Up the Ottawa, without despair. Each chapter of the novel  was launched as part of the House Band Reading Series at Raw Sugar Café, with a different photograph on each cover.

“I organized the show as a thank you to, and to promote, the photographers who allowed their work to grace each of the eight chapter covers,” says Brendan McNally, author of the novel and curator of the show. The show features the photography of Scott Fairchild, Eric Schallenberg, Megan Butcher, Jeff Hardill Peter Knippel, Arthur Matson and Don Fex.

Photo on cover of Chapter 5 (Megan Butcher) and shadowbox containing the chapter.

The show runs until October 31st, 2010 and will feature the book launch of the completed edition of Up the Ottawa, without despair, bound in chapter book format. Says McNally, “As a bonus, the book will include a compact disc featuring the guests of the House Band Reading Series. Again, as a thank you and to help promote local writers.”

The CD includes Amanda Earl, Colin Vincent, Jennifer Whiteford, Nichole McGill, Don Fex, Shannon Beahen, rob mclennan, Megan Butcher, Sandra Ridley, Max Middle, Zoe Roux and Christine McNair.

Also included with the book will be a bonus DVD with material from the House Band Reading Series, which featured DJs who scored the pieces read/performed, and who played along while different voices read/acted out scenes from the novel. The House Band line up changed, depending on availability, and featured Andrew McKean, Eric Schallenberg, Amanda Abdelhadi, Don Fex, Zoe Roux, JP Sadek and Brendan McNally.

Book launch for
Up the Ottawa, without despair:
Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 7-10 pm

Reading: 8:30 pm

Kelp 16′s Final Night:The Michael Parks, Camp Radio, Tres Bien Ensemble and Rhume & The White Wires

May 18th, 2010 by Ming Wu

The last night of Kelp 16 took place at the Raw Sugar Cafe.
Kelp Records ended the 16th Anniversary celebration with a high voltage show that had The Michael Parks, Camp Radio, Tres Bien Ensemble and Rhume.
It was a sold out show.

After the Raw Sugar show ended there was the “secret show” by the White Wires.
The secret location was Victoria Island.
Their set took place in a U-Haul.
It was a wild show. Way to top it off Kelp Records!

The Michael Parks
The Michael Parks @ Kelp 16

Camp Radio
Camp Radio @ Kelp 16Camp Radio @ Kelp 16

Tres Bien Ensemble
Tres Bien Ensemble @ Kelp 16Tres Bien Ensemble @ Kelp 16

Rhume @ Kelp 16Rhume @ Kelp 16

The White Wires
The White Wires @ Kelp 16

Ottawa Folk Festival: Auditions @ Raw Sugar Cafe (Photos)

March 21st, 2010 by Ming Wu

On March 20th, the people at the Ottawa Folk Festival did a audition at Raw Sugar Cafe.

Here is a blurb from their website:
The Ottawa Folk Festival runs auditions each spring as a way to discover new talent of all ages. Judges choose the top three performers in each of two categories: Youth (25 years and under) and Open (26 and over). These chosen contestants then move onto the finals held on Saturday, April 17th, at the Library and Archives of Canada. The lucky (and talented!) winners in each category recieve a cash prize via the Galaxie Rising Stars Award (Youth) and the One Fret Less Award (Open) as well as a spot at the Festival.

It was a fun audition to check out.
I missed out the first two hours of it but I did manage to photograph the rest of the auditions.
As part of the auditions, there were five great judges and they were:
CBC Radio 1′s Bandwidth host Amanda Putz
Ottawa Tonite’s lovely founder Cheryl Gain
Member of the Acorn and Raw Sugar Cafe’s hard worker Rolf Klausener
Dara Mottahmed  from Metro News and Arthur MacGregor of the Ottawa Folklore Centre

Nice day of great folk music at Raw Sugar Cafe.

Here are the photos from the audition:

Ottawa Folk Festival: AuditionsOttawa Folk Festival: Auditions

Ottawa Folkfest Auditions: Saturday, March 20th @Raw Sugar Cafe (692 Somerset West)

March 18th, 2010 by Brandon Agnew


This will be my first Folkfest audition. 

I moved to Ottawa from Niagara Falls in the Fall of 2008.

In Niagara I was part of a Downtown Revitalization project which sought to bring art & culture to a dilapidated city core. 

Folk musicians were everywhere and the community gained a sense of identity through the celebration of gathering and song.

The movements and words spoke of familiar instances and commonalities in a way which I found best described as ‘true’.

Thoughts and feelings were expressed with acoustic guitars and djembes in a matter which was always inviting and communal. 

The songs were full of spirit and always accessible.


When I moved to Ottawa I immediately noticed a shift in dynamic and accessibility.  For one, this is a much bigger city than small town Niagara.

Also, I no longer felt a strong tie to my community; everything here was new to me. But the lesson from Niagara wasn’t lost: Music and art bring people together.

So I headed into Spaceman Music and introduced myself to the guy behind the counter, Eric Vieweg. Eric started running through the notable venues and open stages in town to give me a better sense of direction.

Then Davey popped behind the cash and Eric had him humbly count off all the projects he was involved with. I think it was 7.

From there my girlfriend and I met Gianna Lauren at The Manx, and Susanna and Matt from use every part of the deer.

Then I joined Harvey Cartel (as a drummer) for a recording session and some shows, including my first stop in Wakefield, Qc. I mention Wakefield because I feel there’s a strong appreciation for art and community there. (see the attached photo)

The Wednesday Open Stage at Kaffe 1870 introduced my guitarist Benny Gutman and I to Andy Roberts, who now plays stand-up bass with us. We get together at Andy’s place in Wakefield on Tuesday nights for music and coffee.

I’ve also been doing some drumming for Dave Norris & Local Ivan which features Graham Boyle, Lisa Poushinsky, Craig Pedersen, and Luke Donovan, all amazing human beings and wonderful Ottawa musicians doing what they do in the name of art.

I guess the point here would be it’s always about the people.

The people define the moments which give life a sense of meaning and purpose. 

Folk music is as unpretentious as it comes: Just folks gathering and sharing energy.

I’m excited for Saturday.



Brandon Agnew can be heard here:


CONTEST: Boats (CD + Pair of tickets for March 14th show in Ottawa)

March 4th, 2010 by Ming Wu

Who likes winning things?
Here is a contest for those interested and living in the Ottawa area.
On February 10th, I did a review of Winnipeg’s BOATS new album.
Here is your chance to win a copy of the album plus win a pair of tickets for the March 14th show at Raw Sugar Cafe in Ottawa.

Simply send an email to
With subject line “BOATS! Contest” and enter your name down.
The winner will receive the CD at the show and be on the guestlist.

Contest ends on March 12, 2010

Giant Hand/Ben Somer and Matt Paxton @ Raw Sugar Cafe

February 27th, 2010 by Ming Wu

Ottawa must be getting a late winter storm on February 25th.
Decided to brave outside and head up to Raw Sugar Cafe.
Playing at the show were:

Lisa Poushinsky loves Bob Dylan, doesn’t love multiple sclerosis

January 14th, 2010 by Greg Harris
The XO DYLAN concert, hosted by Lisa Poushinsky, raised a whack of dough for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

The XO DYLAN concert, hosted by Lisa Poushinsky, raised a whack of dough for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

It was a very full room until they ran out of beer. I don’t know what happened after that because I hit the road fast. No matter how good the music, a lack of beer equals a lack of me sticking around.

I’m talking about the Raw Sugar Cafe on Saturday, January 9th. I was lucky enough to get a seat near the front (thanks to Dusty Drifters) for the third installment of the XO Concert Series, organized and hosted by one of Ottawa’s most exciting up-and-comers, Lisa Poushinsky. More about that in a moment, let me set the mood by briefly describing the Raw Sugar Cafe – it was my first time there, and definitely not my last.

Located at 692 Somerset W, Raw Sugar is a retro-looking café that’s cozy as hell and has oodles of character. Quirky art on the walls, fully-stocked bookshelves, 1960′s formica tables with metal edges, three kinds of beer (which sold out around 11), paying for said beer at the cash register like it’s a pack of smokes… oddly enough, my favourite part was the bathrooms, complete with brightly coloured walls, chandeliers and fridge-magnet poetry (my favourite: “feline body, luscious rust, dark electric sunken trust” – I imagine this to be about Catwoman on the Titanic). As a whole, the place is so stereotypically “indie coffee shop”, and it was the perfect venue for this little coffee house performance.

Which brings me to the show itself – XO Dylan, a tribute to the songs of Bob Dylan. The all-star list of performers took to the stage in various combinations, singing Dylan’s best in support of the Ottawa Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Lisa, herself diagnosed with M.S., organized and hosted the show, while her friends and family passed around a yogurt containter to collect donations.

Highlights included Dusty Drifters putting together an impromptu band out of audience members when he was supposed to play solo, Lisa berating musicians for not tuning their guitars before they hit the stage, and Dave Norris‘s rendition of Subterranean Homesick Blues, complete with cue cards à la original music video – Dave ended up having to read off the cards towards the end of the song, which had the whole joint falling over with laughter as Adam Fogo kept dropping them. On my way to the show, I wondered how long it would take until someone busted out a unintelligible Dylan caricature voice, and Jay Todd certainly didn’t disappoint – thankfully he redeemed himself later by singing in his own voice, which is quite nice.

This is Lisa Poushinsky

This is Lisa Poushinsky

The show had a really great togetherness feel to it – not to sound super cheesy or anything, but it was nice to see a whole bunch of people from the music community get together for a night of singing and jamming and laughs and helping out for a good cause. The out-of-tune guitars and making-it-up-as-we-go-along spirit only made everything more… genuine, I guess. This, plus the beers I was able to procure before they ran out, left me feeling very warm and fuzzy for the rest of the night.

This entire list of performers is pretty long, but worth mentioning, just to give you an idea of the scope of the show: A. James Brummel, Dave Edwards, Kader Blaine, Dusty Drifters, Brendan Allistone, Mark McHale, Dave Norris, Jay Todd, Joel Carlson, Adam Fogo, David Bosschaart, Ashley Newall, Jon Laurie-Beamont, Tara Holloway, and of course Lisa Poushinsky.

All told the show raised $500 for the M.S. Society, which uses donations to “provide hope for the future through the support of MS research into the cause, treatment and cure of the disease and hope for today through our many services that assist people with MS and their families”.  I honestly couldn’t find a better way to write that so I stole it from their website, I’m sure they won’t mind.

Along those lines, Lisa told me that the next time she does an M.S. fundraiser, it’ll have to be at a venue that’s wheelchair accessible (Raw Sugar unfortunately isn’t). If any Ottawa Tonite readers have low-cost suggestions or are able to donate a venue, contact Lisa at her website to let her know how you can help.

Previous XO shows, also held at Raw Sugar, paid homage to Tom Waits and David Bowie. Lisa says there are more XO shows in the works, with rumours of XO Elvis and XO Neil Young in the near future. Don’t worry, I’ll call ahead and make sure they stock up on the beer.

-Greg Harris can be stalked at his website

Stumbling upon a reading: “Up the Ottawa Without Despair”

December 21st, 2009 by Maxim Cossette


It’s Thursday, December 17th and I find myself at the Raw Sugar Cafe, it’s on Somerset, half a block West of Bronson. Mary Clayton’s soul infused version of “Southern Man” pumps through the room at an agreeable volume as crisp dressed women and men settle and chat in this cozy, eclectic room.

Tonight launches the fifth chapter of local writer Brendan McNally’s novel, “Up the Ottawa Without Despair”. Scavenging the internet for fun things to do tonight, I stumbled upon this event listing on and know precious little about the show. However, I had the honor of being a member of the first musical act to grace this cherished venue, so I’m always game frequenting this cool establishment.   

Familiar faces start to pop out of the crowd and I recognize one of the names on the poster. I’ve seen Amanda Abdelhadi perform comedy before and she was quite funny. Dave O’Meara, it turns out, is the same lanky, lovable Dave who serves at the Manx. A few years ago I worked at the Manx and while slicing a bucket of potatoes I happened upon a news clipping about the Gord Downie using some of Dave’s poetry as lyrics. We had a good chat about it and my esteem grew for this warm and humble man.

I see a distinctive gentleman standing in the middle of the room, he must be Brendan. He has one of those faces like Vince Halfhide, not esthetically speaking, but in the way that it’s so recognizable, it’s a pillar of the Ottawa arts community, like a living totem pole.  

The peppermint tea soothes my smoke and coffee ravaged throat while approving glances fall from this community of writers as I scribble away in my black leather bound notebook. Right on time, the show starts and Sandra Ridley goes up first. Images of lush vegetation swirl with feminine body parts, all being grounded by the thick roots and good love of an old tree. Her words conjure instances of spontaneous growth intertwined with brittle death, sprouting from ragged decay. I wish I had the written version of the work in front of me, so I could pick it apart with a dictionary, meticulously cherishing each delicate beat. Soon her smooth delivery carries me away, I learn to sit back and allow her jagged yet soothing atmospheres to be formed in my mind. Ephemeral environments and mythic characters sway to bouncing rhythms, creating gritty and fantastic moments, then they slip away as she starts her next poem. The crowd gobbles up every morsel and I wish she was on for longer.  

Dave is up next, apparently he has a hearty list of laurels and as soon as he goes into his first selection, the deservedness of his recognitions is made apparent. Dave echos the simple mastery of Denis Leary, if Denis were taking on all forms of perturbing and sometimes volatile subject matter. “Power Boat” is about a real life English boat racer who had a horrible boating accident, went into a coma, legally died twice, got upset when paramedics had to cut open her brazier and then went on to do more racing. His work is inspired by things he reads and the result is a varied examination of individual struggles and triumphs from all over the world. His work offers moments of dissonant thought patterns framed by the tempestuous anxieties of teenage reality. Every thursday between 6:30 and 7pm, you can hear Dave on CKCU, he hosts a show called Literary Landscape. Chatting with Dave, I find a man sustaining a high level of creative output. The result is ever improving work and increasing visibility. He tells me that being a poet doesn’t always pay very well, but it has it’s perks. He was invited to read at a writers festival in Orkin, found in the Yorkie Islands of Northern Scotland. A recent highlight was an on-stage interview with Nick Cave at the local St. Brigid’s writer’s festival.  

Seeing Brendan’s face around the city for so long, it’s a pleasant shock to hear a soft but striking Irish accent escape from his lips. The reading series was created to expose his new novel, Up the Ottawa Without Despair and to raise money for a much needed dental operation. His demeanor is of measured exuberance, cracking one cornball joke after another as his stories expose us to the beautiful aspects of all things low and dirty. The first selection hits a nerve with my personal history; it’s a first person narrative about a young, poor but intelligent and sensitive man hitchhiking up from Ottawa to Wakefield and back, before that quaint little town was the tourist destination it is today. A reference to “The Outsiders”, is paired with the brutal reality of the entrenched violence in poor Lowertown. Flowery writing this is not, gritty displays of raw, bright life are juxtaposed with bleak hopelessness and sorrow. His dismantling of the Santa Clause myth is a piece of disgruntled holiday magic. The debunking of St Nick’s soft power culminates as a hung over, self-described hater of children takes on the roll of mall Santa. Amanda Abdelhadi contributes back-up voice acting, creating much appreciated layers of comedy. I liked it when the stoned elf was giggling.  

DJ Eric Komosol playes tasty tracks as a musical bed to Brendan’s dynamic performance; smooth jazz and deep soul are the grooves of the evening. Enlisting DJ Eric for the party was a wise decision, he made excellent song choices, had smooth transitions and helped created that quintessential book-party atmosphere. If you ever need a good DJ for a party, look him up. 

All and all it was an enthralling and thought provoking evening with plenty of humor and good tidings.

There’s something special about accomplished and talented authors presenting a vocalized rendition of their written work. Hearing distinctive emphasis, interjection and pauses, creates an über-intimate, utterly unique experience. Nadia has created an inviting environment of the Raw Sugar which nourishes and encourages all varieties of artistic expression. So go to the Raw Sugar whenever it’s open, especially next month, when Brendan presents chapter six of the house band series.

I look forward to seeing you there.  


Maxim also blogs:


House Band Reading Series – Behind a written scene: “Loeb.”

December 17th, 2009 by BMcNally


With special guests Sandra Ridley and David O’Meara.
The December House Band will feature Dj Eric Komsomol, Amanda Abdelhadi, and myself.
And yes, I know it’s tonight. But better late than never. Besides which, my stapler broke so it has taken me a little bit longer to do things like, oh I don’t know, staple Chapter 5 together for the launch.
And now, much ado about nothing.


The “Loeb” scene (video below) was presented at the May edition of the House Band Reading Series, which featured the launch of Chapter 2.

Even though this isn’t a folk song, here is some set up for the video. I have been asked if my novel is “true,” to which I have replied, “It’s completely true. As it relates to itself.”
Which is just to say that fact informs the fiction contained in Up the Ottawa, without despair.
Yes, there is a place called Ottawa. No it’s not Chaparral Pro Regular font, 8.75 point
Having said that, I’ll just paraphrase a short conversation I had with someone after I wrote this particular scene.
Them: How’s the writing coming along, Shakespeare? [Note, I think they were being sarcastic with that comparison]
Me: Good. I just finished a scene where the main characters drop acid and try to shoplift groceries from the Loeb in Vanier.
Them: Wasn’t it the IGA in Hunt Club, Poindexter? [Note, again with my suspicions about sarcasm.]
Me: Ummm, I just wrote it and I’m pretty sure I set it in Vanier.
Them: No, Jackass [no sarcasm there, I believe]. Back in the day. Didn’t we drop acid and shoplift groceries from the IGA in Hunt Club?
Me: [after a pause] Oh yeah.

Which is just to say that, apparently, the acid flashback I had took a literary form.
Having said that, “Loeb” is a work of fiction and any similarities between it and any persons, typing or not, is entirely conincidental.
Like, totally coincidental, Dude.