Posts in Culture

Winter is the best time of the year to Laugh out loud

The Habitat is excited to become the new destination for stand up comedy in Kelowna and 2014 is going to be a busy year. The first show, on January 25th, starts it off right with Vancouver’s John Beuhler. John began performing stand up comedy at the age of nineteen and in his first few years he starred in a national comedy special called Chill, won the Just for Laughs Home Grown Comedy Competition and shot two stand-up specials for Canadian national television. All before the age of twenty-five. John has performed in the Just for Laughs Festival Gala where he won over the crowd and was touted as saving the show.

John then went on to win the Corner Gas Comedy contest, giving him $10,000 and an appearance on Corner Gas with his mentor Brent Butt. John has opened for the likes of Dennis Miller, John Rivers, Martin Short, Zach Galifianakis and Craig Ferguson to name just a few. John’s style has been described as wickedly funny, fearless and poignant.

I have seen John perform several times in Vancouver, where he frequently headlines shows at the Comedy Mix. I was blown away, so when we needed to decide which comedians to bring into Kelowna to start off the new year, John was at the top of the list. I recently spoke with John about the show and was able to ask him a few questions.

Me: We had our first big show at the Habitat (Comedy Bloodsport) last week and it was a success. When I announced that you would be headlining on the 25th, people were excited. I think you have a good fan base out here.

John: Thanks. I am really looking forward to it.

Me: When was the last time you laughed till it hurt?

John: If it hurts when you laugh, you should see a physician. Car trips with comics I find eventually deliver some crazy laughing fits.

Me: What is the source of your material?

John: I plagiarize Family Circus cartoon strips.

Me: What was it like writing for the Junos? Did you write anything they wouldn’t allow on television?

John: I said that a barefooted KD Lang arrived in a limo with no floor and that she stopped it like the Flintstones.

Me: What was it like meeting Lou Diamond Phillips when you were in that movie with him?

John: He made me feel like I was the only person in the world and then our conversation went straight to VHS.

Me: Where did you record your last CD and where can people get it?

John: I recorded it in Oregon and you can get it on iTunes or in my garage in the the box under the BBQ.

Don’t miss John’s show on January 25th at the Habitat. Come early as tickets are only sold at the door. Tickets are $10.

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2013: A Retrospective

One year has gone by since I was welcomed as a contributor to the A-OK team and granted with many fantastic opportunities. In this retrospective I’d like to look back at some of my favorite events and meetings from the past year. More-so than just retreading the events this post will be dedicated to a more personal odyssey of what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown over the last year as a self-proclaimed journalist striving to immerse myself in our rich and vibrant community.   (Click on any of the headlines to be directed to my coverage of that event)

Honorable Mentions:

Keloha, Ecotone, Lille Gard.

Great festivals featuring many great artists and musicians in one place.
Lots of good friends made these fun, memorable times.
A special thanks goes out to all of the people whose hard work made them possible.

Top 5:

#5 – Okanagan Arts Awards

No other time did I get to dress so fancy, act so professional, or feel so exclusive as I did this night. After watching a motivational awards ceremony I got to socialize with with other well dressed supporters and talented achievers while drinking complimentary wine and eating hors d’oeuvres. The party continued on into the night  at Hanna’s Lounge and Grill on the waterfront…

#4 – By Divine Right interview

One of the two interviews I conducted this year with out of town musicians. It was a great experience and honor interviewing indie rock legend Jose Contreras who’s fronted the band throughout its 20 years and 10 albums and has appeared in music videos on MTV in the 90’s. He was really friendly as well, giving me a personal look into the life and times of an established and professional musician.

#3 – Center of Gravity

What I enjoyed most about this event was spending time with my new found friend and acquaintance from Sublime Photography & Design backstage at the media tent and up front in the pit. Having an experienced and professional photographer around helped boost my confidence and passion for the art, and helped me have a lot of fun as well. I also got some rad pictures of big names for my portfolio, and got to shoot my first bikini contest as well. Center of Gravity hosted a smorgasbord of sports which let me step outside my realm of concert photography and realize how fun and challenging different subjects can be.

#2 –‘ Tiger Moon’ video shoot

I’ve always had a strong interest in film, but lack the resources and funds to seriously pursue it on my own. So when I was given the opportunity to film the debut video of local band Tiger Moon’s  song ‘North Highway’ I was thrilled to bits. Along with A-OK’s editor in chief we drove out to a fancy acreage, met the wonderful Kasey Graff and Dan Tait, and shot the video in the loft of their fabulous garage using professional camera equipment. It was a fun time, and seeing the finished product instilled me with the greatest sense of accomplishment yet.

#1 – Festival in a Box

This was probably the least sanctioned of events that I attended this year, but also the funnest. A bunch of great fiends and people gathered together to engage the community and express their talents and art. It poured rain that day, but it didn’t put a damper on the experience and even helped to cement the whole experience in my memory.

This concludes my retrospective of 2013.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

I hope it will be as full of friends, fond memories, and opportunities as the last.

Dylan

Sincerely, your friendly neighborhood contributor, Dylan Mazur.

The Fields – A Bouldering Film

Premiered at the screening of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival in Kelowna, BC, Canada, “The Fields” is a short documentary film following the story of local climber Andy White, directed by Clayton Arnall.

The Boulderfields, also known as “The Fields”, is a potential world class bouldering area located south of Kelowna, BC, Canada . Although the area has been known as a sport rock climbing area for quite some time, it’s only been in the last few years that people have been discovering the amazing bouldering the area has to offer. In that time hundreds of problems have been established, ranging from easy V0 lines, to hard double digit lines. At the forefront of development in the area are local climbers Andy White and Jason Duris. After a life threatening traditional climbing fall, Andy started bouldering in the Okanagan and hasn’t looked back. The film also provides a primer as to what bouldering is for those new to the sport. Thanks for watching!

For more info on bouldering in the Okanagan Valley, please visit Andy’s blog at okbouldering.blogspot.ca

If Only Comedians Could Play The Hits

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Photo by Joe Moroney

Article Submitted by David Kopp

Stand up comedians have it rough now. In the 80’s and 90’s, they could travel the country with a solid hour of material they honed over the years. Everywhere they went it was new and fresh. At least to the audience.

Musicians can play their one hit song and everybody loves it, but no one wants to hear a comedian’s jokes from last week. YouTube has made this even tougher on the pro comics. With audience members posting clips of unfinished jokes online, it is becoming even harder to keep audiences in suspense.

The silver lining is that this forces comedians to write more material than ever before and, as a result, everyone is getting better. Today could be seen as the new golden age of comedy. Comedy really is everywhere. Every full time comedian has a podcast and a special and most touring comics have at least a one DVD of amazing material for sale and a few great clips online.

The other effect of there being so much comedy available is that the bar has also been raised. Almost everyone in the audience watches the newest comedy specials. This is obviously great for comedy, but it also means a new comedian is performing to a pretty savvy crowd. New comics are forced to learn the trade quite quickly or deal with perhaps the worst feeling imaginable… bombing. A crowd who talks through a set is annoying, but when they sit silently through it, there is really no one else to blame. No artist ever bombs as hard as a comedian and even if a comedian does find that special line that works every time, eventually everyone’s heard it and its no longer special. No comedian can tour like the Rolling Stones, getting by on forty year old material when the new stuff sucks.

Comedians really are in a unique position. Just imagine if at your job you were constantly compared to the best performers of all time’s very best performances. No one ever says to the best architects in town, “Yeah, that is pretty nice, but have you seen the Taj Mahal? You should make buildings like that.” However, it is common, after a set, to hear “You should do jokes like Seinfield. I saw him. All he really does is talk, but its so funny.”

Daniel Romano – Streaming Cafe

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Another amazing concert happened last night at Streaming Cafe. . . Daniel Romano with Grey Kingdom performed and you should’ve been there. Spencer Burton (Grey Kingdom), not only has a great stage presence of humour and sarcasm, but his vocals and folk melodies will move you. . . check him out and buy his album here.
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The Streaming Cafe has great sound and the small venue makes for the perfect audience experience. You become fully absorbed while in an intimate live setting. Daniel Romano and band played amazingly well and I was surprised to see such well crafted country/western songs. Romano played all of the set electric as well which is something I’ve never seen before, so that was a nice touch. Romano’s vocals pierce the soul with a deep range that drawls on with highs that can leave you heartbroken. His songs tell stories of relationships and heartbreak that make you yearn and reflect. If you haven’t heard of Daniel Romano before, please do yourself a favour and check him out.
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After the evening of music was over, I stuck around and got to talk to Daniel for a few minutes outside and conversation ensued.

What are your opinions on alternative country, indie, folk and pop country music?

I think that those probably exist, genres like “alt country” or “americana” because there’s such a disconnect with the origin of country music and what is now considered country music. I don’t know if it helps any, but if it helps people decipher one thing from another I guess that’s a good thing.

Do you think it’s getting better or worse for country/western music?

It’s hard to tell right now, I know that the “americana” scene is flowering and that’s good I think. That’s pretty broad that category though, there’s a lot of styles of “americana” and that can be confusing.

What’s your favourite venue so far in Canada?

Oh you know what, there was this festival on Wolf Island in Kingston, Ontario. We were supposed to play on the back of this dock looking back at this bar. Minutes before our set time we moved inside because there was torrential down-pour. So we crammed inside this little bar and moved some chairs aside and did a show, it was so much fun. We had weird adrenaline from being confused and having no P.A system, that was a memorable show.

What’s your favourite show in the USA?

Actually, we just played a chili cook off in Portland that was awesome.

What’s your opinion of downloading and social media?

Uhm, whatever. It’s inevitable, it’s going to keep happening.

How has it affected your career?

There’s just no money to be made. It sucks because you can’t sell records and that’s what you want to do, but right now bands basically make their money off of merchandise.

How has it felt to transition to playing country music and changing your image?

I mean my image hasn’t really changed so much, but I would say that it’s a lot more comfortable for me.

Follow Daniel Romano on Facebook and check his website to learn about tour dates. His next show is coming up on the 13th of October, where he’s playing at Mercer Tavern in Edmonton.

Double Opening Reception: Dylan McHugh w/ Jeff Ellom & Lucas Glenn Co.

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Please join us for the double opening reception of both Dylan McHugh’s (Vancouver) Swal-low, and Thank You for Sharing, a collaboration between Kelowna’s Jeff Ellom and Lucas Glenn Co. The event will take place at the Alternator at 7 pm on September 28.

McHugh’s Swal-low is a light and ceramic based installation exploring an intersection of myth and symbol. Consisting of a sea of delicately crafted, translucent, backlit ceramic tiles, the work intends to captivate the viewer with its dream-like qualities.

Thank You for Sharing is a collection of paper-collage collaborations between Jeff Ellom and Lucas Glenn Co. The collages, mimicking the layouts of popular websites, are made up of found images and text.

Swal-low and Thank You for Sharing form part of the Alternator’s participation in Culture Days 2013.

Intersections – Okanagan Pride 2013 at the Alternator

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The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art is pleased to present Intersections, an exhibition of six artists in the LGBTQ* (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer and other) community. Intersections is presented in conjunction with the 2013 Okanagan Pride Festival in Kelowna, BC.

Taking place in the Members’ Gallery at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art, Intersections offers a chance to share with one another the intricacies of our own personal journeys, the paths we have already taken and the experiences still to come. For artists Daniel Oledzki, Jacklyn Harris, Deneige Nadeau, Kevin Michael Witzke, Shannon Lester and Dean Krawchuk, the mileage varies. The poetic work of Deneige Nadeau, a recent graduate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design, engages snippets of theoretical text with photographs of her own body; while Daniel Eric Oledzki explores the areas where media, gender and capitalism overlap.

The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art welcomes you to visit our space between August 10th and 17th to view the exhibition. Please join us for a reception and official Okanagan Pride 2013 opening event on Saturday, August 10th at 7:00 pm at the Alternator Centre. This is a free public event. The exhibition will run for the duration of the festival, August 10th- 17th.

These People Are A-OK: Opal Michel

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Opal Michel has engaged in a decade long courtship with an art medium who has finally “put a ring on it”. Drawn to Opal like a farmer to a potluck, I am so excited that her skills are for sale! A Photographer, hairdresser, singer/songwriter, doula, a mother of two and a devoted wife: this Vancouver native set out on an adventure and has found her soul path, located in Chase, BC. Fascinated by light, human subjects, concepts of beauty, and defining life moments, Opal knows how to physically soothe a situation, hands on or blending in like a shadow, she has a comforting presence who naturally creates “soft places to land”.

Opal Michel Photography is your latest HOT TIP from me, Mrs. Fagervik, your CREATIVE MAVEN. Hire Opal to capture your life’s moments, and then let her loose and receive a one of a kind hand made memory. Opal Michel LIVES WITH MOXY.

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If photography were your boyfriend, what type of relationship would you have? How long have you been together? How did you meet? Give me the 411
It would probably be like an unrequited love story. Where things never really got of the ground, and then you met one day and it was kismet. And is now my life partner. It’s probably my gay life partner, because I feel like photography is a woman, not a man. It‘s very feminine work for me. My husband has competition; competition that he doesn’t mind.

You are the definition of a Creative Entrepreneur. What does that title mean to you?
That’s a really good question because I have been going through so much emotion about what it means to be a creative entrepreneur because it’s such a vulnerable position to be in. Asking for money for your vision and for the way you see the World: big and scary. It’s also really exciting. It feels really really right and good. And I love that I have complete control over everything. The thing about photography and art in general is that there are no rules. I can do whatever the heck I want. There are a lot of people saying that there should be rules, the Internet is full of them, bossy people telling me what to do. I am shutting them all out. I’m going to do what I want to do with it.

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Your photographs have a distinct sensibility. Can you walk me through your process when setting up a shot?
I consider all of the technical stuff second. First I make a decision that something is beautiful or worth capturing. Then I tap into that feeling of the moment. Then I take into consideration all of the camera settings, and the light quality, and composition. I always have a vision of what the final product will look like so that when I take it into post processing I know what I want from it. It’s so exciting when it works out. It’s a bunch of steps, not just a snapshot with a general intention. I always envision artistically which I want to achieve.

Do you prefer digital or analog photography?
Digital. (Opal answered right away). For sure. I can develop film in a darkroom and I did that in high school, and I wanted to love it because all of my friends loved it, and it seemed to be the cool thing to latch onto artistically at the time in the 90s, but I hated it. I always wanted someone else to make things happen for me. I love computers and I love doing things while sitting down in a chair.

How does technology come into play? You are clearly comfortable on a computer and advertise Creative photo shoot options for your customers, what happens for you creatively once you input your images into the computer?

I don’t want to leave. I can spend hours and hours and hours editing and doing fun creative stuff, pushing my own boundaries, learning. There’s so much to learn about digital photography and what you can do to manipulate the images gets me very excited. I guess you could say that my wife and I have a really good sex life. Yea, it’s just fun.

I have a hunch that you’re creative in many aspects of your life? Can you speak to your relationship with creativity?
I am a singer and I like to pretend to paint. And I love colour and try to inject it into every aspect of our life with my kids and our home. I feel really attracted to other creative people. I’ve never referred to myself as an artist. Growing up it was considered the A word, no one was allowed to call me that, especially my mother. When I was in the fourth grade my mom would say “oh you’re such a little artist Opal”, and I said “no! don’t call me an artist, artists suffer”. I wanted money and I didn’t know how to achieve that in art, until I went to hair school and so much creativity came out of me through that, and then I started to embrace being an artist. Now I’m proud of it. Now I’m proud to say that I’m a stay at home artist.

Where did you grow up? What brought you to Chase BC?
I grew up in East Vancouver, and my first time living outside of Vancouver was moving here to the Adams Lake Reserve in Chase. We moved for our son, so that he could go to Shuswap emersion Elementary School to learn his language. I didn’t know anybody here. No friends, no family, just sort of took a leap of faith. I really love my husband, and I trust him, and it was extremely important for his life and family and his spirit to be here on his land, so I did it for him. I’m so glad I did.

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If you were to trace your relationship with the arts throughout your life, how would it weave its way to this point, the Premiere of your official title as businesswoman?
I would say my mother used to teach me when I was younger that resistance comes before glory, and it was just a huge path of resistance and not wanting to be a professional or a business woman in an artistic field, from complete fear of failure and not having the skills to succeed. That really shifted for me about a year ago when regular work was just crippling my soul. Minimum wage was crippling my soul and doing nothing was crippling my soul. I decided to take my passion to the next level, and try to provide for my family. I was honest to goodness like 5 minutes away from applying for a job at the bank, because that seemed like the best option, and then I just realized that it really was not the best option at all.

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To be present and counted upon during people’s delicate life moments is a heavy agreement. What is it like to arrive with a camera and its lenses? What goes through your mind before hand and then during? How do you feel after?
I really love people so much and I have a natural tendency to want to be in peoples lives and witness their special moments all of the time, for everything: love, birth, any sort of celebration. Life growth, I love witnessing that. It’s a really natural leap, and people request that I have my camera, so that helps. It makes people so uncomfortable to interject photo documentation during vulnerable times, and that’s something that I take really seriously, to try to make people feel really truly comfortable. When working with little children, I like to have them hold the camera and take a picture, show them the buttons and make them play. I like to talk to people about what they’re feeling in the moment, and let them know that I can find these moments and I really do find them beautiful, I want them to know how much I really do LOVE these little details of real life. It’s amazing how many people are some of the most glowing, vibrant, physically beautiful people that you’ve ever seen, and all they can think about is that the pimple on their chin is so ugly and they’re so worried about how they’re going to look in that photo… it makes me want to cry. I can just take that pimple away!

Do you meet with your clients ahead of time, or do you nurture your relationship on site?
Both. Say for birth, I would absolutely meet the client ahead of time, stay in touch, get to know them. Weddings of course, sometimes I will just show up and meet them, but I wont bring the camera out until we’ve established a connection, just to help people feel comfortable. If they’re not, I wont take photos. I wont take a photo if someone doesn’t want their photo taken. I’m a doula as well, and doulas are very hands on, you actually physically comfort women through their pain and birth transition, and that’s always something that comes really naturally to me, to reach out and touch people. That’s something that we learned with hairdressing, and it’s very rare. Within a few moments you’ve met someone, and then you have your hands on their head right away. You’re an alien species who reaches out and puts their hands on their head and feels their skull. Doula is like that as well. You put your hands on a woman’s hips and you soothe her pain. A sisterhood connection with women. I love to take photos of women.

What type of client would make your pulse pound? Who is your dream subject?
I think my dream subjects are anybody who’s willing to take their clothes off, who normally would never take their clothes off. I really really love humans. One of my interests is photographing nudes, and especially women or men who are not your social typical norm or idea of picture perfect beauty, but really really should be the ideal of beauty.

How does it feel to own your own business?
Exhilarating. I really like attention. Now I get to plaster my name everywhere and talk about myself more than usual, so that’s pretty great. I’m not really very shy. I know how to direct people now. Everyone is expecting you to pose them and move them around. Don’t have any problem public speaking or raising my voice to direct a crowd. I also know how to slink into the background if I need too.

What makes OM unique?
I really want to capture people in their natural form and not sugar coat scenarios and families and appearances. So, if I’m used to seeing someone in a dirty shirt and jeans, and they show up in a crisp white ironed shirt and combed hair, that would not be what I want to capture. I’m interested in people as they are, in their lives, in their settings, in their natural environments. I also like to take creative photos that are not realistic at all. It’s important to me too, to do different things and not be rigid in my ideas and style. I like to be flexible.

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Working with an art medium, photography, in this commercial output can be a sticky space for many artists. How do you negotiate your ‘art’ while working for a client?
I want to make sure that my clients have seen what I’ve already done and understand my capabilities and price points, and that they know what they’re getting into. I find that people who love what I do really love what I do, and they want to work with me just based on my portfolio. I had a person recently who wanted to work with me before she saw my photos, and that felt nice: she could tell what I do without meeting me.

1040310_10151728582100336_394198792_oWhat is your vision for OM?

I really want to travel and eventually work in editorial photography and my BIG life goal would be to be working entirely on creative projects and to be published in a major publication. Fashion photography. Avante garde stuff is the direction that I’d like to head in. Yes, I’d like to work in New York city and be a very special person.

What does the word freedom mean to you?
I think that freedom for me is living without fear. Following your heart and your soul path.

Opal Michel Photography
(250) 434-4422
Chase BC
Find her on Facebook
opal@opalmichel.com