25 Awesome Things of 2015

The last few years on New Year's Day I've written down ten things that I've done/accomplished in the past year, and ten things I'd like to get done in the next year. 

On a larger scale, my friend Cory has been counting down the 50 things that he's loved about the year. This has prompted me to increase my look back on the year from ten to twenty-five awesome things that I did, saw heard, experienced etc. throughout the year. 

In addition to the "event", I'll also share my favourite photos from each event. 

Here it goes! 

25. Going to two Winnipeg Jets games: One with my brother and one with my best buddy, Bryan. They won both games!

Photos, here.  

24. Outdoor winter lake adventures:  Wakaw to James' cabin in February and Echo Bay to my families cabin with Mom and Dad in March. 

Great to get out of the city, cross country ski, snowshoe and keep warm by the fire!

Photos, here.  

23.  Ritornello Chamber Music Festival: Snapping pictures/hearing some amazing musicians.

If you've never been, and even if you don't think you like chamber music, check it out next year and have your mind blown!

Photos, here.  

22. Snapping pictures at Ominocity's #omfest4!

Specifically seeing Volcanoless In Canada reunite!

Photos, here.  

21. Exploring Reykjavik, Iceland for 24 hours with my Mama!

If you're travelling over to Europe, it's definitely a great country to plan a layover!

20. Meeting the cutest niece a person could ask for!

19. The 50th Anniversary of Canada's National Ukrainian Festival: Performing with Lastiwka and PFE in front of ~9,000, spending time with my Godmother and watching some awesome bands!

18. Jamming, playing shows, recording, planning, drinking, creating and hanging with the Silent Sea! Lucky to have these cats in my life. Love you guys!

17.  Recording an EP with Randy (and Sient Sea!): Randy is a genius producer and has become a great friend!

16. Riding 85km in support of MS! Rode along side a group that's been like older cousins to me over the years. It was great to ride alongside an awesome crew!

15. MoSo Fest 2015! Great line-up, fun collab with Ominicity!

14. Sask Jazz Fest! In addition to having a blast volunteering at club jazz, I had the fortune of catching some great acts! It's one of my favourite moments each summer!

13. Working with an awesome group of people that work hard, and are great friends outside of work too!

12. A solo road trip that took me through Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Fargo, North Dakota. Neat places if you ever get the chance!

11. Eaux Claires Festival. The people I met, and some amazing performances by Bon Iver, Colin Stetson, Sufjan Stevons, and The National. Such a good time!

10. Finishing my Certificate in Art and Design through the University of Saskatchewan. Had a lot of great instruction and met a lot of awesome, inspiring individuals throughout the past few years. 

9. Seeing my mom reconnect with her cousins in Ukraine. All kinds of emotion. 

8. Visiting with my cousins in Ukraine

7. Family visits in Winnipeg

6. From a green carpeted floor, to a pit, my family had a lot of bonding time tearing down our cabin this fall. Can't wait to see what takes place next!

5. Meeting new family members/reuniting with other's in Ukraine. It's crazy how welcoming everyone is. I can't wait until the next trip!

4. In the same month watching my brother play music across the pond in Brighton and then come back home to get his Chem. Eng. degree!

3. The time I submitted an article and a painting to Silence Zine and it got published!

2. Exploring the UK with my Mama! Art galleries, pubs, beaches, festivals and plays! A great time!

1. Travelling to Ukraine with my Mama! I'm so glad that I was able to convice her to come and hope that we can go back again!

 

 

 

Eaux Claires Festival 2015

For the second year in a row, I spontaneously decided to take a solo road trip. As soon as I saw the line up for Eaux Claires festival, I knew I would have to get tickets (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, The National, Spoon just to name a few).  

Eaux Claires took place just outside Eau Claire, Wisconsin. That's a 1,614km (1000 miles) drive from Saskatoon. To make the trip slightly more reasonable, I stayed overnight in Winnipeg both ways. 

To avoid taking encroaching on my holidays, I left Saskatoon on Wednesday after work and arrived in

 

Ukraine 2015

Finally convinced my mom to make her second ever trip to Ukraine! I've nagged at her to come for years, but even more so, since I spent two months here in 2010. For those of you that have placed bets on whether we will still be talking to one another by the end of the two plus weeks, all the best!

*I've attached links to pictures throughout my stories if you want to look at a few photos, and there's a gallery at the bottom of this post, if you're interested in looking at lots of photos :) 

Saturday May 2, 2015:

Our sixteen hour flight to Ukraine went from Saskatoon > Toronto > Munich > Lviv. For those of you that have made this trip before, you'll know that sixteen hours, doesn't leave a lot of layover time at any point!

Much to our surprise, and fortune, we were bumped to business class for the Toronto > Munich leg of the trip. More of everything! A nice way to start things off (real cutlery!), though we shouldn't get use to the lavish treatment!

Sunday May 3, 2015:

We arrived in Ukraine at 11:30 to a warm welcome from family (Ivan & Lucy, Maria and Olena; Vira, Olya, Oksana & Vlodya). Of course the photographer failed to get a picture of this group!

We made our way down to the centre of Lviv where I had booked AirBnB accommodations. As things would have it, the place we had booked was double booked the first night, so we stayed at a different apartment the first night. 

After settling in a little bit, mom and I took a walk around the centre. After learning that it was "City Day", it suddenly made sense as to why there were so many people, and why our place had been double booked! Jet lag had definitely set-in, but we had a celebratory beer and tried to remain awake as late as possible!

Monday May 4, 2015:

Marian came to take us to our other accommodation first thing in the morning. It's definitely a nicer place, and probably way too big for two people. Very European with high ceilings and ornate features. 

Despite the threat of rain, we convinced Ivan and family that we wanted to visit his dacha (garden/village house). Ivan came down to the centre to get us, and we cabbed over to their apartment. From there, Ivan took a bus out to the garden and mom and I took a cab with Lucy, Maria and Olena. Yuri managed to take the afternoon off, so he came to meet us out there as well!

Since I had been there 5 years ago, they have started construction on a house. It gets worked on when everyone has enough time/money. When it's complete, they may move out there full time, or it may be an escape from the city in the summer.  Their garden, at the beginning of May, is already better than my balcony garden will be by the end of August!

Yuri, Olena and I made a fire and grilled some kubasa for  tasty garden feast, of course accompanied with champagne, horilka and laughter. Between the two of us, mom and I are getting by, telling family about life in Canada, and asking about life in Ukraine. 

On the way back to the city, Yuri and I stopped in at his work (a Bosch store - dad you'd be in heaven!). He works there 5 days a week and has Wednesdays and Thursdays off. We then headed back to the apartment where we had a visit, before having more food and drink.

Back downtown, mom and I went for an evening walk to explore the city at night

Tuesday May 5, 2015:

Initially having plans to explore the city on our own, mom's cousin Slavka called and said she'd come to get us at noon. In the morning we did our own exploring in the centre - Lviv is a very European city with amazing cobble stone streets and amazing, old buildings

Slavka came to get us, and we took the bus to her apartment. Unlike back home, buses here are packed full of people. Combine that with hot, humid weather and you can imagine how sweaty the ride is (had to share this photo mom)! We arrived to a lunch of borscht, meats and salad prepared by Natalya and had a visit with her, Slavka, Tolic and Danylo.

Khristena arrived back home we went down to the centre with her and Slavka. We ended up taking a "train" tour around the city - a great way to learn about the history of the city! After that, we went to "Maister Chocolate" where there is a great view of the city from the rooftop.

Following our excursion downtown, we went back to their apartment for dinner and visit with the same group, plus Yuri (Slavka's son).

Yet again, a full day!

Wednesday May 6, 2015:

Olya picked us up around noon, and we went to Chervonograd to visit mom's cousin Vira (Olya's mom), her other daughter Oksana (and her daughter Roxalana); Marusia and her son Taras; and my mom's aunt Katya. 

We had a really nice visit with them all! I had never met Katya or Taras; Taras I had heard that I look like, though I am still undecided. My mom's aunt Katya is quite the character; very quick witted and kind! Roxalana (who is just over two) can speak much better Ukrainian than me, very talkative an cute (here's a photo of the whole crew). 

They fed us an amazing meal, and shared stories about my mom's first trip to Ukraine as well as stories of my Baba. We might be going to Baba's village with them on Friday I think.

Olya, Mom and I took the bus back late - pouring rain when we got back to Lviv. Mom and I went for a quick walk before heading back to the apartment. 

Thursday May 7, 2015:

We both slept in this morning, probably due to exhaustion from all of walking and talking in Ukrainian we've both been doing the past week. Crazy to think that we've already been here five full days! We skyped with Chris  for a while this morning (he was in Luxembourg).

With no plans, to meet with family until later in the afternoon, mom and I had a chance to explore the centre by foot. I wanted to show mom Ivan Franko University and Park as they are both beautiful. We wandered up and down several streets that we had driven down on our "train" excursion the other day. Neat to see things from a different perspective.

We stopped at Cvit Kavy (possibly Lviv's best coffee shop!), prior to meeting up with Lucy, Maria and Olena. Yuri had hoped to come, but he was called into work. The five of us wandered around the centre for a while. We ended up at the top of the restaurant that we had seen from Maister Chocolate. Interesting to see all the buildings from another rooftop. After that we found a pizza place for dinner, and grabbed ice cream after, before heading back to our apartment. 

Tomorrow we're going to meet some more cousins, and potentially go to another village. An early bed today, as I'm tired!

Friday May 8, 2015:

Mom and I went for a walk with Vira all around the centre for a few hours, before meeting with Katya (my second cousin) near the Taras Shevchenko monument. We then headed to her mom Luba's apartment (very near to the centre). 

They live in a 101 year old apartment that was once occupied by an Austrian doctor. Once their renovations are complete, it will once again be quite the place! The apartment has a beautiful balcony overlooking the street. 

Luba, her husband Stepan and daughter Katya put out an amazing lunch! Mom's cousin Katya, her husband Slavik and their daughter Natalya came to visit as well. Before we left, Luba's son Dmytro returned home from work.

We ended up spending the majority of the afternoon and evening there feasting, before heading home full!

Saturday May 9, 2015:

It's not every day that you get to see the house in a foreign country where your Baba grew up. Today was one of those days! Vira, Stepan, Slavik, and Slavik's grandkids Yuri and Dmytro came to get us at 10:00am. Making a quick stop at the statue of Stepan Bandera, we left Lviv for Poldiltsi area.

We stopped at two cemeteries to see the grave-markers for my great grandparents and various other family members, took a quick photo outside the village church, then went to the house that my Baba grew up in. No one has lived in the house for a number of years, so the yard is starting to become overgrown. 

We then went to another village where there were a large group of cousins: Ivan (daughter Katya), Hanya (her  Irina, son Volodymyr and Yuri), Roman (daughter Marika), Maria (son Ihor and his wife Olya and there daughter Natalya).

Mom and her cousins discussed stories about the last time she visited. I went for a walk with Irina and Katya, around the village and they taught me how to speak Ukrainian better :)

Once back in town, we visited a church that the Pope visited (there's more details about this that I have yet to translate). Then we were fed another meal at Slavik and Katya's (we met their daughter-in law Halya and other grandson Ivan-Pavlo) before getting back to our apartment exhausted. 

Definitely a memorable day!

Sunday May 10, 2015:

Today was one of our earliest starts to the day, yet. Ivan came to pick us up and we took a bus back to his apartment for breakfast. Lucy, Ivan, Mom and I took a cab out two Malnivska Volya (about a 2 hour drive). 

I had the fortune of spending a few days out in the village back in 2010, and it was great to get back! Slavko and Zennya (their daughters Halya and Katya), mom's cousin Mykhaylo and his wife treated us to a very nice spread. The weather stayed nice enough to pay a visit to the cemetery, walk through the garden and go for a bike ride through the village. After a bit more of a visit and some tea, we made the drive back to Lviv.

We had a visit back at Ivan and Lucy's with Yuri and Maria, Olena and Roman, before heading back to our apartment. Chris sent us a message that his concert in Lille, FR was streaming over the internet; pretty wild to watch him from Ukraine, while dad was watching back in Canada. Technology is crazy!

Monday May 11, 2015:

Today we wandered around the centre on our own for a while before meeting up with Ira. We intended on going to Kryivka, but it was too busy. Instead the three of us went to the gas light restaurant for a nice, light lunch.

After lunch, we went with Slavka and her son Yuri to wander around the bazar. Once we tired of that, we headed up to Visoki Zamok (the tallest point in Lviv where one gets a good panoramic view). Definitely tired after the hike up the hill, we grabbed a beer and pizza near the centre. 

I had evening plans with my friend Danya to go to Kumpel which is a local microbrewery. Some of the best beer I've had in Ukraine yet. Good to catch up, and get to know her better as well :).

Tuesday May 12, 2015:

Right before we were about to head out to wander the centre one last time, we got a call from mom's cousin Slavik and his daughter Tanya who had come in from a nearby village to see us. We had a nice coffee with them and then set out on our own for a few hours.

On a recommendation from Ira, we went to check out a photo exhibit about fashionable homeless man in Lviv named Slavik. A neat exhibit, and definitely a fashionable person! We then took a chance to wander into some shops and found mom a nice embroidered Ukrainian shirt.

We decided that it would be easier to have everyone over at our apartment, so we picked up some groceries and headed back to get ready. I think all in all (I'll have to look through my photos to confirm, there were 17 people that came. While we didn't party until the morning, we had a good visit with everyone.

Tomorrow afternoon we're off to London for a few days! It'll definitely be sad to leave Ukraine, but I'm also excited to see London.

 

Ukraine Photos:

If you click on one of the photos, a lightbox will pop up and you can scroll through the photos in full screen. If you hover over a photo, a caption will pop up.

New York | Montreal 2014

Decided to take a spontaneous trip to New York and Montreal in November of 2014. I was nervous and excited initially, but it surpassed any and all expectations!

Since hotels in Manhattan seem to be around the $250+ per night range, Fortunately I ended up crashing on my friend Anya's livingroom floor in her Brooklyn Apartment. She moved to New York from Saskatoon to pursue her Masters in art.

November 11, 2014:

Day 1 breakfast was at a place called Choice (a great Brooklyn area breakfast stop). Brooklyn is alsoy a great area to stay! From there I ended up wandering around the Dumbo area of Brooklyn taking pictures. I crossed the bridge and made it into the financial district. Made it to the memorial statues - you have to see them in real life to fully grasp it.

Headed down to Broad St - saw "the Bull" and the New York Stock Exchange. Headed up through China town area to a cafe I wanted to check out (no longer existed) so had a pint at the Malt and Mold -great! From there headed up to Orst Cafe (amazing espresso). After that, checked out the Pickle Guys (they seem to pickle literally anything. Another cafe I wanted to check out was Blue Bird up in the East Village so made my way up there. 

For dinner I took a recommendation from a co-worker to try Mighty Qunn's. As he had suggested they had unreal pulled pork. UNREAL! 

November 12, 2014:

Took the subway to Manhattan and wandered through some shops on 5th Ave, then around Madison Park. Found a little cafe called Birch. Got there at the right time as it got ridiculously busy moments later!

Randomly made a decision to go to the Museum of Sex. Not really worth the cash, but does provide a story I suppose. 

I met up with Anya for dinner at Vanessa's a dumpling place - so good! From there there we went to grab a drink at Dudley's before heading to watch Close Talker at Pianos. Made it there in time to watch the Dead South's last two songs. Very surreal to watch the Young Benjamins play in New York, and even crazier to watch Chris and Close Talker. My freind Nerie, who I've known online for years made it out to the show. Awesome to meet her in person!

November 13, 2014:

Met up with the boys at the Brooklyn Bridge and headed to the Iris Cafe in South Brooklyn for brunch. On the way there we walked along the side of an industrial road, but on the way back we walked along the water and pier area. What a view of Manhattan from there!

After saying goodbye to the guys, I headed p to the Highline - a neat reclaimed section of old above ground rail line. On 23rd St, I wandered in and out of a bunch of galleries. The Chelsea area is definitely gentrified: lots of new buildings and condos, that are probably insanely expensive

One gallery I checked out in the Chelsea area had Picaso pieces of his second wife, Juliette. Following my adventures in Chelsea, I walked uptown to Penn Station. Never realized that it was attached to Madison Square Garden. Right across the street is a huge US Post Office building. Made my way from there upt to the Empire State Builidng. Acroos from there is Papaya Dogs -not the best hot dog, I've ever had, but pretty good!

Headed north from there to 30 Rockerfeller Plaza. It was neat to see the building in real life, and even better to see it near Christmas time. The Christmas tree, althought still in construction mode, is immaculate. It was a quick jaunt from there to Radio City Hall and Central Park. Already dark, there wasn;t much point in wandering around, so headed to Williamsburg. 

In Willaimsburg, had a killer pizza at Oregano, before going to watch Close Talker for the second night in a row at Spike Hill; a great sounding room! After the show I worked the merch table for a bit, before waiting until the guys were ready to pack up. We grabbed the most amazing tacos from a food truck and then headed over to Cameo (similar to Pianos). The music venue(s) are in the back of the bar in a separate, paid entrance room; makes for pretty good space! We watched High Ends, an amazing super group made up of Yukon Blonde, and Lady Hawk. It was a late night, but fun!


November 14, 2014

Started the day out in Willamsburg wandering around and taking pictures. It's a chill, hip area which reminds me of Saskatoon' s Broadway area. or Bloor St. in Toronto. My favourite streets seemed to be Bedford and Berry. My destination for breakfast was Egg (amazing), which is next to Mast Brothers (some of the best chocolate I've ever had!). 

After breakfast I headed to Bakeri Cafe, a small quaint place, really good spro! I took a walk along the water to see another good view of Manhattan. It was awesome wandering Williamsburg taking photos. After that I headed to MoMa. As expected, it was busy, but lots of incredible/famous pieces. There was a Matise cut-out exhibit on . After MoMa, walked around Times Sq -lots of lights and action. Looked into going to a play but they were out of my price range. Maybe next time. 

Headed down to the Bowrey Ballroom to watch Canadian bands July Talk, and Rural Alberta Advantage. Awesome venue, and awesome show! RAA's first NYC show was at Piano's so I'm now expecting big things from Close Talker! On my way back to Brooklyn, I stopped in at Veselka (a 24 hour Ukrainian restaurant).

November 15, 2014:

Went for brunch with Matt, Kristen and Anya to Alice's, nearby their place(s). After that headed once again to Central Park. Near the park is the Guggenheim; both an architecturally interesting building inside and out, and a home to fantastic artwork. In addition, it was both cheaper and less busy than MoMa! My favourite pieces were by Piene, Peters and Kandinsky. 

After leaving the gallery, walked around Central Park, and thoroughly turned around, happened across the Met. IT'S HUGE!!!! The Egyptian room alone, is probably the size of the Mendel Art Gallery. 

For dinner, I took a bus up East Harlem to Tom's Cafe, near Columbia University. Definitely a change in income from one side of the park to the other. Tom's food was nothing at all to write home about, and I'm pretty sure the only reason it's still open is tourism. 

November 16, 2014:

Last day in New York! Had a great egg and pancake breakfast at Matt & Kristen's where I spent my last night. Kristen recommended checking out the Brooklyn flea, which was absolutely worth it! Fun to walk around and look at the vintage pieces. Found some great chairs that will provide inspiration for my Certificate in Art and Design project.  Following that I walked to Prospect Park. The facade of the Brooklyn Museum looks almost like that of the Met. Brooklyn Botanical Gardens also, look worthwhile, although I cheeped out on the opportunity. Happened across Lincoln Post Office to purchase some postage stamps to mail postcards. Although he's never been out of New York, the owner Dean told me that he attempted to make his store look and feel like a small town shop. I assured him that he'd done a good job!

Grabbed dinner with Matt, Kristen, Anya, Steven and Anya's friedn Julie before heading to my hotel in Hell's Kitchen. 

November 17, 2014:

Despite, buying a ticket in advance, and staying almost right across the street from the station, I successfully missed my train to Montreal. Luckily, I was able to book a flight albeit much more expensive than the train. On the bright side I was upgraded to first class!

Once in Montreal, I made it to Valentine's place (an online find). 

November 18, 2014:

If my Scout leaders could see me now, they'd take all of my badges away, due to being ill prepared for a winter trip. A light hoodie and rain jacket are no match for a humid, early winter in Montreal. My first stop was Gafe Plue; nice chill place with good coffee and music. 

Cafe Plume was really close to Mont Royal - would've walked, but since it was cold, opted for the bus. The top of the mountain, definitely provides a great view of the city. 

Made it to the Bell Centre for a Habs/Pittsburgh game. Super cool arena, very similar to the MTS centre. Although it was a Pens blowout, it was great to see Crosby in action. After the game, I met up with Brant and went to Dieu Du Ciel. 

November 19, 2014:

Went to Beaubien Bagels for breakfast A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Then headed to the Frank and Oak store front, super cool set-up. They share their space with a barber and a branch of Cafe Neve. On a recommendation, went to Drawn and Quarterly (a sweet bookstore) and Phonopolis (record shop). 

For dinner, checked out went to Nouveau for dinner, a sweet little diner - the highlight might have been the sweet potato pie. I thought pumpkin pie was amazing! Later in the evening   went to the Upstairs jazz Club to watch a girl perform who was a friend of my friend Sorens. Good sounding room and a very, tight band. Glad I went! On the way home, went to L'Astral and caught the last few songs of Little Scream's set.

November 20, 2014:

Went to L'Avenue for brunch, then wandered into shops along Mont Royal. Made it to Notre Dame Cathedral - the architecture alone is worth the hype. Throughout the day, wandered up through Old Montreal, up past the brewery and pier. Nice view of the river, and watch tower. 

November 21, 2014:

Took a long bus ride up to the area of Montreal that my dad went to highschool in. Not, the most exciting trip, but neat to see. Headed back to Montreal proper after that and checked out a few galleries. First was the Canadian Architecture Museum, at which I had a private tour. I also went to the __ Gallery which had VanGough and Kandinsky exhibits(s).

In the evening I went to catch the Close Talker crew at which was in my favour was walking distance from my AirBnB place. 

November 22, 2014:

Grabbed a tasty brunch at ___ with Carissa, before wandering around Old Montreal a little bit more. A good, spontaneous, two week trip. Very worth it!

Sask Jazz Fest 2014

Jazz Fest is always one of the greatest weeks of the year to be in Saskatoon and this year is no exception. Below are a few of the bands that I've managed to check out. 

Visual Art Survey

The past few months I have been enrolled in a Visual Art Survey class as part of the Certificate in Art & Design program. The course focused on analyzing art from several periods in time (Middle Ages/Renaissance/Romanticism/Modern World/Twentieth Century).

We learned about the significance that art played in history and continues to play today. It was great to learn about new art forms and significant artists. Having seen pieces by some of these artists in various galleries in Amsterdam last summer made the course even more enjoyable and impactful.

I entitled my portfolio for this course "Stand Up". You can take a look at it here.


Easter Weekend 2014

I had a great Easter weekend - accomplished some things at my condo, had brunch with friends, helped decorate the Easter basket, wrote a new song with my band, completed some pieces for my art portfolio, decorated Pysanky, and had Easter dinner with 20+ neighbours/family/friends!

Once my art portfolio is finished up this week my focus is condo, condo condo! We're getting close to the end of the reno and I (and my parents) are excited for me to move in.

Here are some photos from the weekend!

Weird Electrical Box Wednesday

Unfortunately I am still not living in my condo. However I've been making use of my parking spot the last few weeks and walking to work. It's been a great way to see downtown from a new perspective!

Recently I noticed how many electrical service boxes are have murals painted on them. This one in particular jumped out at me.

I'm not sure who commissioned or did these paintings, but it sure makes the downtown even nicer!

Transient

2013 Things

Looking back on 2013, it was a pretty exciting year! Here's a bit of a recap....

  • Learned how to paint (took 2 painting courses in my Certificate of Art & Design Program). Something I really enjoy and want to continue doing!
  • Learned about relationships, love and myself. Read a few inspiring books throughout this journey!
  • Travelled to some neat places in Saskatchewan for work.
  • Got into a car accident
  • Watched a Jets game with a good friend.
  • Spent some time at the cabin
  • Joined an ultimate frisbee team.
  • Rode in a limo.
  • Joined a band (Silent Sea).
  • Attended music festivals (OMFestMoSo, Sask Jazz Festival and Ness Creek)
  • Travelled/toured Ukraine. There I saw family, performed to a few thousand people.
  • Spent a few incredible days in Amsterdam enjoying cafes (of the coffee variety) and art galleries.
  • Bought a condo and subsequently have been renovating and learning construction skills.
  • Said goodbye to my Grandma :(
  • Saw an amazing reunion/anniversary show at Amigos.
  • Improved my photography abilities through a course this fall.
  • Earned a promotion at work!

I am very excited to see what 2014 will bring!

Ukraine 2013

In 2010 I made my first trip to Ukraine through STM's Spring Session in Ukraine program. Prior to this I had limited knowledge of the country and through I had taken four university Ukrainian language classes, could barely manage to ask where the washroom was. 

The trip was a phenomenal experience! Living with a home-stay family meant that I was immersed right into the day-to-day life and forced me to fit in and learn the language.  

My favourite part of the trip (other than sightseeing and cheap beer), was meeting family. They are some of the nicest, most welcoming human beings I have ever met and were excited to see a long lost relative.  

Skip ahead three years later to 2013 and I am heading back to Ukraine. This time with my choir, Lastiwka and a local dance group, PFE. It will be a different experience seeing the country in a "tour" format, but I sure it will be amazing nonetheless. 

Having kept in contact with my relatives, I am ecstatic to see them yet again, and spend time with me (even though it will only be two days).  

While on my journey, I will be writing and taking as many photos as possible. If you are interested in seeing what I'm up to, check out my tour blog here. Since I likely won't have a lot of time to go through pictures during my trip, it will also be worthwhile coming back for a read at a later date!

-Михайло 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sask Jazz Fest 2013

Being a volunteer and avid show goer (or perhaps addict), Jazz Fest is naturally one of my favourite times of the year. This year's festival has a diverse lineup of mainstream groups: Metric, Serena RyderCIty and Colour; great jazz groups such as the Alan Jones Canadian All Star Sextet, Herbie Hancock,Outer Bridge Ensemble just to name a few!

I'll be snapping (and hopefully uploading) pictures throughout the week, so check the album out frequently. Cheers and Happy Jazz Fest!

 

Spring!

Finally spring is in the air! While I was unable to spend much time outside (my choir had Saturday and Sunday rehearsals), I had an excellent weekend! On Friday evening I saw Edmonton's Unwed Mothers open for the always great, folk rockers Gunner and Smith at Vangelis. Gunner and Smith recently released a fantastic two song ep, and are about to head out on a mini-tour out west. 

I started Saturday evening out attending an ultimate frisbee skills clinic. Since I've never played ultimate before, the rules of the game seem like they may be a bit daunting. However, I'm sure my team and I will get the hang of it before long and have an awesome season!

Later Saturday I headed over to Amigos to see my brother's band Close Talker, who opened the show with a great set, for Rococode and Royal Canoe. Following this, I had some food at Nino's before walking home. This 7km walk at 3:00am, motivated me to  take my bike out of the basement immediately.

Sunday evening I went out for dinner with my family to The Rook and Raven to celebrate birthdays for my brother and I, and Mother's Day. Why an early Mother's Day? I will be partaking in a three day 2D Design course that weekend!

Pictures from this epic music weekend can be found here.

"Cleanitizing"

Being on the road as much as I am for work, I get to drive by what I think are some fairly interesting things. The majority of the time, I don't have time to stop.

Periodically when I stop for a phone call, something eye catching will be in the vicinity. Sadly, the majority of the time people call me, I'm in the middle of nowhere with nothing to be seen! Today was one of the lucky days. 

"Cleantizing". Who wouldn't want to wash their clothes here. 

"Kun's Gas Bar" - Perhaps a happening place at one point in time, things aren't looking promising for Kun's these days. 

RR/THT/G/Z/YB

Even if there aren't flowers, it is always a guarantee that spring will bring a plethora of touring bands. It's one of my favourite parts of this season, really. After a long, cold winter that kept many of us cooped up inside sipping hot tea and brandy (truthfully just avoiding shovelling snow yet again), we joyfully emerge from our lazy hibernation. Similarly, the bands were locked away in the studio, pouring their hearts and souls into new albums for their fans (eluding a winter tour across the harsh Canadian Prairie).

This past week Amigos featured two mid week shows which like usual drew great crowds. Wednesday had Regina's Rah Rah opening for Charlottetown, PEI's Two Hours Traffic. Rah Rah played the majority of songs of their recent album The Poet's Dead including the song "Prairie Girl" which had already been stuck in my head for several weeks leading up to their show.

Needless to say, after watching Southern Souls' video of Two Hours Traffic play to "Amour Than Amis" (off their new album Foolish Blood ) on repeat, I was ecstatic to see them live, as well as pick up some merch. You can find my photos from this show here.

Somehow, I managed to get through the next day and made it to Thursday's show featuring Toronto's Zeus and Grounders and Kelowna's Yukon Blonde It feels like both Yukon Blonde and Zeus have played here several times within the last year, so it was great to see Grounders on their first Canadian tour! Even with a sold out crowd, I managed to get some shots, which can be found here.

All in all, a great week, but I'm glad I was able to catch up on my sleep this weekend!

The Elwins and Born Ruffians at Amigos

Sunday night concerts at Amigos typically result in two things: countless cups of Monday morning coffee, and constantly reminding myself how great an idea going to the concert was. I was extra excited for this show after hearing Brendan Flaherty's interview of with Born Ruffians' Mitch Derosier. The Elwin's kicked off the night strong at about 10:40 (this was a guarantee that it would be a late night). One of my highlights of their set was a cover of Beyonce's 'Countdown' , with Born Ruffian's frontman Luke Lalonde joining in.

The energetic Born Ruffians played an awesome set with songs from all three records. I really enjoyed their last song of the night "I Need A Life" (from the Red, Yellow, Blue album) where they they held the audience captive while they brought the volume all the way down, and ramped it back up. A great way to end the night.

Check out my snaps of the evening here.

"Northern" SK

For the second time since March of last year, I ventured up to "northern" Saskatchewan  (Buffalo Narrows) for work. On the drive up, I kept thinking to myself "why would anyone want to live so far away from civilization?". My version of civilization anyway. 

Upon reaching my destination, I was immediately hit by the beauty and peacefulness of the place (the endless forest, the animals and the sense that life is a bit slower paced than the city).  If you ever get the chance to explore the area, it's worthwhile!

Buffalo Narrows (March 2013)

Buffalo Narrows (March 2013)