Friday, July 08, 2005

Oh so busy

Wow. Last weekend was the best weekend ever. I had a hunch it would be when Sarah (my future roommate) and a bunch of other friends mentioned that they would be hailing from Ottawa/Toronto/wherever else they’re from. So I promptly asked my professor for a day off so that I could enjoy a four-day weekend.

The weather was sensational—scorching during the day but it’d cool off just enough during the late afternoon (the only time we’re awake anyway) for it to be lovely. All these friends were staying at my friend Geoff’s apartment, which was packed, so you can be sure that there was always something going on there. They’d come (officially) for the Jazz festival, which we took full advantage of. Seriously, we must have gone to, at the very least, three concerts every day. Most of which were great. There was this one artist, called Son of Dave (, who wowed us all. He was a solo artist, alone on stage with his fedora and harmonica. He had a little wicker shaker that he used for rhythm, and a loop machine: he’d play a string on the harmonica, all the while recording, and bam! He’d loop it, and play another (different) string, before looping that as well, and adding a touch of beat-box. My friend Sandi described it as “tripped-out harmonica blues-y funk”. Amazing. The funny thing is, although he’s incredibly charismatic on stage (he bit a microphone because it wasn't working), he’s quite soft-spoken and shy in real life. He underestimated the response he’d get at the jazz festival and only brought a handful of CDs—all of which sold out in a second, of course. Still, he was more than happy to chat for a bit and offer to sell us 45s. Hmm, no thanks.

Sunday stands out as the Ultimate Summer Day, easily. Sarah and I decided to meet at the tam-tams. If I haven’t mentioned it before, the tam-tams are a Montreal tradition. As soon as the weather allows it (which is… what, 3 months a year?), scores of musicians flock to Parc LaFontaine and start an impromptu outdoor concert. Most of them play tam-tams and portable drums, but you can find guitarists, clarinet players, cymbal players… anything under the sun. They play out a steady beat from mid-morning to late afternoon, following each-other’s lead in a truly spectacular performance. It’s all very unregulated and chill. It’s been a tradition for 18 years now, and a culture has developed around it. Now when the tam-tamers settle in the hill on Sunday, so do jugglers, street artists, dancing hippies, or normal people (like me), just looking for a bit of good music and sun. The beat is impossible to avoid: no matter where you wander to, you’ll always be able to hear the muted beat of drums (which is problematic if you’re on the phone!). Anyway, this was Sarah’s first time at the tam-tams, so I’d packed a picnic and we’d settled close enough to the musicians to watch the people dancing. All of a sudden, we hear moaning and groaning behind us. We look back up the hill and, lo and behold! There was a group of zombies migrating down towards the drummers. They looked great: torn-up peasant skirts or suits, pasty skin, drooling or oozing blood and twitching in a very zombie-like way. There were about a dozen of them. So anyway they zombie-down to the dancing area and do a zombie dance there for, say, ten minutes. The hippies around them are delighted. Then, as quickly as they appeared, they disbanded and were gone. Priceless. That night, I went to a BBQ with some friends, where I met a girl who mentioned that earlier that week, she’d received a “Zombies Calling” email from one of her friends, inviting her to join in on the zombie invasion. Cool!

On Saturday, we actually managed to watch the fireworks from a rooftop in the Old Port. It was such a good night; we all settled with blankets and a guitar and after the fireworks were done, we just played and sang. And didn’t even feel self-conscious about it. Later that night (or earlier that morning?), we trekked up the mountain to watch the sunrise. Sarah has a bunch of pictures of that night, and if she ever sends them, I promise that I’ll post a few.

Yesterday I went to a concert at the Jazz festival which I’d highlighted in my trusty concert-guide. Why? Because it was one of the concerts that had been selected to be lindy-bombed. A lindy-bomb consists of a bunch of swing-dancers meeting up at a concert and dancing their hearts-out. The one I went to yesterday was oodles of fun, even though the turn-out was pretty low. Only a few of the very best dancers turned out, and me. I got to dance with all of them! It was especially fun because the band was playing off of us dancing… the audience loved it. Good times, but it was so hot that after the concert was over it took a good hour and half for my face to un-redden! There’s another one tomorrow. I can’t wait. :-)

I leave on Monday. I’ve been working hard to enjoy the time I have left as much as possible; I think it’s working.


Blogger Beaver said...

Wow ! Quite a long post for someone "oh so busy" :)

I havent been to the Tam Tam in years, but your Zombie story strikes my curiosity... I'll probably go check it out soon enough...

11:23 p.m.  
Blogger Victoria said...

I know :D I had some time to kill so I decided to write ma' heart out. Tamtams are great, but they're renovating the statue so they've shifted up a bit.

10:46 a.m.  

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