After reading the farewell columns of my esteemed predecessors Jamie O’Meara and Richard Burnett in last week’s issue, in which they both looked back at the glory days of alt-weeklies and lamented the current situation of print media in general, I must say that, for a moment, I wished I could have started work at Hour in a different context.
Then I remembered the words a wise man once said: "So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." Yeah, that’s right, I just quoted Gandalf the Grey in my first column; that’s the kind of film geek I am. Then again, I’m many other things as well: a huge music fan, an avid reader and an enthusiast for pretty much every kind of art, not to mention a diehard hockey fan (who isn’t in Quebec, especially during playoff season?).
I was born in Montreal and I’ve called it home for the better part of the last 12 years or so, but like nearly all Montrealers I’ve also lived in a few other places, notably Trois-Rivières, where I spent my childhood, and Saint-Jean, where I spent my teen years. Never been to Haiti though, despite the fact that my biological father was from there. In any case, I feel that, most of all, I’m a product of Montreal, a city where, political differences aside, the English- and French-speaking populations live, work, play, love and even procreate together, along with all shades of black, Asian, Latino, native, European, Jewish and Arab folks.
On its best days, Montreal is one big happy bilingual and multicultural family, and this is what will be reflected in Hour Community. From Old Montreal to Montreal North, NDG to Ahuntsic, Parc Ex to Chinatown, Griffintown to the Plateau, Verdun to Mile End, Little Italy to Greektown, West Island to Hochelaga, and so on and so on, fascinating stories are happening every day, and we aim to tell you about as many of them as we can.
Of course, this being a Montreal paper doesn’t mean it will only cover local artists, so we’ll be sure to let you know about great shows, movies and other events coming to town, wherever their creators are from. Hence our cover story about Nigerian musician Femi Kuti, son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and a musical legend in his own right, who’ll be burning up L’Astral in a few days.
Let me also take the time to welcome our new columnist, Anne Lagacé Dowson, whom you probably know already for her work with the CBC and CJAD. It’s a true honour to be able to publish her column, Bloke Nation, in our pages, and I’m looking forward to the political, social and cultural conversations it will inspire amongst Montreal’s diverse communities.
RECORD STORE DAY
In the age of iTunes, Bandcamp and other online services where music fans can get their fix, there’s no doubt it’s challenging owning a bricks-and-mortar record store, as the habit of physically going to a store to buy music becomes less prevalent. Which makes it all the more important to support initiatives like Record Store Day, a day in which special vinyl and CD releases are offered exclusively in independent record stores worldwide. So on Saturday, April 16, be sure to pay a visit to participating local establishments such as the recently reopened Phonopolis, Atom Heart, Cheap Thrills, Sound Central, Beatnick, Le Pick-Up, Aux 33 Tours and L’Oblique. For the occasion, L’Oblique will present live performances by a lineup of bands that includes Antoine Corriveau (1 p.m.), Will Driving West (3 p.m.), Philémon Chante (4 p.m.), Panache (5:30 p.m.) and Pat Jordache (6 p.m.). www.recordstoreday.com