An Event you Should be Attending: Harvesting the Arts

Hey friends!

I look forward to this weekend every year – Harvesting the Arts is this Saturday at various locations all over Uptown Saint John.

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I’m so pleased to be able to offer a walking tour to all of my favourite local shops as part of Harvesting the Arts. 

Join me this Saturday at 2:30pm at the King’s Square Bandstand. I’ll take you on a 1 hour walking tour from King’s Square to Market Square (and 8 places in between) to tell you about my favourite shops, my “best find” and some steals you may not know about.

I’ll give you a handy walking map to tell you about the special one-day-only deals available only on the walking tour from stores like Je Suis Prest, Machester Shoes and the Urban Shoe Myth.

AND – If you are one of the first 10 people to sign up for the tour in advance, I’ll hand you an envelope with GIFT CERTIFICATES from Brunswick Square and Market Square to spend on whatever you want.

(the first 10 people to sign up will be eligible to receive a $20 gift certificate from Market Square AND a $20 gift certificate from Brunswick Square. The next 10 people will receive a $10 GC from both Market Square and Brunswick Square)

Sign up below!

For your information, here is a map of some of the activities and open doors for this weekend:

Harvest Map

(click for a large version)

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See you there!

Review: Milktape

A few months back I was given the coolest item…. ever. A package arrived in the mail from Milktape that included three blank milktapes, or mixtapes.

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It’s a mixtape for the year 2014, a 128 MB flash drive – just large enough for about 15 songs – hidden in a cassette tape.

I love giving (and receiving) a good mix. I remember making mix tapes at every point of my life. Sitting in my bedroom as a teen waiting patiently for the radio announcer to play my current favourite song and pressing record as soon as the first note played. Trying to figure out iTunes as a 20 something to hopefully impress a boy with my sweet indie music taste. Keeping a CD player I received in 1998 that can record on tape directly from a CD, just in case I ever need to make an emergency mix (those days are gone, though, as my tape playing Corolla is no more).

I kept one of the tapes for myself and immediately filled it up with top 40 jams to sing along to alone in my car while driving around the City.

I gave the second one to Chris Small, a friend with remarkably different music taste from me. Most of my favourite music is in 4/4 time and could probably be considered on the mainstream side of indie. I tried my hardest to make Chris a mix that was full of minor chords, bands he probably had never heard of and sad, sad lyrics. Don’t ask me why, I think I was writing a lot of reports at the time and these songs were fresh on my mind.

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My sweet, sweet album art.

The hardest part of making this mix was choosing the songs. As soon as I made the playlist in iTunes, transferring the tracks to the Milktape was as easy as dragging and dropping. I only did three iterations of the mix (which is pretty good for me) and the Milktape made it really easy to delete, rearrange and add songs.

Track list from the mix I gave @hallwayorchard in case you ever feel like being sad.

The third Milktape I received is for you, provided you win the giveaway below.

These tapes are very cool and would make an amazing gift for a friend (especially considering the $15 price tag – easy) or a sweet party favour for a reunion, birthday or wedding (maybe with your favourite songs or photos).

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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P.S. If you’re interested, I can give you a link to DL the tracks. Leave me a comment below and we can chat about it. 

Harvest Jazz & Blues Special: Interview with Tomato/Tomato

What have you taken in at Harvest so far this week?

Things are just getting started – ALVVAYS and the Arkells tonight, Gord Downie and the Sadies tomorrow as well as the Galaxie Rising Star contest performance Friday afternoon plus SO much more!

Tomato/tomato – Saint John sweethearts – are one of four bands up for the Galaxie Rising Star title. They’ve already won the first portion of the contest – competing in the online voting competition to secure 50% of their final score (congratulations!)

Enjoy this quick Q & A with John McLaggan:

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Photo: Jessica Rhaye

Hello! Tell me about yourselves and what you do!

We’re a quirky couple who like to play and write old timey music. John plays guitar and sings and Lisa plays washboard, tambourine and kick drum all at the same time. Oh, and she sings too!

Congrats on being a Galaxie Rising Star! What does this mean to you guys?

It’s a real honour to be nominated for Galaxie Rising Star competition. We’re hoping that it will help to bring our music to a wider audience and result in some fun performance opportunities.

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Tell me about your new album!

We’re very exited about our album! We normally work just as a duo so it was really fun hear our music with banjo, fiddle, mandolin, etc…

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What records are on rotation in the tour van (all the way from SJ!)?

Lately we’ve been listening a lot to Levon Helms “Dirt Farmer” , Bruce Springsteens “the Seeger Sessions” and of course the ubiquitous (at least for anyone with a little girl) “Frozen Soundtrack”

How pumped are you to be playing the sweetest fall festival, Harvest Jazz & Blues?

We are so pumped to be playing the festival! We have wanted to for years so it feels great to have the opportunity.

What’s next?

Next up for us is show in the Miramichi at Whalen’s Barn and a showcase spot at MNB week.

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Thanks, John!

Follow Tomato/tomato on Facebook & Twitter and check them out at 2pm on Friday at the Galaxie Tent!


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An event you should be attending: Harvest Jazz & Blues

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There are certain things I look forward to once September rolls around, aside from crisp air and apples everywhere…

The Harvest Jazz and Blues festival is happening this week in Fredericton. Starting tonight in Downtown Fredericton, vendors will be lined up, music will be turned up and there will be multiple shows to take in.

Huge acts like Bahamas (Wednesday at the Bell Aliant tent), Gord Downie and the Sadies (Friday at the Moose Light Tent), David Myles (Saturday at the Playhouse) and Joel Plaskett (Saturday at the Galixie Stage) will be taking the stage during the  5 day festival. Our favourite local band Tomato/Tomato is participating in the Galaxie rising star contest (Friday afternoon at the Galaxie Tent).

Tickets for some shows have sold out (you snooze, you lose!), but there are still passes left to the entire festival. Tickets are available here.

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There may still be an opportunity to volunteer – click the banner above or here for the volunteer form.

 

Follow along during harvest by following and searching #MyHarvest on Twitter or “liking” them on Facebook.


See you there!

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Interview with: Adam McKim from CHAT to the Future

I was so happy to sit down for a coffee with Adam McKim. After lifting weights beside him for months, everything clicked when I saw a news piece on Chat to the Future … hey! I know him!

What CHAT is doing in Uganda is … epic. Connecting kids with kids over the internet. Sharing stories, songs, letters and activities. Not to mention the financial support of the orphanage.

Please, read on and learn a bit more. Click here to visit their website if you want to learn how you can get involved.

Thanks Adam! Enjoy….

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Hi Adam! Tell me about yourself and what you do

First and foremost I’m a husband and a dad – identical twin 5 year olds and a 7 year old, all girls. After that, I’m the founder and ED of CHAT to the Future Inc. and a teacher at Saint John High School. I coach summer soccer for six year olds and fall soccer for the SJHS JV team. I’m a movie buff and a bit of a global news junkie.

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Tell me about CHAT to the Future

CHAT stands for “Care and Hope through the Adoption of Technology” and “to the Future” stands for our forward looking optimism and focus on children – specifically North American students and the 17 kids at the orphanage that, collectively, these now 45 schools (and a few families) fully fund. Each school receives regular updates, photographs, videos, learning resources, and at least two live Skype sessions to CHAT House per year. During these sessions, kids from New York City or Toronto or right here in Saint John get to talk, sing, dance, or play show & tell and Simon Says. One Halifax school took a tablet outside this winter and they all built a snowman together!

Where did the name CHAT to the Future come from?

I was mowing a really big lawn and my brain thought of nothing else for about two hours. I guess I’m also a fan of acronyms and Michael J. Fox movies.

How did chat get started?

Before it was CHAT, the work in Uganda was simply a unique class project that my World Issues students wanted to pursue following a visit from a guest speaker. We sold Ugandan beads, sent the money over directly, and would receive photographs of purchases, receipts, and appreciative orphans within days. At this first project, the director suggested a Skype session one day and I remember thinking, “Well, that’s not going to work.” But who was I to say no? I didn’t even tell my students that we would be trying it, nor had I ever used Skype before! What followed was the most powerful thirty minutes that myself and my students had ever experienced in a classroom. The kids from the photographs were talking with us… singing to us! We sang back the only two songs that we collectively knew: Oh Canada and Happy Birthday!! It was so powerful that I felt I had to share it with as many teachers and students as possible. That was the spring of 2010. That fall we had our first CHAT schools join the team and by November of 2011 we were a registered Canadian charity.

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What are the challenges with skyping to Uganda?

What hurdles have you had to jump over?

In the early days we relied on USB modems and weak cellular connections. Our success rate for school connections was under 75% and multiple dropped calls was common. In January of 2013 we upgraded our small orphanage near Kampala to a wireless system at a cost of about $200 (and $20 per month thereafter). We were unable to afford this upgrade previously. Our success rate is now over 90% and most of the tech failures, ironically, originate at the school level in North America. Their firewalls are a hurdle that we continue to work through, but dropped calls are now pretty rare. Another challenge is the state of our second-hand laptops. One is broken, the other seems to be dying, and replacements in Uganda are FAR more expensive than they are here. If your readers are looking for a handy excuse to buy a brand new laptop and donate their old one, look no further!

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Tell me about the school and the kids there!

Buyinja Primary School is a five minute walk from our House and has approximately 400 students that pay tuition and other expenses amounting to about $300 per year. All but one of our 17 children attend from 7am to 5pm. (Andrew goes to secondary school) Three times per year we receive digital copies of their detailed home reports and share them with CHAT schools, donors, and friends. Thanks to their dedication, grit, and the support of Naomi, our live in teacher, our kids collectively place in the top 25% of students, despite missing multiple years of education due to extreme poverty. Our kids are goofballs who like to make up games, sing constantly, and meet with new people around the world. They also have plenty of chores to do around the house, so they are only able to Skype from 6pm to the 7pm sunset on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

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How do schools get involved? How can a new school get involved?

Schools usually hear about us through word of mouth, social media, news stories, or the Skype in the classroom web service. Getting involved is as simple as sending us an email, receiving the digital information packet, and committing to a $300 fundraising target to support one aspect of one child’s life.

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What does CHAT support at the school?

We don’t currently support the school (except by sending them paying customers every day). Meeting the living and learning needs of each child in our care costs approximately $1200 Cdn per year. One family or school, for example, may decide to target Micheal’s share of the rent for six months of each year. 17 kids. 4 sponsorship slots each. We don’t have many slots left, so some schools decide to invest in the House more generally, which has allowed us to, among other things, buy a fridge, arrange for regular medical visits, lease a garden, or even rent some grass for a soccer game on more than one occasion. Our commitment is that 100% of school-raised funds is spent on the ground in Uganda.

What’s a typical day like for you? What about your dream day?

Ha! A typical day? School teachers and parents of three young ones will tell you there’s no such thing; I’ll say the same for running a charity. Really, it’s only possible because I was never, ever alone in this. That was true when it was just my first class of SJHS students. It’s even more true now that 100+ teachers, advisors, board members, and volunteers devote their time and talents to our work.

My dream days are common, actually. I get to be a guest speaker at a distant school via Skype and watch as almost every hand goes up. I check my Skype app during the designated hour and see the beautiful two green checkmarks that confirm another scheduled connection is in progress. Maybe hockey is being explained in full gear or perhaps someone has brought in their violin. I find out about it later with emailed photos and videos that get shared and shared on our social media networks. People are smiling. Kids are learning. Stereotypes are broken. Lives are being improved, here and there. The CHAT team gets to enjoy a lot of dream days.

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What’s next?

After a six month leave from teaching -funded by generous donors in Vancouver, Bell Aliant, and the Government of New Brunswick- I’m returning to my status of CHAT volunteer and am back in the classroom this fall. But, first, I took my second trip to Uganda at the beginning of August. There are school t-shirts and student artwork to deliver! (Among other priorities) August will also, thanks to Minister Jody Carr and his Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, see us hire an Entrepreneurship Mentor to develop new relationships and business skills at New Brunswick High Schools. This $204,000, 22 month project marks another big step for CHAT and we are hopeful that this and other initiatives will lead us closer to our learning goals here and our development goals in Uganda, which include owning our own property and securing post-secondary educations for each of our children. They dream big these days.

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Thanks so much, Adam!

Learn more about Chat to the Future here.

Follow along on Facebook and on Twitter….


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An Event You Should be Attending: Dancing Bodies Solos & Duets

I’m so happy to have made it to a few Port City Dance Academy and Rondos Dance Theatre performances over the past few years. They are truly inspiring and so so beautiful to watch.

Georgia, members of Rondos Dance Theatre along with Tara Butler, Syreeta Hector, Karen Galbraith, Natayu Mildenberger & Kleis Rondos-Duchesne present “the contemporary dance event of the summer”.

Dancing Bodies Solos & Duets happens August 14th & 15th at 7:00p.m. at the Black Box Theatre at 187 Saint Johmes Street. Tickets are general admission, 15$ each.

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An Event You Should Be Attending + Interview with Stuart Buckley from Sharktooth Records

In January I was approached by Weird Canada to put on a distro launch party. Weird Canada was given some money from FACTOR to start up a distribution network for Canadian independent artists and I got to pick the bands that would play the show.

I asked my good friend and local music snob Chuck Teed about new bands I should hear to consider asking to play the show. When he pointed me in the direction of Stegosaurus I was JAZZED.

Stuart Buckley (who happens to be a singer in Stegosaurus) also has a tape/digital label called Sharktooth Records. They’re hosting all ages shows starting TONIGHT and you should go. Or you should tell your kids about it.

Enjoy!

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Tell me about yourself and what you do

Hey Barb! First and foremost I’m a guy. I was born and raised in Rothesay, NB, but don’t hold it against me. I don’t do much of anything other than stuff that’s related to music. I play in a band, record bands and go see bands play. I LOVE LIVIN IN THE PORT CITY!

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Tell me about Sharktooth Records!

Sharktooth Records is a tape/digital label that I started with a couple pals about a year ago. We started it as a fun thing to waste our money on but it’s really changed a lot recently. It’s just me chuggin away now, and the mentality has totally shifted. We have real goals now and we do stuff! On tap for the rest of the year we’ve got a couple releases from some Saint John bands, and we’ve also opened up an all-ages venue, but more on that later……

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You are new to the local music scene

How did you start a band? What made you want to start a band?

I’ve always loved playing in bands! It’s been a really fun way to make friends and collaborate and create stuff to keep me sane. I started Stegosaurus last summer with my good pals Seth O’Neill and Colin Ratchford. It just sort of happened, I guess, and it’s evolved to whatever it is now (post-punk????). Colin ended up moving to Alberta so we’ve got Right Shitty’s Pat “Boomer” Bonner killin’ it on the drums now. It’s just a really good time.

Oh! And we are going on a little tour of NB with Cellarghost at the end of August!

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Tell me about your new series of all ages shows!

Does Saint John have an all ages scene?

I’m really excited about this. Myself and a group of other bands (Right Shitty, Cellarghost and Learning) were all looking for a place to practice and record about a month ago and we ended up finding this old paint shop. It’s a pretty big spot so we thought we would have all-ages shows there whenever we could.

The all-ages scene in Saint John has had it’s ups and downs since I was a lil’ 14 year old kid, but it’s definitely on it’s way back up. There were places like The Gothic Arches and Hard Stone Cafe and the TRC, but as those places closed down or slowed down, not a whole lot came to fill the void for quite a while. We had the Shop for a little while, but that got closed down. The Saint John Arts Centre has been putting on stuff recently with Hard Times in the Maritimes which is very cool, but there isn’t a really viable spot that bands can book coming thru town on the regular, which is what we are hoping to do!

Our first show is tonight at 7 with Learning, Cellarghost and Little You Little Me and it’s gonna be super fun. Oh! And It’s 5 bucks at the door!

Who are your favourite local bands?

Oh man. Here we go!

Learning is wicked. Crazy good songwriting, really good potential.

Cellarghost is too good for their own good and, for that matter, all of our good. Carter writes the most incredible songs and I can’t wait for everyone to hear the album.

Right Shitty is such a killer time. Steve has my favourite voice in Saint John for sure. His yells/screams are so gutteral. Gives me the chills.

Wooden Wives are just fantastic! Great group of guys that I really look up to, Jud especially. They really are the cornerstone of the scene!

I could go on and on but I’ll round out my top five with Little You Little Me. They have the tightest live show I’ve seen in Saint John and they definitely have the mettle to get where they are going.

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Thanks Stuart!

Check out his band:

And check out more from Sharktooth Records here.

Show details:

@ 669 Loch Lomond Road
Doors at 7:00 pm
$5 cover
ALL AGES

Facebook Event

An Event You Should be Attending: Sweet Sassy Molassy + a Giveaway

Sweet Sassy Molassy is happening on the Market Square Boardwalk this coming weekend – August 8 & 9.

The five boardwalk restaurants (Lemongrass, Grannan’s, Saint John Ale House, Ryan Duffy’s and Cougars) will all feature a menu item made with molasses as well as a drink.

Crosbys Sweet Sassy Molassy 4x6 PRINT

Crosby’s Molasses is a staple in my baking. I’m so excited to see how the boardwalk restaurants incorporate it into a menu dish! (He’s hoping for some GINGERBREAD).

Do you think you’d like to attend? (you should)

Crosby’s is making it easier! Enter below for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to any restaurant on the boardwalk + a copy of Crosby’s newest cookbook.

This is a quick giveaway – you have today and tomorrow to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks, Crosby’s!

Interview with: Shane Ogden

Since having my eyes opened to the very large (and funny!) comedy scene in Saint John – I haven’t been able to escape the advertisements for show after show, weekend after weekend of comedy.

I met Shane at a new material night at Happinez Wine Bar a few months ago. He told me about his regular comedy series, Shane Ogden Presents and naturally, I wanted to share with you.

The next Shane Ogden Presents… show is August 14th in Saint John at 3 Miles’ Function Junction and features Comedy Legend Mike Macdonald. Tickets are $20 and $5 off of every ticket goes to the RCMP Foundation.  I think my favourite thing about SOP is how personal it is – you can text (506) 608-3677 for FREE ticket delivery anywhere in the Saint John area by a real human! You don’t even need to leave your couch!

Enjoy!

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Hi Shane! Tell me about yourself and what you do.

I’m a father, comedian, and electrician.  I assume you are asking about comedy.. I’m 38 and I’m still learning who I am.  I’m certainly not who I thought I was going to be… I’m sure I’ll be a couple of more things before I die. 

How did you get started in comedy? Do you remember your first “bit”?

I was in a couple of plays in High School, when I graduated I went to Calgary, where I continued to act in community plays and a travelling Dinner Theatre Group.  After one of these plays our cast party was at a comedy club, and I decided I had to try stand up.  It looked like a lot of fun.  I’m understating that, I was in an obsessive trance.  I knew I was going to do it for the rest of my life.   My first “routine” was about air travel… I am to embarrassed to even repeat it, lol.  I will say I wasn’t good right away… for every good bit I’ve had I’ve made 10 peoples’ ears bleed with failed attempts.  I have gone through a lot of different phases and have taken several different approaches to stand up.  I’m currently in my favourite  headspace which is a clinically depressed terrible parent with O.C.D.  Seems like the more problems you have the funnier it is to people.   Human beings are really awful, terrible creatures, lol. 

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James Mullinger performing at Shane Ogden Presents!

Comedy in Saint John is not new – but it seems like it’s gone through some sort of rebirth or new identity.

Enlighten me on Comedy in SJ.

Comedy in Saint John has been infrequent, often big stars blow through town, which does not breed healthy well rounded experiences for audiences.  If you go see an open mic it SHOULD be people who are new, or comedians with experience trying new things.  If you go see a draw (TV or movie star/established comedian), you’ll see a great show, but chances are you’ll pay a higher ticket price.  Neither of those experiences, big names or open mics, are lasting, organic experiences that resonate with the community.  The reason comedy is experiencing a rebirth in Saint John is because of three cornerstones of love and enthusiasm.  Five years ago I started performing regular shows in Saint John.  When I started running out of material I hired my favourite comedians, opened for them and called it “Shane Ogden Presents…”

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Tell me about Shane Ogden Presents!

This series is regularly sold out and is not a money maker for me, it’s about high quality entertainment at affordable prices.  My regular shows are just ten dollars, and feature comedians who are not household names, but have amazing comedic abilities.  I make only enough to generously pay the performers, no agency fees, no middle men, just production costs, equipment rental, and laughter.  I also hire local comedians and give them opportunities to be part of a professional show.    Even before me there was also Lloyd Ravn, who has taken a brake to care for his family.  He put on loads of regular shows at great expense and definitely made a huge impact.   Then there is the pure magic of James Mullinger, whose enthusiasm is matched only by his tremendous comedic talent.  He is currently setting up shows all over New Brunswick, and is making great things happen.  Between Lloyd, James and myself we’re the reason there are regular, professional stand up comedy shows in Saint John… and all of NB.  

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Recommend 10 stand-ups I need to hear right now

Mike Macdonald, Derrick Edwards, Mike Wilmot, Tom Stade, Pete Zedlacher, Brett Martin, Debra Digiovanni, Mark Little, Sean Lecomber, and Paul Myrehaug.  All amazing under appreciated Canadian artists, all among the best period.  If I were to put a dream team Canadian Olympic Stand Up Comedy Team, that’d be it.  There are so many great talents, and Canada has the best Comedians in the world and because I love stand up so much I feel it’s my mission to make sure people know their names.

What’s a typical day like for you / what is your dream day?

I don’t know how typical my days are… but generally I wake up waaaay to early to go to a job far away from my home… the day is usually broken up and peppered with thoughts of missing my family, a new bit I’m working on, or how I’m going to pay for the next “Shane Ogden Presents…” Show.  My dream day would be sleeping all day, waking only to play with my kids, write for an hour on a shaded balcony, perform at a regular open mic, see all my friends, and then I can’t tell you how my day would end except to say it would involve illegal substances, my wife and things she won’t even do on my birthday.

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What’s next?

Next I will focus on loving my family and friends, writing and performing stand up, and making “Shane Ogden Presents…” the best it can be by providing quality entertainment at affordable prices.

The next “Shane Ogden Presents…” show is August 14th in Saint John at 3 Miles’ Function Junction and features Comedy Legend Mike Macdonald.  Tickets are $20 and $5 off of every ticket goes to the RCMP Foundation.  Text (506) 608-3677 for FREE ticket delivery anywhere in the Saint John area.

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See you there!

A place you should be staying: Chipman Hill Suites (Guest Post)

A few months ago I was approached by Susan Fullerton to stay a night, with her compliments, at the Chipman Hill Suites – a getaway within my own City. Rather than have a sleepover, wake up and head back to my own home, I approached my friends Candice and Jason (who were currently planning a trip home for a week) to take Susan up on her offer.

Read below for a review of Candice and Jason’s Chipman Hill Suites experience!

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When Barb approached me about staying at Chipman Hill Suites for part of a recent visit to Saint John, I immediately accepted. Having previously lived in the city’s uptown, it made perfect sense to stay in one of Saint John’s charming, older properties instead of opting for a local chain hotel. Not surprisingly, we were very happy with our decision!

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My fiance Jason and I spent two nights at 71 Sydney St., which is a stone’s throw away from where our former apartment is located. The non-traditional check-in worked well for us (there’s no front desk, so you pick up your keys by entering the building with a security code provided to you several days before you arrive), and we absolutely loved the historic details found inside. The main floor is outfitted with several sitting areas, and while we didn’t make much use of the space, it was neat to see inside the circular sun room we’d walked by many times (visible from the corner of Sydney and Princess streets.)

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The suite was equipped with a kitchenette, small dining table, two televisions, a king-sized bed and the kinds of small, beautiful details you usually find in well-maintained, older Saint John buildings, including wood carvings and stained-glass windows. The large window in the bedroom made it very bright in the room in the morning, even with the shutters closed, but with a busy schedule each day, we didn’t mind this wake up call.

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We were lucky to have our stay fall on two beautiful, summer days. The first night, we walked through King’s Square down to the boardwalk just before the sun set, and Jason and I both commented on how similar it felt to when we lived in the city, and how nice the feeling was. We were also able to invite several friends over to visit us at the suite, which was wonderful.

I’d highly recommend any Saint John visitors to consider Chipman Hill Suites during their stay! The rates are extremely reasonable, given that wifi, parking and laundry was also available (at 71 Sydney St.) The experience is sure to give former Saint John residents a taste of home, and new visitors a glimpse into life in the city.

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Thanks so much, Candice! Come back soon <3

Take a minute and join the Chipman Hill Suites newsletter – by clicking here.

They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

… Now for the fun part!

Do you need a getaway? Do you need a home away from home for a night?

Tell us your story in the comments to be entered to win a complimentary night at the Chipman Hill Suites!

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