ARB2014 Keynote Speech

Thanks to all that made it down to the Ottawa Art Gallery last night for the launch of ARB2014, presented by the Downtown Rideau BIA. The room was buzzing with anticipation for our "Why I Left Ottawa" panel moderated by Galerie SAW Gallery's curator Jason St-Laurent. We'll be posting the full panel discussion which was kindly captured by SAW Video's Tyler Reekie. The panel was by far the highlight of the night, and really set the tone for what should be an absolutely thrilling week of music, food and art in Ottawa. We can't thank you enough for making the night so special. For those of you that are at all interested, we've transcribed our Artistic Director, Rolf Klausener's keynote speech here. It's schmalzy, but you know, that's why we keep him around...for now.


Artistic Director, Rolf Klausener, addressing ARB2014's launch audience at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

Artistic Director, Rolf Klausener, addressing ARB2014's launch audience at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

Welcome to the 3rd edition of Arboretum Music Festival. This year, the festival expands to 6 days, and takes place in 14 venues all over the city, and across the river in Vieux Hull! In partnership with dozens of local and national curators, we're presenting over 40 artists including: local and national musical acts, visual and media artists, chefs and food "cartists", a couple hard-hitting panel discussions, a slew of dance parties, and incredible architectural installations.


Arboretum was founded two and half years ago, as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to showcasing Ottawa's best kept secrets and our thriving music and arts scenes, to galvanize regional collaboration, and to help re-shape our municipal identity, not only to ourselves, but far beyond our borders.

I was brought to this city against my will. As an overly-energetic 12 year old, Ottawa seemed to bear little difference to my birth home of Montreal. In the decade that followed, I grew to learn just how small Ottawa can feel.

By my mid-twenties, and despite feeling a greater sense of community than I'd ever felt, Ottawa was the city I wanted to run away from. It held a disparate arts community where my favourite musicians and artists -- my local mentors and heroes -- often moved 5 hours west, or 2 hours east of here.

But life has a way of taking charge; when I least expected it, I had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time away from the quiet city

I spent the better part of 5 years on the road, from 2006 to 2011, far from Ottawa, touring abroad, being exposed to vibrant European centres, boutique festivals, and the broad scope of global, independent arts and culture.

When I returned in the Spring of 2011, there was a new and palpable energy in the city. The change was subtle, and it seemed visible only to the city's local population. There was a fertile culinary scene, both welcoming and radical. Underground dance parties were thriving all over the city, not only in clubs, but unusual spaces like Eritrean restaurants and former jails. Vibrant, niche festivals were growing beyond their communities, and as I looked around, you could no longer count the number of bands touring on one hand: there were dozens.

The older here among us would argue that the city has always a wealth artists of either national repute or potential, and that's absolutely true. But in my short 15 years as a working artist, I can say that never before has the city's cultural community reflected that of an international city. Why is that even important? It's not really, but it seems to be our new reality.

We founded Arboretum with the notion that our artists, musicians and chefs were not only worthy of our praise, but of the whole country's, if not the whole world's.

In 3 short years, we've watched the city's cultural fields become rich and fertile, supporting the growth of a whole new generation of ambitious, curious and inspired artists and makers, no longer satisfied by entertainment, but driven to create.

Now, as the festival enters its third year, we'd like the city to continue to up the ante, not only in terms of the quality of art we produce, but of the systems in place to support it, because we can only root for ourselves for so long.

This year, a dedicated team of over 20 friends and colleagues have worked diligently for a year to create an event that not only celebrates us as a community, but begs us to try harder: to see connections where we thought there weren't any; to set aside our misgivings and see our common goals; and, to create inspired work in the face of our own self-made obstacles.

With us are almost 100 volunteers, dozens of community-centred businesses, national cultural organizations, progressive regional promoters and curators, hard-working chefs, and thought-provoking musicians and artists. When my co-director Stéfanie and I look around at the group of people that have come together to make this event possible, we are beyond humbled, and unequivocally inspired.

We ask that you use Arboretum as a stepping stone to your own front door, to a city you didn't know existed.

Thank you.

- Rolf Klausener, Artistic Director

It's here: The Magpie x Arboretum 2014 Necklace

We are thrilled to announce the 2014 edition of the Magpie x Arboretum necklace! Forged from oxidized silver, this year's edition mirrors the festival's triangle emblem: a symbol of Ottawa's rich and multi-faceted cultural scene. 

In 2013, Magpie Jewellery graciously collaborated with us to create a gorgeous, limited edition festival memento. The debut edition sold out in a matter of days, raising over $1000 for our local artistic program! 

We hope you love this year's edition as much as we do!

$35.00 + HST
Oxidized silver

100% of the profits of the Magpie x Arboretum necklace support ARB's local artistic program.


Purchase the Magpie x Arboretum necklace at the following Ottawa locations:

Magpie (Westboro)
430 Richmond Rd. / 613.686.3989 

Magpie (Glebe )
799 Bank St. / 613.233.2065

Victoire Boutique (By-ward Market)
246 Dalhousie Street / 613-321-1590

Victoire Boutique (Westboro)
1282 Unit B. Wellington Street West



I was barely alive when Julie Doiron & The Wooden Stars came out.

Ottawa's art-punk mavericks Wooden Stars with Julie Doiron, circa 1999. 

Ottawa's art-punk mavericks Wooden Stars with Julie Doiron, circa 1999. 

by Sacha KW

At first, I wasn’t sure why Arboretum would ask me to write a post about Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars. My familiarity with Julie Doiron’s work, outside of a few songs, was limited. The target audience for an anniversary concert (which is happening August 21st at St. Alban’s church) isn’t one who has never listened to the performer before. On top of that, I was too young to have been aware of this album when it was released. I can imagine that listeners at the time couldn’t help but compare it to Doiron’s work with the seminal Eric’s Trip, who had quietly broken up for a first time only a couple of years earlier. My views on this record have to have been different than if I had heard it when it was originally released, back when the public’s memory of Julie Doiron’s former band was still fresh in their minds. I realized it could be a positive opportunity to listen to an acclaimed album without being affected by memory or questions of whether it will hold up fifteen years later. Julie Doiron & the Wooden Stars could also be garbage to me. I pressed play with an open mind.

Despite crazy, mega-industry competition, Julie Doiron and The Wooden Stars won the 1999 Juno for best alternative album.

Despite crazy, mega-industry competition, Julie Doiron and The Wooden Stars won the 1999 Juno for best alternative album.

This is what I was aware of beforehand: Julie Doiron is from Sackville, the Wooden Stars are from Ottawa, and every fan of her work is also a close personal friend of Doiron. Maybe that last thing isn’t true, but it sometimes seems to be. Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars is proof that the best records are accessible to those outside of a given scene. Several of its eleven songs encouraged immediate repeat on my laptop. Doiron makes an impression from the beginning with her droning repetition of the phrase “this will be the last time”. Another easy highlight is “Gone Gone”, which starts slow and spare until it eventually grows fuller and more compelling.


The first song I heard off this album was “The Longest Winter”, which I discovered at the end of last February. During a depressing phase in a seemingly endless winter, that track was almost too resonant to bear. Those three minutes proved to be more worthwhile in the summer, now that I know any given season will eventually pass. Like “The Longest Winter”, there’s no great drama to be found on “Drums + Horns”, just the kind of insights than can only be realized after time has passed. “Silence is good tonight/Better than the other night,” Doiron reflects.

The majority of these songs begin hazily then gradually become more focused, with percussion tightening and tempos quickening. I mostly listen to punk and garage, so what I found here was a change of pace. The goal of the album isn’t to overwhelm or be consistently catchy. As far as I can tell, Julie Doiron & the Wooden Stars were looking to inspire f e e l i n g s and keep the listener coming back for more. In that respect, Julie Doiron & the Wooden Stars is a success. It left me wanting to explore her catalogue and find songs that will stick with me like these ones. Fifteen years later, Julie Doiron can only be wiser, but this album is worthwhile just for insight into her outlook on life as of 1999. Since it’s new to me, I’ll have to wait and see if Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars is a keeper. I suspect it might be.  ∆∆∆

Sacha KW is a 16 year old music writer living in Ottawa. He likes jean jackets and warehouse make-outs. He may not break your heart, but he may run away with it. 

JULIE DOIRON & THE WOODEN STARS perform on Wednesday August 20th, at St. Alban's Church with Evening Hymns & Bosveld. 

Listen to the entire Julie Doiron & The Wooden Stars album here