It's the kind of festival where Isabelle the chocolate lab can find relief from the sun on the stage and the bass player will take a break from the frets to scratch her head.

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Where the background singers are members of the audience who join the act onstage, to the cows in the neighbouring field. 


The kind of festival created by hippies in their backyard; their backyard that goes on for miles and is in the middle of nowhere. They invite all their friends and friends of friends, and their children come with their friends and with their children.

Where you bring your own meat and share a BBQ grill, and BYOB and share with the friends you make.


Where every scrap of shade is priceless.

Where Sunday morning is a pancake breakfast, gluten free options of course, followed by a very funky gospel jam session.


It's the kind of festival that when night comes it is dark, really dark, and you are guided by the stars, the fireflies and the tea light scattered throughout the yard.

A NXNE highlights blogpost

This year I was given the wonderful gift of a NXNE wristband! I have gone to scattered shows for this festival in the past, but the wristband gave us an all access pass this year, and we did our very best to get every minute of music we could! This blog post is about all my very favourite moments!

Fevers @ Rivoli

Fevers @ Rivoli

A Lady Lead in a Rock Band - Fevers. Dance Cry Dance, catchy and danceable. Theses guys put on a great live show.

A Trio of Voices - The O'Pears. WOW. What can I say. These ladies can certainly sing. The bar went silent as everyone was entranced in the sound of their voices. And I love that hint of Irish culture.

Throat Singing - The Jerry Cans. Have you ever done throat singing? Well, I have. Thanks to this band from Nunavut (the firs band from there to ever play NXNE). They make danceable music that is a mix of cultures from the land of the midnight sun.

A Southern Trio - Vulcans. Theses guys came all the way from Pennsylvania to play their show and the Paddock. They played their version of musical chairs on stage, swapping instruments left right and centre, mastering every one. And their voices, you need to hear them.

More Drums and Intimate aCapella Harmonies - Lakes of Canada. These guys are about to release an album inspired by A Handmade's Tale, which I think is very cool! Also, they have EXTRA DRUMS, nothing makes me happier when band pull out extra drums and three guys are pounding them out! And to top off this set, the entire band came down into the crowd to sing for us up close and unplugged.

The Black Diamond Express @ Tranzac Club - aCapella

The Black Diamond Express @ Tranzac Club - aCapella

Well Dressed and Ready for Success - The Black Diamond Express. Pictured above are the seven of the eight (YES EIGHT!!) members of The Black Diamond Express singing their finale which was an impressive aCapella number. Love that "Goin' Down South" song and al the solos we got! And to make their show even more fun, at one point they threw a deck of cards at the audience and yelled "whoever finds the Jack of Diamonds gets a free CD!". I found the 10 of Spades...

A Bassoon and a Little French Horn - Sidney York. A basson in a rick band, that is a new one for me! And I love a band with two rocking female vocals. If you are a Wes Anderson fan make sure to check out their new music video which made it's debut at NXNE

A Violin Improv - Hannah Epperson. This girl can really play that violin! This simple set was mesmerizing with Hannah's voice and violin back by some solid beats.

A Southern Sound - Stone Iris. Hailing from the Canadian West, these guys have certainly been influenced by the Southern states! Rock you can dance to, and if you lucky enough to meet the mother of the two frontmen, who happen to be brothers, you're in for a treat! Great to meet you Cathy!

A Lady and Her Guitar - Joyce Island. I only caught the last half of Joyce Island, but that left me wanting more. Just her and her guitar on the stage, a great singer/songwriter combo here. 

Happy People - Grand Lark. These guys just look so happy up there on stage, and that makes the audience happy too. The guitar player seems as though he is literally dancing on air.

Bee Pollen Mango Smoothie

A creative food shoot with Amy Webster!!, recipe by nutritionist Tara Miller (recipe bellow).

Here is the smoothie recipe:


 1 banana (fresh or frozen)

1 cup frozen mango

3 tbsp hemp hearts

2 cups water

1/4 tsp- to up to 1-2 tsp of Bee Pollen (increasing by ¼ gradually)


 Put everything into your blender and blend.  Top with a few grains of pollen for garnish. Makes 1 (big) serving.

Caribbean Side

Jamaican Fried Dumplings

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup cold water

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup butter

1 cup vegetable oil

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Rub in the butter (with hands) until it is in pieces no larger than peas. Mix in water 1 tbsp at a time until the mixture is wet enough to form a ball. The dough should have a firm consistency.

Knead briefly.

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until hot.

Break off pieces of the dough and shape into a patty – or flat biscuit. Place dumplings in pan, do not overcrowd. Fry on each side until golden brown, and 3 min/side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

For more Caribbean food check out these other posts:

Pineapple Upsidedown Cake

Ackee and Saltfish

Stay tuned for more Caribbean dishes (1 more to come)!! And join the ABP emailing list to get updates first! Click here to join.

Caribbean Classic Cake

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

3/4 cups butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 egg 7 pineapple slices (form a 20 ounce can)

1/4 cup pineapple juice (reserved from the can of pineapple)

Preheat oven to 400F. Makes one 9-inch round cake.

Put 4 tbsp melted butter in pan and grease pan with a brush. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter. Arrange pineapple slices on brown sugar.

In a large bowl stir/whisk flour, baking powder, salt and white sugar. Add milk, egg, vanilla, the remaining melted butter and beat just until the batter is blended and smooth. Carefully spoon batter over the pineapple slices in the pan.

Bake for 30 min or until cake tester comes out clean (do not insert to pineapple). Cool on wire rack for 10 min. Cover pan with serving plate and flip the cake onto it. Serve warm or cool.

Optional: add dollops of unsweetened or lightly sweetened whipped cream.


Stay tuned for more Caribbean dishes (2 more to come)!! And join the ABP emailing list to get updates first! Click here to join.

Caribbean Spice

Ackee and Saltfish

1 can ackee (rinsed)

1 medium onion, sliced

fresh thyme (couple sprigs)

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 scallions

2 cloves garlic

1/3 lb saltfish – boneless/skinless

1 habanero or scotch bonnet pepper

1 medium tomato, cubed

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 medium sweet bell pepper

Start by putting the dry salted fish to boil in a pot on high heat, then simmer for about 20 min. After boiling; drain, rinse under cool water and squeeze dry. Now break fish apart into bite-sized pieces.

In a large saucepan, heat oil on medium heat. Add garlic, sliced onions, and scotch bonnet pepper. Allow to cook for a couple minutes, until the onion softens. Add sweet pepper, scallion black pepper, and thyme. Allow to cook, then add saltfish and cook for another 3-5 min. Add tomato and let is warm through. Remember to stir.

Rinse the canned ackee – it's VERY fragile. Pour ackee into a strainer and run cool water over it. After it drains, add it to the saucepan. DO NOT STIR – use two forks to gently toss it in with other ingredients. Don't let the ackee break apart.

Once the ackee is warmed, a few min, dish is ready to serve.


Stay tuned for more Caribbean dishes (3 more to come)!! And join the ABP emailing list to get updates first! Click here to join.