Carolyn Fe is one of Montreal’s original Renaissance women. She started her career as a contemporary dancer and began acting in variety of theatrical productions, TV and movie spots. She found her true voice singing the blues and jazz and has been performing around the country with her band the Carolyn Fe Blues Collective. Her CD Original Sin won the prestigious 2012 Le Lys Blues Best Blues Album & Associated Styles. UE caught up this busy lady to find out what she loves about Montreal.
What’s your favourite neighbourhood?
Woah! Tough one! I realise that Montreal is a lot deeper in my veins than I ever knew. If you had asked me that question about 20 years ago, I’d say straight out hands down, the Deege (aka NDG). It’s still on my list but every corner of Montreal has something new to discover. HoMa, St. Henri, Rosemont, The Village, Ahuntsic…I mean EVERY single ‘hood in Montreal has its special place for me.
What’s your favourite street?
Masson. I’ve seen this street evolve throughout the years. There is a blend of Mom and Pop shops alongside new bistros/restaurants that give the street an international flavour. With specialty shops situated right beside thrift shops and dollar stores, Masson is developing a St Laurent Boulevard feel to it and I am enjoying it.
Where do you go for retail therapy?
Mainly thrift shops, “pre-loved” shops or exclusive shops (especially for my stage wear). Being a plus sized woman I am very loyal to certain designers, stylists and couturiers. Catharine Allan, Ron Hall, and Mychael Arsenault really understand what I need to do my job properly.
What’s your favourite venue in the city?
House of Jazz, not only because my band gigs there regularly, but it’s a veritable museum of Art Deco! I LOVE Art Deco. Mr. Durst (the owner) has a massive collection of these beautiful pieces. It’s eye candy for me. Other venues: Inspecteur Epingle, Mainline Theatre, Espace 4001.
What are your favourite restaurants?
AHA! A question that asks in the plural form! In no particular order: Hong Kong (I’ve been going there since I was 10), Le Coin Grec, Piri Piri Masson (get the chicken, ribs and pork combo), Rub’s Smokehouse (their pulled pork sandwiches bring me back down South), Cassareccia, Bahay Kubo & Restaurant Papa (Filipino food that brings me back home on the other side of the planet), Chez La Mer (24 hour joint with delivery!), Au Tarot (ask for extra raisins in yummy couscous, yum!), Marvin’s (calamari out of this world!), Casa Corfu. It goes on. I wish we had have food trucks in Montreal.
What’s your favourite watering hole/cafe?
Any Mom & Pop serving a wide variety of teas and coffees in huge mugs and offered up with a great selection of desserts like red velvet cake. Another prerequisite is the work of local on the wall because I do like to get to know these artists. If their work inspires me, I contact them and have a “tea ‘n cake get to know session” with them.
Which Montreal event do you look forward to all year?
Can a season be considered an event? I like Summer – it’s a free for all festival season – concerts, shows, plays, food fests, historical fests in Old Montreal, picnics in the parks, it just doesn’t end.
Where do you go relax in Montreal?
What are you listening to right now?
Musically speaking, I’ve been switching between Robert Fripp & Philip Glass.
Who is the most interesting Montreal celebrity / personality?
The personality that comes to mind right now is Richard Burnett – a combination of activist/entertainment news/man-about-Montreal/writer/editor/ journalist/columnist. There are no holds barred with this man.
What’s your favourite Montreal memory?
When I tried to live in Toronto (twice)! Oh, how I missed every aspect of Montreal. The integration of all cultures, the choice of food, the intimacy of the city, easy access to everything and anything. I missed hearing and speaking.
Where is your next gig?
My next gig will be at the Blues Summit 6 in Toronto on January 19 at the Delta Chelsea. This event happens once every 2 years. The Toronto Blues Society handpicks Blues Bands from across the country to showcase to the music industry. This is so exciting. Other than that, you can catch us at the House of Jazz. We play there twice a month.
Complete this sentence: You know you’re in Montreal when…
you hear both official languages spoken in one sentence while having a difficult time choosing which restaurant to go to ’cause there’s too many and there is that multi-cultural vibe in the air.
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