Just over ten years ago, two friends decided to start a blog that focused on the arts and culture scene in Canada’s National Capital Region (NCR) with an emphasis on music and film. Yes, once upon a time, Kevin McGowan and Steven Fouchard‘s idea for The Revue was to make an ezine. Gathering two of their friends in Phil Dukarsky and John Sekerka, the group interviewed local artists at the now-closed but still iconic Zaphod Beeblebrox, wrote movie reviews, and highlighted some of the key events happening in Ottawa, Hull, Gatineau, and the surrounding towns. Much of this content can be found under the Ottawa Revue category.
A couple of months into The Revue’s existence, Kevin asked me (Ben) to join them in order to add more content to the site. My first post was on September 1, 2013, and it was on Neko Case. Looking back, it was silly, yet it set in motion on what The Revue would end up becoming.
Shortly thereafter, my friend and fellow My Morning Jacket fan Rich Moses joined the team. Together, we ran Mundo Musique, which focused on musical talent beyond the NCR. With Rich living just outside of the New York City and our small but growing list of contacts, we thought we would be able to introduce visitors to the site to under-the-radar and emerging new artists and bands. And now with a compliment of six writers, The Revue was off and running.
By early 2014, however, the composition of the team changed. Kevin and Steven stepped aside while Phil had plans to move overseas. John continued to do film reviews, but his career led him to new places by 2015. Rich and I, however, remained, and The Revue’s direction evolved, focusing on the immense talent around the world. As we approach our 10 years at The Revue, we announce today that we are stepping away – at least from a writing standpoint.
As the old adage goes, time remains undefeated, and it has beaten us. As we have aged, our priorities have changed. Our parents are older and requiring care, our interests have expanded, and we have a desire to pursue new projects. For Rich, that is to travel more, renovate his new home, get really into Japanese shoegaze, and attend as many wrestling matches as possible. For me, I might get started on a book I’ve long wanted to write. But most importantly for both of us, we need to look after our own well-being and mental health.
Doing The Revue has been fun and a privilege. We have made hundreds of connections and friendships over this past decade. Over time, we have created strong relationships with countless publicists, record labels, and several festivals, including Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa CityFolk, Newport Folk Festival, Osheaga, Austin City Limits, and SXSW. We have interviewed numerous artists and bands (the one with Mac DeMarco is a classic), broken bread with them, and some have even traveled great lengths to perform in our homes. Heck, we got to photograph PJ Harvey!
The one thing that we will never take for granted is that these creators and innovators trusted us with their music, and that is why we always did original content. Seldom did we cut-and-paste anything because we thought doing this would be a disservice to the people who spent hours, days, weeks, and sometimes months to write a song or an album. Music is emotive and connects people, and we wanted to articulate how the artists and bands touched us. While we may have not always hit the mark on the songs’ meaning, we fully put our heart, energy, and time to what we did.
Today, though, we need to take time out for ourselves. I am reminded of a message a record label owner sent to me after writing about one of their artists’ songs. They said they wished more curators would draft their own content, insinuating that writing and, thus, blogging were easy. The opposite, however, is true. From the 100+ emails a day, the dozens of requests to send feedback on songs, listening and re-listening to songs to decide which ones to share, setting up posts and figuring out what to write, and preparing social media, this process can take eight or more hours in a day. As many curators, bloggers, and ezine owners will share, our work is like a second job. The difference is that it comes without a salary and is often done in our free time. All this takes a toll.
We now look forward to spending our evenings after work to run that extra mile or go out with colleagues. Our weekends can be re-dedicated to our family and friends, and we can now feel guilt-free when going on vacation. Oh, and our productivity at work likely will increase, much to the pleasure of our employers.
Before we sign out, we would like to acknowledge the people who contributed to The Revue over the years. These 20 people brought new perspectives and content and, thus, expanding our reach. They also opened our ears to new music. In Ottawa, there were Christina Speziale, Kristine St.-Pierre, Zac Brydges, and Stewart Wiseman. Michael Jacobe, Jeanette Sangston, Landon Murray, Nick Lerangis, and Acadio Falcon were based across the USA. Across the Atlantic, Flo Bannigan turned us into lovers of alt-folk.
At one point in time, we had an army of photographers scoured across the globe, and many of whom have been with us for several years – Darren Boucher (Ottawa), Dina MacLeod (Ottawa), Stella Gardiner (Wellington), Gabe Guevara (Austin), Paul Lyme (London, UK), Marcus Jamieson-Pond (London, UK), Dan Robinson (Wellington), and Jasper Rain (Wellington). Their photographs have been used in artists’ promotional materials, placed in international magazines, and shown at exhibits. Their talent is extraordinary. For proof, check out their photographs in the Photography section.
Two people, however, made The Revue the “thoughtful little blog” that punched well above its weight. And they’re not just two individuals who wrote for the site, but they also are dear friends. First is Wendy Redden-Thornton, who upon moving back to Austin started her own blog, WaaltMusic. She left her own project to join our team, and we are forever grateful. For more than six years, Wendy, despite having two young children, shared her love for alternative music and bands with an anthemic side. As she balanced her multiple responsibilities, she taught us that we, too, can do it all if we set our mind to it. As Wendy shares:
“I am super thankful for moving to Austin back in 2013 and getting to re-discovering emerging bands who might hit it big, or bands and artists that just deserve more coverage because they are that good. Through my research of SXSW bands, I met Ben online and was given the opportunity and honor of writing for The Revue. The timing was perfect as my full-time job wasn’t that demanding, and I had weekends away from my kids to explore great music. I got to cover ACL fest and other bands that came through Austin and met some really cool artists. It was so cool and a creative outlet for me.
I feel like The Revue was a bit different, caring about the work and the music and writing more than just a regurgitated press release. It was a true labour of love. I am still listening and discovering, but life happens and full-time work gets more demanding. I will always hold my time with writing for The Revue close to my heart. Thank you Ben and Rich for keeping it going as long as you have. Who knows, maybe some time will have passed, we will collectively miss it and start it up again. I suppose anything could happen if life circumstances change. For all the awesome bands out there — keep doing what you are doing! We need your creativity and talent.”
Second is Hollie Daugherty. Based out of Chattanooga and with a musical background, which included working with the local NPR station, Hollie became the rock of The Revue. A maestro with words, quick of wit, and a fellow supporter of the Oxford comma, we all aspired to write like her. We also aspire to be as enthusiastic and energetic as her, not just with the written word but in how we approached life. Leave it to Hollie to perfectly capture our history and feelings.
“It was an honor of a lifetime to share my love of music with other likeminded souls. There is no shortage of outlets that talk about music. But what set The Revue apart is the passion we shared for connecting artists with audiences, one heartfelt post at a time. If readers discovered some new favorite bands or songs that elevated their spirits, then our efforts will have been worth it. That’s what makes music so vital: it meets us wherever we are, embraces us without judgment, and shows us that as long as there is music, we are never alone. Music unites us all. That alone brings joy to this journey we call life.”
Finally, we would like to express our immense gratitude to the people who frequented our site and trusted us as a source to discover new music. We would like to say thank you to all the artists and bands who helped us through difficult times, had us remembering better moments, and gave us hope, energy, and joy. Thank you once more for trusting us with your art.
While we step away from the writing side, our two-month playlists on Spotify and SoundCloud will continue. We also may share updates on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And who knows, as Wendy said, we may get the itch to write again. Or if we’re really lucky, an angel investor will allow us to do this gig full-time. In the meantime, we still will be listening – just in a different fashion.
Ben and Rich
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