High flying action by the Calgary Canucks

Action from the Calgary Irish versus Canucks Canucks game featuringRuaraidh Smith (Canucks), Chad Henry and another from the Calgary Irish © J. Ashley Nixon



Place the turf a couple of hundred metres or so to the west and the pitch would lie right below the flight path of the Calgary International Airport (YYC). So with tongue completely in cheek, I can say, unreservedly, there was some high flying rugby action at the Calgary Canadian Irish Athletic Club between city rivals, Irish and Canucks.

Two games ran back to back, beginning with the 1st XV selects competing in the seventh round of the Alberta Cup. It was an ebbing and flowing game, containing some end-to-end try action and, rather sadly, a sucker punch inflicted on Canucks caption Jake Bentley that went unnoticed by the match officials.

Ruairi O’Farrell, who used to play with the Landsdowne Club in Dublin, scored a peach of a try for the Canucks, showcasing his agility when he grabbed the ball high out of the air, swung around and in under the posts. After half-time, the Canucks forwards put in a fine pack effort to score after the Irish were penalized for an almighty obstruction down the left wing. Matt Smith intercepted an Irish three-quarters pass to go over just a minute later.

Ryann McNeilly scored next for the Canucks when the ball was fed out quickly to the left from a scrum on the half-way line. He lunged down the touchline, then cut in sharp leaving the Irish defence grounded. Next up, the Canucks were awarded a penalty just 10 metres out and elected to take a scrum. Once again, there was clean, quick ball fed left along the backs and Ruaraidh Smith came into the line from his full-back position to score in the left corner.

As the game reached its final quarter, the Canucks made an ambitious move right from a scrum on their own try line. William Nixon pushed through on the edge of the scrum and got the ball out to Nick Taylor and Nathan Pratt. Pratt fed Ruaraidh Smith who fly-kicked through the Irish defence, picked up and scored in the right corner. Nick Taylor finished off the try-scoring action for the Canucks, running swiftly in from the half-way line.

Final score: Calgary Irish 22-52 Calgary Canucks

The Canucks Division 2 team made it two wins for the club at the Irish Athletic Club. The highlight of the game was a try by Frenchman, Corentin Larribe. The move started with William Nixon passing out long from a scrum on the half-way line. Larribe, in the Number 10 position, took the ball cleanly, launched over towards the left wing, fly-kicked and picked up to dive over the line.

Final score (Div. 2): Calgary Irish 27-40 Calgary Canucks

Please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography for more action from these, and other rugby games.

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Raíces del Peru awarded Best Cultural Entry award for second time in the Calgary Stampede Parade

Dancers from Raíces del Peru in the Calgary Stampede Parade on July 6, 2018.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Raíces del Peru (Roots of Peru) entered the Calgary Stampede Parade for the first time in 2017. This time around they excelled again and won the Best Cultural Entry award for the second year running. In one of the largest parades in North America, where something like 4,000 participants walk or ride (in vehicles and on horseback) a 5 km route around the downtown core in front of more than 200,000 onlookers, the community group was recognized for their diversity in dance, costume, and music. Probably also for their smiling.

Dancing culture

The group, comprising more than 60 dancers presented a rotation of dances that form part of the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) of Peru, including the Marinera Norteña, from the Pacific coast; Valicha and Huaylarsh Moderna from the Andean mountains; and the Afro-Peruvian dance called the Zamacueca. There were also two traditional reed boats (balsas) from Lake Titicaca, “paddled” along the Parade route by two young performers.

Diablada Puneña

Perhaps the most spectacular, given the gorgeous spectrum of colours, masks and costumes was the Diablada Puneña from Puno in the southern Andes, a folkloric dance involving devils, dragons and Saint Michael the Arc-Angel that got the crowd cheering.

Short photo gallery

For a short selection of photographs of Raíces del Peru in the 2018 Calgary Stampede Parade, please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography here.

Longer photo gallery

If you were in the parade and/or know someone who was, and would like to see more, there is a bigger selection of photos that you can view here.


Posted in #YYC, Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Dance, Documentary photography, Heritage, Photography, Social documentary photography, Street photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reflection Grove dedicated at Connect Charter School


Children read books from the Little Library, part of the Reflection Grove dedicated on June 28, 2018, to special members of the Connect Charter School community who have passed on.
© J. Ashley Nixon

June 28, 2018

The last day of the school academic year at Connect Charter School was a very special day. The Reflection Grove, a new naturalization area, was dedicated to some special members of the school community who have passed on. Felipe Calasin, Connect’s Facilities Supervisor, a cherished part of the community who was devoted to caring for the school between 2003-2017 will be remembered by the solar lights. Two student alumni, Ryan and Max, will be remembered for their love of the outdoors and books by a paddle and a Little Library, built from a converted dolls house and open at all times.

Natasha Gould’s contagious laugh, nice type of stubbornness and love of life was noted in Susan Chomistek’s moving tribute. Natasha will be remembered in the Reflection Grove with a solar light placed in a tree, specially planted so that it can be climbed by other students in the future.

Construction of the Reflection Grove will be completed this week and is sure to become a cherished, natural place to spend a little time, share books at the little library, and remember old friends.

Please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography for more images from the dedication of the Reflection Grove at Connect Charter School.

A tree dedicated to Natasha Gould and others from the Connect Charter School community is decorated with good wishes at the Reflection Grove dedication ceremony on June 28, 2018.
© J. Ashley Nixon

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Nick Taylor scores on his senior debut with the Canucks

Nick Taylor receives his Calgary Canucks 1st XV cap from team captain Jake Bentley after his debut in the senior side on June 23, 2018, versus Calgary Saints at Calgary Rugby Union.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Calgary Rugby Union, like the rest of Calgary, was a pretty wet place on Saturday. By game time, the rain was still driving hard and the nicely functional wet weather gear made by ThinkTank was on my cameras to take in the action between Calgary Canucks and Saints.

A couple of items stood out in this game in the rain. Hosam Mobarak was jumping high in the lineout as a second-row man rather than his usual position in the backs. Nick Taylor made his senior Canucks debut and celebrated with a nice break away from 40 meters out to score under the posts.

The game went the way of the Canucks who ran in six tries (Nathan Pratt, Nick Taylor, Ruaraidh Smith, Chad Spence, Olly White plus one other) to a single try from the Saints resulting in a final score of 34-7.

Congratulations on getting your Canucks 1st XV cap and tie, Nick.

Please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography for images of Hosam jumping, Nick’s debut try and more from Canucks rugby.

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DRI HIEV: where industrial post-punk meets Cabaret

Carter Crough, of DRI HIEV performs at The Palomino during the Sled Island Music & Arts Festival, Calgary, June 23, 2018.
© J. Ashley Nixon

This article is part of an occasional series on Writing about Images

Prior to photographing the gig at The Palomino last night, all I knew about the music of DRI HIEV was what I had read in the Sled Island 2018 Program Guide: “(they) spit in your face with industrial force. Mixing aggressive angular noise with fat, groovy bass lines, the band creates an otherwise sonic experience.” I got my green pen out and highlighted that bit and noted down their classification as “Electronic/Noise/Punk.”

I was intrigued by how groovy the tunes might go, then conjured up some visuals of a post-industrial wasteland site in Detroit that I photographed a while ago.

Visual concept

As my mind often does, it wandered towards a music video concept of a band thrashing out their stuff in some Motor City location under the broken glass roof of a derelict factory, where heavy machinery still sits there, too expensive to be pulled out, in the rain puddles, grease stains, and scattered metal machine turnings.

But now that I have seen DRI HIEV, I would have to move the location away from Michigan to Germany. Why go there? Well, first there is the German accent of frontman, Carter Crough who, on checking, has his roots in Grande Prairie, not Gröningen or Groß-Gerau or some former munitions town in the Ruhr. The music seemed to fit for me in that post-war Deutsche Industrielandschaft with recollections of Bauhaus and Kraut Rock. And with the inclusion of saxophone in DRI HIEV’s line-up, I made some synaptic connections between DRI HIEV’s high-noise sound to David Bowie’s V-2 Schneider, Moss Garden, and Neuköln, from the album Heroes, recorded in Berlin in 1977.


But the main thing was Crough’s stage presence, which was bold, very bold. Or maybe I could say Bowles, as in Sally Bowles. She was the main character in Christopher Isherwood’s book Goodbye to Berlin (1939) about life in the German capital in 1931 as the Nazis began their evil push to power. That book became a stage musical, which turned into the film, Cabaret, starring Liza Minnelli. Crough dressed in a black frock and black elbow-length PVC gloves had some of that wardrobe and his moves suggested Minelli’s rendition of Mein Herr but without the chair. His make-up was more suggestive though of the face paint of the other main character from Cabaret, the Master of Ceremonies, marvelously and mischievously played by Joel Grey, and his Kit Kat Klub girls in their song, Two Ladies.

So there you have it, my best pick of the bands I photographed last night and how DRI HIEV’s industrial post-punk met Cabaret at The Palomino. You can find more images from Sled Island 2018 by visiting J. Ashley Nixon Photography.

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All Sled Island Wieners at Tubby Dog

B. A. Johnston prepares himself for performance with pinball at Tubby Dog during the Sled Island Music & Arts Festival, Calgary on June 22, 2018.
© J. Ashley Nixon


Sled Island Music & Arts Festival, Friday, June 22, 2018

I was managing a minor hockey team the last time I went to Tubby Dog. We took the young players in for a snack to celebrate the end of their season. We shared a bench or two with a gang of bikers complete in their tats, leathers, and chains. Quite the eclectic mix in this character hot dog plus venue where you can dream up and buy all kinds of toppings to go with your wiener.

Scroll forward a few years and I was back in the popular 17th Avenue diner to photograph one of the Sled Island Music & Arts Festival gigs. Here are some culinary notes about the musical courses on last night’s menu:

Future Star: A colourful, cheerful set of short Indie-Pop songs from the left coast. Celina Kay is the front and centre of this duo, singing, telling stories and playing keyboards, accompanied by a drummer (actually there were two in action last night, taking turns on the skins). Her lyrics and melodies are catchy, fun yet reflective about overcoming broken relationships and life just as it happens. This is a nice fruity sorbet topping for your hot dog to get the musical taste-buds going in the right direction.

Verdict: Worth trying again for dessert.

Eyeballs: A stronger new wave topping from Toronto with hints of lemon and ginseng that offers edginess and energy. Nicely packaged eyeballs in front of scary dinosaurs (see photographs to make sense of that). Two of the band share in playing keyboards/synths, bass, drums and blasting out the lyrics. There’s also some improvised, jazzy saxophone that comes in for a couple of the numbers.

Verdict: A good topping to enjoy with a dinner and dance in that shaky, punky way. Also worth trying again.

Hugh Man: Listening to Hugh Man took me back to the Marquee Club and other clubs and pubs of London when the original punk era was happening in the late ‘70s. They manage to communicate pretty well over the telephone (an old receiver is used instead of a conventional microphone) and ended with a brilliant, ritualistic, thumping song that, from the repetitive lyrics is probably called Rocking in the Free World. Neil Young in his punkier persona would be delighted with it.

Verdict: This topping has a nice attitude: the players work hard but don’t take themselves too seriously. Another one to try again.

B.A. Johnston: The Tubby Dog show ended with a big wiener, a very funny guy from Hamilton called B. A. Johnston. His music/comedy/theatre performance begins with sparklers flaming and him dressed up with a captain’s hat and multiple layers underneath his Hamilton Tigers jacket. These don’t stay on, allegedly, through the performance (unfortunately I had to duck out before the end to photograph Josh Pan at the Hi-Fi Club).

B.A. engages “intimately” with his audience: telling jokes about Regina (I’m sure there are Calgary versions when he is in Saskatchewan); helping a young fellow to chug his Steam Whistle beer back quick; or parading through the punters like the Pied Piper of Hamilton (Hamelin, if you must). His technology is distinctly low-tech: a Sony Walkman CD player; and a Casio Keyboard with permanently pressed-in keys so he has to be selective with the chords. His acoustic guitar is a slammer, meaning it looks like it’s been slammed on the floor and repaired with duct tape. It reminded me of Joe Strummer’s battered 1966 Telecaster and its “Ignore Alien Orders” but the message is more direct: “Argos Suck!”

Verdict: Hot Dog, Jumping Frogs! Second helpings, please!

Please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography for more images from the 2018 Sled Island Festival and other musical interludes.

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Music for National Indigenous Peoples Day at Sled Island

Lido Pimienta performs at Commonwealth Bar & Stage during the Sled Island Music & Arts Festival in Calgary on June 21, 2018, National Indigenous Peoples Day.
© J. Ashley Nixon


National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada was celebrated on the Summer Solstice, June 21, with a variety of events in Calgary hosted by Sled Island Music & Arts Festival and Arts Commons. The Commonwealth Bar & Stage was the venue for a gig by Lido Pimiento and Guests, presented by CBC Calgary, Indigenous Resilience in Music (IRIM) and Drum Beat.

nêhiyawak, a drums, keys/bass and guitar/vocals trio from amiskwaciy (aka Edmonton) started up the show on the main floor playing indie rock. As the audience thickened, the music progressed to Electronic/Hip-Hop from Mob Bounce and Snotty Nose Rez Kids (SNRK), both comprising singing duos with backing tracks.

Heebz The Earthchild and The Northwest Kid, who are based in Vancouver, have been in action, writing, recording and performing their nicely phrased Alter-Native Hip-Hop with Mob Bounce since 2004.

SNRK draw their musical experiences and name from their upbringing on the Haisla Nation Reserve in Kitimaat Village on the west coast of BC. Their lyrics venture passionately into the politics of indigenous life including current tensions around pipelines through their traditional territory. Their performance included Savages (supported by a third rapper), a song featured on their current album, The Average Savage. This was included in the Polaris Prize long list, one of Canada’s most prestigious music prizes. SNRK also pulled up on stage local Hip-Hop artists Priya and Bhagya Ramesh, who perform as Cartel Madras in Calgary.

Lido Pimienta, the Colombian-Canadian artist who won the Polaris Music Prize in 2017 closed out the evening with a vigorous act of Spanish-language music and theatre interspersed with vivid conversations with the audience about her experiences and perspectives on life. This included songs from her award-winning second album, La Papessa such as En Un Minuto, Fornicarte Es Un Arte and Quiero Jardines.

Please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography for more images from the Sled Island perfomances of Lido Pimienta, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Mob Bounce and nêhiyawak.

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