A Jaunt to the Jazz Festival

montreal jazz fest opening night

The International Jazz Festival of Montreal kicked off Friday night. And by some stroke of luck, I convinced my crowd-hating husband to go there with me. I must admit, I’m beginning to be less enthusiastic about standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers, while waiting for a distant outdoor show to start later than planned. But at least we’re both significantly over the stage where we think it’s worth it to fight into the front of the crowd and stand for hours. And I can spend my time in the crowd eavesdropping on Francophones under the guise of improving my listening comprehension skills.

Still the conditions were about as perfect as you can hope for. After a long day of rain, the clouds dissipated, and the humidity dropped. I have been to some outdoor festivals with absolutely horrible sound quality. And I am so happy to report that this is not the case in Montreal. Place des Festivals/Place des Arts is really well-designed and well-planned for these events. The sound quality was great, and Leslie Feist’s voice is marvelous.

Feist montreal jazz fest

free gelato suite 88

But alas, we decided to wander before the concert came to an end. If standing in a crowd isn’t your thing, there are plenty of stages away from the main stage where you can have a seat and enjoy some music. You can grab your beer and festival food (but where are the waffles at this festival, seriously?!), and listen to the music in the distance.

And then, to wrap up your night of free music and free fun, you can stroll along Boulevard de Maisonneuve until you stumble upon Suite 88, a delicious chocolatier, that just happens to be giving away free gelato and mini dark chocolate bars. Jordan mentioned that he was craving some gelato so we were moseying in this direction, planning to shell out ten dollars for our gelato. And then, by stroke of luck (or what I call divine chocolate intervention), the gelato was free from 10-11 PM. Yes, I knew there was a reason we decided to skip out on the end of the Feist show.

The festival continues on until July 8th. We’re planning to head back at least once more, as I’d like to listen to Nick Waterhouse and eat some completely unhealthy festival food. Yes, family members who read, I do indeed have an extreme amount of difficulty not saying Nate Waterhouse (the name of one of my first cousins) in the place of Nick. However, Nate, if you read and happen to be starting a jazz band, I will gladly replace Nick with your name.

montreal jazz fest

À la prochaine!

happy he’s back

okay, so the blog’s been quiet in the last week, i know. but all is good. you facebook followers know i was busy prepping myself for an [all-french] interview, which i feel was a personal triumph even if the job doesn’t pan out. in other news, jordan’s been back for about five days. he’s, um, still in the process of unpacking.  he returned sunday, and i was all antsy to prepare a nice meal to let him know i missed him. we take that stomach-to-heart expression quite seriously around these parts.

8 courses. that’s right. with an honest-to-God palette cleanser. olive loaf with lemon herb butter. tomato/mozza/basil towers. cauliflower/potato/chive soup. pear and red wine sorbet–you NEED to do this. kale/mushroom/gruyere galettte. candied pear/arugula/pistachio salad. cheese course with gruyere/blue cheddar/brie/fruit. berries and chocolate ganache with pistachios and whipped cream.

mini herb garden put to good use, n’est-ce pas?

we skipped espresso. it was late. oh, yeah, and we were full. really full.

sorry my photos are a bit sad. there wasn’t much light to be had. full disclosure: mostly from scratch, but i did not make the bread nor the cheeses (obvi).

That’s Music To My Ears

And to finish this week’s music festival theme, I chose the expression:

That’s music to my ears!

This expression means the same thing as that sounds nice. The speaker is pleased to hear the sound or the information.

For example, if after a long recession, construction starts again, many people might be happy. Even if the sound is actually loud and not pretty, people are happy the construction has started.

  • Person 1: Wow, that construction is so noisy!
  • Person 2: I’m just happy they are working again. That noise is music to my ears!

As mentioned above, you can also use the expression for pieces of information.

  • Person 1: Did you hear that an organic grocery store opened in our neighborhood?
  • Person 2: No, I didn’t know. I’m happy! That’s music to my ears!

Can you think of any other situations where you could use this expression? Have you heard it before?

Taking Woodstock | ESL Listening Comprehension

Hello, again. We have another listening challenge for the week. Today’s video is a movie trailer for Taking Woodstock. H have not seen the movie, so I do not know if it is good, but it tells the story of the most famous music festival in the United States, so I thought it fit in with this week’s music festival theme.

The first Woodstock Music Festival took place in 1969 in the state of New York. A young man named Elliot Tiber helped to organize the event. He is the main character in the movie. The trailer contains many actors, who have typical United States accents. The often say gonna or wanna for going to or want to. This is something you should be able to understand when listening to others, but do not worry about trying to speak with gonna or wanna yourself.

Review the vocabulary and expressions below to prepare. Then look at the questions and try to listen to the video without the transcript to answer the questions. Listen again while reading along, and check your answers.


  • be [someone’s] lifeblood = to be something that is necessary to live, earn a living
  • to be in a rear = to be behind, to owe money
  • mortgage = a monthly bill to pay back debt on a house/property
  • the locals  = people who are from the town/local area
  • bummer = an expression of disappointment/that’s too bad
  • a permit = an official document that allows you to do something
  • to tidy up = to clean/to clean up
  • to buy out [for a season] = to book, or reserve, all the space available for the whole tourist season
  • to be backed up [a road] =  there is a traffic jam/cars cannot move because there are too many people on the road
  • Rally your troops = originally a military expression, but is now used to mean gain support for your cause, or spread enthusiasm for your cause/brand, etc.
  • a battalion = a group of military soldiers; usually 300 or more soldiers


  1. What do Elliot’s parents do for a living/for work?
  2. Why do you think Elliot wants to host a music festival?
  3. Whose land will the festival take place on?
  4. Did Elliot’s parents find a way to keep their business open?
  5. Did the festival organizers expect a crowd that big?
  6. What sort of problems did the festival organizers have?

Video Clip


  • Elliot: The El Monaco Resort is my parents’ lifeblood.
  • Banker: Oh, it’s a resort now?
  • Elliot: With the addition of a swimming pool, we should drive heavy tourist traffic right to our door.
  • Elliot: Dad, that’s bleach for the laundry!
  • Father: It kills the germs. What’s the difference?
  • Banker: I’m sorry, you’re in a rears on your mortgage.
  • Elliot: Just give us a couple months, please. We’ll get the money.
  • Man: Look at this, some hippie thing’s going to get canceled unless they find a new place for the concert.
  • Elliot: Wow, Janis Joplin…
  • Devon: Grateful Dead, The Who…
  • Elliot: Well, the locals killed it.
  • Devon: Bummer, man.
  • Elliot: Can you connect me with someone called Woodstock Ventures?
  • Michael: Hey, man.
  • Michael: You have a permit, right?
  • Elliot: Yeah.
  • Michael: Very cool.
  • Farmer: You say you want to use these fields here?
  • That’s why we’re here.
  • Farmer: You’re going to have to tidy up after yourselves.
  • Michael: Of course.
  • Michael: We’re going to need a place for people can crash.
  • Michael: Why don’t we just buy the El Monaco out for the season? We’d like to play cash, in advance.
  • Father: Your mother says we can triple our money.
  • Mother: Three times the ropes.
  • Elliot: Word is getting out that maybe we’ll have a few more guest than we originally thought.
  • Television Reporter: The New York State freeway is backed up all the way to the George Washington Bridge that is basically a parking lot. Police are planning the first ever emergency closing of the entire freeway.
  • Elliot: What?
  • Man: You know what those hippies are going to do to our town?
  • Man: Shut this thing down.
  • Men: With this rain, things might get a little electrical. We don’t want to fry too much of the audience.
  • Elliot: What should I do?
  • Billy: Rally your troops.
  • Elliot: Do I have troops?
  • Billy: You have your mom, don’t you? She’s a battalion!
  • Man [dressed as woman]: You need help.
  • Elliot: What kind of help?
  • Elliot: My God.
  • Elliot: It’s starting.
  • Man [dressed as woman]: Can you see this thing? See what the center of the universe looks like.
  • Billy: I love this hill!
  • Elliot: It’s beautiful. It’s fate. Right there, at the top of that hill.
  • Elliot: You gave them the brownies?


  1. What do Elliot’s parents do for a living/for work? They own and manage the El Monaco Motel.
  2. Why do you think Elliot wants to host a music festival? To bring tourists to the city and keep his parents’ hotel open.
  3. Whose land will the festival take place on? The organizers asked a local farmer to use his land.
  4. Did Elliot’s parents find a way to keep their business open? Yes, the El Monaco Motel was booked/reserved for the entire season.
  5. Did the festival organizers expect a crowd that big? No, more people came than they thought would. There were traffic jams because so many people came.
  6. What sort of problems did the festival organizers have? The local people wanted to stop the event and “shut it down.” There were also problems with too many people coming.


Discussion Topic

Have you heard of Woodstock before? Do you think it would be fun to attend an event like this? Would it be fun to organize an event like this?

la musique

Sorry, peeps. My photos are quite blurry.

This week, I have made my way over to Les Francofolies de Montréal three times. Or as the cool kids [and the guy who chatted me up on the metro] call it–Les Francos. The first time, I just wandered with no real purpose. This is dangerous, as festival food constantly calls my name. I can smell the sweet, fried dough of those gaufres at a distance of three city blocks, I swear. I resisted. So far.

After the first time, I was much more focused in the return visits. I also had company, so some French speaking was in order. Many of the words used throughout the evenings were relatively familiar, but I can always stand for a review. I was surprised that while we use the French word encore for one more song after the end of a concert, French speakers do not. Instead, that last song is le rappel, which would more literally translate as the call-back. We must admit is makes more sense than saying the again, right?

Luckily, there is a huge amount of overlap in terms of genre types as far as French and English vocabulary is concerned. You can say pop, rock, folk, country, rap, and even spoken word as genres. That said, make sure you put your best French accent spin on the words.

frenc to english music vocab

*Compositeur is one of those words that traditionally had no feminine form, but nowadays you’ll see compositrice as well. Thank God. Women, let’s represent.

I’ll be posting a more in-depth recap of the festival with some of mes artistes préférés after the festival is wrapped up. In the mean time, enjoy a little bit of Lisa LeBlanc. Mom, don’t google translate these words….


Music Festival Fans | ESL Listening Comprehension

Hello, everyone! Today, I have a real challenge for you today! But it is a challenge with humor 😀

Jimmy Kimmel, a TV host in the United States, sends a woman to a well-known music festival in California, called Coachella. Because music fans like to say they know new bands before other people, the host interviews music fans about fake bands, to see if the fans will pretend that they know them.

The speakers use common teenage/young adult ways of speaking, including using the words just, like, and you know very often. Like is often a “filler word,” with no real meaning. The overuse of these words are bad speaking habits, so I encourage ESL learners to avoid these habits as much as possible. However, it is important to be able to understand people when they speak this way. There are also two times when curse/swear words are covered on the audio track.

There may be some new vocabulary, so, as usual,  I have included a list before the video. Try watching the video and answering the questions without reading the script first, and then listen again while reading if needed. You may need to listen to this video a couple times to be able to collect your answers to all of the questions.


  • to wrap up = to finish, to end
  • up-and-coming = new, emerging, becoming more popular
  • to conduct [an experiment] = to do an experiment, to try something
  • venue  = the place where an event happens, takes place
  • to make up = to create
  • obscure = not well-known : not known to most people
  • to play “live” = to play or give a concert in person
  • a highlight =  something (such as an event or a detail) that is very interesting, exciting, or important : the best part of something
  • polka = a lively dance and type of music for couples that is popular with older generations in the Midwest United States
  • innovative = has new ideas, creative
  • straight out of [somewhere] = to come from a specific place
  • to give off = to emit, to let out, to send


  1. Who created the fake band names?
  2. What are the names of the fake bands? [Hint: there are seven and one is listed in the following questions.]
  3. How does the host describe “Shorty Jizzle and the Plumbercracks?”
  4. Does anyone admit, or say, that they have not heard of the band?
  5. What does the host say Coachella means in an American Indian language?

Video Clip


One more thing, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival wrapped up yesterday. It’s a huge concert. It goes over two weekends. It’s out in the middle of the California desert. More than sixty bands played at Coachella this year. Some of them big bands, some of them not-so-big, some up-and-coming bands. Music fans in general love knowing about bands that no one else has ever heard of. So, we decided to conduct an experiment. We sent a camera crew to Coachella and we asked people walking into the venue what they thought of a bunch of bands whose names we made up. Okay, these bands are so obscure that they do not exist. Except for one name you will hear here, we made all of them up, but that didn’t stop people from saying they knew them in tonight’s special Coachella edition of Lie Witness News.

  • Host: One of my favorite bands this year is “Dr. Schlomo and the GI Clinic.”
  • Girl 1: Yeah.
  • Host: Yeah. They’re amazing.
  • Girl 1: Yeah, They’re always amazing.
  • Host: He’s really good on the flexic.
  • Girl 2: Yeah, I’m really excited to see them live. I think that’s going to one of the bands that’s gonna be really great live.
  • Girl 1: Me too, it’s going to be a highlight.
  • Host: Did you see them when they played at Lollapalooza?
  • Girl 1: No.
  • Girl 2: No, I didn’t.
  • Host: Aren’t you so mad?
  • Girl 1: I know, I’m so mad.
  •  Host: Have you heard of “Shorty Jizzle and the Plumbercracks?”
  • Guy: Yep.
  • Host: What do you like about them? Like, how raw they are?
  • Guy: Yeah, they’re, I mean, they’re  really unique, for sure.
  • Host: They feel a little bit like a combination between, like, Bob Dylan and, like, a polka band.
  • Guy: Yeah, um.
  • Host: Are you guys as excited as I am about “The Obesity Epidemic?”
  • I just like their whole style. Like their whole genre, just great. They’re kind of, like, they’re like, very innovative and they’re new.
  • Host: They’re some smaller bands that are playing. “Two Door Cinema Club.” They’re good.
  • Guy: Yeah, I’m looking forward to them.
  • Host: Do you like their album DJ Cornmeal?
  • Guy: Yeah, actually, I, um,  had a radio show on a community radio show up in Canada and I used to spin them all the time.
  • Host: Oh, wow, sounds like a great show.
  • Host: One of my favorite bands this year is called “Get the Fuck Out of My Pool.”
  • Girl: Yeah, actually, that, I’ve heard from my friends, I don’t know any of their music, but I’ve heard from all of my friends that it’s not something to miss. So I’m not gonna miss it.
  • Host: One of my favorite things today, straight out of Williamsburg, the “Chelsea Clintons.”
  • Girl: Oh, yeah, I have heard of them actually. No, yeah, I don’t know if I’m gonna see them or not. But I do know of their music.
  • Host: What did you hear about them?
  • Girl: Its, they’re just fun.
  • Host: What’s fun about the “Chelsea Clintons?”
  • Girl: I think they just give off good energy. Like, you know, and you can just tell that they’re doing it from a good place. And it’s, like, you can just feel energy, I feel. And there’s, like, very few acts that, like, give you that feeling.
  • Host: Did you know that Coachella is actually the American Indian word for dumb white guy?
  • Guy: Really?
  • Girl 1: It’s Fucking Coachella Twenty-Thirteen! Woo!
  • Girl 2: We love Coachella.
  •  Host: Are you guys excited for “Regis and the Philbin?”
  • Girl 2: Very excited!


  1. Who created the fake band names? The Jimmy Kimmel show made up/created all of the fake band names, except for one.
  2. What are the names of the fake bands? Dr. Schlomo and the GI Clinic, Shorty Jizzle and the Plumbercracks, Obesity Epidemic, Two Door Cinema Club, Get the Fuck Out of My Pool, the Chelsea Clintons, and Regis and the Philbin.
  3. How does the host describe “Shorty Jizzle and the Plumbercracks?” She describes them as a combination between Bob Dylan and a polka band. That would be a strange combination!
  4. Does anyone admit, or say, that they have not heard of the band? No, all the people pretended to have some knowledge of the bands.
  5. What does the host say Coachella means in an American Indian language? Dumb white guy.


Discussion Topic

Do you ever feel pressure to say that you know a band or singer that people are talking about? Do you think you would have said that you didn’t know the bands?

Introduction to Relative Pronouns | ESL

What is a Relative Pronoun?

The grammar term “relative pronoun” can seem difficult, but it is a simple concept. A relative pronoun is a word that combines two “related” sentences or ideas. Related ideas or sentences share a subject or noun. Like all pronouns, they also let us replace a word so that we do not have to repeat the it. This lets us express two thoughts about one subject more quickly, or to be more specific about who or what we are talking about.

The two most common English relative pronouns are who and that. Today’s lesson focuses on these two pronouns. Two weeks from today, I will post a second lesson about relative pronouns, including which, whose, and whom.

How to Use Them

  1. Search for repeated words in a related pair of sentences.
  2. Decide if the repeated noun is a person or a thing. If the noun is a person, you can replace the noun with who or that. If the noun is not a person, you can use that.
  3. Combine the ideas with the pronoun in the middle.

Who is only used for people or groups of people. Let’s try to combine two related thoughts about a singer.

  • The singer is on the stage. I do not know the singer.—>I do not know the singer who is on the stage.

That can be used for people or things. Let’s try to combine two related ideas using that.

  • I like the music. He is playing the music–>I like the music that he is playing.
  • The man is playing the guitar. I know the man.–>I know the man that is playing the guitar.


Here are some examples from yesterday’s music festival post. Refer back to the post to read these sentences in context. Note that some of these examples include relative pronouns in the middle of the sentence.

  • I am not a person who knows all of the latest or most obscure bands.
  • Many of the singers who are in this festival are new to me.
  • Some artists who have already performed are Ariane Moffatt, Marie-Pierre Arthur, and Ingrid St-Pierre.
  • There are over 300 concerts that are free during the International Jazz Festival.
  • There will also be a great music festival that features emerging artists on August 2nd through 4th.


First, try to break these sentences into two separate sentences.

  1. There are over 300 concerts that are free during the International Jazz Festival.
  2. There are many singers in the festival who are new to me.
  3. I liked the band that only had two members.

Now, try to put these sentences together using either the relative pronoun who or that.

  1. Do you like the singer? The singer is from Montreal.
  2. The drummer was very animated. I liked watching the drummer.
  3. I went to the concert. The concert was sold out.


There are other answers that could also be correct. If you have a question about your answer, please leave a question in the comments and I will respond.

First, try to break these sentences into two separate sentences.

  1. There are over 300 concerts during the International Jazz Festival. The concerts are free.
  2. There are many singers in the festival.  The singers are new to me.
  3. The band had two members. I liked the band.

Now, try to put these sentences together using either the relative pronoun who or that.

  1. Do you like the singer who is from Montreal?
  2. I liked watching the drummer who was very animated.
  3. I went to the concert that was sold out.


For a bigger picture, click on the image.


See you tomorrow!