The Queen of Soul, an old-school rave and a mini-Keycon: CBC Manitoba’s top weekend picks for Feb. 1-3

The brutally cold snap in Winnipeg has finally ended — and we’ll find out this weekend if the groundhog thinks we’re in for six more weeks of winter.

But there’s more to this weekend than Groundhog Day. Three of CBC Manitoba’s on-air personalities share their top picks for the Feb. 1-3 weekend.

Ismaila Alfa’s pick:​​ Ego Spank Presents

Winnipeg band Ego Spank has been putting a really cool concert series called Ego Spank Presents.

It sees the band, made up of some of Winnipeg’s top players — Murray Pulver, Gilles Fournier, Daniel Roy and Marc Arnould — backing a who’s who of stellar Winnipeg singers.

And Sunday at the West End Cultural Centre, Ego Spank presents a show called Lady of Soul: The Music of Aretha Franklin.

The iconic singer passed away just last year in August so this is going to be one for the books, featuring the music of a woman who influenced so many singers, regardless of their genre.

Ego Spank has commissioned a list of phenomenal Winnipeg singers to take on the music of the Queen of Soul. This show will feature the voices of Jennifer Hanson, Charlotte Martin, Sol James and Andrina Turenne.

It’s all happening at the West End Cultural Centre on Sunday. Show starts at 8:00 p.m. and tickets are just 25 bucks in advance.

Shannah-Lee Vidal’s pick: Keycon Lite

This is something to do that you can really sink your teeth into, if you’ve got the fangs for it!

The folks who run Keycon — Winnipeg’s annual science fiction and fantasy literary convention — have created a bite-sized event to help get your blood warmed up in advance of the big con in May.

Saturday’s event is called Keycon Lite: Frost Bites.

During the day, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., there will be a mini convention with board games, vendor tables, panel discussions, and prize raffles.

The people who run Keycon — Winnipeg’s annual science fiction and fantasy literary convention — have created a winter event called Keycon Lite: Frost Bites. It will be a mini convention featuring board games, vendor tables, panel discussions and prize raffles. (Submitted by Keycon)

Then, when the clock strikes 6 p.m., the creatures of the night will come out for Keycon Lite’s Dinner and Midnight Circus, featuring dancing, vampires and little acting.

Keycon’s May guest will be Mark Rein-Hagen. He’s the creator of of the tabletop roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade. In advance of his May appearance, Keycon organizers have decided to run the game this weekend to give everyone a little taste.

Players will be assigned character sheets, as storyteller Matt Nako guides them through a dark and mysterious underworld. As a bonus, DJ Thor will also be there to spin tunes into the night.

Keycon Lite: Frost Bite will take place at the St. James Legion No. 4, located at 1755 Portage Ave. Tickets for the Dinner and Midnight Circus are $20 and available online. The daytime portion will be free admission.

Colton Hutchinson’s pick: Forthwith Festival

February begins with one of Winnipeg’s wildest weekends at Forth in the Exchange District, with the third edition of the Forthwith Festival.

Experimental artists from all across the world will gather together for three days of audio, visual and performance art. From industrial techno to ambient drone music, a wide array of performances will keep audiences guessing as to what’s coming next.

That’s why we do it in the middle of winter.… You have to endure something, but you get a really cozy, warm, co-operative time, because you’re stuck together.– Forthwith artistic director Wouter Jaspers

Collaborative artistic design from teams in Winnipeg and Berlin sets the background for a list of local, national and international artists.

Speaking to the selection of performers, artistic director Wouter Jaspers says the festival is designed to “bring some things to Winnipeg that don’t come here so often and to show people what’s going on both here in the city, here in the country, and also abroad.”

Forthwith also aims to make the experience fun for visiting artists, Jaspers said.

“That’s why we do it in the middle of winter, so people can experience real cold here. You have to endure something, but you get a really cozy, warm, co-operative time, because you’re stuck together.”

The 2018 Forthwith Festival at Forth Cafe and Bar in Winnipeg. The 2019 edition is the third for the festival, which features experimental artists from all across the worldfor three days of audio, visual and performance art. (Forthwith/Facebook)

A new focus for Forthwith this year is taking some of the events offsite. In addition to performance spaces at Forth café and bar, audiences will gather at locations across the city, including Video Pool, Studio 393 and a one-off, Berlin-style late night rave space at 90 Annabella St.

Titled “Subtrack,” the warehouse space in the South Point Douglas tower will be transformed Saturday night into a classic dance space, reminiscent of the long-gone 1990s-early 2000s underground hardstyle techno raves.

The festival’s Berlin-based artistic director was excited to have the opportunity to use the space.

“We go with full-on, industrial, hard techno,” Jaspers said.

“We will build the evening up, starting with an installation piece, moving to more droney sounds, before the real serious, hard, wood-chopping techno.”

Angela Frances Wilson will lead a ‘synthesizer jam’ at the Forthwith Festival in Winnipeg on Feb. 2, 2019. (

This one is expected to go well into the night, so make sure you have your good dancing shoes on and get lots of water in throughout the event.   

Apart from the evening parties, Forthwith is enlisting the international talent in the city to share their knowledge and skills in a series of workshops.

A Sunday afternoon movement workshop at Forth, called Bad Ideas for a Group, will “let the body run away from the mind and the mind run away from the body, until lots of really weird things start to happen.” There are also workshops for aspiring DJs and a synthesizer jam on Saturday afternoon.

In short, it’s going to get weird.

Forthwith runs Friday to Sunday at Forth and surrounding venues.

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