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Artist Interview

Jocie Adams of ARC IRIS

December 9, 2015

Imagine you are deep in the thicket of an enchanted forest. You happen upon a clearing wherefrom a majestic, golden-winged goddess with the vocal equivalent of windchimes and sunlight appears. Meet Jocie Adams, the frontwoman for Arc Iris, a band that infuses sophisticated orchestral sounds with a raw grit and sweet whimsy. We spent an afternoon with Jocie, Ray, Zach and, yes, a polar bear (one very old, inherited heirloom that deserved a little glory). Experience the magic of Arc Iris tonight, Friday 11th, from 6-8pm, at Ode. Meet Jocie: bear queen and empress of sound.

How was Arc Iris—the name, the band, the sound—born?
Arc Iris means rainbow.  Rainbows are beautiful not only because they are pretty, but because they represent the wiping away of the old and step into the new.  Sometimes the rain needs to fall, the ground needs to get muddy and sticky, and the roads need to turn into swimming pools in order to see what floats. Arc Iris floats.

Where do you feel most at home?
I feel most at home in my house in Providence. I live in a small city, but my house feels more like a cabin.  I get the feeling of quiet and aloneness and the perk of having friends and family around to give me a hug when I need one.

If you owned a bar on mars, where would it be, who would be there, and what musical guest would be performing?
It would be along the Valles Marineris (a huge canyon on mars that is 3000 kilometers long -- http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_83.html).  Who doesn't want a good view.  It's also more likely that water might resurface there, so that's a major plus.  The musical guest would probably have to be a David Bowie / Joni Mitchell duo show where their band would have to include Rick Wakeman on keys, Jon Anderson on background vocals, hand claps and bells, Sister Rosetta Tharpe on background vocals and guitar, a monkey on vibraphone, Steve Gadd on drums, and James Jamerson on bass.

What makes you laugh?
It's pretty easy to make me laugh... so I'd say it depends on the day but it could as simple as a silly face or an incongruity that is not at all funny to anyone else.

Favorite memory of snow?
I think excessive driving in snow has erased every positive memory of snow that I have ever had, though I am sure I loved it when I was little.  I like jumping in puddles when we have summer rains!  I highly suggest it.

Best thing to do in Providence in the morning? Best thing to do at night?
The best thing to do both in the morning and in the night is to EAT! Providence has excellent restaurants.  My old bandmates also spearheaded and nurtured the growth of one of my favorite venues, the Columbus Theatre. A morning walk in the spring around town is also highly recommended.  Providence is magical in the spring.

If you were a piece of clothing, what color/fabric/pattern would it be?
If I were a piece of clothing I would probably be somebodies old favorite t-shirt that they have worn a million times. The one that has holes everywhere but you still wear it even though you can't really justify it.

What's your favorite line from any song?
Whoa that is too difficult. I love lyrics. 
I defer to Zach who answers - Harry Nilsson, I'd Rather Be Dead: "I'd rather be dead than wet my bed".

If you could wake to any sound, what sound would that be?
Stereo cat purr - that's when there is a car on either side of your head and they are both purring.  There have been studies that the sound of a cat purring has many positive impacts on human health.

Pablo Neruda once wrote an ode to socks. To what surprising/unexpected thing would you compose an ode?
I guess I would write an ode to that polar bear rug! I would like imagine what he did in his past life. I would have to at least imagine that it was long, fulfilling and full of great meals.

[Chattman Photography]

Artist Interview

Caroline and Sébastien of ConVino Wine Bar

December 5, 2015

It's cold outside, snowing even. Your arms are full of gifts you've so thoughtfully and locally purchased for your loved ones in downtown Northampton. Your feet are tired, your throat parched, your stomach could use a little attention. Get yourself to ConVino, the new wine bar in the lower level of Thornes. It's a gem in the heart of downtown. There's a fire burning, a wine selection to impress expert imbibers, and the food pairings rival any fine dining experience in Western Mass. Not only that, but you'll get to meet Caroline McDaniel, the owner, head chef, and true artist behind this diamond in the rough (okay, Northampton isn't that rough). And you'll also meet Sébastien Piekutowski, Caroline's sidekick sommelier, who wields a sabor, a poet's trove of adjectives to describe every possible flavor of wine, and an accent that just makes everything better. We loved having them at Ode, where they graced our Tribe Wishlist Soiree with wine and history (and swords and bubbly). If you missed that, or want more of that kind of education, join the Weekly Wine Workshops on Thursday at 6pm at ConVin or just stop by for a glass of wine with a friend. Meet Caroline and Sébastien of ConVino:

If you were a bottle of wine, how would a Sommelier describe you?

Caroline: Earthy & restrained on the open, fruity & dry after a few minutes. Bosomy on the finish.
Sébastien: Atypical, lively & fresh yet shows some depth, just enough structure. Can mature more, so not ready to drink yet.

If you had in your possession the best bottle of wine…with whom would you share it and where?

Caroline: Jeff Crockett – an old (older than me) dear friend who loves food & wine and conversation.
Sébastien: A trick question this is! I say that the company is what matters most (by far!), then the context, and finally the wine. But if I already have the wine and carry it in my heart, I’d want to share it with anyone who’s interested, has a good sense of humor, a capacity to communicate and listen, and hopefully different views than mine on life to nourish our conversations. The location is not important, as long as we are comfortable, and I would never want to feel pressed by time.

When you’re not pouring, drinking, or celebrating wine, what is your favorite thing to do?

Caroline: Cooking for friends and family. Also riding horses. And renovating houses!
Sébastien: Spending time doing nothing with loved ones, reading anything (although classic authors like Marguerite Yourcenar or Gabriel Garcia Marquez deserve a little more of my attention), traveling, dancing, boxing.

What inspires you?
Caroline: Music – most kinds and flavors.
Sébastien: People who are driven by love, who understand that there is no “Us” and “Them”, whose dreams are made of laughter and health to the expense of no one.

Best flavor in the world?
: Baklava, my grandmother’s.
Sébastien: Flavors and aromas are mostly analyzed by our olfactory bulb, a part of the limbic system which, amongst other functions, supports and regulates our emotional life. Essentially, you cannot dissociate what you smell/taste from your memories and how they make you feel.  So for me, the best flavor in the world is whatever I smell in my grandmother’s kitchen. Cheesy? Oh yes. But so true.

What’s your secret talent/gift/trick?

Caroline: I am a world class ironer. Nobody irons better than me. Ask Jeff Crockett.
Sébastien: Dog whisperer and also a really, really good (uncomplexed) dancer.

You are masters of refined taste and an expert’s palette. What’s your guilty pleasure?

Caroline: Burger King Whopper – no pickles no onion.
Sébastien: No time for guilt. But I cannot stop eating pistachios if they are in front of me.

Top five adjectives that you use for food or wine that you love:

Caroline: Yummy, warm, perfectly balanced, delicious, sexy.
Sébastien: Fresh, creamy, spicy, funky, meaty. Caroline says I must add “unctuous” because I use it all the time…

What’s your go-to dance or morning song?

: Brighter than the sun – Colbie Callait
Sébastien: I Never Loved A Man – Aretha Franklin, I Get Lifted – KC & Sunshine Band

CONVINO. Tell us what that word means to you.

Caroline: It means “with wine”. Everything is better with wine.
Sébastien: Warmth. Doing what I love every day, with an awesome boss who wears her heart on her sleeve and understands me, and a team composed of brilliant misfits.

Artist Interview

Carrie Demarais of Blue Dragon Apothecary

November 12, 2015

BREATHE. It's the simplest, most basic, human thing to do. And yet, doesn't it feel like sometimes you forget to do it...to really breathe? Carrie Desmarais, an herbalist and "scent"ualist at Blue Dragon Apothecary, not only reminds one to take that breath, but she makes it an experience that you feel, taste, and smell.  In fact, she's even named one of her essential oil blends "Breathe", which every single one of us at Ode now owns. Meet...and breathe...with Carrie this Friday, November 13th, from 6-8pm. 

If you were an elixir, tincture, or bitter, what would you be made of…and why?
I make a rose glycerite elixir with brandy.  It warms you up, calms you down, and brings love and joy into your heart.  I would be that. Spreading good vibes makes me happy.

What feeds your soul?
Working with plants in any form feeds my soul.  The aromas get me.  I breathe them in and they fill me up. It's a feeling like no other, and they just keep on giving.  Taking care of them and respecting them is how I give back.


5 favorite herbs
Yarrow, Angelica, Milky Oats, Solomon's Seal and Boneset.

Do you have any mantras that help you throughout a day or week?
Everything is fine.  I walk through the world with love and ease and grace.

What’s your spirit plant?
Angelica...the tall, large hollow stem was thought to connect us to the Great Spirit.  I try to keep open communication with the Cosmos.  It is magical and represents the spirit journey we are all on, if we are open to it.


Where do you feel most at peace?
I feel most at peace in the woods where it's quite and you can really tune into the spirit of the trees, plants, birds, and wind...sun and sky, rocks and earth...I can breathe easier.

If you could have any magical power, what would it be?
I would be able to fly.  I do it in my dreams a lot and it's super fun.  Plus I'd never have to get on plane again.  I hate flying.  HA!

Where’s your favorite thing to do in Western Mass in the Fall?
Fall time is root harvest time.  I love to dig into the earth and uncover the roots.  It's a hidden part of the plant...it's like the uncovered personality

What inspires you?
My son and my avocado plant... The plant was not looking too good and my son and I were discussing the possible outcomes for this plant I had started from seed.  My boy said the roots and the heart of the plant were good and strong.  So we repotted, gave it some rescue remedy, and low and behold...stronger than ever.  The inspiration is that no matter how down and out you are... If you keep the core of who you are strong, you can always make a comeback and be better than ever.  

"The Comeback Avocado"

What’s your favorite essential oil?
Sandalwood.  I use it in my Breathe Blend, along with Rosewood and Benzoin.  It's so grounding, centering and calming.  It gives you the space to Breathe, which we all need. 

Artist Interview

Sam Dibble of New City Brewery

November 10, 2015

It's fall in New England, arguably the best time of year in the best place in the world. And what better way to toast the season of perfection than raising a glass of locally brewed beer, ginger or pale or hoppy or stout, with great friends on the weekend. Meet Sam Dibble, master brewer behind New City Brewery, home of the resurrected Ginger Beer, and the perfect lager-maker to invite to our party on Friday, November 13th, from 6-8pm. Cheers!

What’s your go-to toast when you raise a glass?
There are so many good ones!  One I found and memorized recently is a little longer, but pretty rad:  “Here’s to cheating, stealing, fighting, and drinking.  If you cheat, may you cheat death, if you steal, may you steal a woman’s heart, if you fight, may it be for a friend, and when you drink, may you drink with me!”

If New City Ginger Beer was a lady, what would she wear on a first date?
Something elegant.  Nothing too revealing, the kind of outfit that makes you want to take it off later, slowly, piece by piece.

If you were a beer, what would you be called? Describe your flavor notes.
Scandinavian Blond Ale.  Strong, complex, pleasantly and irreverently bitter.

If you had to name your first born after one of your current brews, what would he/she be called?

What’s the best bar in the world?
The taproom bar at New City Brewery, of course!

Favorite drinking partner?
My wife.

Favorite drinking song?
Shipping up to Boston by Dropkick Murphy’s.

When you own a brewery, people must “offer” many suggestions about what you should brew next. What’s the worst/most interesting one you’ve received?
The worst is when people say, “What do you have that’s like Bud Light?”  The most interesting suggestions come from home brewers and people from other segments of the beverage industry.  Incorporating coffee, chocolate, fruit, herbs, spices, etc.  I have a small pilot system so I’m constantly trying new things.

When you’re not a’brewing, what are you doing?
I love gardening, forestry, and I’ve been a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner for 7 years.

What is the best food pairing with your Ginger Beer?
It is very versatile and goes great with a wide range of foods.  I guess my favorite pairing would have to be with barbecue.  The crisp, refreshing, subtly spicy and tart flavors of the Ginger Beer play really nicely with the smoky, spicy, rich flavors of anything grilled or smoked.

Artist Interview

Emma Donnelly of Blue Dragon Apothecary

November 10, 2015

Stepping into Blue Dragon Apothecary is like stepping into something from both Harry Potter and The Secret Garden. First you have to climb up a flight of stairs and walk through a hallway into a room with one of the most amazing couches EVER (beyond description...you just have to see it). That room opens into another room, where all the magic is mixed, infused, and created: shelves of jars and pots and bowls and tinctures and elixirs, every one of which smell as intriguing as it sounds. Then you meet Emma Donnelly, the personification of a deep, calming breath. You want to tell her every ailment you have, every anxiety, because her wealth of holistic knowledge and breadth of information about nature's healing powers astound you. Come meet Emma on Friday, November 13th, at Ode, where she'll help you create your own medicinal honey and sugar scrub.

If you were an elixir, tincture, or bitter, what would you be made of…and why?
Elixer: Rhodiola, Schisandra, Albizia, Fennel, Raw Local Honey

Rhodiola is found in Northern Europe (my ancestors probably used it) and it is a powerhouse. It is known as an adaptogenic herb. It is a smart herb that goes to areas of of the body where there is imbalance. It builds stamina and endurance, fights cancer, good for depression, immunity, cardio and more. [ http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-rhodiola.html ]


Schisandra is the many flavored fruit. It contains all 5 flavors: sweet, sour, salty bitter, pungent. This berry is a powerful energy tonic and also stimulate the libido. It is an adaptogen like Rhodiola so it increases ability to resist disease and stress, improves energy and physical endurance. It is protective of the liver and has a laundry list of benefits including eleviating depression and irritability including PMS. [ http://www.medicinehunter.com/schisandra ]

Albizia is referred to as the collective happiness tree. I grew up with two of these Chinese Medicinal trees in my home in NJ. We call it the Mimosa or silk tree, and it is considered invasive here. It is actually kind of profound when I think about it, because it is medicine that my whole family needs. The bark anchors and calms the spirit and the flowers uplift it. That is why this herb is widely used to treat depression, grief, anxiety and insomnia in Asian medicine. So it is uplifting and energizing, yet balancing the yin in Chinese medicine, which helps us come to a place of rest and relaxation especially where there is imbalance. [ https://www.planetherbs.com/specific-herbs/albizia-the-tree-of-happiness.html ]

Oat Tops are a huge source of nutrition full of vitamins and minerals. Oatstraw and oat tops can also nourish the nervous system, immune system and libido. It regulates the hormonal and endocrine system. Oats help the heart because it lowers cholesterol. Milky Oats are harvested during a seven-day window when the oats are secreting a juicy oat milk, in between flower and grain stage. Milky Oat tops must be fresh tinctured to capture its profound action as a nerve tonic, building up the nervous system. This medicine is helpful in drug and alcohol withdrawal. [ http://herbalacademyofne.com/2014/05/oats-benefits-getting-to-know-avena-sativa/ ]

Fennel is part of my Italian heritage. It is so delicious and sweet, and is useful in hundreds of ways. Blue Dragon Apothecary uses fennel seed all the time in tea and tincture. It is a strong digestive aid, so it is helpful for flatulance, colic, and constipation. It is full of fiber, which is helpful in treating heart disease and high blood pressure. Fennel seed offers selenium, copper, potassium and zinc, and it builds up the red blood cells.  Studies show it promotes blood vessel dilation. It may also help prevent cancer because it is anti-oxidant rich. [ http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/amazing-benefits-of-fennel-seeds/ ]

Tell us about The Blue Dragon. Where did the name come from?
According to Blue Dragon Apothecary founder Mary Ryan MSC, PhD, Dip. CHM, the name Blue Dragon Apothecary came from one of her favorite Chinese classical formulas, Minor Blue Dragon formula, or Minor Blue-Green Dragon formula. It's for early stage colds, and it's safe for children. It also has a nice calming effect because it has Bai Shao (white peony root) in it, and it's safe for children, and also just relaxes them, winds them down. Great for adults, but she has had many successes with her children when they were little with this formula. Also the dragon came up in Mary’s training as an Asian Medicinal Practitioner. The Druk-pa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism is the Dragon lineage, and Dr. Lady Dhadon, a physician to the Dalai Llama, and whom Mary trained with in Dharamsala, India is from this lineage. 

What feeds your soul?
Gardening, and all things plants, and connecting with people. I am living in the Pioneer Valley so of course music, writing and art are how I also nurture myself. I am always trying to take care of people, to a fault. I am a Cancer so I think I enjoy nurturing, and that’s why I love being at Blue Dragon Apothecary!

Five favorite herbs:

Calendula, California Poppy, Catnip, Elecampane, Anise Hyssop: I’ve grown and used these herbs quite a bit. I feel connected to them through my journey into herbalism and gardening. They are a source of inspiration and offer a wide range of medicinal benefits. These plants are so beautiful to me and we make a wide of range of products with them.

Do you have any mantras that help you throughout a day or week?
Stay Open, but Discerning, Do Self-Care, Follow through with commitments.

You have training in Plant Spirit Medicine. What’s your spirit plant?
Hard question, I’ve never asked for a plant to present itself to me in that way. I will have to meditate on it….Although I’m tempted to say Albizia, or maybe Elecampane.

Where do you feel most at peace?
In the Spring and Fall it's anytime I am planting in the ground. I find myself all blissed out smiling, sometimes I crack up at my geek self.  In the Summer it’s definitely being at the ocean with besties and family. In the Winter it’s in front of a fire with my besties and family.

If you could have any magical power, what would it be?
Mind reader. I’m really into honesty, when possible. I’m sure it’d be intense, but I think I can handle it. See then I can connect people with what they really need faster. Oftentimes we don’t ask for what we need, especially when we are nurturers.

Where’s your favorite thing to do in Western Mass in the Fall?
Harvesting herbs and making plant medicine! The fall is a huge harvest time. It takes commitment and follow-through, but medicine is the reward of a summer spent in the heat, keeping up with the weeds and all the tending. We still harvest leaves and flowers in September, and then the roots in October and November, when the energy leaves the tops of the plants and has come down under ground, like any dandelion, first year Mullein or second year Elecampane. Fresh herbs in alcohol and water tastes amazing and is often times the most potent form of tincture. I’ve been known to buy 12lbs of honey at a time, and I get the most delicious medicine that way, by just mixing the honey into a ball jar full of the chopped plant. But I never get to it all. The intention is guiltless gardening, and with utmost respect for the plant (Susun Weed).

Are you more a sugar scrub or salt scrub?
​Sugar!  Delicious and Nourishing.

What inspires you?
This is a photo of a dear friend's daughter Sasha who helps me at the apothecary and at markets. Her mother and grandmother are massage therapists, so she has healer in her blood. Shasha provides me with great inspiration because she is so dedicated to her work at such a young age. And when she is blending teas and sharing her knowledge with me, I feel blessed.