Sound Seekers

SOUND SEEKERS: Glenn Nuotio offers to set your complaints to music + Ottawa Explosion, MonkeyJunk, and Brock Zeman

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine.

Do you know Glenn Nuotio? He’s a charmer when put in front of a mic or behind a keyboard to sing songs that add a flair to the daily mundane. All to say that the Ottawa musician doesn’t come across as a guy with a chip on his shoulder. So you’ll know that his new project, The Ottawa Capital Complaints Choir, will be more than just your run-of-the-mill whingefest.

Glenn Nuotio portrait by Ben Welland:

The community art project provides a musical platform for citizens to anonymously vent and have their problems turned into a song. (In addition to complainers, Nuotio is also looking for choir members. Singers can sign up at

A bit on complaints choirs: they are part of a growing global movement started in 2005 by two artists in the U.K. who wanted a forum for their daily concerns, whether it be friends who pay more attention to their mobile phones than the people in their life, or poor drivers who cut them off — people needed to vent. The concept spread like a virus and cities all over the world, including Toronto, adapted the concept for their own communities.

The Ottawa cast can kvetch with a local spin. Could it be that the re-routed traffic for the royal visit is putting a kink in your plans? Maybe all those leash laws are making your dog walk route tedious? Whatever it is, Nuotio wants to hear about it. He recently emailed an open call for all citizens to voice their complaints via the web before July 24. You can also follow along on Twitter — which has become a sort of electronic “gripe bucket,” as Nuotio puts it.

“Group singing is good exercise and has many other health benefits besides just releasing negative feelings,” Nuotio says. “It’s a way to make people feel better about the things they hate.” He says there is definitely room for this kind of project in the capital.

“Ottawa fills each summer with overlapping festivals to celebrate everything imaginable, luring in tourists, presenting itself as polite, proud, and pretty. But, if you read the city 311 reports, people who live in Ottawa actually rag on each other more than people might admit.”

During the month of August, the choir will perform at Ottawa events and landmarks. The choir is an offshoot of the Capital Complaints Interactive Art Exhibit being held at Blink Gallery at Major’s Hill Park between August 25 and August 28, 2011.

As for potential whingers, Nuotio has provided a demo stanza for inspiration.

College dudes with leaf-blowers at 9 am.
It’s been 20 minutes already.
This park smells like gasoline now
My ears are ringing.

Whatever happened to the rake?
They look so lazy and overpaid.
I can’t even concentrate.
I can’t remember the last time I exercised.
They’re both in better shape than me.

I know they make more money than me.

My coffee’s cold now.
It’s gonna rain soon, I know it.

The Ottawa Explosion mini-fest puts hard rock loud and centre in various venues around the city. On Friday, check out the co-presentation with Meatlocker Records, being dubbed as “An Evening of Heavy to Warm Your Heart.” It features The Uncooperatives, Groovegasm, Djanguar, Monobrow and more and takes place at Yogi’s Meatlocker, a jam space located at 34-1/2 Main Street. Doors are at 7 p.m. and it’s PWYC. Full schedule and more info here .

MonkeyJunk, the Ottawa trio that adds a swampy funk sound to R&B, will release its second album To Behold on Stony Plain Records next Tuesday. The CD release party takes place Wednesday, June 22 at Barrymore’s Music Hall. MonkeyJunk is Tony D., Steve Marriner, and Matt Sobb — talented players who have collectively won nine Maple Blues Awards and a Canadian Independent Music Award. Kelly Prescott and Anders Drerup open the show.

Carleton Place tunesmith Brock Zeman crafts a deft lyric. Hear the songwriter Friday, June 17 at Irene’s Pub. Troubadour John Allaire brings fellow songwriter Bill Toms back to Canada for a leg of their North American Hearts of Steel Tour. Toms has been produced by and played with Bruce Springsteen. See Allaire, his band The Campistas and Bill Toms Friday, June 17 at the Elmdale Tavern.