Sunday night tales and ales–Speakeasy Live

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I heard about this thing that Melanie Baker and David Yoon just cooked up late last year called Speakeasy Live.  The idea is simply story telling and socializing, so I headed down to k-town on Sunday night to check it out.  I also heard they were hosting it at The Bent Elbow (Harold Kroeker’s joint), which was rumoured to have a great beer selection and good food (both true).  The TL;DR: all the $10 tix sold and the place was packed, food and drink and service was great, got caught up with friends, and heard six 15-minute stories that entertained us all.  High-fives to Melanie and Dave for putting it together: this is what community looks like.

Click through for a semi-unreasonable number of photos…

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TBE is just north of Fairway and King.  You know, generally near Fairview Mall.

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Audio expertise provided by…

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Jonathan Fritz, whom I was happy to reconnect with after a long stretch back to the kwartzlab days.

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Snacks!  This is the feature grilled cheese, chips, and beer-ketchup.  Having had it on a previous visit, I know it rocks.  This time around I went for the steak and cheese flatbread: also great.

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My brother from the very same mother, Dave White (right), was on the scene…

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showing me his latest work in progress that he said was influenced by Joan Miró.  I always appreciate when an artist calls out these influences/inspirations.  Having studied a fair amount of artists/movements/history, it’s really obvious when somebody is pulling a Francis Bacon or riffing on Lichtenstein, so I appreciate forthright disclosure.

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The beer is here.  Outstanding selection, small kegs, switching up all the time, so come prepared to explore.  I had a Block 3 King St Saison, but I think I’m done with that beer now.  Winner of the night was Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale from Toronto’s Left Field Brewery.  If this sounds like beer snobbery, be aware: I have no idea what I’m talking about.  My simple algorithm is: don’t be tricked into a cider, nothing >8% alcohol or it gets sloppy, and… surprise me.

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Melanie Baker, co-host and holder of The List.

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David Yoon (co-host) and Melanie.

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Julia O. about to melt my camera with laser beam stare before discovering… it’s just me.

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Our first speaker, Neal Moogk-Soulis, and Jonathan moving at the speed of sound.

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Neal talked about proposing.

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Jane Barkley talked about the gift of fear, and really about the possibilities of reinventing yourself.

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Aubrey Brawley is a local Krav Maga instructor and talked about visiting an LA prison.

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Break!  This shoot was tight and I’m not exactly inconspicuous, so this must be what wedding photogs feel like.  Light was pretty low and subjects were in motion so… challenge accepted!

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Service at the speed of sound.

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Dave White muses.

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Gear shot for Jonathan.

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This looked like a pretty good off-stage story in progress.

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Beer and gear.

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Charlotte Armstrong, lover of science and instantiator of KW Nerd Nite was talking…

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about her journey to nerdom and the joys of that journey.  Always have intended to hit Nerd Nite, and in light of Charlotte’s enthusiasm, I’m all out of excuses.

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Dave Dame had us laughing, challenging the notion that people with a physical disability are all “good” and providing hilarious examples of his wicked sense of humour.  Awesome.

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Nick Benninger, head chef and proprietor along with his wife Natalie of Nick & Nat’s Uptown 21 and also partnered up in Taco Farm, talked about balancing multiple businesses and parenting.  I hear you, brother.

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Sound guy was happy…

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Our fantastic servers, Sheryl and Lisa (right?) were happy and touched, I think.  You both did a great job, together serving about 50 people at the same time.  Thanks to Harold for the great food, and Melanie and David for the event.  I’ll definitely be back for more of everything.


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7 Responses to Sunday night tales and ales–Speakeasy Live

  1. David Yoon says:

    Pleasant surprise to see you at the event! Thanks for the beautiful shots, I always look forward to seeing your pics of events in the region. You are a welcome counterpoint to the grainy and dark smart phone pics that are often the only coverage.
    You’ve captured so much in pictures but I bet you’ve got a story or two to tell as well… Maybe we can get you on the other side of the mic for a future Speakeasy? 🙂

    • dw says:

      You’re very welcome, David, and thanks for the comment. I work hard on every shoot to get incrementally better at telling the story, both visually and in words, so I really appreciate the feedback. I’m compelled to pitch in on events like Speakeasy because they immediately and directly shape the community in which I want to live. I also know how difficult these gigs are to get off the ground and sustain, so I kick in my part and hope that others will pick it up too and show up, recruit their friends, contribute, and engage, too.

      As far as telling a Speakeasy story myself, you bet I will. At the most basic level and for this type of shoot, the camera is almost beside the point. My primary goal is to talk with real people in real life. And a very rich life it is.


  2. Plus one to Mr. Yoon’s comments. So is it a specific lens or camera angle that makes a couple of clueless beer and story lovers look like well-organized hosts? 🙂

    Some time you should join me at the back. The faces of the crowd when they’re into a story are amazing.

    • dw says:

      Good idea on the crowd reaction shot. I had a number of ideas, but wanted to disrupt the speakers as little as possible. Also recognized that I just ambushed the event, though I did reach out to you guys on Saturday at and I’m sure my email is stuck in a spam filter somewhere. Glad you’re happy with the photos.


  3. Agnes says:

    Another great event in KW- missed out this time, but will make sure I make it to the next one. I was intrigued with this idea first time I heard about it.

    Darin, you should come out to Nerd Nite this week on Wed- I’ll be the artist in residence for the night. I’ll be crafting something really cute that will be raffled off at the end! And the raffle ticket money supports the artist (me), how great is that!

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