With a track record of opening for bands like Blue Rodeo and The Strumbellas, Matt Blais is one roots-rock troubadour who puts on one hell of a good show. Since playing music professionally in 2006, Blais has received a variety of accolades, including Male Artist of the Year and Singer and Songwriter of the Year from the Calgary Music Awards, of which is he is also currently a nominee for 2020.
Calgarians will be happy to know they can see Blais performing with Lyndsay Butler and Devin Cooper on Sept. 3 during Blue Jay Sessions: Anniversary Edition at Mikey's on 12th.
Blais' most recent album In Shadow and Light has garnered plenty of praise for the talented artist and while he spends time working on new material for the future, we figured now was as good a time as any to pick his brain about where to eat and drink in his hometown of Calgary.
From a classic brunch spot for a.m. eats to a tried-and-true brewery for drinks, here's where you'll find the singer securing sustenance around the city.
Diner Deluxe is my favourite spot for breakfast. Quirky and inviting, it reminds me of the small town diners I visit when I’m on tour. Apparently, Joni Mitchell has been spotted at Diner Deluxe. So, I go there not just for the food, but because I have a little fantasy that one day Joni and I will be there at the same time, both enjoying our avocado and tomato eggs Benedict, we’ll lock eyes and smile, then go back to our mimosas.
I have an affinity for the East Coast, firstly because of the music of Joel Plaskett and Matt Mays. So, naturally that coastal love extends to food. Blowers and Grafton is Halifax-style street food, so it’s quick, easy to eat, unpretentious and delicious. A tiny place that focuses on the basics: good food and good vibes. The mini lobsters rolls are my go-to but they also have an amazing donair that is true to the Halifax original.
Notable is everything I love in a restaurant: it is warm, comfortable, vibrant, yet intimate. The rotisserie adds a hint of smoke to the air, which enhances the experience and ties the food together. It is like having your favourite meal in front of a fireplace. The service is impeccable, friendly, yet professional. Most importantly, it’s the kind of restaurant I have to keep going back to, not just for the crispy potato rolls, but because every menu item is so intriguing that I couldn’t possibly have everything I want.
Village Brewery has an amazing program where they bring in bands to craft their own beer, designing a special keg that coincides with their music. Then, that band performs a show live at the brewery, taps their keg, showcasing their music and their custom brew. I got to help brew a beer of my own namesake here, which was an amber ale with hints of sake and cherry (honouring my trip to Japan). I learned so much from the brewmaster as we sat, drinking and talking about the whole brewing process.
This is the kind of creativity that makes for delicious beer, a connected community, and the most memorable nights.