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Leiden Live Episode II - Songs by Suzy

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Songs by Suzy is our newest craze. We first spotted this nice singer/songwriter girl and her talented band at the Picknick festival in the Van der Werf Park back in July. We thoroughly enjoyed her performance which ranged from sentimental songs to downright hilarious ones (‘Man van de Zee’ is a song on how all women really want pirates instead of proper men), but the main things we noticed were the nice compositions, lyrical cleverness and of course the raw talent.  And as it goes in Leiden, where everybody knows everybody, she turned out to be a friend of my friend and the room mate of another friend so luckily we had plenty of connections to tackle her for a Leiden Live episode, yay!

Last week we went to the student house where Suzanne and her backing vocalist Josefien both have beautiful rooms. We got to talk with them about music over some tea and delicious leftover birthday cake (Suzanne turned 27 the day before!).

Suzanne started young and sung in the Kathedrale Koor Utrecht and in several pop, jazz and rock bands. A couple of years ago she decided to devote all of her time to her own music and we are happy she did. Her music is a great mix of jazz, pop and a little cabaret. ‘The Truth' for example tells a lovely tale of how the world’s problems are caused by men (which is obviously true).

Although we think she is really good on the guitar, she thinks that piano is still her main instrument. That diversity you see with all of the band members. They all have their main instruments but at the same time they play a couple of other cool instruments on the side. They are just genuine musical people and that is what makes it particularly nice to hear them play live. Also, the voices of Suzanne and Josefien complement each other beautifully and make for a round, complete sound.

Her songs are surprisingly melodious and diverse for songs that are so easy to listen too. The lyrics are honest and clever. You can listen to them like stories that are recognizable and full of emotion. But even though her lyrics can be serious or sad, they are always presented with a hint of humor.

We are now regulars on her website where you can listen to a little playlist of her songs. You can also find her solo EP there. Right now she is working hard on some new songs so if you are curious, like her on Facebook! 

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Ridiculously Good Chocolate!

Photo from Ridiculously Good

A couple of weeks ago at a really nice festival in Amsterdam, we discovered a stand with delicious looking pieces of chocolate. It was a free tasting so of course we tried. Wow! While our taste buds were being spoiled, we were told by the owner that this chocolate is organic, fair trade and also completely healthy. My interest was sparked and we started to talk about where the chocolates were made. Coincidence, coincidence, their chocolate is made in Leiden! Even more awesome, the chocolates are made in a social working place by people who are physically or mentally unable to work fully and in this way can still have a nice job. After this story we were so interested in these bright new entrepreneurs and their chocolate that we had to make a blog about it on Leiden Living.

The owners of the Raw Patisserie were very enthusiastic about our idea to make a video and thus we were invited to a real chocolate factory! We went by bike through the pouring rain but were still happy as children when we got there and met the lovely Raw Patisserie founders Teun and Shemara.

We got shown around the amazingly smelling factory by a down to earth chocolate maker who obviously knew his stuff very well. As we got a crash course in how chocolate is made, we got to taste plenty of nice chocolates. Man it’s good to be a blogger :)

We imagined it being very hard for the employees not to eat all the chocolate right away and heard that indeed most people snack a lot on the side. Some even have to get transferred to another department of the factory because it’s not good for their health! Of course that’s not the case for the people that work on the super healthy Ridiculously good chocolate. Really, everything is good about this product. Even the box and the wrapping are biodegradable so you can just throw it in the compost!

In Leiden you can already buy these special chocolates in a little store called ‘Pluum’, located in the alee right of the Einstein [Burgsteeg 2]. It’s really worth it so try it out!

Also, they have a fun event coming up, a real ‘Charlie and the Chocolate factory’ experience. They will put golden tickets in some of their boxes and the lucky finders will not only get invited to the factory, they will also be able to make their very own chocolate letter! With the Sinterklaas celebration, it is a splendid Dutch custom to give people the first letter of their name in chocolate. So how better to do that than with Ridiculously good chocolate!

Please check out all the fun in the Leiden Living at Ridiculously good chocolate video!

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Searching for Live Music part I: Schommelen

In this blog series we're going to search the city for live music hubs! Which bars and places can we Leidenaars go to hear some real musicians play and see live performances?

The first bar we tried out is 'Schommelen'. The name of this bar translated means 'swinging' and no its not a weird partner sex club or anything. Quite the opposite actually. It is a very small and cozy brown cafe in one of the beautiful cobble stone streets around the Pieterskerk (that pretty big church in city center). The name really refers to the seating in the bar. Instead of bar stools, they came up with the idea of putting swings at their bar! I know, brilliant right?

But now as to why to go there. Apart for the homy feeling you get when you walk in and the various delicious beers they have on tap, 'Schommelen' has a live music night every Thursday night! Various performers play at their little stage in front of a giant poster of the Beatles. Some play cover songs, some originals. You can find folk, blues, rock, basically everything that can by played acoustically in a small bar.

Last night there was a guy called 'Ed Lemon' and he could play around 160 songs by memory! So he was basically a living jukebox and took lots of requests written by us on our beer coasters. He played 'Yesterday' as we were happily sipping our cold beer and hanging from our swings.

Ed Citroen

The bar guy, Sjors, is very friendly and you can talk to him about all sorts of things like music, Leiden, 3 October or just life. The atmosphere is friendly and laid back in general and its very likely people just start talking to you. Since most are sitting on swings, you cant take it to seriously anyway.

After a couple of hours we went home a little dizzy from the swings (or the beer) and satisfied. Schommelen is something you just have to experience for yourself. The interior, the music, the people, it all falls very well within the comprehencive Dutch term "gezellig".

 

 

Where: Estaminet Schommelen, Lokhorststraat 19, Leiden

When: Every Thursday from 9pm on

 

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Leiden Live Episode I - Vivienne Aerts

We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one of Leiden's amazingly talented jazz singers at the Leidse Hofjesconcerten a few weeks ago. She goes by the name of Vivienne Aerts and her voice projects the sounds of the great Ella Fitzgerald with music that mixes classical and experimental  jazz to bring you something completely new. 

Needless to say, this artists caught my attention and I was soon finding myself on her Facebook page wanting to know more about her and the music she makes. We ended up chatting online after I noticed that she liked our Facebook page (the perfect 'in'), I asked if it would be okay if we did a small interview / performance at her house and she accepted!

It was an amazing and fun time, we had great conversations about the craziness of New York, the differences in jazz styles, studying in Boston and life in Leiden. In fact, it was so great that we decided to make this a new thing on Leiden Living! We are calling it Leiden Live and have created a new page for it with Vivienne as our first featured artist (with more hopefully to come in the future!). Make sure to watch our first episode above and check out more about Vivienne on her WEBSITE!

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We Had a Great Time at Hofjes Concerten!

Hope you all enjoyed your weekend! We had a great time at the Leidse Hofjesconcerten and saw some great concerts from artists including the great Spanish trio, Cristina Hall, María Marín, Tino van der Sman, Black Tie Trio, 4 & SlagwerkensembleThe Closing Town OrchestraEl Quinto SentidoVivienne Aerts and Anne Helena.

Here are some pics from the event and also a little video I made of footage I collected during the festivities, enjoy!

May 23rd

Art

Cristina Hall, María Marín en Tino van der Sman

Leidse Hofjesconcerten Day 1

May 24th

Leidse Hofjesconcerten Day 2

Video

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See the Flower Fields of Holland by Bike!

See more pics on my Photoblog.

See more pics on my Photoblog.

Since it is getting more and more beautiful outside, now is the perfect time to explore the Dutch country side by bike! We have mapped out a nice route from Leiden Centraal to the Keukenhof that passes by the famous flower fields of Holland. Enjoy the sites and smells of the fresh blossoming bloemen while getting a nice workout in. 

The total trip by bike is about two hours to the Keukenhof (I accounted for the time we stopped and took pictures, which was a lot of them!), but on the way, you pass by a lake you can take a dip in, so bring your swimming gear if you feel up for it. I made a map from Google maps you can follow on your phone or you can print a version I made that highlight where the flower fields are located.

Take advantage now while the flower fields are still in bloom (usually ends late May) and i'll leave you with an amazing video of aerial drone footage through the flower fields to get you inspired!

Download Printable Version

View on Google Maps

 

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Tip voor een vrije avond: ga naar een toneelvoorstelling!

Zoek je nog iets leuks om te doen op een vrije avond? Ga dan eens naar een toneelstuk van een lokaal gezelschap. Bij een avondje uit denk je misschien eerder aan de bioscoop of de kroeg, maar een live voorstelling kan vaak eigenlijk heel verrassend, inspirerend en tof zijn! Bovendien kost een amateurvoorstelling meestal half zoveel als een professioneel stuk en zeker niet veel meer dan de bioscoop of de kroeg :)
Buiten de logische locaties voor toneel en theater zoals de Stadspodia, zijn er in Leiden veel meer plekken waar je kunt genieten van een avond origineel vermaak!  

Een goede tip is bijvoorbeeld toneelgroep Imperium. Ze spelen in hun eigen theater aan de Oude Vest 33e. Je kunt 10 jaar in Leiden wonen en het nooit gezien hebben, je komt er namelijk via een smal steegje wat niet erg opvalt tussen de huizen. Maar vrees niet, ze zijn wel zo aardig om een bord buiten te zetten.
Vanaf 8 mei speelt het stuk ‘De Gouden Draak’. Ik ben zelf naar de première geweest en vond het ontzettend goed. Een van de acteurs die ik sprak vond het onder andere een erg mooi stuk omdat het over hele actuele maatschappelijke thema's zoals immigratie en uitbuiting gaat. De verhalen worden alleen wel op een originele manier verteld. Het is een absurdistisch stuk waarbij de verschillende personages elkaar in razend tempo afwisselen. Door de houding en de mimiek van de acteurs kun je goed volgen wie wie is en het is op veel momenten ook nog heel grappig.

Een andere groep die je misschien nog niet kent is Studententoneelvereniging Cuculum. Van eind mei tot begin juni brengen ze vier verschillende stukken op de planken. Er is een bewerking van Shakespears ‘A Midsummersnights dream’ gespeeld onder begeleiding van live muziek, een muziektheaterbewerking van de tragedie ‘Hippolytos’ van de Griekse schrijver Euripides en een poëtisch onderzoek naar de betekenis van ontoerekeningsvatbaarheid. Kortom ik heb geen idee wat we kunnen verwachten, maar het klinkt spannend. Enthousiaste jonge spelers zijn vaak heel leuk om naar te kijken en live muziek is altijd aanlokkelijk natuurlijk!

Voor mensen die van musical repertoire houden, is de amateurvoorstelling ‘A night at the musicals’ misschien een leuk idee. Van 12-14 juni is deze productie van Dreamtime Events te zien in Theater ”De Cuyl” in Oegstgeest. Vele hoogtepunten uit bekende musicals van de afgelopen jaren zullen voorbij komen. Denk aan: Wicked, Tarzan, The Lion King, Mamma Mia, Grease, Mary Poppins en Les Miserables. Het wordt geproduceerd door een leuk jong team van enthousiaste professionals en ik verwacht een vrolijke en vermakelijke avond!

Dus hou je van toneel of wil je je eens laten verrassen, ga vooral naar een productie van een van deze enthousiaste amateurgroepen!

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5 mei Bevrijdingsdag (5th of May is Liberation Day!)

Op 5 mei viert Nederland de vrijheid! Natuurlijk is niet iedereen elk jaar vrij van werk, maar voor degene die dat wel zijn, is er heel veel leuks te doen. In verschillende steden wordt altijd een groot gratis muziek festival georganiseerd! Een dag genieten in een park, in de zon, met duizenden mensen en artiesten die een mooi optreden verzorgen.

Leiden zelf heeft nog geen traditie van een groot festival, maar het nieuwe Noorderliefde zal hier misschien verandering in brengen.

Leuke festivals in de omgeving zijn in ieder geval Bevrijdingspop in Haarlem, Bevrijdingsfestival Den Haag en het Bevrijdingsfestival in Utrecht.

Een vriendin, Eefje en ik op Oerol

Een vriendin, Eefje en ik op Oerol

De festivals hebben elke jaar grote namen. Dit jaar ben ik vooral enthousiast over het programma in Utrecht. Als eerste kun je daar luisteren naar de prachtige muziek van Eefje de Visser.

Daarna komt de Amsterdam Klezmer band en wat een heerlijke muziek is dat! Ze maken een mix van klezmer en balkan wat je op melancholische klanken wegvoert naar Oost Europa. Maar tegelijkertijd klinkt het ook heel opgewekt, wordt ik er altijd enorm vrolijk van en is het nog dansbaar ook.

Als je in Leiden blijft, kun je om 15 uur ook naar een Russiche oorlogsfilm, gedraaid door het Leiden International Film Festival. Meer info kun je vinden op de website

Veel plezier allemaal!

 

 

On the 5th of May, the Netherlands celebrates freedom! Of course, not everyone is fortunate to get the day off of work, but for those who are, there will be a lot of exciting things to do. Several cities will be hosting free music festivals. Take a trip to the park and enjoy a day in the sun with thousands of people and artists who will provide you with great entertainment!

Leiden itself has no tradition of hosting a great festival, but the new Noorderliefde will perhaps change this.

Some fun festivals in the area include Bevrijdingspop in Haarlem, The Hague Liberation Festival and the Liberation Festival in Utrecht. 

A friend , Eefje and I at Oerol

A friend , Eefje and I at Oerol

Each year these festivals bring in big name artists. Personally, I am especially excited about the event in Utrecht. To start off the show is the wonderful music of Eefje de Visser.

Then we have the Amsterdam Klezmer Band and what wonderful music that is! They play a mix of klezmer and Balkan that takes you away on melancholic sound trip to Eastern Europe. But at the same time, they turn into energetic melodies that always make me happy and also make me want to dance!

If you want to stay in Leiden, you can go see a Russian war film at 3pm which will be hosted by the Leiden International Film Festival. You can also find more events in Leiden on this website.

Have fun!

Eefje de Visser

Amsterdam Klezmer Band

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Top 15 Shorts to See at LISFE

I'm super excited for the Leiden International short Film Experience that is happening at the end of this month from the 30th of April until the 2nd of May. Along with the many amazing looking shorts that will be presented there, they will also have a wide range of activities including performance installations, live music by a Leiden local Lion, Meet Lizard, some really cool interactive art and you can even get your hands on some virtual reality equipment! All of these things are great of course, but the real reason I am going is to survey the amazing talent in the short film world, so without further adieu... here are my top 15 choices to check out at LISFE.

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