It was a departure from the usual scene at Movies on the Beach. Instead of kids screaming and kicking up sand waiting for the movie to start, adults were out of the chairs kicking up their feet on the dance floor. And we had finally discovered Ottawa’s Ras Lee Reggae.

On a Friday evening in July, waiting for Harry Potter to begin, we’d heard the Maria Hawkins band perform on the patio at the Westboro Beach Cafe, run by the Newport on days the beach is open and the weather is fine. And on a Sunday evening, we’d cycled by and stopped to listen to a Latino band performing at sunset. But we’d never been by the beach on a Saturday evening. And it was the article in Saturday’s paper saying that the city is closing its beaches at the end of the weekend that made me think about heading down for a beer to watch the sun set. We had no idea that Ras Lee had been playing every Saturday night since the beginning of June. And clearly the band had established a following.

The patio was packed, and a dance floor had been cleared in front of the small “stage”, which was set up under a canopy. The band includes a great drummer, a totally groovy bass player, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, keyboards, two vocalists, one of whom also plays percussion/bongos. The band played a mix of Bob Marley and other reggae tunes, along with reggae versions of some old classics. The dance floor filled up quickly with three generations of fans.

And then something completely unexpected happened. We’d moved to a seat near the railing, when all of a sudden I see this pink spike and two hands appear up behind the band. It’s a guy with a pink mohawk. And all I can think of is that he seems so out of place at Westboro Beach. I mean when’s the last time you saw a mohawk on a white guy at Westboro Beach?

And then I remembered the strange news story:

Police seek would-be cheese thief

Lauren Davis with Sarah Anderson
Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ottawa Police are looking for a man who tried to steal 21 blocks of cheese from a Nepean grocery store.

It happened at a Food Basics on Merivale Road around 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

After a brief struggle with the grocery store’s security guard, the suspect dropped the bag full of about $130 worth of cheese and ran off.

The suspect is a man in his 20s, about 5’10”, 200 lbs., with a dark mohawk haircut.

Okay, so it couldn’t be him because this mohawk was pink.

The band played two sets. In between, the family of the band was sitting at a table beside us. One of the women pulled out a box, which at first I thought held cigars. But, in fact, it was a box of dominoes. Like what I play on the computer. I can’t remember the last time I saw a real set of dominoes. They played with intensity for almost the entire set. How refreshing to see a family interact, instead of all heads looking down into their phones or gameboys.

The only other interesting thing that happened was the mysterious arrival of a bowl of salt and vinegar pringles. We had joined a guy who was sitting by himself. The guy ate a meal and was enjoying the band. Suddenly a hand appears, and places a small bowl of pringles on our table. We looked at each other as if to say, “Is that yours?” He hadn’t ordered it and neither had we. But that didn’t stop us from stealing a few chips as the band played on. Eventually NosyNeighbour and I made our way to a different table. As I looked back at our old table, the guy held up the pringles as if to say, “Did you want them?”

So what started out as a beer to watch the sunset, turned into to an evening of seat bopping and listening to a pretty decent band. Next weekend the cafe is holding an all day music event. I’ll post more when I find the info on line. But if you’re passing by in the meantime, check the posters by the bar.

And note to self: be careful riding bike past drunk people and through the fence back to the road. Enjoy the pics:

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