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Downtown busy this weekend with Artwalk, First Friday

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Cathy Dobson

Eli Martin is an original.

He cut a unique career path, first teaching in Africa, then picking up the guitar for the first time when he was 42 and becoming a musician.

He is an activist, taking on the cause of HIV sufferers in the 1990s after contracting the disease himself. He later returned to his hometown and infamously spearheaded the “Moon the Balloon” protest against a surveillance camera spying on Sarnia from the U.S.

Eli Martin
Eli Martin

He also writes original songs, enough for three albums with a fourth in production at DNA Music on Christina Street.

If the songs aren’t bestsellers, well, that’s not the point.

Martin, who is on long-term disability, said his blend of folk and punk relieves stress and makes a statement.

“I have no kids, no girlfriend, so it’s something to leave behind,” he said.

Martin just landed his biggest gig yet. His band, Marinol Nation, played Toronto’s famed Horseshoe Tavern on Monday.

“Bands can apply for no-cover Mondays so I sent them some links to hear my music and they called 20 minutes later,” he said.

On Friday, Sarnians can hear Marinol Nation live at the Cheeky Monkey, 130 Christina St., from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at what promises to be the busiest First Friday of the year.

Friday night is also the kick-off to the 14th annual Sarnia Artwalk, a cultural street party featuring dozens of art and food vendors, live music, workshops and more.  Vendors will line downtown streets Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. with as many as 25,000 people expected to attend.

There’s also a full slate of First Friday/Artwalk entertainment and special exhibits, including:

* LOCAL Curated Pop-Up Show, featuring local artists at 100 Christina St., with the unveiling of artist Laura Kreviazuk’s window mural. Starts 6 p.m. Free.

* Outdoor Fashion Show on Lochiel Street. Gates open 6:30 p.m. Entertainment by Stacey Bannon, DJ Phat Fingers, DJ Alpha and Bluewater Dance Academy. Tickets $35.

* Opening night Friday of First Nations show “Niswi Ishkoden Niibiing” at the Lawrence House, 127 Christina St. S., 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Free. Cultural village throughout the weekend with sweet grass baskets, drum makers, dancers, a drum circle and storytellers.

* Full music lineup at The Creative County Stage, Friday – Sunday. Friday includes Painkiller Jane and Fast Romantics.  Saturday features Andrew Austin, Romney and Jeff Getty, Ellen Bolthe Reunion, Miles Fault and Them Dang Rattlers. Sunday is Weird Neighbours at 4 p.m. Tickets available at Refined Fool or Coffee Culture.

* Artwalk also offers an Eco Village, a Multicultural village, and a Children’s Village.


The Arts Journal is a weekly column reflecting Sarnia’s vibrant cultural life. If you have a story idea, contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.



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