It’s great to revisit an open mic to find it going strong years later. I was at Irene’s in Ottawa over 6 years ago on a lovely summer day. On a wintery February afternoon a couple of weeks ago it was even more lively and bustling than the first time I visited. Geoff Johnson is still multi-tasking as soundman, host, and musical collaborator. (Alternate Saturdays are hosted by Sean Tansey.)
Many different styles were represented and the music was steady all afternoon. A house piano and guitar make some musical spontaneity possible. Despite the busy-ness of the venue the audience was friendly and appreciative. If you don’t happen to be in the area on a Saturday, Irene has live music several other days of the week, including a women songwriters circle the third Monday each month.
[Irene’s Pub 885 Bank Street, Ottawa; Saturday 1:30 – 4:30; licensed. No cover]
This weekend I treated myself to a Beatles harmony workshop offered by Sam Turton in Guelph. I spent so many hours listening to the Beatles as a youngster that I feel their songs have colonized my DNA. Do I really have more to learn about this catalogue?
Apparently I do! As Sam deconstructed the oh-so-familiar harmonies and shared his enthusiasm for Beatles song craft, I heard things in a different way and was able to notice subtle details that make the songs so memorable and their style so unique. And then, the best part of all, we got to sing. I found myself gravitating to George’s part on most songs – who knew?
There are more workshops coming up February 12th, March 12th and April 9th. Get in touch with Sam for details: http://www.samturton.com/contact.html
My last musical adventure of 2016 didn’t get posted until now – pleading holiday chaos for the delay.
Once a month (or so) on a Thursday (or Friday) the Berlin Bicycle Café serves up a participatory evening of music along with gourmet treats and coffee. Hosted by Janice Jo Lee, the open mic starts off with 10 minute sets – music and spoken word/poetry welcome – and has a feature performer half way through the evening.
Last night Vienna D’Amato Hall filled the feature spot with her haunting tunes. A surprise bonus in the second half of the open mic was a few songs by Alysha Brilla who generously had us all sing along.
Graham, owner of the Berlin Bicycle Café (there are actual bikes downstairs), also hosts concerts at his venue. Check out the FB page for upcoming concert dates and future open mics.
[Berlin Bicycle Café, 701 Belmont Ave W, Waterloo; once or twice/month 7-11ish; $6/pwyc cover]
While I’ve visited many live music venues in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph, this is the first event I’ve been to in St. Jacobs. Playing music and sipping gourmet fair trade coffee seem like good activities for a rainy Sunday afternoon and this is what’s on offer at the Eco Café.
Our host, Micky, has the sound system set up and is willing to add guitar leads to songs if you so desire. Just getting started, this jam has a relaxed atmosphere and lots of room for newcomers. Come early, stroll along the mill race trail before the jam, then warm up with a mocha and music.
Notice the quilt hanging in the background – nice St. Jacobs touch : )
[Eco Café, 1441 King Street North, St. Jacobs; Sundays 12-3 pm; no cover]
I have been going to the Tuesday night acoustic jam at the Creperie for years – not sure why it has taken me so long to check out the open mic that has been running since 2014 at the same space. Unlike the acoustic jam which is more of a song circle format, this one has a sound system set up and ready to plug into for 3 songs (or more depending on how busy the night is).
Frank was our host on this particular Friday night and Michel played guitar leads for just about every performer who stepped up to the mic. This open mic doesn’t have much of an on-line presence – the last mention of it on the Creperie FB page is in October 2015 – but it is still happening, has a regular following and lots of great music.
[Café Creperie, 40 Mill Street West, Elora ON; Fridays 7:30-11:00 pm; no cover, licensed]