Songwriters Welcome! Nashville-style Open Stage in Guelph

There is no lack of places to share music in the Guelph area, all with their own personality and focus, and it is always nice to see one that showcases original songwriting.

This fall, the Guelph Chapter of the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) hosted a Nashville-style “in the round” open mic, where three songwriters at a time share the stage and take turns performing their own tunes. It’s a chance to enjoy a variety of styles and to connect with other songwriters. Listeners welcome, too! Put February 23, 2020 at 4 pm in your calendar for the next Songwriters Open Stage at the ANAF in Guelph.

Peter Light, prolific songwriter and our host for the evening, also runs a SAC regional songwriters group in Guelph where musicians can try out new songs, ask for and give feedback in a supportive environment. The group usually meets the second Monday of the month from 7-9 pm but check the  group’s FB page to confirm.

 

 

Venue: Smile Tiger Coffee, Kitchener ON

Smile Tiger Coffee is not your typical train station coffee shop. But there it is, just steps from the Kitchener VIA Rail pouring lattes and americanos, or craft brews if you prefer. And the first Friday each month there is a delightful open mic.

This event seems very well attended considering neither the venue (Smile Tiger Coffee) nor the sponsor (Brickhouse Guitars) promote it on their websites. I just happened to see a post from a friend to know it was happening.

 

  

Hosted by the friendly and talented Corey Heuvel, The Smile Tiger open mic attracts a high calibre of musician. The place was full and everyone had something great to offer. Solos, ensembles, covers and originals – lots of genres represented. And early enough to kick-start your Friday night.

   

Definitely worth a visit – bring your best.

[Smile Tiger Coffee 100 Ahrens Street West, Kitchener; first Friday of the month 7-9 pm, no cover, licensed]

Venue: The Causerie, Kitchener ON

This week I had the opportunity to explore a unique venue for sharing music (among other things): The Causerie. While many open mics and song circles are in pubs and cafés, this one takes place in a cozy community hub that opened in October 2018 as a home to the Marit Collective. In addition to the song circle the Causerie offers games nights, craft afternoons, spoken word open mics, as well as workshops and speakers to encourage connection and awareness.

The Marit Collective has a broad vision: “With this space, we are working to create a community centred around thoughtful discussion & deeper consideration of complex issues through sharing ideas and personal points-of-view.” For more information on upcoming events and initiatives visit their website.

 

Stephanie, one of the co-founders of the Marit Collective, was our host for the evening. The atmosphere is relaxed and supportive, almost like being in a friend’s living room with bookshelves, walls that feature the work of local artists. There is a piano and a guitar for general use but you are welcome to bring your own instruments. All levels of musical ability are welcome and no pressure to lead – this is a great place to bring your favourite sing-along or jam songs. The next jam will be on Tuesday, March 26th @7pm.

 

[The Causerie 154 Victoria St S, Kitchener; two Tuesdays/month, 7-8:30 pm; no cover]

Venue: Tavern on Grange

As of this month a brand new open mic has joined the Guelph music parade of offerings. Another afternoon event (is my early bedtime preference starting to show in the venues I have visited?), this one is open to music, comedy, poetry or any other creative endeavours you would like to share with a group.

 

  

The hosts, Eric & André, keep a low profile as MCs but start the afternoon off themselves and then join anyone wanting some guitar back-up.

 

 

  

[Tavern on the Grange, 259 Grange Rd in the Grange & Victoria Plaza; “most Sundays” 3:30-7:00; no cover, licensed]

Venue: Drayton Legion, ON

In addition to cafés and bars, Royal Canadian Legion branches are common places to find people gathering for music (read about the weekly bluegrass jam at the Galt Legion) and this week I dropped in on a monthly jam at the Drayton Legion.

Hosted by Art for the past 5 or 6 years, this jam is structured like an open mic, with a sign-up list and each performer getting two songs. If the song you are playing is relatively easy to follow you will also have the pleasure of some back-up musicians: bass, guitar, mandolin and maybe even a banjo. While there is no hard rule about the type of music to be played the genre here definitely leans towards country.

 

 

 

 

There is a PA system set up for the singer and the musicians are generous in lending you a cord to plug in an instrument. But if you don’t want to make one person unplug to allow you to play you might want to bring along your own small amp and patch cord.

Although this jam only happens once a month, nearby branches have some other weekends covered. The Fergus Legion hosts a jam on the first Sunday of the month from 1-5 pm ($15 cover/$5 for musicians includes a roast beef dinner); Harriston hosts the third Sunday (also with dinner) and Guelph on the fourth Saturday (2-5).

The folks are very friendly and welcoming. There is no cover but refreshments are available by donation which helps cover the cost of the event.

[Royal Canadian Legion, 15 Elm Street, Drayton; third Saturday 2-5 pm; no cover, refreshments by donation]

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