Venue: Open mic at the Eco Café, St. Jacobs ON

eco-cafe-signWhile I’ve visited many live music venues in eco-cafe1Kitchener-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.

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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]

 

 

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Venue: Open Mic at the Café Creperie, Elora ON

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).

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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]

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Venue: Songwriters’ Showcase at The Churchill, Waterloo ON

songwriters-showcase-posterI’m always excited to see a new forum dedicated to songwriters. There are many places to share well-loved covers and old classics but not enough where original songwriting is celebrated and given the spotlight. Jay Moore has launched just such event in Waterloo: Songwriters’ Showcase at the Churchill Arms – or just “The Churchill” as it is referred to by owner Bob Ringwood. Bob is a fan of folks coming together to share music. The Churchill is also home to a Tuesday night open jam, Wednesday Celtic jam, Thursday Blues night, and karaoke on Friday.

The inaugural event was held October 16th and featured Sing Me a River and David Lum. Performers shared stories (including tales of life-changing Nashville trips) and inspiration behind their songs. Hosting the event on a Sunday is a welcome change for those whose workdays don’t allow for late weeknight events.

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The Songwriters’ Showcase will continue every Sunday afternoon with 3 song sets followed by a half hour feature set. Contact Jay (jay.moore@gto.net) in advance to request a spot on the performers’ list.

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[Songwriters’ Showcase at The Churchill Arms, 355 Erb Street West, Waterloo; Sundays 2:30-5:00pm, licensed, no cover]

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Venue: The Pick & Shovel Sports Bar, Cambridge ON

img_20160911_191941The “Sunday Kitchen Table Jam” has been happening at the Pick & Shovel in Cambridge for about 6 months. It is (mostly) acoustic, held in an area just off the main room of the bar so people can come and go but the music has less competition from TVs and conversations.

While I wouldn’t have initially pegged this place as a live music venue, the atmosphere is very friendly and casual.  Musicians take turns choosing the songs, or fielding requests from bar patrons.  It’s great if you bring along songs people can jam to as this is more a participatory than performance event. The afternoon I went had a definite classic rock theme to it. Usually hosted by Scott Rhodes, regulars Barb & Peter stepped into the role this week.

Be forewarned – the bar does not serve any food (unless you count a bag of chips or peanuts) so don’t make the same mistake I did of arriving hungry.

[The Pick & Shovel, 30 Water St S, Cambridge; every Sunday 3:00-7:00, no cover, licensed]

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Junction Porchfest, Guelph ON

There seem to be a lot of neighbourhood porch parties springing up in my region (Hohner Avenue, Schneider Creek , Preston). Matching a porch host with a musical act, they are great from so many angles. If it is your neighbourhood, it is a great way to bring people out to mingle with each other. If you are from somewhere else, it is a fun way to explore a new part of town that you might otherwise never have known about and sample some live music. I’ve watched the Grand Porch Party (Kitchener) grow over the past five years – every year including a featured partner that raises consciousness about some social, artistic or environmental issue.

Last weekend my trio (Callisto) sang at the inaugural Junction Porchfest in Guelph. Weather didn’t keep away a small but appreciative audience. It was a nice atmosphere for residents (or nearby residents) to connect/reconnect, time for musicians to listen to other performers, and opportunities to sing along!  I look forward to watching this event grow and build an annual following.

Now I just need to figure out how to get one started in Elora!

Sam & Anita at Junction Porchfest Callisto at Junction Porchfest

 

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