Month: March 2011 (page 1 of 2)

Venue: The Elora Acoustic Café – One Year Anniversary

It has been a successful first year for the Elora Acoustic Café thanks to host and organizer, Steve Royall, sound man Rob Morris, the many volunteers who set up, take care of the door and clear everything away at the end of the night (Dale, Judy, Irena, Owen, just to name a few). Thanks to the many musicians that came out to share their songs on the open stage – there were regular tentative newcomers, unexpected gems and regulars that you could count on from month to month. Another major part of EAC’s success is the support from friends, family, neighbours and music lovers who have come out to listen – thanks to all of you!

The March 2011 open stage featured: Steve Royall, Julie Corey, David Wilcox, Donna McCaw, Ian Reid, Peter Mandic, Owen and Dave Hamilton, Pam Davies (with Rein Rutnik, Nick Gush and Pete Pascetta), Trish Brubacher, Peter Balka, and Mary Vandermarel.

Ashley Condon & Ria Mae provided us with this month’s feature set, visiting us from the east coast. These performers captivated Elora crowd, singing heartfelt songs of growing, changing, and relationship angst. They seemed to like us, too, saying they want to move here!

To keep abreast of upcoming open stages and feature performers, visit the Elora Acoustic Café on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Elora-Acoustic-Cafe/130838053633520 There is more great music ahead!

[Elora Acoustic Café at the Elora Centre for the Arts, 75 Melville St, Elora, once/month, usually 2nd Friday but check FB page first]

Venue: Shepherd’s Pub, Elora

Here is a venue that has seen various incarnations of jams and open stages over the years. The current version has been hosted by the sweet-voiced Sara McFadzean for the past few months, with David Wilcox on sound. I visited on aparticularly quiet night but Sara tells me that it can range from standing room only packed house to an intimate gathering of musicians and listeners. There is a late wave of participants who tend to arrive at 10:30-11:00; a contingent of musicians who are also hockey fans arrive in time for some post-game jamming. There is a sound system to plug into and, when things are in full swing, a band to back you up if you choose. A wide range of music is welcome, from original compositions to traditional folk songs to rock & roll.

I left promising myself a return visit to jam with the house band.

[Shepherd’s Pub, 8 Mill Street, Elora; every Thursday evening until late]

House concert: Chris MacLean

Our second house concert was resounding success. Award winning songwriter, Chris MacLean, delighted us with her stories, lyrics and music. The after-concert jam was positively celestial as several of Chris’s singer-friends joined voices to create divine harmonies – another perk of hosting a house concert. Wonderful music attracts wonderful musicians!

To learn more about Chris and her music visit: http://www.chrismaclean.com/

Venue: Good Vibes Coffee House, Hillsdale

Braving rainy, slushy weather I set out with fellow adventurers Pete & Trish for a rural open stage experience at the Good Vibes Coffee House. Every Thursday, an old parish hall outside the hamlet of Hillsdale (about 20 minutes from Barrie) is home to an open stage with a country flavour. The first ten people signed up get 15 minutes each and then anyone after that has a two song set. Since our road trip was complicated by a few U-turns and an unplanned “scenic detour” we arrived with only one 15 minute slot still open – but we all managed to fit in some music before the end of the evening.

The personality of this open stage (running since April 2002) is very laid back with lots of 60s folk songs interspersed with some poetry and original compositions. I appreciated the stand up bass and harmonica additions to my song (thanks Pete & John). There was a lovely, well-behaved pup in attendance and I move that he be declared the official mascot.

Fair trade coffee and home-made treats were available although we had so many snacks en route I was kind of full.

One of the memorable moments of the evening (other than the George of the Jungle rehearsal piece) was a heartfelt testimonial shared by one gentleman about how coming out to this open stage had been a personal turning point for him. His friend’s invitation to the coffee house opened up a new social scene for him, a place of inspiration and acceptance. As they say on their Facebook page, Good Vibes is: “A warm, friendly, welcoming place for performers of all levels.”

The last song of the evening is always a group number where everyone comes to the front and joins in with voices and instruments – in keeping with the theme that Good Vibes embodies: music as fellowship and the open stage as community.

[Good Vibes Coffee House, Mount St. Louis Road & 4th Line of Oro-Medonte, Hillsdale; every Thursday 7-1o pm, or later]

IWD at the Tuesday night jam, Fergus

One of the nice things about returning to a particular jam regularly is that others will become familiar with your music and add more layers to it. This week was an example – with an amusing little twist. When I walked into the Tuesday night jam at Delainey’s this week I couldn’t help notice that I was the only female musician in the place. Of course, I thought, it’s International Women’s Day and there are events celebrating women happening at other venues in and around town. When it came my turn to play, I played one of my own songs and my musician friends joined in. I have to say, it was a special IWD moment for me to have a room full of male voices belting out the chorus: “I’m not a diamond ring kind of girl – no – no – no. . .” Loved it!

I do!

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