The neighbourhood of James Street North in downtown Hamilton seems like a place in transition. It is a mix of run down businesses, vacant, boarded up storefronts, and vibrant shops, cafés, art galleries and fine dining from a variety of cultures. Just off James St N is Artword Artbar, described as “an arts hub, live music venue, artists’ hang-out”. In this unassuming brick building there is an open mic every Wednesday night. Owners Ron Weihs and Judith Sandiford make it a welcoming, familiar feeling place even on the first visit. The open mic has existed in different forms for about a year, becoming a regular event about 4 months ago.
This particular night was sparsely attended – as people came and went the house peaked at about 12 people. Ron added his fiddle to more than one piece and Judith’s poetry had an improvised bass and guitar accompaniment. I should mention that the desire to “sit in” and collaborate in this crowd is strong and if you don’t want freelance musical partners adding unexpected dimensions to your songs you need to be direct. There is a lovely baby grand in the corner for any keys players and a sound system to plug into.
I think this little establishment deserves a larger audience – all genres of music and spoken word are welcome.
[Artword Artbar, 15 Colborne St, Hamilton, every Wednesday 8-11 pm]
May 13th brought the Rich Burnett Trio to Elora. Along with his smooth voice and great songwriting, Rich brought with him Geordie Gordon (mandolin, electric guitar, piano) and Jesse Turton (stand-up bass) to round out the sound. The evening included cameo appearances by Ian Reid (for a Rich & Ian duet on “Two of Us”) and guitarist Nick Gush.
The open stage has built up so much momentum that some performers arrive d to the set list full. The line-up included new talent to share along with many loyal regulars. A special treat was Melissa Cameron
and Ben Nudds performing some original tunes.
Having just enjoyed a way-too-shortl Amelia Curran performance at the Jane Bond, I decided to extend the musical evening a little longer by visiting “Monday Night Deliverance”, a new open stage at Little Bean Coffee Bar
. Hosted by Christen Zuch
and Michael Downing, this event has been running since March and already seems to pull in a good audience. Says Christen: “The idea behind the Monday Night deliverance is that anyone can get up and have their 15 minutes, whether it’s spoken word, folk, rap or rock. Anything goes. We invite anyone to come share their heart.” On this
particular night I had a taste of the wide variety performers which ranged from rock & roll to spoken word to a compelling voice/guitar/cello collaboration. The venue is spacious and high-ceilinged, with low comfy chairs and café tables in the front and a bar complete with hockey-game-on-TV a little farther back. The start (8:00-8:45) and end (11:00 – 12:00) times are somewhat flexible depending on who shows up and when.
[Monday Night Deliverance, Little Bean Coffee Bar 417 King St W, Kitchener, Monday nights 8-ish to 11-ish]