Ottawa has a lot of open mics to choose from and a relative newcomer to the scene is Quinn’s Ale House. If you are looking for a laid back, small venue, Quinn’s has an open mic on Sunday night with local brews on tap. The pub has a relaxed candle-lit ambiance and no stage – just a mic set up in the corner in front an comfy chair. Brad Alford is a welcoming host who starts the evening off with a few tunes then opens it up to the room.
As a alternative to the usual sports events shown in pubs, one of the two TVs was showing vintage movies – with close captioning – so I could listen to live music while watching Doris Day and Rock Hudson spin a romantic comedy! I had to avert my eyes while singing so the plot didn’t distract me from the lyrics.
[Quinn’s, 1070 Bank Street, Ottawa; every Sunday, about 9-11 pm; no cover]
It was a dark and stormy night. . . no really, it was! There was thunder & lightning and driving rain as I made my way to Fionn MacCool’s to check out the open mic hosted by Robbie Hancock. I find the bar atmosphere does not always lend itself to the acoustic singer-songwriter style – loud conversations, sketchy acoustics and TVs to contend with. To his credit, Robbie does a nice job on the sound so there is no need to strain your voice to be heard (or to hear yourself) above the ambiant sound of the pub. The venue also has some “staff choice” prizes to bestow upon their favourite open mic performers. From what I’ve been able to catch (in person and on-line) there is a lot of talent showcased here.
An added benefit for the slightly stage-wary types like myself is how Robbie has positioned the lights. Once I stepped in front of the mic I couldn’t see anyone in the audience – whether they were listening appreciatively or watching the game on TV or rolling their eyes – couldn’t see a thing! This worked quite well for me.
Robbie has extended the potential listening audience by live streaming the open mic (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/robbie-s-open-mic). This way you can tune in even if you can’t be there in person or you can let your long distance or housebound friends know when you’ll be playing.
[Fionn MacCool’s 4287 King St E, Kitchener, every Sunday 7-10 pm, no cover]
“We’re here to facilitate creativity and community” is how our host, Lisa, introduces the evening. This is a homey, welcoming environment with a small but very attentive and supportive audience – a great place to bring your performing self out of the closet or try out new material. Down the hall from the music room is a workshop with art supplies that people are welcome to experiment with – all part of the RAW Creativity Network.
The RAW Creativity Network was launched in 2001 by Lisa Golem as part of her work as a counsellor using music and art therapy. Lisa resigned as a counsellor last year to turn her full-time attention to painting, writing, performing and creativity coaching. Lisa (and husband Don) have turned their home into a hub of for artists of all kinds to come together to collaborate, support and inspire each other.
photo credit: Carolyn Dawn Good
The RAW Beats n’ Jam intimate coffee house has existed in its current format for a couple of years. The evening usually starts with a couple of feature performers followed by an open mic. Check the Events section of the website for upcoming dates.
[RAW Beats n’ Jam Intimate Coffee House, Kitchener – $2 cover; check website for dates & location: http://www.rawcreativity.net/]