The Elora Poetry Centre is a wonderful example of people opening their home to share poetry, music and food. Hosts Daniel Bratton and Carol Williams moved an 1832 log cabin (the Beaver House) to their property near the Elora Gorge Conservation area and eventually realized their vision of making it a venue to bring poets and poetry aficionados together.
On September 27th, while Elora was all abuzz with Culture Days activities and the Elora-Fergus Studio Tour, the Elora Poetry Centre offered an evening of poetry readings (Jerry Prager, Morvern McNie, Daniel Kolos), finishing with a performance by Muddy York (Anne Lederman & Ian Bell).
These performances were part of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, an initiative happening in over 650 locations around the world, “ a demonstration/celebration to promote peace and sustainability and to call for serious social, environmental and political change”. While we relaxed, enjoying the poetry and the beautiful surroundings, our host Daniel reminded us that, on this day, some readings would be taking place in cultures where it was challenging and even dangerous to hold such an event.
With this in mind I hope everyone gets out to enjoy the abundance of local cultural offerings this fall!
Ever since visiting last year’s Arkfest I have been wanting to come back to one of The Ark’s monthly coffee houses. I was lucky enough to catch the last feature performers of the season, Nabi Loney and Ian Reid. If it seems that the spacious straw bale house surrounded by woods and farm fields is made for music, that’s because it was. When the Loney family built this home, music was a part of the vision; this monthly musical happening is a way to build community as well as support musicians in their efforts. The coffee house showcases one or two artists and includes an open mic for anyone else who feels moved to share their music. One more campfire gathering and and then the music starts again in the fall for a fourth season.
Using mandolin, fiddle, guitar, percussion and her captivating voice, Annabelle Chvostek delivered a fabulous evening of music and stories. Listeners braved snow and ice to be a part of this exquisite experience. As a treat, instead of just describing the music I have a video clip of one of the songs she performed. Enjoy!
The Ark Coffee House has been hosting live music (feature acts + some open stage opportunities) in a beautiful rural setting for two years now. This summer the same group of music lovers hosted a two day music festival: the Ark Music Festival or “Arkfest”. A BYO-chair, beverages, food, & tent affair, the setting was idyllic, the people friendly and laid back. If the weather hadn’t coooperated (but it did – wonderfully) performances could have moved from the outdoor venue to a music room within the spacious straw bale house. In addition to a line-up of local (and not-so-local) talent there were open mic opportunities. Here are a few captured moments – hope to see a return of this event next summer. In the meantime, watch for a return of the monthly coffee house this fall.
What a great way to foster a sense of community and bring music into the streets! The Grand Porch Party recruited more than 20 acts to play on porches over several blocks of uptown Waterloo.
The rain stayed away so listeners could comfortably stroll from one porch performance to another, the strains of one musician often just fading as sounds of another came into range. There were places for children to experiment with making music and homemade instruments. Volunteers staffed information tables for people to learn more about the Grand River watershed and the host organization of the whole event, Alternatives Journal. The Swim Drink Fish music club was also promoting a music approach to environmental awareness and networking.
In addition to the musical guests who were booked to perform there seemed to be some spontaneous participation, as well. I couldn’t get to nearly all the acts that afternoon but I know I walked by some porches with musical offerings that were not on the official Grand Porch Party map. I heard some volunteer harmonies that listeners added to a porch musician’s rendition of a Crosby, Stills & Nash song. This event is a perfect example of how music draws people to it: create a public space for song and spoken word and folks flock to it like they are hungry for it.
A huge thanks to Tenille for having the imagination and initiative to stage such an event, and to the oh-so-hospitable hosts who welcomed the players and turned their private property over to neighbours and strangers alike for a short while. I hope this is only the inaugural event of an annual tradition. Maybe next year the music could be spread over several hours so that it would be possible to enjoy more of it.