The Dandelion Café has been serving up delicious home cooked food and fair trade coffee since they opened in May and now boasts an open mic every Wednesday night. They have been supporters of the local music scene from the start, hosting live music events throughout the summer, even giving 10% off breakfast during Riverfest weekend to anyone who showed their RF bracelet.
The open mic officially starts at 7 pm but seems to get busier as the evening progresses. Many styles/genres welcome – given the news of the week there were several Tragically Hip songs sung in tribute. Thanks to Matt Giblin for being host and sound tech.
No cover, but be sure to take advantage of the snack offerings & refreshments.
[Dandelion Café, 180 St. Andrew Street East, Fergus; every Wednesday 7-10 pm; licensed; no cover]
Ever since Molly (my wonderful aunt & sometimes co-adventurer at musical events) told me about Choir!Choir!Choir! I was intrigued. Seeing them perform and lead hundreds of singers at Hillside last year made me want to check out the origins of this unique social singing event.
Folks have been gathering weekly to sing pop songs, arranged and conducted by Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman, since February 2011. This is no simple campfire sing along. The crowd (about 150 people each week) divides themselves into Low-Mid-High range voices. Each group learns a separate part with much coaching, correcting and cajoling from Daveed and Nobu.
Part stand-up comics, part musical directors, this team brings a room full of strangers together to sound something like a community choir. They tell stories, make jokes about the singers, and command the attention of the room with their energy and insistence on getting the notes right. No auditions or commitment, the weekly gathering happens on a drop-in basis with different people coming all the time. The event – now held at Clinton’s Tavern – is so popular they have added a second night each week, which also attracts over 100 participants.
By the way, my first visit (definitely not my last) to C!C!C! we sang Every Breath You Take, affectionately known as the stalker song. Here is the video taken at the end of the evening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcazwcPnPiw
How to participate: visit the Choir!Choir!Choir! website for the Facebook link. Once you have joined the FB group for either the Tuesday or Wednesday night you will receive a notification of what the upcoming song is for the week. Your homework: listen to the ****ing song. (They revisit this requirement a few times during the evening). Show up on your chosen evening and prepare to sing and be entertained.
Me with my co-adventurers for the evening!
[Choir!Choir!Choir! at Clinton’s Tavern, 693 Bloor St W, Toronto; Tuesday and Wednesday 7-10 pm; $5 cover; licensed]
I’ve been to concerts at Silence and have appreciated it as a listening room. The performers don’t need to compete with conversations, espresso machines or cash registers and the audience can relax and take it in.
Morning music at Silence takes the listening to a whole other level. At 9:30 am people arrive and without any formal introduction or signal, at some point start making sound with a wide array of instruments. The soundscape meanders, at times soft and contemplative, humorous, or wild and energetic.
Today’s collaboration included: stand-up bass, trombones, trumpet/flugel horn, Chapman stick, lap steel guitar, violin, acoustic and electric guitars, flute, piano, an electronic sound gizmo, and a variety of percussion ranging from Djembe and cajon to bells and kitchen implements. Gary Diggins described it as an exercise in deep listening and invited me to respond with sound or silence.
Since there is no score, no predictable structure, no chord progression to practice, the part of me that likes to be prepared was a little apprehensive about taking part. As it turns out, I thoroughly enjoyed it; not knowing what comes next, listening closely, and responding to the moment. It was a meditative experience in an active, expressive way, continually calling me to be present and not let my mind wander anywhere else. This is a great place to loosen your creative muscles and let them play.
[Morning Music; Mondays at 9:30 am; Silence 46 Essex Street, Guelph; $5 cover, breakfast contributions welcome]
Some events make it worthwhile to stay up past my bedtime. The Amsterdam Bicycle Club’s Monday night open mic has been going strong for almost five years and seems to attract not only a high caliber of music but a great diversity of styles. Rap, electronica, folk, originals, covers, solo and full band numbers all graced the stage. According to Justin, a regular at the ABC, it is also a community of musicians who are very supportive of each other.
The internet led me to believe that sign-up started at 9:30, music at 10:00, three songs/15 minutes per performer was the drill. It is such a popular spot that, in an attempt to get everyone on stage, sign-up actually started at 9:00, music at 9:30 and two songs per performer.
Special thanks to Justin, Michel & Laura, Kunle, and India for taking a moment to chat and making the night even more memorable!
[Amsterdam Bicycle Club 54 The Esplanade, Toronto; Mondays 9:30 pm (sign up at 9:00); no cover]
I took advantage of a Monday trip to Toronto to return to the Free Times Café, one of the longest running open mics in Ontario. Although there were no familiar faces the Free Times Café never seems to change. Our host, David (subbing in for Miranda Signe?), kept things running smoothly despite multiple stage configurations. Everything from heartfelt original tunes and beautiful finger style guitar to solo tambourine and well known covers. Everyone is welcome.
[Free Times Café, 320 College Street, Toronto; Mondays 7:30pm (sign-up at 7:00); no cover]