I’m always excited to see a new forum dedicated to songwriters. There are many places to share well-loved covers and old classics but not enough where original songwriting is celebrated and given the spotlight. Jay Moore has launched just such event in Waterloo: Songwriters’ Showcase at the Churchill Arms – or just “The Churchill” as it is referred to by owner Bob Ringwood. Bob is a fan of folks coming together to share music. The Churchill is also home to a Tuesday night open jam, Wednesday Celtic jam, Thursday Blues night, and karaoke on Friday.
The inaugural event was held October 16th and featured Sing Me a River and David Lum. Performers shared stories (including tales of life-changing Nashville trips) and inspiration behind their songs. Hosting the event on a Sunday is a welcome change for those whose workdays don’t allow for late weeknight events.
The Songwriters’ Showcase will continue every Sunday afternoon with 3 song sets followed by a half hour feature set. Contact Jay (email@example.com) in advance to request a spot on the performers’ list.
[Songwriters’ Showcase at The Churchill Arms, 355 Erb Street West, Waterloo; Sundays 2:30-5:00pm, licensed, no cover]
The “Sunday Kitchen Table Jam” has been happening at the Pick & Shovel in Cambridge for about 6 months. It is (mostly) acoustic, held in an area just off the main room of the bar so people can come and go but the music has less competition from TVs and conversations.
While I wouldn’t have initially pegged this place as a live music venue, the atmosphere is very friendly and casual. Musicians take turns choosing the songs, or fielding requests from bar patrons. It’s great if you bring along songs people can jam to as this is more a participatory than performance event. The afternoon I went had a definite classic rock theme to it. Usually hosted by Scott Rhodes, regulars Barb & Peter stepped into the role this week.
Be forewarned – the bar does not serve any food (unless you count a bag of chips or peanuts) so don’t make the same mistake I did of arriving hungry.
[The Pick & Shovel, 30 Water St S, Cambridge; every Sunday 3:00-7:00, no cover, licensed]
Dennis Napper is dedicated to bringing musicians and audiences together. In addition to hosting multiple open mics, he is now part of promoting live music at the Rhapsody Barrel Bar. Monday night is “Industry Night” – a chance for musicians to play a slightly more substantial set than you might get at a standard open mic venue (1/2 hour instead of 2-3 songs). It is a spacious venue with great sound. To sweeten the deal, snacks and everything on tap at the bar is $5 on Monday.
To sign up ahead of time, email Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like to come listen, check out the website or FB page.
[Rhapsody Barrel Bar, 179 King Street West, Kitchener; 5-11 pm, no cover, licensed]
What a treat it was to be at the Boathouse Monday night open mic. So much great creativity and spontaneous collaboration!
Two highlights of the night were – unfortunately for us – from performers that are leaving Ontario this month: Jeremy Stuart (off to Alberta) and Lydia Mainville (heading home to New Brunswick). It’s hard not to love Jeremy’s heartfelt songwriting, sweet voice and general authenticity. Cello/Voice/Loop/Magic is how one poster describes Lydia’s music. It is magical indeed, combining the traditional with original composition, layering sound that casts a spell.
Fortunately – Lydia is hosting the open mic for the next two weeks and both are doing a whirlwind of gigs before leaving so check out their FB pages for dates (Jeremy, Lydia).
And thank you to Midnight Run for the rousing Doobie Brothers cover : )
[Boathouse Open Mic, 57 Jubilee Drive, Kitchener; Mondays 8 pm; admission by donation; licensed]
Some of the nicest venues are tucked away in little hamlets. The Ridge Social Eatery is in Roseville, a community about 10 minutes south of Kitchener. It boasts a gourmet menu, a roster of craft beers, and friendly staff to serve you.
The Ridge Open Mic has a relaxed atmosphere, hosted by Dennis Napper, who is also willing to collaborate if you happen to need some bass or guitar. If you arrive at 6:00 pm (the time on the poster) you’ll have time to settle in, eat, have a drink before the music gets started sometime between 7:00 and 8:00. And although it is billed as a Songwriters Night, covers are welcome.
Watch for news from Dennis about his new live music venue opening in Kitchener this spring: Rhapsody Barrel Bar.
[The Ridge Social Eatery,3215 Roseville Road, Ayr; Tuesdays 6-10 pm]