Here is a Celtic session (that allows the occasional non-Celtic song) with lots of experienced players but open to all levels. It is a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Hosted by the talented and welcoming Bob McLean on the third Sunday of the month, the ceilidh is a pleasant country drive away from Kitchener at the Scran & Dram pub in New Hamburg. It is an acoustic circle and players take turns choosing & leading songs. Fiddles, guitars, whistles and drums all join in on well known tunes. Bring your favourite jig, reel or song to share – the next one is Sunday, August 19th.
[Scran & Dram 338 Waterloo Street, New Hamburg; 3rd Sunday of the month 2-4 pm; no cover; licensed]
I’m posting this just in time for you to make plans for this evening!
The local microbrewery scene is well intertwined with live music, the Together We’re Bitter Co-operative Brewery (aka TWB) a case in point. In addition to hosting live music performances every Sunday afternoon, since the fall TWB has been a gathering spot on a Thursday night for an acoustic jam.
I don’t know if it is like this every Thursday, but on my first visit there was an impressive amount of talent and so much energy!
Dave Pike hosts an early event (6-9 pm) which makes it possible to participate even if Friday is a work day for you, or if it is just the kick-off to the rest of your evening. The jam has a friendly, boisterous feel to it, leaning slightly towards old time and bluegrass, but open to anything someone can lead. In the back, amongst the beer-making vats everyone is unplugged (except the keyboard) and there is quite a variety of musical instruments (often being passed around amongst musicians). There is a whiteboard where you can post a chord progression to help the group follow – especially if they can’t hear your instrument once the jam gets rolling.
Oh yes, and bring a DD so you can sample the array of brews on tap.
[TWB 300 Mill Street, Unit 1, Kitchener; Thursdays 6-9 pm; no cover, licensed]
Some of you may remember my previous posts on the Corktown Uke Jam. This Toronto ukulele institution went through a big change in the fall. The Wednesday night uke jam in the east end had its final gathering at the Paintbox Bistro on September 6, 2017 and the Annex version of the uke jam took over as THE weekly jam. This happens every Monday at the TRANZAC (8-11pm), complete with workshop, group jam and open mic.
(More info at the Toronto Ukes website)
Kitchener has benefited from the energy of the Toronto uke scene. After moving to Kitchener, Corktown jam stalwarts Sue & Bob Cutler brought some of that ukenthusiasm and started WUPS: Waterloo Regions Ukulele Performance Stage.
The event is relaxed. You can choose to perform, lead the group in a song, or just play along from your seat.
The next open mic is coming up: February 9th (7:30 pm start) at Bulls Eye Bar & Grill. There is no cover charge but the venue appreciates everyone ordering a drink or dinner item. There is often a group there that meets early for dinner before the music starts.
[Bulls Eye Bar & Grill, 446 Highland Rd W, Kitchener; 7:30 start – but come anytime after 6:00 for supper; watch the FB page for dates]
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.
**NOTE (February 2018 update): The Dandelion Café has recently closed so this open mic is no longer happening.**
[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]