Oh the music was sweet at the Magnolia Café in Guelph. But the occasion, not so. March 31st marked the last open mic at the Magnolia Café and the last day the Café would be open for business. Host extraordinare, Ian Reid, shared some stats on the many performers who have passed through the doors since the inaugural open mic in February 2013 and thanked his stand-in hosts for covering the dates he was on tour (Dan Pharaoh, Mo Kauffey, Greg Denton). The usual 7-9pm event stretched to 11:00 to allow time for the almost 30 performers (beating the record of 26). Every seat was taken and there was barely room left to stand.
Instruments were well represented: Ian’s blue guitar (as well as others), banjo, ukulele, fiddle, washboard, harmonica, mandolin, a gusli (in case you were wondering what George was playing – a kind of psaltery), and a strange hybrid horn (looked like part brass, part garden hose); plus some brave a cappella performers. Ian fulfilled both host and soundman duties, as usual.
The question of the evening was: will this gathering resurface in another location? It has a loyal following and there seems to be an appetite for a “listening room”, one where all ages and genres are welcome. Several people mentioned in their thanks to Ian and Arvi that the Magnolia is not just about the music; there is a real sense of community that brings regulars back and draws newcomers in. Some folks have been inspired by this gathering to start playing and performing (see Rob’s story here).
I was happy to be at the first Magnolia open mic and thoroughly enjoyed the last. Thank you Ian & Arvi for creating this music-friendly space. I hope to be writing about its reincarnation sometime in the future.