In addition to cafés and bars, Royal Canadian Legion branches are common places to find people gathering for music (read about the weekly bluegrass jam at the Galt Legion) and this week I dropped in on a monthly jam at the Drayton Legion.
Hosted by Art for the past 5 or 6 years, this jam is structured like an open mic, with a sign-up list and each performer getting two songs. If the song you are playing is relatively easy to follow you will also have the pleasure of some back-up musicians: bass, guitar, mandolin and maybe even a banjo. While there is no hard rule about the type of music to be played the genre here definitely leans towards country.
There is a PA system set up for the singer and the musicians are generous in lending you a cord to plug in an instrument. But if you don’t want to make one person unplug to allow you to play you might want to bring along your own small amp and patch cord.
Although this jam only happens once a month, nearby branches have some other weekends covered. The Fergus Legion hosts a jam on the first Sunday of the month from 1-5 pm ($15 cover/$5 for musicians includes a roast beef dinner); Harriston hosts the third Sunday (also with dinner) and Guelph on the fourth Saturday (2-5).
The folks are very friendly and welcoming. There is no cover but refreshments are available by donation which helps cover the cost of the event.
[Royal Canadian Legion, 15 Elm Street, Drayton; third Saturday 2-5 pm; no cover, refreshments by donation]
Silence has been a hub of creativity for performance, improvisation and bringing together music and visual arts. One of the regular offerings at Silence is an open mic, twice a month where you are welcome to share your talent: artists, poets, musicians, magicians – and more!
The venue is licensed, but this is definitely a listening room – no competing background noise – and it is an early night (6:30 sign-up for a 7:00 start). There is a rotating host who also provides a feature set. This particular night, hosting/featuring duties fell to songwriter Paul Cammaert. It was a quiet evening, which meant each person had a bit more time to share.
All are welcome!
[Silence, 46 Essex Street, Guelph; 1st and 3rd Wednesdays 7-9 pm; $5/pwyc cover; licensed]
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]