Sharing music

Time to stop lurking on-line and go public!  Post a story of a particularly great shared music experience – one that made you laugh or cry or just ponder how great it is to have public places to play music together.  Tell us about an unexpected or memorable collaboration, a first timer that blew everyone’s socks off, or maybe your own musical transition from private to public spaces.  Don’t be shy . . .

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  1. Getting Started

    I started going to Toronto open stages in 1999. That was when I got serious about songwriting. I craved peer approval and also wanted to hear what others were writing. I also felt that this was the only way to give my songs a life. My first open stage was run by SAC, Songwriters Association of Canada out of Holy Joe’s, a small intimate room at the back of the Reverb on the corner of Bathurst and Queen. The couches were vintage. If they were put out at the curb on ‘big day’, no one would even consider snagging them for their pad. But it had atmosphere. The ceiling was covered with thousands of mini-Christmas lights and the sound was stellar courtesy of Johnny Devil. You could get a bottle of courage at the small bar in the corner while you waited for your turn to do two original songs. My first few times up were incredibly difficult. I was shy and had a well deserved complex about the sound of my voice but I knew that this was the path I had to take to be a good songwriter. My legs were shaking so much I was in fear of collapsing. This did not help the slight warble in my voice as I realized my whole body was shaking. Polite applause and some kind words ensured my return and I planned my strategy.

    I decided to get there early and chat up participants after they signed up. I rationalized that if I knew some folks in the audience, I would be less nervous and it worked. I then took it upon myself to help newcomers and introduce them to everyone else in order to help with their fear. One such newcomer told me he had never played his songs for anyone, not even his wife. He adopted my strategy and became a regular at our monthly open stage. We have remained friends and he and his wife came out to the acoustic Café when I was the feature performer. Unfortunately, he opted to not play since he regressed back into his basement. If you don’t use it, you loose it.

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