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]
Some events make it worthwhile to stay up past my bedtime. The Amsterdam Bicycle Club’s Monday night open mic has been going strong for almost five years and seems to attract not only a high caliber of music but a great diversity of styles. Rap, electronica, folk, originals, covers, solo and full band numbers all graced the stage. According to Justin, a regular at the ABC, it is also a community of musicians who are very supportive of each other.
The internet led me to believe that sign-up started at 9:30, music at 10:00, three songs/15 minutes per performer was the drill. It is such a popular spot that, in an attempt to get everyone on stage, sign-up actually started at 9:00, music at 9:30 and two songs per performer.
Special thanks to Justin, Michel & Laura, Kunle, and India for taking a moment to chat and making the night even more memorable!
[Amsterdam Bicycle Club 54 The Esplanade, Toronto; Mondays 9:30 pm (sign up at 9:00); no cover]
I have been going to the Tuesday night acoustic jam at the Creperie for years – not sure why it has taken me so long to check out the open mic that has been running since 2014 at the same space. Unlike the acoustic jam which is more of a song circle format, this one has a sound system set up and ready to plug into for 3 songs (or more depending on how busy the night is).
Frank was our host on this particular Friday night and Michel played guitar leads for just about every performer who stepped up to the mic. This open mic doesn’t have much of an on-line presence – the last mention of it on the Creperie FB page is in October 2015 – but it is still happening, has a regular following and lots of great music.
[Café Creperie, 40 Mill Street West, Elora ON; Fridays 7:30-11:00 pm; no cover, licensed]
I ventured into the big smoke for some food and fun and thought I’d check out “Liberty Wednesday” at the Trane Studio on Bathurst. The Trane Studio is better known as a jazz club, but Wednesday evenings are dedicated to an open mic and songwriter jam hosted by Noah Zacharin.
I was surprised at the number of cover tunes for something billed as a songwriter jam. Alex (who was very helpful and kept the room supplied with beverages) explained that this jam has been at the Trane Studio since January when it moved from the Liberty Café; start time is 8 pm and it keeps going until they run out of performers. Seek out host Noah to get your name on the list. You can perform alone but I would recommend availing yourself of the very proficient house band (bass, drums, accordion, keyboard, guitar).
I liked the feel of the place, the exposed brick wall, the larger than life picture of John Coltrane (who is the inspiration for the venue’s name); however, how to sign up or join in could have been a little clearer for those of us visiting for the first time.
[Liberty Wednesday at the Trane Studio, 964 Bathurst St, Toronto; every Wednesday 8 pm – ?]
If you could assemble your own dream team jam session, who would be a part of it? Don’t let reality interfere with your selection – the only limits are your imagination and the music you hear in your head. But wait – this isn’t a concert, it’s a jam and you’ll be there, too. What role will you play?