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]
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 took advantage of a Monday trip to Toronto to return to the Free Times Café, one of the longest running open mics in Ontario. Although there were no familiar faces the Free Times Café never seems to change. Our host, David (subbing in for Miranda Signe?), kept things running smoothly despite multiple stage configurations. Everything from heartfelt original tunes and beautiful finger style guitar to solo tambourine and well known covers. Everyone is welcome.
[Free Times Café, 320 College Street, Toronto; Mondays 7:30pm (sign-up at 7:00); no cover]
There has been a music-shaped empty space in Guelph for a while now. Once filled by the Magnolia Café and then by the Joint, the Red Brick Café took its turn last week hosting musicians on a Tuesday evening.
There was a very enthusiastic turnout, both performers and listeners. Original songwriting, old standards, spoken word all had their time at the mic. I know I am not alone in hoping that they invite the acoustic open mic folks back again – maybe once a month? It is a lovely venue for music (the Café presents many live music events), the snacks are good, the service is friendly. And the people who came out to play… a fine group of people!
[Red Brick Café, 8 Douglas Street, Guelph; licensed – stay tuned for further Tuesday night developments…]