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…]
It’s great to revisit an open mic to find it going strong years later. I was at Irene’s in Ottawa over 6 years ago on a lovely summer day. On a wintery February afternoon a couple of weeks ago it was even more lively and bustling than the first time I visited. Geoff Johnson is still multi-tasking as soundman, host, and musical collaborator. (Alternate Saturdays are hosted by Sean Tansey.)
Many different styles were represented and the music was steady all afternoon. A house piano and guitar make some musical spontaneity possible. Despite the busy-ness of the venue the audience was friendly and appreciative. If you don’t happen to be in the area on a Saturday, Irene has live music several other days of the week, including a women songwriters circle the third Monday each month.
[Irene’s Pub 885 Bank Street, Ottawa; Saturday 1:30 – 4:30; licensed. No cover]
My last musical adventure of 2016 didn’t get posted until now – pleading holiday chaos for the delay.
Once a month (or so) on a Thursday (or Friday) the Berlin Bicycle Café serves up a participatory evening of music along with gourmet treats and coffee. Hosted by Janice Jo Lee, the open mic starts off with 10 minute sets – music and spoken word/poetry welcome – and has a feature performer half way through the evening.
Last night Vienna D’Amato Hall filled the feature spot with her haunting tunes. A surprise bonus in the second half of the open mic was a few songs by Alysha Brilla who generously had us all sing along.
Graham, owner of the Berlin Bicycle Café (there are actual bikes downstairs), also hosts concerts at his venue. Check out the FB page for upcoming concert dates and future open mics.
[Berlin Bicycle Café, 701 Belmont Ave W, Waterloo; once or twice/month 7-11ish; $6/pwyc cover]