In many ways this event has a very familiar format: an evening at the pub, 2-3 songs each, lots of variety. But there are some things that make this jam unique. Hosted by the award-winning student group Musicians at Ryerson (M@R), house instruments (guitar, ukulele, keyboard, bass, djembe) are provided to allow you to take part even if you don’t have an instrument. Despite having to compete with the background pub noise, there is a core group that is there to listen and especially to encourage any reticent or first-time participants.
In addition to the open mic, the M@R team has hosted free guitar and ukulele workshops , open outdoor jams, a darkness concert, battle of the bands and campus concerts. There is a directory to help students find musical collaborators. When a musician leaves home for university, they may be leaving behind their choir, their band or their friends they can count on for a jam. Affectionately called “Ryerson’s unofficial music program”, M@R has created a musical home away from home where people can connect through music.
Thank you to the M@R crew for sharing their talent and for making me feel so welcome!
[Ram in the Rye, 63 Gould Street, Wednesdays 8-11pm, no cover, licensed – Check FB page for updates]
Today was a perfect day for strolling tree lined streets listening to live music and the Grand Porch Party was the place to do it! How it works:Residents of the neighbourhood just west of Waterloo Square are recruited to volunteer their porches as temporary musical venues. Then performers are matched with porches and – voilá! – an afternoon of music for all to enjoy.
I don’t know what the estimated attendance was but there were significantly more people congregating in the streets than there were at the inaugural event in 2011. Another change for the better was that there was an attempt to stagger performances that were close to each other. This helped avoid the unfortunate occurrence of one act competing with the sound of another.
The performers were diverse: from the young rock ‘n’ rollers of Adrian Jones Music School to the more mature players of the Grand River New Horizons Music, from solo performers like Ian Reid and Maleidoscope to ensembles like the Ever Lovin’ Jug Band, the music was diverse and intriguing. In addition to the themes of local music and community building, there is an environmental thread to the Grand Porch Party. The event is held on Canadian Rivers Day and each year there is an “eco-partner” (this year: Community Car Share).
The concept of making a residential neighbourhood into a public music space is an appealing one. In fact, another KW community launched a similar event in May (Hohner Avenue Porch Party & Picnic). Wouldn’t it be great to see these initiatives springing up everywhere? Until that happens, I hope to be back for the 2014 rendition of the Grand Porch Party.
When we first invited young musicians to play at a benefit for a mission trip to Honduras I had pictured a small coffee house style evening with local youth providing entertainment. The immediate and enthusiastic response – along with requests from several bands to play – we realized we would need more time and a larger venue. This event was not the kind of open stage where you sign up when you arrive. We put a call out for performers ahead of time and gave everyone who wanted to play a spot in the line-up.
The result? Seven hours of youth talent at the Elora Centre for the Arts including full bands and solo acts, original compositions along with cover tunes. The response made me realize what an appetite there is to play music in this community. The musicians gave their time and made the event a success – and yet they kept thanking us for the opportunity to play!
While some of them have created opportunities for themselves to play (The Boo Radley Project , Don’t Doubt Courage , many are looking for places to play and collaborate and grow as performers. I heard performers I expect to hear about again (Emma Phillips, Kayla McTaggart) and many who have obviously dedicated themselves to their music.
Congratulations to Liam Grier for his role as organizer and MC.
Thanks to the following stellar line-up for making the event so memorable:
Calhoun Breit (aka Kid Wonka)
Chloe Smith & Amy Soucie
Don’t Doubt Courage
The Boo Radley Project
Diamonds to Dust
[Music for Honduras, April 28, 2012, Elora Centre for the Arts – photos: Timothy Grier]
Word of mouth brought me to the second ever open stage at the Café Creperie – and summer heat drove the event out onto the cobbled sidewalk just outside the café doors. This meant I could hear strains of music blocks away, leading me to the relaxed group of acoustic musicians on Mill Street, downtown Elora. I had the pleasure of hearing original songs, covers that ranged from 2011 back to 1915, and – definitely a first for me – a Britney Spears tune done on the banjo!
Chef Jacques Dion provides delicious treats and a warm welcome while host Brayden Benham keeps the musical flow going and makes every player feel appreciated. A lovely addition to summer in Elora!
[Café Creperie, 40 Mill Street West, Elora; Monday evenings starting at 9 pm]