First Open Stage Adventure road trip – song writing workshop at the Ottawa Folklore Centre followed by a visit to Irene’s Pub where I met up with my daughter. Genny and I were tickled by the friendly reception and positive feedback on the songs we sang. We had spotted a young man from our little village (before he spotted us) and I got a chuckle from how fast his head whipped around to face the stage when I mentioned where we were from – I thought he might have a case of whiplash! Small world. There were invitations to return, suggestions for other open stages to visit and shared perspectives on why people come to Irene’s. “If you want to get into playing music this is a place you can test it” said Ryszard. “Everyone is so appreciative, so forgiving – they love the live music” said Lesle-Ann. It is a place to leave behind your work week, collaborate with other musicians, relax with friends – and you never know when someone new might show up!
This Saturday afternoon open stage started out in 2000 and had different people running the show over the first few years. The current host, Geoff Johnson, who has been at the helm for the past 7-8 years, doubles as sound man and also contributes his own dynamic voice and energetic guitar several times throughout the afternoon.
The session is miked and is quite flexible about how many songs each person/ensemble plays (anywhere from 2-6). The event used to run from 3:00 to 6:00 but now has been extended by an hour (starting at 2:00) to accommodate the increasing number of people who want to participate. Musicians and listeners drifted in and out of the room which never seemed to fill up – probably because it was such a nice day and there is an adjoining outdoor courtyard.
To all the folks at Irene’s Pub in Ottawa, thanks for the warm welcome – we had a blast!
[Irene’s Pub, 88 Bank Street, Ottawa, every Saturday 2:00-6:00 pm]