Play Music on the Porch (and other socially distanced fun)

So Play Music on the Porch Day  was a local and international success (check here for some of the many contributions)!

We managed to visit two different porch performances locally and play on our own front lawn for a couple of hours. In between we watched numerous videos posted by musicians from all around the world.

We’ll see where we all are when the next one comes around – last Saturday of August 2021.

But it isn’t stopping there. People are continuing to play music outside from their porches and balconies, allowing listeners to maintain a safe distance from each other and the musicians. Troy Bridgeman of Guelph Today talked to several people involved in Play Music on the Porch Day and other porch concert series happening in Guelph.

Not only do we get to hear the live music we have been missing, the musicians can soak up the energy of a live audience. Then there is the added bonus of some safe, outdoor time with neighbours and friends.

Some upcoming porch music in Kitchener-Waterloo:

Sing Me a River (tonight!)

Schneider Creek “Walk Around” Festival

If you prefer the show to come to you there are performers who will do that.

Sidewalk Scenes from Stratford will bring music, theatre, comedy to your home. Since the large theatre venues closed these talented performers are “reviving the medieval company of roving players”.

Guelph duo Tragedy Ann is offering “reverse porch parties” . Treat yourself and your bubble to some rich harmonies and delightful songwriting.

Feel free to share other creative ways you have found to perform or enjoy music in these times.

Sharing Music During a Pandemic

So, it’s been a while since my last post. Since March, the places and events where we share music have been closed, postponed, cancelled.  It has been such a hard time for touring musicians and venue owners, and also for their patrons. And yet, many of us are finding ways to share music.

I have watched some great live stream concerts with virtual tip jars. I’ve participated in an on-line song circle – not exactly a jam since only one of us plays at a time, but still nice to have conversations and see familiar faces. To celebrate Hillside Festival , we watched pre-recorded videos of some wonderful performances and then had a small number of people – nicely distanced – around a campfire. Coming up next weekend is Play Music on the Porch Day – I envision people playing music from their balconies, front steps, driveways, and filling their neighbourhoods with music. (Visit to learn more or to add your location to the music map)

It is clear to me that, even though current times has made it difficult to gather, live music is as important as ever:

The ability of music to lift spirits in times of uncertainty and grief.

The role of music in amplifying the call for human rights and solidarity.

The social interactions that are created and nurtured by making music together.

To quote songwriter and performer Alysha Brilla: “All these shut downs have confirmed the sneaking suspicion I’ve had my whole life that gathering together with music, dance and celebration are one of the best parts of the human experience.”

What can we do to help our musical community weather this storm? If you have stayed employed through the pandemic and have the means, consider making a donation to your favourite arts organization or festival. Support a musician by purchasing their music or buying a ticket to a virtual concert. Check in with someone you would have normally seen at a jam or song circle, share a story or maybe a song they are working on. Share your music whenever you can.

How have you been keeping your musical connections alive? Share ideas, links, upcoming events in the comments.

Venue: Wednesday Night Players Jam @ Dunedin Brewery, Florida

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Dunedin Brewery (the oldest craft brewery in Florida – steps away from the Pinellas Trail) to check on the live music. I had visited several years ago and discovered a happening open mic that drew lots of talent. At that time I took the stage after full bands covering Rush and Led Zeppelin to share some solo originals on ukulele. I felt out of my depth but was given a warm welcome.

This time there was a house band who served as hosts as well as playing back-up for any interested parties. Musicians were invited to share originals to “keep it fresh”. Bands changed up as drummers and guitarists sat in with different musicians; fiddle and saxophone and singers added their colours to the stage. A good number of cover songs were mixed with instrumental rock and funk tunes.

Instead of the brave solo uke performance I did last time, two of us (self-described “old folkies”) got up to play a couple of originals. We were joined by an obliging back-up band of bass, percussion and keyboard which was very fun!

I always like to have some pics of the signs associated with the venue or event, and I was happy to see this statement of welcome:

Overall, a high energy open mic with a welcoming vibe – bring your energy and join in! And check out the calendar for live music and events almost every night of the week.

[Dunedin Brewery, 937 Douglas Avenue, Dunedin, Florida; every Wednesday 8-12; no cover]

Songwriters Welcome! Nashville-style Open Stage in Guelph

There is no lack of places to share music in the Guelph area, all with their own personality and focus, and it is always nice to see one that showcases original songwriting.

This fall, the Guelph Chapter of the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) hosted a Nashville-style “in the round” open mic, where three songwriters at a time share the stage and take turns performing their own tunes. It’s a chance to enjoy a variety of styles and to connect with other songwriters. Listeners welcome, too! Put February 23, 2020 at 4 pm in your calendar for the next Songwriters Open Stage at the ANAF in Guelph.

Peter Light, prolific songwriter and our host for the evening, also runs a SAC regional songwriters group in Guelph where musicians can try out new songs, ask for and give feedback in a supportive environment. The group usually meets the second Monday of the month from 7-9 pm but check the  group’s FB page to confirm.



Venue: Smile Tiger Coffee, Kitchener ON

Smile Tiger Coffee is not your typical train station coffee shop. But there it is, just steps from the Kitchener VIA Rail pouring lattes and americanos, or craft brews if you prefer. And the first Friday each month there is a delightful open mic.

This event seems very well attended considering neither the venue (Smile Tiger Coffee) nor the sponsor (Brickhouse Guitars) promote it on their websites. I just happened to see a post from a friend to know it was happening.



Hosted by the friendly and talented Corey Heuvel, The Smile Tiger open mic attracts a high calibre of musician. The place was full and everyone had something great to offer. Solos, ensembles, covers and originals – lots of genres represented. And early enough to kick-start your Friday night.


Definitely worth a visit – bring your best.

[Smile Tiger Coffee 100 Ahrens Street West, Kitchener; first Friday of the month 7-9 pm, no cover, licensed]

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