Month: April 2011

Take the mic: Fantasy jam session

If you could assemble your own dream team jam session, who would be a part of it? Don’t let reality interfere with your selection – the only limits are your imagination and the music you hear in your head. But wait – this isn’t a concert, it’s a jam and you’ll be there, too. What role will you play?

House concert: Sweet sounds & storytelling

This month’s house concert had a couple of new features: instead of showcasing one musician, four singer-songwriters (Jude Vadala, SaraMcfadzean, & Julie Corey) and one poet/storyteller (Donna McCaw) shared the stage. Engaging stories, vocal harmonies, audience participation and yummy snacks made for a warm and entertaining evening, once again affirming my belief in the small venue experience. Being both host and performer added a layer of adrenaline to this event – easier to prepare and promote than to perform!

Be sure to check out the House Concert Info tab (top of the page) for upcoming house concerts.

Elora Acoustic Café – Featuring Sue Smith

One of the things musicians often notice on visiting the Elora Acoustic Café is how attentive and appreciative the audience is. While this is great for the performer, it is equally great for those listening as we can really soak up the music, actually hear the lyrics. Last night we had the pleasure of drinking in the sounds of Sue Smith, singer and songwriter from Guelph. Sue’s commitment to music extends well beyond her own performance. As one of the founders of Hillside Festival, Sonic Playground, and the Season Singers, teacher of piano and voice, Sue brings people to music and music to people in many ways.

The open stage was also a treat, full of talent, humour and collaboration – and kilts! Nice to have new voices join the regular line-up – this week included visits from musicians Roger Schmidt and Lonnie Glass.

Venue: Calliope’s Nest @ Lola in Kensington Market, Toronto

In a tiny, unassuming bar in Kensington Market there is a fledgling all-woman open mic happening every Monday night. Since its first night, February 14th, the goal of this venture has been to create a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere for women to get out and play music. With so many places to play in Toronto, why host an event that showcases women performers only? Some of the participants have had experiences of being overlooked or sidelined at open mics and have found that jams aren’t always as inclusive as they could be.

In addition to musical offerings from our hosts (Shannon, Dominique & Margaret) Chloe dropped in for a couple of gorgeous a cappella gospel songs. Week 7 of Calliope’s Nest also featured Sunday Wilde – fresh from her CD release party at the Cameron the night before – who made a sorely out of tune piano sound great with several original songs and a couple of jazzy covers. To hear more from Sunday visit:

I should note: although the performers are all women, men are welcome at this event as listeners. In fact, there was a small but appreciative audience this week which included several men.

Calliope’s Nest is “a space for women of any ability to come out and share their musical dreams and talents”. If you are a woman and have been thinking of bringing your voice into the open but have felt intimidated by the world of open stages, here is a small, supportive venue where you will be welcome.

[Calliope’s Nest, Lola, 40 Kensington Ave, Toronto; every Monday 6-9 pm]