Month: September 2012

Open Streets – Waterloo, ON

It was a good weekend for banishing cars!  On the heels of Supercrawl I visited Open Streets in uptown Waterloo. Once a month from June to September the city closes of several blocks of King Street and makes it available for play and community networking.   I saw demonstrations of roller derby, rope boards (think skateboard on a swing), martial arts, and rugby. Many local businesses and services were set up to meet and greet. There was room for hula hoops, kids on bikes, and chalk messages on the road.

Best of all – lots of music.  Buskers stretched all up and down King Street ranging from trombone duets to bluegrass trios. Not exactly an open stage or jam but a great opportunity to hear and share music in a public space. I particularly enjoyed hearing 3 sevenths of the band Love Banshee.



Car free Sunday afternoons – what a great idea! I hope to see it return next year.

Supercrawl – James Street North, Hamilton, Ontario

This weekend (September 14-15), Hamilton transformed a long stretch of James Street North into a concert and street party venue. For a day and a half the street was closed to cars to allow thousands of music and art lovers to enjoy Supercrawl. The festival hosted dozens of musical acts on four stages and filled the neighbourhood with drama, dance and visual arts installations and performances. Organized busking stages collected money for Warchild, the charity Supercrawl chose to sponsor at this year’s event.

Highlights for me: Terra Lightfoot, The Born Ruffians, and Owen Pallett.


Also the creative and thought provoking installations here and there throughout the venue.


Part of the street entertainment was “unofficial” busking. One unfortunate result of buskers setting up too close to each other was that their sound competed and it was hard to enjoy either one.  I liked this unscheduled and impromptu part of the festival but some better location planning or even a friendly agreement to take turns playing sets would have solved that minor irritation.

The breathtaking Circus Orange

To Supercrawl organizers, volunteers, artists and performers – congratulations for reclaiming some street space (even temporarily) for art and music.

Getting Started, Taking it Further

Are you feeling like you’d like to be part of the music instead of being a spectator?  Ready to stretch your skills and learn from other musicians?

This fall holds many opportunities to start or expand on your musical journey.

SAC – The Guelph chapter of the Songwriters’ Association of Canada gets together the second Wednesday of the month (West End Rec Centre – 21 Imperial Rd S) to share and critique works in progress.  There is often an invited speaker who will talk about a songwriting-related topic. Suggested contribution is $5. The next meeting of the group is September 12th (Jane Lewis will talk about vocal performance). For more info contact: Peter Light at [email protected] or Peter Boyer at [email protected]

The Waterloo Wellington Bluegrass Music Association hosts a weekly “slow jam” at the Galt Legion in Cambridge. There work from asongbook to facilitate everyone’s participation (The Real Bluegrass Book by Hal Leonard) and each person contributes whatever they can: strum along, take a solo, lead a song. The pace allows you to enjoy yourself while learning new songs and improving your skills.  The first official “slow jam” of the season is September 4th (7:00 – 8:30).

If singing and harmonizing is what you want to explore, check out the All Together Now website. Jane Lewis and Sam Turton (along with a roster of accomplished musicians as facilitators) host a variety of workshops and 6-8 week courses in Guelph, Kitchener and Hamilton.

Then, when you’re ready for more, pick a song circle or open stage nearby and share your stuff with an audience (Go to the Links tab at the top > Venues/Clubs and find one closest to you).

Have fun!