Month: December 2012

Venue: The Commercial Tavern, Maryhill ON

While my musical home is folk I enjoy a lot of different kinds of music. But as broadly as one can interpret the term “folk” and as varied as my musical tastes are, one genre I don’t spend a lot of time exploring to is country music. This week I ventured outside my usual tendencies to visit an old-fashioned country & western venue.

The “Open Stage with Paul and Sue” is held every Thursday at the Commercial Tavern in Maryhill, a little hamlet tucked between Waterloo and Guelph. Our host, Paul Weber was multi-tasking all night. When we arrived he was performing on his own, entertaining the predominantly over-60 crowd with country songs and saucy jokes, all the while greeting people by name as they entered or left the tavern, all without missing a strum.

There was no sign up sheet or instructions for performers – not really necessary when the host knows every person and talent in the room. So I wondered how or whether we (as newcomers) would figure into the open stage at all. To my surprise, at one point in the evening Paul spoke into the mic, saying “Pete, you’re up after this.” Apparently, one of the many friendly people we had spoken with had relayed the information to the host. My fellow open mic adventurer, who had come prepared with guitar and cowboy hat, fit right in.

Paul provided whatever back-up was necessary for the performers as they came up to the stage, switching from guitar to bass to vocal harmonies. We heard some great songs and the best yodelling I have ever heard! As the music played couples waltzed and two-stepped around the dance floor, clapping at the beginning of a song as well as at the end.

In its 16th year of business, The Commerical Tavern has an interesting history and mission to provide authentic country music entertainment:

[Open Stage with Paul & Sue, The Commercial Tavern, corner of St. Charles St & Maryhill Rd, every Thursday night, no cover]

Venue: The Happy Traveller, Guelph ON

The Happy Traveller is new to Guelph (celebrating its one year anniversary in January) and even newer to the open mic scene. For the past 10 weeks, owners Andrew and Londa have made Wednesday nights a time for musicians to come share their music. Located in the old home of the Carden Street Café, the Happy Traveller is a cozy venue serving local brews and yummy snacks.

There was a small list of performers this week, which can be seen as a selling point when some open mic events are so full it is hard to get a spot to play. The early time slot is great for folks who have to get up in the morning but still want to get out and play during the week.

It was fun to hear guitar dudes trading riffs and songwriter, Samantha, sharing her tunes!

Note: This venue has closed. Click on the Guelph in the “tag cloud” on the right to find other places to play in that music friendly city.

[The Happy Traveller, 40 Carden Street, Guelph, Wednesdays 7-10 pm, no cover]

Bring on the Carols!


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It is the time of year when we dust off our favourite Christmas themed songs, the ones we don’t sing the other 11 months of the year, and let them loose in public. Christmas carols have a way of creating impromptu ensembles out of neighbours and choristers out of usually reluctant singers.

If you are anywhere near Guelph, Hamilton, Cambridge, Kitchener, Toronto or Ottawa, here are some ideas of where to go to share in some seasonal and participatory music:


Sing along with Sam & Jane

Friday, December 14. 8-10 pm. *Holiday edition*

Magnolia Café 88 Yarmouth Street, Guelph

Reservations recommended, but not required: 519.766.4663

Cover: $10

The usual singalong, plus a few holiday songs & carols!


Mill Race Folk Society presents Pub Carols with the Orange Peel Carollers.

“These carols are not the standard Christmas stock we hear piped into every mall; they are often more boisterous and secular in nature than the familiar fare. . .

If you would like to hear more, or better yet come out and sing along with the group, they invite you to join them at the Kiwi on Sunday, Dec. 16, from 3 P.m. to 6 P.M. Admission if Free, but donations for the carollers are welcome.”

47 Dickson Street, Cambridge


For Ottawa folks Lee Hayes will be leading the pub caroling at Irene’s (885 Bank Street) for the next three Sundays (Dec 9, 16, 23) 4:30 – 6:00 pm

“Pub Caroling is a northern Yorkshire tradition of singing ancient 3 and 4 part Christmas songs. We’ve created our own tradition of singing rare holiday songs and you’re invited! Free!”


Hamilton Folk Club Christmas Club

Tuesday, December 18  8 – 11 pm

“An open stage night with added Christmas spirit: extra raffle prizes, some performers doing seasonal songs (serious or funny), that sort of thing. Hope to see you there!”


Corktown Uke Jam – Holiday Party Theme Night

Wed December 19

Dominion on Queen

500 Queen Street East, Toronto

8pm Workshop WITH STEVE McNIE

9:30 – 11pm Open stage & group jam–01jpM


Black Walnut Club

“Next month on Friday, December 21 we’ll be back for another Acoustic Open Stage with a Christmas flavour, treats etc.”

216 Mill Street, Kitchener

Friday, December 21, 2012 8-11 pm

Admission: $3


Hamilton Folk Club Christmas Club

Tuesday, December 18  8 – 11 pm

“An open stage night with added Christmas spirit: extra raffle prizes, some performers doing seasonal songs (serious or funny), that sort of thing. Hope to see you there!”


If you have a December event where folks are welcome to come sing post it in the comment section below or on the Open Stage Adventure facebook page.

Enjoy the music! Keep each other warm!

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite Christmas songs, by Canadian songwriter Chris Maclean: