Month: June 2013

Grand Porch Party 2013, Waterloo ON

GPP mapToday was a perfect day for strolling tree lined streets listening to live music and the Grand Porch Party was the place to do it! How it works:Residents of the neighbourhood just west of Waterloo Square are recruited to volunteer their porches as temporary musical venues. Then performers are matched with porches and  – voilá! – an afternoon of music for all to enjoy.

I don’t know what the estimated attendance was but there were significantly more people congregating in the streets than there were at the inaugural event in 2011. Another change for the better was that there was an attempt to stagger performances that were close to each other. This helped avoid the unfortunate occurrence of one act competing with the sound of another.

GPP Ian GPP jug band


GPP New Horizons GPP violin mando

The performers were diverse: from the young rock ‘n’ rollers of Adrian Jones Music School to the more mature players of the Grand River New Horizons Music, from solo performers like Ian Reid and Maleidoscope to ensembles like the Ever Lovin’ Jug Band, the music was diverse and intriguing. In addition to the themes of local music and community building, there is an environmental thread to the Grand Porch Party.  The event is held on Canadian Rivers Day and each year there is an “eco-partner” (this year: Community Car Share).

GPP crowd

The concept of making a residential neighbourhood into a public music space is an appealing one. In fact, another KW community launched a similar event in May (Hohner Avenue Porch Party & Picnic). Wouldn’t it be great to see these initiatives springing up everywhere? Until that happens, I hope to be back for the 2014 rendition of the Grand Porch Party.



Between the Ears Festival, Kitchener ON

IMG_6160I admire creative use of everyday public space. On May 31st, Kitchener Civic Square was transformed into a percussion playground by Between the Ears Festival. The festival began with strains of operatic voices cascading from unseen singers high above the square. This was followed by a surround sound crescendo of gongs that began softly and grew loud enough to drown out the sound of the city.


In Spill, sound was produced by a giant funnel swinging pendulum style spilling rice over a variety of ever changing textures. I was torn between closing my eyes and listening to the rhythm and watching the hypnotic movement of the funnel and Ryan Scott’s manipulation of the objects below.IMG_6167


Another intriguing combination of visuals and sounds: six percussionists performed a piece where the rhythms bounced back and forth and wove in and out of each other. Meanwhile, the drumsticks were attached to a centre pole by long white strands that leapt and curled with the rhythm. It was amazing to watch from any angle.
IMG_6180 IMG_6177

Disonar featured a performance on  a drum kit made of drywall and a guitar made of cement – spoiler alert: it does not end well for the drum kit.

The last performance – “Hit Parade” – consisted of participants who lay on the floor with microphones and beat the microphones on the floor at whatever tempo they chose, “resting” after 100 beats and then resuming. This was the hardest performance for me to connect to – couldn’t find anything aesthetically or intellectually compelling about it.

IMG_6183 IMG_6188

Open Ears: Festival of Music & Sound – the host of Between the Ears – will be presenting a full size festival in June 2014.