Category: Alliston

The Open Stage Adventure – a second fun-filled year!

It’s great to look back on a year of music when you know there’s more to look forward to . Since last June I have visited 25 events in 12 towns. It seems the more places I visit the more I hear about – for every gathering spot that has ended (sorry to hear of Alliston’s Groundswell Café closing its doors) several new initiatives spring up (for example, the Open Mic & Jam at the Ivy Arms, Milton and the Two Rivers Song Gathering, Guelph).

I appreciate the emails people have sent me with their own recommendations of a jam or open mic to check out. It’s great to get leads for new adventures and inspiring to hear about how much these places mean to people in their musical and personal journeys. Over 2700 of you dropped into the Open Stage Adventure last month and I hope to hear from more of you!

Some highlights:

The Hamilton Folk ClubFor longevity

The longest running open stage I visited this year has been going since 1982 (edged out the Free Times Café by one year).



The Cornerstone Campfire SessionsFor group participation

This venue stands out for having the most audience participation – so much so, that there wasn’t really a distinction between performers and audience. You’d be hard pressed to find someone in the establishment who wasn’t raising their voice, shaking a shaker or strumming an instrument.

Monday Night Deliverance – For high calibre music

Although I’m not a regular, the times I happened in on this event I was treated to songs by both up-and-coming and seasoned performers. I hear that one of the hosts, Christen Zuch, has started an open stage on Wednesday nights at the Embassy in Waterloo. I haven’t been there yet but it is definitely on the list for the next OSA season.

News Café, Niagara Falls – For youth talent

I was impressed with the songwriting and performing of the young people I saw at this venue (and it wasn’t just because two of them cheered when I took out my ukulele).

Venue: The Groundswell Coffee House, Alliston

This week, Peter (fellow intrepid music explorer) and I traveled to the town of Alliston to visit the Thursday night open mic at the Groundswell Coffeehouse.   This is the first open mic I’ve been to that has been overwhelmingly youth oriented.  Performers and listeners were largely from the under-25 demographic (although there were a few of us representing other generations).   Owner, Janette VanderZaag, says that this has varied from year to year since they started the open stage in 2005.  And this youth has talent: phenomenal piano and guitar; jazz, folk, pop, original compositions.  The music was fun and soulful and definitely had a sense of humour.  I wonder where else you might hear Michael Jackson and Metallica blended seamlessly in one song.  Dave Head was the congenial host of the evening, calling performers up from the sign up list.  Some of the highlights for me: Taylor Whittaker, “3/4 of the band Pistachio”, Tom Somerville, and Grant Boyer.

And I really should mention the snacks: delicious coffee, desserts from Dufflet Bakery and a great local beer from Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery.

Thanks to Janette & Dave for providing the venue for these musicians to shine.  And thanks to everyone who shared their music.

[Groundswell Coffeehouse, 96 Victoria St. W, Alliston; every Thursday 8 pm – sign up starts at 7]