This week I had the opportunity to explore a unique venue for sharing music (among other things): The Causerie. While many open mics and song circles are in pubs and cafés, this one takes place in a cozy community hub that opened in October 2018 as a home to the Marit Collective. In addition to the song circle the Causerie offers games nights, craft afternoons, spoken word open mics, as well as workshops and speakers to encourage connection and awareness.
The Marit Collective has a broad vision: “With this space, we are working to create a community centred around thoughtful discussion & deeper consideration of complex issues through sharing ideas and personal points-of-view.” For more information on upcoming events and initiatives visit their website.
Stephanie, one of the co-founders of the Marit Collective, was our host for the evening. The atmosphere is relaxed and supportive, almost like being in a friend’s living room with bookshelves, walls that feature the work of local artists. There is a piano and a guitar for general use but you are welcome to bring your own instruments. All levels of musical ability are welcome and no pressure to lead – this is a great place to bring your favourite sing-along or jam songs. The next jam will be on Tuesday, March 26th @7pm.
[The Causerie 154 Victoria St S, Kitchener; two Tuesdays/month, 7-8:30 pm; no cover]
As of this month a brand new open mic has joined the Guelph music parade of offerings. Another afternoon event (is my early bedtime preference starting to show in the venues I have visited?), this one is open to music, comedy, poetry or any other creative endeavours you would like to share with a group.
The hosts, Eric & André, keep a low profile as MCs but start the afternoon off themselves and then join anyone wanting some guitar back-up.
[Tavern on the Grange, 259 Grange Rd in the Grange & Victoria Plaza; “most Sundays” 3:30-7:00; no cover, licensed]
In addition to cafés and bars, Royal Canadian Legion branches are common places to find people gathering for music (read about the weekly bluegrass jam at the Galt Legion) and this week I dropped in on a monthly jam at the Drayton Legion.
Hosted by Art for the past 5 or 6 years, this jam is structured like an open mic, with a sign-up list and each performer getting two songs. If the song you are playing is relatively easy to follow you will also have the pleasure of some back-up musicians: bass, guitar, mandolin and maybe even a banjo. While there is no hard rule about the type of music to be played the genre here definitely leans towards country.
There is a PA system set up for the singer and the musicians are generous in lending you a cord to plug in an instrument. But if you don’t want to make one person unplug to allow you to play you might want to bring along your own small amp and patch cord.
Although this jam only happens once a month, nearby branches have some other weekends covered. The Fergus Legion hosts a jam on the first Sunday of the month from 1-5 pm ($15 cover/$5 for musicians includes a roast beef dinner); Harriston hosts the third Sunday (also with dinner) and Guelph on the fourth Saturday (2-5).
The folks are very friendly and welcoming. There is no cover but refreshments are available by donation which helps cover the cost of the event.
[Royal Canadian Legion, 15 Elm Street, Drayton; third Saturday 2-5 pm; no cover, refreshments by donation]
Silence has been a hub of creativity for performance, improvisation and bringing together music and visual arts. One of the regular offerings at Silence is an open mic, twice a month where you are welcome to share your talent: artists, poets, musicians, magicians – and more!
The venue is licensed, but this is definitely a listening room – no competing background noise – and it is an early night (6:30 sign-up for a 7:00 start). There is a rotating host who also provides a feature set. This particular night, hosting/featuring duties fell to songwriter Paul Cammaert. It was a quiet evening, which meant each person had a bit more time to share.
All are welcome!
[Silence, 46 Essex Street, Guelph; 1st and 3rd Wednesdays 7-9 pm; $5/pwyc cover; licensed]
Here is a Celtic session (that allows the occasional non-Celtic song) with lots of experienced players but open to all levels. It is a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Hosted by the talented and welcoming Bob McLean on the third Sunday of the month, the ceilidh is a pleasant country drive away from Kitchener at the Scran & Dram pub in New Hamburg. It is an acoustic circle and players take turns choosing & leading songs. Fiddles, guitars, whistles and drums all join in on well known tunes. Bring your favourite jig, reel or song to share – the next one is Sunday, August 19th.
[Scran & Dram 338 Waterloo Street, New Hamburg; 3rd Sunday of the month 2-4 pm; no cover; licensed]