There has been a music-shaped empty space in Guelph for a while now. Once filled by the Magnolia Café and then by the Joint, the Red Brick Café took its turn last week hosting musicians on a Tuesday evening.
There was a very enthusiastic turnout, both performers and listeners. Original songwriting, old standards, spoken word all had their time at the mic. I know I am not alone in hoping that they invite the acoustic open mic folks back again – maybe once a month? It is a lovely venue for music (the Café presents many live music events), the snacks are good, the service is friendly. And the people who came out to play… a fine group of people!
[Red Brick Café, 8 Douglas Street, Guelph; licensed – stay tuned for further Tuesday night developments…]
Looking for a place to share some ukulele joy? The Mighty Uke Club of Guelph has reconvened, Sunday evenings at the Red Papaya in Guelph. This is a relaxed group where you can join in as you like, lead a song (or not), learn some new uke chords and hear creative versions of music you’ve heard before – Guns & Roses, John Sebastien, Feist, Rolling Stones, and Leonard Cohen were just a few of the artists given a ukulele interpretation.
Hosted by our fearless leader, Kim Logue, the group is still sorting out how often it will meet so confirm on FB. Next meeting is Sunday, March 5th: https://www.facebook.com/events/1575065992511382/?active_tab=discussion
More good news for ukulele aficionados! There is a ukulele festival coming to Guelph this fall. The Royal City Uke Fest will offer workshops, group strums and a concert by the fabulous James Hill and Anne Janelle. Tickets for this September 30th event are already on sale.
[Mighty Uke Club, Red Papaya 55 Wyndham St N, Sundays 7-8:45 pm, no cover, licensed.]
I had the opportunity to visit a brand new acoustic jam in Orangeville. Nando, owner of the Orange Café, seemed to really enjoy the music and his son was the by far the youngest (and bravest) participant. Hosted by Mark Ostrowski, the format is that of a song circle: everybody gets a chance to lead and this moves around the circle evenly. Once a song gets going, people join in with harmonies, instrumental breaks, whatever the song calls for. There were plenty of proficient musicians there, making it a lot of fun.
The menu includes a fresh pasta bar and local brews on tap.
This was just the second time the group had come together. The plan is to have an acoustic jam the third Thursday of every month; check the Orangeville Live Music Scene website to confirm the next date. And – one good thing leads to another – I learned about an open mic that will be happening in Acton starting this spring/summer. Details to follow!
[Acoustic Song Circle, Orange Bistro, 20 Dawson Road, Orangeville; third Thursday of the month (usually); no cover]
The tiny sign is hard to spot but the building is easy to find.
One thing about song circles and jams is there are a lot of guitars. Not that I have anything against guitars – but there are a lot of them. In a Hespeler heritage building which houses the Brownestone Gastropub you’ll find a music session where the guitars are outnumbered. This is where the Mill Race Folk Society hosts traditional English music sessions. On the afternoon I visited, of the 14 or so players, there were two guitar players surrounded by the sounds of flute, whistle, fiddle, viola, mandolin, mandocello, button accordion, banjo and concertina. It was fun to watch people arrive just to see what instrument would be brought out next.
Like many traditional sessions, the occasional ballad is sung with or without accompaniment, but the majority of the music is instrumental and played as a group. The tunes are played mostly from memory – a few pieces of sheet music and tablets were in evidence.
While there may be some overlap with other British Isles and Celtic folk traditions, according to Brad McEwan (session host and Artistic Director of the Mill Race Festival), the Mill Race English pub session is one of the few events where people can come to play English folk tunes.
The sessions have been happening since the 1980s – even before the first Mill Race Festival – and have had several homes over the years. The Brownestone Gastropub is a relatively new venue, welcoming musicians and listeners the 2nd Sunday of the month. If that isn’t enough for you then you can join the group on the 4th Sunday at the Argyle Arms. For details on these and other traditional music events visit the Mill Race Folk Society website: http://www.millracefolksociety.com/
[British Isles Traditional English Music Sessions, 2-4 pm; 2nd Sunday @ Brownestone Gastropub, 39 Queen St E, Hespeler Village, Cambridge; 4th Sunday @ The Argyle Arms, 210 King St E, Preston, Cambridge]
Today 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.
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).
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.