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]
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]
I’m posting this just in time for you to make plans for this evening!
The local microbrewery scene is well intertwined with live music, the Together We’re Bitter Co-operative Brewery (aka TWB) a case in point. In addition to hosting live music performances every Sunday afternoon, since the fall TWB has been a gathering spot on a Thursday night for an acoustic jam.
I don’t know if it is like this every Thursday, but on my first visit there was an impressive amount of talent and so much energy!
Dave Pike hosts an early event (6-9 pm) which makes it possible to participate even if Friday is a work day for you, or if it is just the kick-off to the rest of your evening. The jam has a friendly, boisterous feel to it, leaning slightly towards old time and bluegrass, but open to anything someone can lead. In the back, amongst the beer-making vats everyone is unplugged (except the keyboard) and there is quite a variety of musical instruments (often being passed around amongst musicians). There is a whiteboard where you can post a chord progression to help the group follow – especially if they can’t hear your instrument once the jam gets rolling.
Oh yes, and bring a DD so you can sample the array of brews on tap.
[TWB 300 Mill Street, Unit 1, Kitchener; Thursdays 6-9 pm; no cover, licensed]
The “Sunday Kitchen Table Jam” has been happening at the Pick & Shovel in Cambridge for about 6 months. It is (mostly) acoustic, held in an area just off the main room of the bar so people can come and go but the music has less competition from TVs and conversations.
While I wouldn’t have initially pegged this place as a live music venue, the atmosphere is very friendly and casual. Musicians take turns choosing the songs, or fielding requests from bar patrons. It’s great if you bring along songs people can jam to as this is more a participatory than performance event. The afternoon I went had a definite classic rock theme to it. Usually hosted by Scott Rhodes, regulars Barb & Peter stepped into the role this week.
Be forewarned – the bar does not serve any food (unless you count a bag of chips or peanuts) so don’t make the same mistake I did of arriving hungry.
[The Pick & Shovel, 30 Water St S, Cambridge; every Sunday 3:00-7:00, no cover, licensed]
A new addition to Elora, Lost & Found Café has started off well with a Saturday night jam. The café has a warm ambiance and great acoustics, which suit the unplugged music being played.
In addition to providing a lovely sounding place to play & hear music, owners Amanda & Kayla prepare scrumptious food and drink (the carmelized pear and aged cheddar pannini was delicious).
The website doesn’t mention the jam but you can find current specials and other info on their FB page. Lost & Found Café is off the main street, tucked inside “The Mews”, just next door to the Gorge Cinema, and it is definitely worth looking for.
[Lost & Found Café, 45 West Mill Street, Elora; Saturday 7-11 pm; no cover]