Braving rainy, slushy weather I set out with fellow adventurers Pete & Trish for a rural open stage experience at the Good Vibes Coffee House. Every Thursday, an old parish hall outside the hamlet of Hillsdale (about 20 minutes from Barrie) is home to an open stage with a country flavour. The first ten people signed up get 15 minutes each and then anyone after that has a two song set. Since our road trip was complicated by a few U-turns and an unplanned “scenic detour” we arrived with only one 15 minute slot still open – but we all managed to fit in some music before the end of the evening.

The personality of this open stage (running since April 2002) is very laid back with lots of 60s folk songs interspersed with some poetry and original compositions. I appreciated the stand up bass and harmonica additions to my song (thanks Pete & John). There was a lovely, well-behaved pup in attendance and I move that he be declared the official mascot.

Fair trade coffee and home-made treats were available although we had so many snacks en route I was kind of full.

One of the memorable moments of the evening (other than the George of the Jungle rehearsal piece) was a heartfelt testimonial shared by one gentleman about how coming out to this open stage had been a personal turning point for him. His friend’s invitation to the coffee house opened up a new social scene for him, a place of inspiration and acceptance. As they say on their Facebook page, Good Vibes is: “A warm, friendly, welcoming place for performers of all levels.”

The last song of the evening is always a group number where everyone comes to the front and joins in with voices and instruments – in keeping with the theme that Good Vibes embodies: music as fellowship and the open stage as community.

[Good Vibes Coffee House, Mount St. Louis Road & 4th Line of Oro-Medonte, Hillsdale; every Thursday 7-1o pm, or later]