Smile Tiger Coffee is not your typical train station coffee shop. But there it is, just steps from the Kitchener VIA Rail pouring lattes and americanos, or craft brews if you prefer. And the first Friday each month there is a delightful open mic.
This event seems very well attended considering neither the venue (Smile Tiger Coffee) nor the sponsor (Brickhouse Guitars) promote it on their websites. I just happened to see a post from a friend to know it was happening.
Hosted by the friendly and talented Corey Heuvel, The Smile Tiger open mic attracts a high calibre of musician. The place was full and everyone had something great to offer. Solos, ensembles, covers and originals – lots of genres represented. And early enough to kick-start your Friday night.
Definitely worth a visit – bring your best.
[Smile Tiger Coffee 100 Ahrens Street West, Kitchener; first Friday of the month 7-9 pm, no cover, licensed]
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]
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]
Some of you may remember my previous posts on the Corktown Uke Jam. This Toronto ukulele institution went through a big change in the fall. The Wednesday night uke jam in the east end had its final gathering at the Paintbox Bistro on September 6, 2017 and the Annex version of the uke jam took over as THE weekly jam. This happens every Monday at the TRANZAC (8-11pm), complete with workshop, group jam and open mic.
(More info at the Toronto Ukes website)
Kitchener has benefited from the energy of the Toronto uke scene. After moving to Kitchener, Corktown jam stalwarts Sue & Bob Cutler brought some of that ukenthusiasm and started WUPS: Waterloo Regions Ukulele Performance Stage.
The event is relaxed. You can choose to perform, lead the group in a song, or just play along from your seat.
The next open mic is coming up: February 9th (7:30 pm start) at Bulls Eye Bar & Grill. There is no cover charge but the venue appreciates everyone ordering a drink or dinner item. There is often a group there that meets early for dinner before the music starts.
[Bulls Eye Bar & Grill, 446 Highland Rd W, Kitchener; 7:30 start – but come anytime after 6:00 for supper; watch the FB page for dates]
Dennis Napper is dedicated to bringing musicians and audiences together. In addition to hosting multiple open mics, he is now part of promoting live music at the Rhapsody Barrel Bar. Monday night is “Industry Night” – a chance for musicians to play a slightly more substantial set than you might get at a standard open mic venue (1/2 hour instead of 2-3 songs). It is a spacious venue with great sound. To sweeten the deal, snacks and everything on tap at the bar is $5 on Monday.
To sign up ahead of time, email Dennis at: [email protected]
If you’d like to come listen, check out the website or FB page.
[Rhapsody Barrel Bar, 179 King Street West, Kitchener; 5-11 pm, no cover, licensed]