“Summertime and the living is easy…” But maybe not so easy to find a place to play music. Many regular open stages and jams take a break over the summer in anticipation of people being away and to give their hard-working hosts and volunteers a reprieve from their duties.
But their are a few that just keep on going. So if you are in the mood to play music here are some summer events to check out. If you have a summer jam you want to promote post the info on the Open Stage Adventure FB page.
London Bluegrass Music Association
Thursday night jams 7 – 9 pm
Pine Knot Golf and Country Club at Dorchester
The club boasts a good restaurant and bar, as well as numerous locations to jam. Further details: www.londonbluegrass.org
Elora Acoustic Café – Fri Aug 9th
Open Stage followed by feature performer, David Ross MacDonald; doors open 7:30, $5 cover
I’m going to throw this out as a challenge to see if anyone will correct me: I have it on good authority (Bill Heffernan of Gate 403 fame) that Fat Alberts Coffeehouse is the longest running open stage in North America. Starting out in a church basement in 1967, this weekly open stage has been at the United Steelworkers Union Building on Cecil Street for about 10 years now. Some of the musicians in attendance had stories to tell of the event as it unfolded over 30 years ago which added personal perspective to the club’s longevity.
All levels are welcome and all genres (including classical guitar, blues, spoken word, covers, original tunes). The atmosphere is relaxed and supportive. Tony, on sound, and Mary, our MC, made sure everything moves along quickly & smoothly, with minimal down time between performers. In addition to vocal mics and instrument plug-ins, there is also a keyboard for performers to use. Part way through the evening there is a half hour feature set. This week’s feature performer was Glen Hornblast who entertained us with stories and original tunes.
[Fat Albert’s Coffee House, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto; every Wednesday 8-11pm, sign up after 7:00; $2 cover, coffee & tea available]
“Alice’s Aspiring Artists” is a Thursday night open mic in the south end of Guelph. It is a larger pub where musicians play to a background of TVs showing sports events (thankfully with the sound off).
The format is pretty informal. Host,Trevor Nemett invites any interested musicians to come up to the mic, on their own or with back-up from the band. This can lead to some fun spontaneous collaborations. If there aren’t a lot of names on the list then Trevor & friends can easily fill the gap. It’s a late event – starts at 10 pm – and attracts a younger (university age) crowd.
I’m interested to see what happens if I am “Returning Alice’s Artist” – apparently some prizes in the offing. Oh and don’t let the sign out front fool you – the beer is cold and the snacks are yummy.
While my musical home is folk I enjoy a lot of different kinds of music. But as broadly as one can interpret the term “folk” and as varied as my musical tastes are, one genre I don’t spend a lot of time exploring to is country music. This week I ventured outside my usual tendencies to visit an old-fashioned country & western venue.
The “Open Stage with Paul and Sue” is held every Thursday at the Commercial Tavern in Maryhill, a little hamlet tucked between Waterloo and Guelph. Our host, Paul Weber was multi-tasking all night. When we arrived he was performing on his own, entertaining the predominantly over-60 crowd with country songs and saucy jokes, all the while greeting people by name as they entered or left the tavern, all without missing a strum.
There was no sign up sheet or instructions for performers – not really necessary when the host knows every person and talent in the room. So I wondered how or whether we (as newcomers) would figure into the open stage at all. To my surprise, at one point in the evening Paul spoke into the mic, saying “Pete, you’re up after this.” Apparently, one of the many friendly people we had spoken with had relayed the information to the host. My fellow open mic adventurer, who had come prepared with guitar and cowboy hat, fit right in.
Paul provided whatever back-up was necessary for the performers as they came up to the stage, switching from guitar to bass to vocal harmonies. We heard some great songs and the best yodelling I have ever heard! As the music played couples waltzed and two-stepped around the dance floor, clapping at the beginning of a song as well as at the end.
In its 16th year of business, The Commerical Tavern has an interesting history and mission to provide authentic country music entertainment: http://www.commercialtavern.ca/
[Open Stage with Paul & Sue, The Commercial Tavern, corner of St. Charles St & Maryhill Rd, every Thursday night, no cover]
I love the Eaglewood Open Stage – unplugged, outside surrounded by rocks and trees, and very inclusive (read more about eaglewood this summer and last) . The host of the open stage is a big part of setting the tone for the event and Shaman Ayerhart is one example of a wonderful host. He keeps the momentum going so everyone gets a chance to play and everyone feels welcome.Here is a clip from this summer’s open stage where our host shares one of his own songs – a little splash of summer as the weather gets colder: