Kensington Market is full of venues for taking in or performing music. Aspetta Caffe on Augusta has offered an open mic every Thursday for about three years now. I know many venues have an ebb and flow of participation – some nights are sparse where other nights you can’t get a seat. When I visited Aspetta it was definitely the former – the audience ranged from two to five people for the time I was there. No sign up sheet – just make it known to the host that you’re interested in playing and he’ll call you up when it’s time.
The folks at Aspetta are open to all kinds of music and there were several originals on this particular evening. It looks like a good place for someone just starting out or someone who wants more than the usual 2 song limit as there is plenty of time to play.
[Aspetta Caffe 207 Augusta Ave, Toronto; Thursdays 8-11 pm; no cover]
On November 8th, Tessa Jennison launched Potum et Musica, a weekly event at Kitchener’s Marisol Restaurante, designed to showcase music, art and food. The talented Tessa starts off the open mic around 9:00 pm and then performers are invited to sign up for 15-minute spots (time permitting) from 9:30 to 2:00 am.
Tessa had been hosting an open mic at the Boat House before its closure in September and it looked as though many from that music scene are migrating to Marisol. This venue attracts a range of musical styles but almost all original compositions. Tessa’s band The Short Films took the stage part way through the evening for a quick set before resuming the open mic. The sign up list wasn’t full last night but I expect that will change quickly.
A unique element of this open mic is the focus on visual arts. Each week will feature an artist whose work will be displayed and who will be present to interact with performers & patrons. Meghan Weber was the featured artist for the inaugural event. After performing (she is also a singer-songwriter), Meghan circulated through the room with paper and pencils and engaged people in an impromptu sketching exercise.
Marisol’s Chef Jeff Ward offers a small menu of $4-6 tapas to go along with your wine or craft beer. The options are pretty limited for vegetarians but the risotto balls and fritas (seasoned fries) I tried were delicious.
Note: This event is no longer happening at Marisol; check out Imbibe (10 King St W, Kitchener) for more creative fusion of food, art & music, Thursday 8-11 pm.
[Potum et Musica at Marisol Restaurante, 30 Ontario St S, Kitchener, every Thursday 9 pm – 2 am; sliding cover $2-5]
“We’re here to facilitate creativity and community” is how our host, Lisa, introduces the evening. This is a homey, welcoming environment with a small but very attentive and supportive audience – a great place to bring your performing self out of the closet or try out new material. Down the hall from the music room is a workshop with art supplies that people are welcome to experiment with – all part of the RAW Creativity Network.
The RAW Creativity Network was launched in 2001 by Lisa Golem as part of her work as a counsellor using music and art therapy. Lisa resigned as a counsellor last year to turn her full-time attention to painting, writing, performing and creativity coaching. Lisa (and husband Don) have turned their home into a hub of for artists of all kinds to come together to collaborate, support and inspire each other.
photo credit: Carolyn Dawn Good
The RAW Beats n’ Jam intimate coffee house has existed in its current format for a couple of years. The evening usually starts with a couple of feature performers followed by an open mic. Check the Events section of the website for upcoming dates.
[RAW Beats n’ Jam Intimate Coffee House, Kitchener – $2 cover; check website for dates & location: http://www.rawcreativity.net/]
The Sip Club (find them on FB) invites you to come share your music at their Thursday night open mic. This venue is not for the easily distracted as there are several TVs streaming at least three different sports-related programs; but, mercifully, the sound is off during the music.
Brendan, our congenial host for the evening, invited anyone interested in performing to add their name to the list. Set lengths were determined by how many people were there to play – being a quiet night, most got three or four songs. Based on the sampling of music I heard I would say a variety of music is welcome – covers, originals, instrumental – bring it all!
[Sip Club, 91 Wyndham St N, Guelph; Thursday 9-12, no 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]