This week’s musical quest had a double purpose: to visit one of the longest running open stages in Ontario and to scout out the venue for an upcoming gig. The Free Times Café – a venue known for its live music and great food – boasts an open stage now in its 28th year. At 7:00, the host asks musicians to sign up in the order that they arrived – somewhat of an honour system, and a little confusing if you don’t know the system and didn’t happen to make a mental note of who was in the room when you arrived. Each performer plays two or three songs depending on the size of the list.

Host Jessica Speziale (photo Tricia Brubacher)

We settled into a cozy alcove by the stage where the walls are papered with posters of Free Times performers from over the years. The lovely and talented Jessica Speziale, one of a rotating roster of hosts, provided the welcome and kept everything running smoothly. There is excellent comfort food (we went with the latkes, blintzes and and deluxe snack platter) and libations to go with it (the Amsterdam dark was good).

The music was, for the most part, a real treat. Original compositions alongside creatively interpreted covers made for a fun evening and a who-knows-what-will-come-next atmosphere.


Hats off to owner, Judy Perly, for supporting a longstanding tradition of live music in Toronto. Our trio (Callisto) is looking forward to returning on April 26th to share a few more of our songs.

[Free Times Café, 320 College Street, Toronto; every Monday @7:30 pm (sign up @ 7:00)]