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]