First, an admission: despite having been invited to dozens of shows, I'd never been to This Ain't Hollywood before tonight. I know I know. I'm not sure how it happened.
But I did make it, tonight, to try out my own songs on the stage in front of an unfamiliar crowd. With the black painted brick and the roadhouse atmosphere it reminds me a lot of the Horseshoe... smoky, dark, atmospheric... A place it'd be easy to disappear into a corner and spend the night skulking and brooding, a little like the Doors (amaaaaazing beer there, btw).
I show up early, as usual, and am greeted by Patty "Buckshot" Beebee who tells me I can have any spot on the as-yet pristine list. I quietly decline to sign up yet. She plays a few songs to kick things off, then Yoda (Tim Lucas) plays (with my borrowed capo) some sweet simple Jack Johnsony heartache-tinged tunes. I'm up next. Jacob Moon has come by to see me, so I'm nervous, even though I've explained at length to him how much I like the audience getting to see "behind the curtain" in terms of flaws and changes etc. I play just adequately, but the bar is reeeeaaallly quiet and attentive, which is gratifying. I'm asked to play a 4th song, so I end w a less involved but lyrically smirky song, and come down.
This is a good crowd. You don't know what you're walking into initially, but it quickly feels quite accepting and receptive, and there are musicians willing to sit in if you want. There's no free beer for performers, but a pint of premium is only $6.50, which is not unmanageable.
I'm followed by a Gretsch in a cowboy-snap mother-of-pearl button-down shirt. He's amazing. Exactly in the pocket of 50s Rockabilly. He's joined first by drums, then bass, and eventually there are 5 guys onstage. They play and play... Maybe no one else has signed up? Jacob Moon has broken a fingernail and is thus out of commission, otherwise he jokes he'd air something new and not entirely complete.
In the end, this is again different from the other open mics in town. The stage is higher and more...central... the music on offer is different in a way that's difficult to pin down, but no one flops (maybe me? I can't gauge), and it's perfectly listenable. Good to get out to, finally. I will likely be back again.
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
This evening I did something unusual and went to TWO open mics. The Dundas Odd Fellows open mic happens every 3rd Wednesday of the month and, as I've said before, is a Good 'Un.
But before I get verbose, as I was planning my evening I was sideswiped by an ovation from a previous lover, the Staircase Theatre. About a decade ago (omg it pains me to say that) I was playing mentally unbalanced covers of pop tunes in an instrumental jazz context (I remember my bassist at the time saying "why are all your ii-Vs V-iis??") and the Staircase was really in its musical heyday. I played there a few times and was heartbroken when, to zero fanfare, it suddenly closed its doors.
Fastforward a few years: the Staircase opened again, albeit *very* quietly, catering mostly to the improv theatre and comedy crowd, and it eventually started to book in the odd musical act here and there (Jacob Moon, Alfie Smith, CD releases, etc). Well friends, I have an announcement (!): from here on in The Staircase will be hosting an open mic every Wednesday! This is simply lovely news!... like a high school reunion (...for those of you who loved high school - ahem). All to say, yay!
But back now to Dundas. Having played to a lovely and attentive empty theatre (like kicking its proverbial tires) at the Staircase's inaugural open mic, I ventured west to the Oddfellows only to find myself forced to park TWO blocks away! Danny and Jay have clearly started something here. As always, an unbelievably appreciative audience and a craaaazy spread of styles underpinned by all kinds of raw talent. And apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so! At least 40 people in attendance, and a totally packed venue.
This isn't exactly a review, then. At best it's a re-view. A snapshot. But it does afford me the opportunity to add a new and exciting open mic to the list at right...!