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#483124 - 03/15/07 01:19 PM Toronto - 7 days of open mikes - add to the list please  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 10,630
John Voorpostel Offline
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John Voorpostel  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2000
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The Toronto Star today published a great article on open mikes today. I'm reprinting it in its entirety to add to our archive for scholarly purposes because I know they remove these articles from their on line version.

In the first response, I'm going to provide their list which shows where in Toronto you can play any night of the week. The next response will link to The Songwriters Association of Canada, which runs open mikes all across Canada, after which we can link to other open mike possibilities...

Please add your knowledge to the list, and we can come up with a great one spot for open mikes in the GTA and our hinterlands....


OPEN SEASON
© The Toronto Star
Mar 15, 2007 04:30 AM
Michele Henry
Staff Reporter

Whether you’re into music, comedy, poetry or spoken word, open-mic nights are still the city’s top proving ground

She took a risk with the humming.

In the middle of her second song Christine Tier stopped strumming her guitar. She drew her mouth to the microphone. Took a deep breath. Beamed a sultry, penetrating stare into the audience. And let the tune spring from her lips.

A crown attorney, she's used to the scrutinizing glare of criminal judges. But here she is, under the grime-stained lights of Grossman's Tavern on an open-mic event and in the midst of one of her toughest trials yet.

She's forced herself into this "courtroom" that smells of stale beer and cigarettes, to convince a jury of her peers she's got what it takes to be in the spotlight. Her first CD is coming out in six weeks and she doesn't have much time to get comfortable on stage.

"It's practice," she says, plopping her guitar into its case. "I get so nervous. My hands shake, my knees buckle and I can't sing. I thought I sucked."

She's in good company this Sunday afternoon at Grossman's. The dingy bar, legendary for its jazz and blues, across the street from Kensington Market, is filled with a "community of singer-songwriters" just like Tier, 43.

They're a mixed bag of people – a lawyer, an Argentine truck driver who plays the cajon, an Afro-Peruvian percussion instrument, a deliveryman trained in classical guitar, a folk-singing subway busker – and their genres of music run the gamut from rock to country to folk to a fusion of all three.

But differences such as these are typical at any open-mic night in Toronto, whether it's a forum for spoken word, poetry, comedy or music. They're also what brings crowds to some of the many events around this city, says Norman Cristofoli, co-founder of coffeehouse.ca, a website for independent artists.

It's a proving ground for talent that's relatively safe, compared to the glare of, say, Canadian Idol or a headlining gig at a music or comedy club.

"You don't have to be playing in your mother's basement by yourself," he says. "People can realize their artistic endeavours in a more realistic fashion."

The free or nearly free price of admission – and sometimes, the promise of cheap beer – draws all kinds of spectators. And the scene has really taken off in this city lately, says Cristofoli, who offers space for any open-mic host to advertise, free of charge, on his popular site.

Whether they are hoping to be discovered, reject the corporate music culture or just want to blow off office-induced steam, all the participants flock to open mics with a mutual desire, says Grossman's Sunday-afternoon host Nicola Vaughan.

"They all want to be on stage," she says. "They want to see if they can do it for real."

Open-mic events provide that opportunity.

In this computer age, producing your own CD is sometimes only a couple clicks away, making endorsements from record labels or securing a touring agent almost inconsequential to attaining a respectable level of success.

That's why open-mic events are "everywhere," says Cristofoli, and also why they're so important – they provide space for artists to feel professional, they nurture the alternative/indie scene and make for great networking.

"You can meet other people you can talk to, share with somebody who is of like mind," Cristofoli says.

But aside from all the benefits of stretching one's wings, getting up there still takes guts. "You're exposing yourself. You're exposing your soul. You're pretty much taking your heart out of your body and saying, `Here, this is my heart.' It can be very unnerving the first time."

Jo-Anna Downey, comedian and host Wednesday nights at Spirits Bar and Grill, a weekly comedy show in its 11th year, agrees it's hard to bare all to a crowd of strangers.

But "nobody's judging you," she says. "And for the audience, they didn't pay to get in so they don't care."

Despite the humiliation of potentially bombing on stage, would-be comedians – probably the entire class of Humber College comedy students, Downey believes – are clambering to get behind her microphone.

There's such demand to perform (she also has a comedy night on Tuesdays at Eton House Tavern on Danforth Ave.), her first-come first-served policy has a three-month waiting list. She pads her lineup of comedians with pros, who already have a foot in the door, but want to try out new material. Robin Williams and Lewis Black are just two laughable luminaries who have stopped by, on a whim, to perform.

While some nights are "rock star nights" – when Downey regrets not hiking admission to $40 – she admits each show usually has a cringe-worthy moment.

"Some people are terrible," she says. "I mean, it's not Jim Carrey every second person. There's always going to be someone who hasn't learned to write a joke yet.

"But they're up there for five minutes. It's not as if they're there for half an hour."

Lucky for those up on stage, spectators like Luke Terran, 30, just don't care.

Beer in hand, he tapped his feet to every performer that took the stage at Grossman's Sunday evening, waiting for his turn on stage.

"It's less about talent and more about soul," he says. "If you're going out there and it makes you happy, then who cares?"






If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

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#483127 - 03/15/07 01:22 PM Re: Toronto - 7 days of open mikes - add to the list please [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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John Voorpostel Offline
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John Voorpostel  Offline
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Here's Michelle's list .... it is not exhaustive

Seven days of open mike

Monday

Free Times Café, 320 College St., 416-967-1078. Sign-up starts at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8. Talent is mixed and all musical styles are welcome. There's been a cappella on some nights and even rockabilly, but it's mostly acoustic.

Tuesday

Eton House Tavern, 710 Danforth Ave., 416-466-6161. A comedy night hosted by Spirits' Jo-Anna Downey. Show starts at 9 p.m. Sign up a week before.

Renaissance Café, 1938 Danforth Ave., 416-422-1441. This is an almost-anything-goes show where poetry, spoken word and music are welcome. Sign-up starts when the show does: at 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday

Spirits Bar & Grill, 642 Church St., 416-967-0001. In its 11th year, sign-up for this show is no easy feat. Expect to be on a waiting list. Email spiritsbookings@hotmail.com for a shot at getting on.

6 Degrees (formerly Berlin), 2335 Yonge St., 416-486-9666. Now on hiatus, popular "Night of the Groove" hosts a variety of acts but specializes in urban music. Relaunches April 11; see nightofthegroove.com for details.

Thursday

Renaissance Cafe, 1938 Danforth Ave., 426-422-1441. This is a singer/songwriter night. Sign-up starts in person at 7:30 p.m. and the event begins at 8:30 p.m.

Rockie Raccoons, 2579 Yonge St., 416-484-6464. This venue, and hence this night, is young! So, no sign-up necessary for this open stage, which will accommodate anything from music to poetry to comedy. It starts at 9:30 p.m. or after the Leafs game on a hockey night.

Friday/Saturday

Michael M's Music Café, 710 Gerrard St. E., 416-466-6294. A general open mic – "anything goes other than something that's going to be abusive," says owner/host Michael M. Open only six months, the venue's waiting for a liquor license, but "you'll be having such a good time, you won't notice." No sign up needed. Show starts 8 p.m.

Sunday

Grossman's Tavern, 379 Spadina Ave., 416-977-7000. The afternoon acoustic open mic starts at 4:30 p.m. And the whole band open mic begins at 10 p.m. Drop by and talk to the host to sign up.

–Michele Henry


If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

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#483128 - 03/15/07 01:25 PM Re: Toronto - 7 days of open mikes - add to the list please [Re: John Voorpostel]  
Joined: Dec 2000
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John Voorpostel Offline
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John Voorpostel  Offline
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Songwriters Association of Canada runs open mikes for its members all across Canada. Follow this link to its calendar of events

http://www.songwriters.ca/EVT10.php


If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

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#483131 - 03/15/07 01:26 PM Re: Toronto - 7 days of open mikes - add to the list please [Re: John Voorpostel]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 10,630
John Voorpostel Offline
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John Voorpostel  Offline
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The Moonshine Cafe in Oakville has a very active live music scene

http://www.themoonshinecafe.com/


Songwriter's Showcase
Hosted by John Marlatt
Every MONDAY night Songwriter's take over the stage to perform their original material and maybe surprise us with a cover tune or two. This is an opportunity to listen to great music by established and/or up and coming artists in an intimate setting. It's also a wonderful way for the performers to build their fan base...showcase their songs and network with other songwriters, performers and fans. Many of the artists have CD's available.

Format For The Evening
From 7:30 - 8:30PM there is an Open Stage before the nights featured writers begin.
From 8:30 - 9:30 two or three Featured Writers take the stage in a Nashville Style Singaround..each taking turns performing their songs.
The Open Stage resumes following the feature acts. Everyone is welcome to play.
If you'd like to perform as a featured writer, email John.

Songwriter's Association of Canada at The Moonshine
The first Monday of every month.
Hosted by Stu Gogarty and Trevor Burt
Brochures and Membership info is available at the Moonshine Cafe. Writing Exercises,
Music Business Info, Showcase Opportunities, Mentoring and more...


If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

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#636406 - 07/24/08 07:53 PM Re: Toronto - 7 days of open mikes - add to the list please [Re: John Voorpostel]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 10,630
John Voorpostel Offline
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John Voorpostel  Offline
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bump


If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

iAccountant --- Info L inc --- Taxboard
#654299 - 09/22/08 01:16 PM Re: Toronto - 7 days of open mikes - add to the list please [Re: John Voorpostel]  
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 135
Marc Novoselec Offline
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Marc Novoselec  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 135
Kawartha Lakes, Ontario
I'm posting this in the Ontario open mic night as well..I just started a Singer Songwriter's Open mic night in the Kawartha Lakes area;

When- Fridays 7-10 PM (or later depending on the turno.ut)
Who- Hosted by myself, I'll do the first set, and interject songs whilst other are getting organized!
Where- Sweet Bottoms Cafe, Fenelon Falls, ON. It's easy to find; take the first left after the bridge (heading north) then the first right onto Market St. It's the last building on the left.
Why- Because small towns have a tonne of creative musicians who have a hard time getting gigs over the cover bands, so this is our night to shine.

Please come out and do your favourite covers too! I pulled off a Latin-flaired version of Folsom Prison Blues to great revue last week!

This is an all ages licensed coffee house, owner Joe Kelly has converted a Victorian era cottage/house into a very cozy and hip lounge with the best gourmet coffees that rival any Starbucks, great food too!

If you're planning a day trip up this way to check ot the fall colours, make it a Friday, drop me an email and let me know you're coming and get up and 'do your thing'.

#841217 - 08/31/10 03:00 PM Re: Toronto - 7 days of open mikes - add to the list please [Re: Marc Novoselec]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 10,630
John Voorpostel Offline
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John Voorpostel  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2000
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bump


If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

iAccountant --- Info L inc --- Taxboard
#841521 - 09/02/10 02:26 AM Re: Toronto - 7 days of open mikes - add to the list please [Re: John Voorpostel]  
Joined: Aug 2010
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eddyb Offline
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eddyb  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 60
Toronto/Key West
JOHN=The open mikes across Canada link you posted does not work.
See if you can fix it and then repost it.
I'm looking for a good open mike night in Toronto. Let me know if you find a good one.


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