I have noticed that Wednesday has quickly become one of the busiest nights in the Ottawa music scene, from weekly staples to touring shows. I thought it would be fun to try to hit up over the next few weeks, every regular event Wednesday has to offer this town.
This week I popped into the Lafayette for a few pints and to see John Carroll. A regular since 2004, he plays two FREE sets weekly, 8pm and 10pm, at the city’s oldest tavern. John is always a treat; he has a great voice and is an amazing slide guitarist. The folk and blues fuse so well as the quarts are handed out all evening by bartender Lenny. People can also enjoy a good game chess or even the Guinness Book of Records of years past.
On this particular Wednesday the crowd was treated to more than just John Carroll’s great tunes and funny banter, but to some wonderful harmonica playing thanks to Catriona Sturton joining him. They played originals as well as some great covers of old Mississippi blues classics. You would be hard-pressed to find a better backdrop to a pint in this city on hump day.
Afterwards, I headed over to Mugshots for some open mic night fun at the jail. The eery and poorly lit jail hostel bar is perfect for locals to try out or hone their craft. The event is hosted weekly by local musician Claude Munson of Claude Munson and the Storm Outside. Claude usually starts the night off by playing a few songs to break the ice and then has the patrons pass the sign-up list from the bar to the stage. On this night Claude and a portion of the band opened the night as a warm-up for their upcoming tour.
One of the wonderful things about this open mic is that you never know what you will hear instrument wise. From solo violin players to banjos, from no instrument spoken word to the ukulele, heck once a guy brought in a laptop to sing over his homemade beats.
Plenty of established Ottawa acts, such as Mehdi Hamdad, Brad Morden, Her Harbour for example, stop in for a few songs. People play a lot more original material than covers, doing a great job I may add, and you never know if someone will be possessed by ghost of the jails gloomy past. Another bonus of Mugshots is that it is located in an international hostel so you can share a drink and a story with travelers from across the world.
So where am I to go next Wednesdays? What are some of your favourite weekly music staples?