Where the music is playing, what to expect in terms of seating, food, drink, cover charge, capacity.

Bruce Wine Bar – Venue With A Vision

A restaurant or bar that provides live music can approach it from a number of different ways. It can range from quiet atmospheric dinner music to generic rock, billed as Live Music Tonight.  Bruce Wine Bar in Thornbury stands out as a unique venue for several reasons.

Steven Vipond follows his own taste in the music he books

The main difference is that the music booker at the wine bar is also the owner, and his choice of bookings springs from his love of live music.  Steven Vipond has become one of the most important music promoters in the area in the last few years and Bruce Wine Bar is simultaneously a welcoming haven for touring musicians and a stage for local talents to develop.

The talents of Jen Vipond and Shaun Edmonstone ensure that The Bruce Wine Bar is more than a great music venue

Steven is actually co-owner of Bruce Wine Bar, with his wife Jen and their head chef Shaun Edmonstone.  It’s an ideal example of a team in which each member plays to their strength and the result is not only a viable business but a night spot that satisfies patrons on all fronts.  Jen Vipond manages the place ensuring a quality experience for anyone who comes for the music, the food or just a glass of fine wine.  Shawn ensures that the menu provides tasty and and interesting variety.  And that leaves Steven free to pursue his passion for music.  Everybody wins in a setup like that.  Especially the patrons.

Steven is particularly fond of original music.  That’s the focus of the Wednesday night jams hosted by Drew McIvor and of the touring artists who come to play Thursdays through Saturdays.  It can be a fine balancing act to present original singer-songwriters consistently and make it pay.  Bruce Wine Bar formula is to have the performances divided into two dinner shows, at 7 and 9, with reservations required.  The dinners pay for the music and ensure that Steven can book according to his tastes.

Where To Buy CDs By Local Artists

There are no record stores in Meaford but there are local artists who are creating recordings.  As with local authors, some of them sell their works on the Internet, others of course will sell them at gigs.  But there are two locations in town where, if you are looking for music by a local artist you like, they just might have it.  Admittedly they are unlikely places to look for music.

THE GARLIC HUTOut on Highway 26 heading toward Owen Sound you’ll pass the Garlic Hut, outlet for the produce of Sunrise Organics.  Owned by Joyce and Mark Grahlman, they sell their organically grown produce as it comes in from the fields, specializing in several varieties of garlic (including one called “music”) and onions so sweet “you can eat them like an apple”.  On the counter where you pay you’ll see a collection of CD’s.  They are the product of local artists.

Mark Grahlman explaining the benefits of weeds

Mark Grahlman explaining the benefits of weeds

Mark explains that they support the arts in Meaford just as they support all individual endeavour that makes this town great.  When it comes to music they make a point of buying it themselves before they sell it, rather than on consignment, as an extra measure of support for local talent.

Their support of local music is understandable given that, along with edible produce, they have provided the town with one of its most outstanding musicians, in the form of their son, Jayden Grahlman.  Given their predilection for natural produce it’s probably safe to say that Jayden is not the result of genetic modification but you might wonder about that when you hear the quality of his talent.

Alongside recordings that Jayden has been involved with, including E.T. Rhino, The Downright and the soundtrack from The Portrait, they sell the work of Drew McIvor and The McKenzie Blues Band.

The Garlic Hut is open Wednesdays through Sundays in the afternoons, lunchtime to suppertime.  It’s the end of the season and they will only be open as long as the produce holds out so you’ll have to look elsewhere for local music once they close up in the fall.

CDs available at The Source on Sykes

CDs available at The Source on Sykes

Luckily there is one other outlet, although it features at the moment just two artists.  One is Meaford’s favourite troubadour, Allan Johnson, who can be seen at least once a year performing his anthemic “Meet Me In Meaford” at the Scarecrow Family Festival.  His recordings are displayed alongside those of  internationally known soundtrack composer, Toronto born Steven Vitale.  Recordings by these artists can be found on the counter of The Source/Stuff To Read on Sykes in the downtown core.

THE SOURCELocal musicians take note.  As the local music scene builds and you are looking for a place to offer your recorded work to your fans, these are two local merchants who will help make that happen.

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Summer Nightlife Picking Up

It began when Chris Scerri invited friends from out of town to see Holly Cole at Meaford Hall.  After enjoying the concert they went out for some drinks afterward, only to find that Sykes Street was deserted and there was no place in downtown Meaford that was open.  To Chris that made no sense.

"The Great Canadian Songbook" at Meaford Hall

“The Great Canadian Songbook” rocked Meaford Hall this spring, including locals Chris Scerri and Drew McIvor (photo by Marissa Dolotallas)

A few months ago, a show played at Meaford Hall that was called “The Great Canadian Songbook”.  It had been put together by Johnny Max and Tom Barlow with musical director Tyler Yarema and brought to Meaford by Chris Scerri.  Featuring accomplished musicians, it was a rocking show that had the crowd dancing in the aisles.  When the show ended, much of the crowd and most of the performers streamed across the street to where The Leeky Canoe was still open, with James McLaughlin performing.  As the room filled a new energy took over and soon musicians from the Meaford Hall show were taking turns on stage.  It was a first taste of what a night in Meaford could be after a big concert.

Chris had made special arrangements with the Leeky’s owners, Sean and Michelle, to stay open that night and it paid off.  So he did it again when Jeff Martin came to play on a night that coincided with the Tuesday open mic.  Last week when Downchild played Meaford Hall on a Thursday and the second in the Meaford Concert Series happened on Friday in Market Square, The Leeky presented live music for three nights in a row, after both of those shows plus its usual live entertainment on Saturday.  On all three night the place was packed with music lovers who had whetted their appetites on the day’s earlier entertainment.  Meaford was beginning to see a bit of nightlife where silence had reigned before.

Chuck, Donny and Pat from Downchild join Pete Devlin and Tyler Yarema at The Leeky Canoe

Chuck, Donny and Pat from Downchild join Pete Devlin and Tyler Yarema at The Leeky Canoe (photo by Marissa Dolotallas)

Now The Leeky Canoe has booked live entertainment to follow every (sold out) Terrace Thursday at Meaford Hall and after each of the remaining concerts in the Meaford Summer Concert Series scheduled at the Market Square.  The expanded entertainment policy is paying off for The Leeky and for music fans in Meaford.  This summer the downtown is experiencing the new beginnings of a night life.

Every concert at Meaford Hall attracts hundreds of music fans, and many of them would happily carry on after the concert if there were places to welcome them.  There are several other venues in the downtown area that serve food and drinks to the public, from coffee shops to fine dining.  Each could improve their business by extending their hours and adding live music.  If Meaford became known as a music centre at the bottom of Georgian Bay, with a nightlife that mixed good entertainment with a variety of hospitality options, all retailers would benefit from the influx of both locals and tourists.

Carrie at Captains Corner sees the advantage and she is presenting live music twice a week on the patio, on Wednesdays with an open mic, and on Saturdays with booked entertainment.  She has been careful to schedule these presentations early in the evening so that they compliment rather than compete with other venues offering live music in Meaford.

Tonight, Thursday July 28th, The Leeky Canoe is continuing its expanded music policy with a show by Jaret Coop starting at 9:30, following Luke Martin’s sold out performance at Terrace Thursdays.

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Leeky Canoe

ef7f8253a3107841bd6b9e40fe369e55Thursday Nights from 8 to 11, open stage hosted by Chris Scerri.  Every week he is joined by a different guitarist.  They sing a few songs to start things off and then bring up local talents.  Chris is a warm and welcoming host and will even lend his guitar to a performer.  He is a powerful interpretor of songs and his accompaniests are always first rate.  The Leeky Canoe is a favourite local eatery, scoring 4 out of 5 stars in Trip Advisor and known for their salads, burgers and draft beer. Across the street from Market Square beside Meaford Hall

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