Brian O’Sullivan’s Music Blog

head shotBrian O’Sullivan 

As a resident of York Region, I have found it exciting not only to explore the arts scene ‘north of 7’ but also to be part of it as a musician.  Rapid growth in the region has been accompanied by growth in arts opportunities – both for producers of art and consumers.  Additionally, our vibrant art scene benefits residents through its accessibility and by the way it stimulates our local economy while enriching lives.  The focus of my blog will be on our local music scene and music festivals in York Region. 

Musically yours,

Brian O’Sullivan



Open Stages/Jams in York Region

February 20, 2014


Are you a closet musician ? Are you on a limited budget and would like to hear live music for the price of a cup of coffee or other beverage of your choice ? One of York Region’s open stages or jam sessions may be just the thing for you.

For a closet/bedroom/garage musician, not only is there a bit of an adrenalin rush associated with performing in front of an audience, but there’s much to be learned in preparing for a performance and working with sound equipment. Additionally, those who have courageously ventured up on stage have made new musical friends while being exposed to music that they might not otherwise have become aware of.

There are many open stages and jam sessions running in York Region. These include a jam at Sgt. Pepper’s in Aurora on Wednesday nights starting at 8:30, Mains Mansion in Markham staring at 8:30 on a Thursday night, The Earl of Whitchurch in Stouffville every Sunday starting at 2:30 and the monthly York Region Fingerstyle Guitar Association Open Stage – every third Sunday of the month at The Cornerhouse Restaurant in Stouffville starting at 1:30.


Each of these jams or open stages has a different flavour based on the emphasis of those running the event and the musicians who show up. The ope stage I am particularly familiar with is that organized by the York Region Fingerstyle Guitar Association. It features a variety of guitar styles including traditional blues, modern finger style (Don Ross, Tommy Emmanuel), Chet Atkins arrangements and even some jazz. The guitarists range in ability from beginner level to professional. The setting is high end/classy – an intimate room featuring gourmet brunch and Stella Artois on tap.

In order for open stages and jam sessions to be successful, a good group of musicians and audience members need to participate regularly (or the venue owner might choose a different focus activity for that time slot). Musicians are attracted to a venue that offers a good appreciative audience and a decent sound system so that they sound good to themselves and to others. They also appreciate fairness in the amount of time they are given on stage. Novice participants appreciate encouragement from those running the event and from the audience. You may wish to consider supporting a local open stage either as a participant or as an audience member. A good way to see whether or not you would like to come out and participate as a performer is just to come out and listen to see what it’s all about.