Category Archives: On the Road

My First Open Mic at the Royal Oak in Kanata

Well I finally did it. I took my backtrack tunes , my trusty Jazzmaster guitar and my MP3 player hardware setup to the Royal Oak restaurant in Kanata North, on March Road. A nice small homey venue. I figure this is where I want to begin my open mic tour.

I looked up the open mic opportunities in Ottawa and there are many before I picked my first venue. It helped that the Royal Oak was close by and the rules for players was relaxed.

Just look up Open mics in Ottawa. This was the first search result that popped up revealing a good picture of where the many open mics are in town and a short description of the venue in each location.

The hosts that night was Jill Ross and Dan Austin. An established couple that’s been on the music scene here in Ottawa for some time.

Royal Oak Open Mic

They kept the the crowd happy with their relaxed attitude and folksy tunes.

Setup was simple. There was already a small audio setup in place. I just hooked my MP3 BT player into the mixing board, did a short sound check and I was ready – or so I thought. See my comments later on in this post.

bill werba on guitar

I prepared and played the number of tunes I thought I was allowed to play:

  • Faithful Love
  • Saranande
  • Sleepwalk
  • I Miss you So

I practiced these a lot, to the point I felt really comfortable playing them in public.

Of course if there was a slow night of attendees you could play more, but I did not have more tunes ready to play… and it was a slow night. I was the only attendee. Yikes.

There is couple of things I learned for the next open mic experience.

1 – as much as there may be a sound system available, it won’t work well for my kind of setup. Most people showing up play guitar and sing – perfect for them. However, to get a controlled audio mix (which I need), bring your own powered monitor. Best put on a mic stand close to your ears. The overall sound clatter in the venue is too distracting. I did not get clear sound from my backtracks while I was playing. Not good from a performers point of view.

2 – any fears you have of a critical listening audience looking and hearing your every pick, twang and/or mistake – not to worry. No body seems to care; though I can’t be sure. Which is great. Most of the restaurant people are enjoying their meals and busy in their own conversations. Conclusion, view these open mics as a chance to play out without being too critical on yourself. Play as if you were practicing. If people are indeed listening – a double win. Of course, if there were other attendees waiting their turn to play, you will have a listening audience. You will be playing to your peers.

Overall a great experience, looking forward to my next outing.


Ottawa Guitar Show – 2016

Glebe Community Center Jun 26th

I looked forward to going to this year’s Ottawa Guitar Show to see the latest luthier creations and talk to the guitar parts suppliers, hardware developers and the guitar players themselves.

Michael Sankey the organizer of the event has put on a great show this year with more participants than in previous years. The show is catching on with the guitar playing crowd and with representatives of the guitar making industry now going well outside the Ottawa-Carleton region. Good on ya Michael.

I have seen stunning designs from these creative people – see my pix. Some guitars were just too nice to handle. It’s amazing what can be done with a few blocks of wood and determined patience ; of course it’s not that simple.

Most guitars shown were of the acoustic variety, but some nice electrics were also on display and could be demoed by potential buyers or for that matter individuals just aching to try out the latest guitars in the special sound rooms available on the show room floor; great idea by the way.

There was another demo sound room set aside for guitar players to presumably use show room guitars, but mostly demonstrating their talent with a guitar. Hey, either way works for me.

I volunteered to run the sound board for a few hours in the demo room and boy we have great talent in this town. Along with the playing, we had good Q&A with the crowd in attendance.

If you are a guitar player either as a beginner or a seasoned pro, you should make some time to come to next year’s show. Take in the vendors, the atmosphere, the comradery and the music.

Go to Ottawa Guitar Show for future details or talk to Micheal Sankey directly at his shop at Sankey Guitars.