Your 7-Day Open-Stage Music Guide

words :: Drew McIvor.

At some point everyone takes a week to suss out something new – a week finding new slopes in Quebec, a trail of vineyards along the Niagara Escarpment, maybe a string of antique shops down Highway 10, or hidden swim spots on The Bruce. Half the fun is the mystery, the chance to find undiscovered treasure. The same can be said for the open stage music adventurer right here on the shores of south Georgian Bay.


Photo by Gregory Hayes on Unsplash


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What exactly is an open stage? It’s an evening at a venue hosted by a local celebrity that allows guests an opportunity to get up and do their thing, usually around 15 minutes per act. Often it’s musical, but spoken word, comedy and dance find their places too. Sometimes it’s bizarre, sometimes it’s genius, sometimes it’s downright painful, other times it’s magic. No matter what, its like the weather out East – if you don’t like it, just wait five minutes. Around here you’ll find so many stages that you could fill a week exploring them all and then start all over again.

Here’s the venue menu to keep you busy any week of the year, right in our own back yard.

Monday – head to Jozo’s at the base of the Century Express 6, in Blue Mountain Inn.  Jozo’s has been a staple music venue since I was a kid, when the chairlift out front was known as the Inn Triple.


Courtesy Heartwood Hall


Tuesday – West is best. Swing over to the exceptionally appointed Heartwood Hall in Owen Sound where a giant stage, full backline and the pro sound tech of Rhythm Nathan await.

Wednesday – the quieter more intimate space upstairs at Bruce Wine Bar in downtown Thornbury where acoustic and original acts seem to always find a warm welcome. If you’re after a rock ’n’ roll ruckus then head over to Ted’s Range Road Diner, a quonset hut restaurant (northwest of Meaford) where it gets loud and goes late. 


Courtesy Bruce Wine Bar


ThursdayDowntown Collingwood‘s Crow Bar always draws a crowd, or stick around Thornbury for the community jam with David Russell at The Corner Cafe & Grill. It’s a popular hang for the Millennial crowd and Dave will stay as long as there are folks wanting to play.



On the weekend, stages are usually reserved for touring acts, or bands that can slay a crowd all night long. Head back to Crow Bar in Collingwood, MJ Byrnes in the Village or maybe pop over to the Leeky Canoe in Meaford.


Photo by Clen Onojeghuo on Unsplash


Round out the week with an early afternoon Sunday session at Friends of the Barn, now being hosted at the Bethany Church of the Nazarene in Meaford. This one’s more like church for musicians and poets: less volume and more goosebumps in an intimate listening environment that welcomes old and young alike.

No matter your taste, whether it’s unplugged or your amp goes to 11,  whether it’s original poetry,  classic rock, or something completely different, there is a venue where you can settle in as a performer, listener, critic or worshipper. Chances are you’ll find one that’s just right for you.