It’s been a long time coming, but it looks as though Elmira might finally get some night life.
Looking to provide Elmira’s budding musicians with a regular venue to showcase their talents, and residents a fun night out, a local band is teaming up with the Central Tavern downtown to offer up music nights every two weeks.
“What we want to do is kind of start a musical community in Elmira,” said Soul2Soul’s bassist Christina Robinson.
“Elmira’s just full of talent,” she said.
Having celebrated her birthday at the Tavern with her bandmates at an open jam night Jan. 10, Robinson was pleasantly surprised by the number of musicians who showed up.
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Overwhelmed by that positive response, Robinson and her band – a three-piece ensemble playing covers such as “Low Rider” and “Born Under a Bad Sign”– are now seeking to make the watering hole a part of the local music scene.
“There was such a good response to it, we thought, ‘man this town needs it,’” said Robinson, noting that to get her fill of live music she has to head southwards to Waterloo, to Maxwell’s Music House or Failte Irish Pub on King Street. Long lineups, and expensive cab rides home, however, are something of an inconvenience – having a venue within walking distance from home would be ideal. It would also help stimulate the local music scene.
So far, there is little in the way of local public venues that offer up regular concerts or performances, said Robinson. Elmira District Secondary School offers up the odd coffeehouse jam, but Robinson is shooting for something more regular and which covers a broader range of musicians of all ages. The idea of staging shows at the Central Tavern seemed to be a no-brainer.
“It holds the people and we can do it for free; it’s not like we have to rent it,” said Robinson, noting the cover charge will be the nominal sum of $2.
“They have the bar, they’ve got the space, they’ve got the stage, they’ve got the lights – we’re bringing our own PA system – it’s great.”
Hoping to see an audience reception similar to what she saw earlier this month, Robinson geared up for another open jam Thursday night.
“We thought, ‘if that goes really well’ we should do this more often if there’s a big response to it.”
EDSS student Dan Bossenberry – who this December won the Waterloo Region Record’s Within Ear Shot music video contest – was also on hand to help bridge the gap between Elmira’s older and younger generations of musicians.
“We really want to get younger kids up and doing it,” said Robinson. “It’s really cool to see how keen the younger kids are.”
Indeed, Robinson hopes that open band night will become a mixed-ages event at the tavern taking place every other week during the winter months when more residents are in town.
“It’s great for kids to be able to play in front of people too: that’s how they learn. We know so many different musical families in town here,” Robinson said, noting that she regularly jams with her kids, who play the bass and the keyboards.
“They think our music’s lame and we think their music is kind of lame,” she quipped. “But it’s a good family thing.”