local live music


Last week I wrote a piece about a blues club in London, England, and lamented the lack of similar music focused clubs here in Canada. I had proposed the theory that rather than sharing live talent with sporting events and other sideshows, a return to specialized venues would bring a resurgence of live entertainment in cities and towns all over the country. Well, I am both chagrined and pleased to report there is a still place near me where live music lovers can go to enjoy their entertainment without distraction. I am embarrassed to say I hadn’t heard of this place before, and yet delighted to have been introduced to this treasure of live music.

Last Thursday a friend brought me for a visit to the Moonshine Café in Oakville, Ontario. From the very moment I entered the tiny premises and met the Moonshine’s owner, John Marlatt, I knew I was in for a very special evening. Everything about the atmosphere here screamed the words, “You have arrived at a place for music…and nothing but!”. The storefront property just off the strip of highbrow shops and restaurants of downtown Oakville was a welcome breath of fresh air; without airs. In a town that has spent countless energy on redefining its image as an upwardly mobile landing spot, here stands a potential icon for days fondly remembered. Inside these walls magic happens on a nightly basis, if you know what to look for.

Marlatt and partner Jane MacKay have only two things in mind with the Moonshine Café; promoting live music for those who truly love it, and making sure you have a really good time with the experience. The sixty odd seat setting’s walls are dotted with photos of past performers, local artists’ work for sale, and tributes to greats of our musical past. Better yet, as the cafe’s website states, this is indeed an intimate venue… and there’s NO TV. Also on the website, patrons are encouraged to be respectful of the performing artists, or in other words; pay close attention to the stage and you might witness something really special.

Special did occur this night, mostly because of a regular band here called ‘The Beat Heathens’ and their guest artist, Jimmy Bowskill. If you are unfamiliar with the name, Bowskill is a touring member with ‘The Sheepdogs”; has also played with ‘Blue Rodeo’, and was discovered by the late Jeff Healey. Together with his seasoned bandmates on this night, the atmosphere was nothing short of electric. Weaving through sets of music ranging from Hank Williams to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Little Feat, the band brought the packed house to its collective feet on numerous occasions. Bowskill’s abundant talent, both vocally and as a guitar player were on full display. All the while, a single bartender managed to keep everyone well supplied. John himself, happily set up kitchen outside with a propane barbecue, serving up very good wings, sausages, and grilled chicken breasts. Every aspect of this warm, summer evening was a music lover’s dream. For a cover charge of $15 and the reasonable cost of refreshments, live music fans were treated to a full on exhibition of seasoned professionals thriving in their element.

Now isn’t that what entertainment is all about?

I understand of course that every night’s performance can’t be like this one. On other dates customers are asked to pay $5 to hear emerging artists as they perfect their craft in a live environment. Certainly that’s a small price to pay to be on the cutting edge of potential greatness. Imagine the energy released when a relatively unknown performer knocks one out of the park, and you and sixty other lucky listeners get to witness the beginning of something big. That’s what places like the Moonshine Café are all about, and they deserve; no, require our support. People like John and Jane provide these havens for artists and the people who truly love the art. You can catch a game almost anywhere else. There’s no reason to make musicians or any live performer compete with distractions.

If you have a special spot like the Moonshine Café in your area, please share it here at StageWages. We exist only to help them thrive.



We can find anything ever produced of an artistic nature with a few key strokes on our laptops. Mammoth databases like YouTube, SoundCloud, Art.com and a vast array of other socialized platforms promoting creative endeavours in every form can be found with a little effort. Individual artists have created their own websites and social pages dedicated to maximizing exposure to the public. So, why create a website that specifically promotes musicians, comedians, illusionists and buskers on a ‘grass roots’ level? It’s already being done, right? Or is it?

There’s certainly no shortage of download sites for artists to sell their wares. Agencies that propose the promotion of worthy talent exist in multiple formats.  DYI web building programs allow anyone to promote themselves online. Infinite changes and innovations are happening to help us define our searches more categorically every day. Even now though, there still exists a relative infancy of evolution in how we’re experiencing cultural shifts that are redefining our daily lives, and how we share them. Consumption of information is occurring at an alarming rate, yet the truth of it becomes more suspect with every additional entry. So, how do we sift out what’s essential to our needs without getting bogged down in the mud?

If we think of Google and Wikipedia in particular as the sort of primordial soup of information technology, where whatever we desire is accessible from keywords or phrases, then the likes of YouTube, Etsy and Amazon are surely to be considered an initial grand first step from the morass. These are the gatherers of every bite of our knowledge and production, be it useful or frivolous, disseminated in bulk packages for our daily use. Information is accessible on these sites with only general interest categorization.

What naturally follows then if we carry the evolutionary theme further is the separation of the species, if you will. Our collective virtual experience must evolve by defining individual space, allowing those with specific needs to acquire instant access. As with Darwin’s original theories of natural selection, those with the strongest DNA and the ability to adapt to constant change, will be the ones who ultimately survive, of course. Places that promote a singular, definitive idea with clarity and conviction will be identifiable more quickly. As Etsy has become to the world of art and craft, so too have countless sites that devote themselves to more focused themes. Airbnb and Kijiji for example, give us a very clear view of what they’re all about very quickly. Each has carved out a niche on the web, some larger than others, extricating themselves from the depths of the primordial.

It only stands to reason then that ultimately every conceivable facet of human interest will be covered intensely by individuals who wish to accept a particular role. It only takes the will to choose a focus and stay on point. Sooner or later though even for tech innovators like Uber, whose mandate as a simple alternative to the conventional taxi industry is no longer enough. Now, Uber has designs on owning every niche in the vast transportation industry that passes under their radar, thereby as I see it, dragging us back into the swamp we’ve tried so desperately to escape.

The struggle for survival perpetuates this cycle for control and ultimate power. But, who has the final voice in disrupting that cycle? Rather than sinking or swimming with the shark, we can always choose to walk on terra firma upright and fully evolved as something completely new and unique. Every speck of an idea that emerges online has an equal chance to thrive if the message is clear enough, and the value in the offer is evident. Speed of convenience and efficiency is what browsers seek today. Single concepts that don’t try to over-reach their mandate seem to be

the future of useful applications.  Isn’t life made easier when every app on your smartphone has a defined purpose?

A platform developed for local, live entertainment in all its forms, StageWages is committed to the belief that people all over this country want to find and support local venues wherever they travel to or live. Artists, venues and fans alike will find value in a concept that grows with this notion, and thrives on voluntary input from all concerned. Rising from the depths of the soup of generality, we will evolve to become a definitive application that answers specific needs. In the near future we will utilize more technologies that possess the tools to promote our vast pool of rich talent and the venues that exhibit those artists. I invite you to join us on StageWages and promote the renaissance of live entertainment. Venue operators and artists are welcome to post scheduled gigs on our events calendar for everyone who craves a fun night out with friends, and new friends to be had.

StageWages suggests a solution from a fan’s perspective, and unless I’ve missed the mark, more fans are what every artist and venue operator wants. The more the conversation continues with a singular purpose, the stronger it will become. Hopefully, you feel the same way. More inclusive features for StageWages are on the way.

Let’s evolve together…for the Love Of Live!



It’s Your Time to Step in to the Spotlight

Are you ready to take centre stage? We developed StageWages with that specific goal in mind. On our new website we welcome performance artists to promote their talents on a universally accessible stage, using our internet portal as their launch pad. When joining StageWages, you as an artist will enjoy limitless self-promotional tools to help you capture the imaginations of people searching for your talent. Our team’s mission is to market those talents to an eagerly awaiting public who crave entertainment excellence. All our members will then be free to negotiate their own gig terms without interference from us.

Showcase your brand with us at StageWages; whether you are a musician, DJ, comedian, dancer, or even a circus performer, we invite you to build an individual talent profile with us. In turn, we’ll work hard to put you in the spotlight; centre stage where you long to be. This is the place for talent to shine, and the place gig promoters will search for their next best performance.

In the coming months we’ll be rolling out exciting and innovative new platforms on our site. We’ll also be asking for member feedback on a regular basis so that we can continue to evolve and improve your member experience. So keep coming back to our blog page frequently, and get ready for your curtain call. The lights are up and the crowd waits with excitement for your moment to hit the stage at SatgeWages!