In searching for open mics in Montreal I found a thing called Charnobyl Voice, which started out as an open mic in the loft of its founder, Ralph Nakhle, but which has become more of a showcase for bands and performers that Ralph books. The booking is done a week in advance, and all you have to do is register at the site and and send a link to your music and Ralph books you.
I’m not sure where he draws the line between what he likes and what he does not want on the list, but if last night’s showcase is typical, the system works. The evening took place in a very cool, brown brick wall bar called 3 Minots with massively high ceilings and a very high stage under wonderful spotlights. And the bands and performers varied enormously, but all were worth listening to in one way or another. And some stood out enormously.
One of my favorites was the solo singer songwriter named Nikita U, who sang two of his own songs and one by Townes Van Zant. He has a very interesting voice with a pretty wide range, and the songs held together, were melodious and interesting.
Another favorite was Seize the Sound, a funky band that had two good vocalists, and one of which played decent guitar. They got a lot of people dancing and involved, and they had great stage presence and while the music was familiar sounding it was also original sounding – they had their own sound.
Finally, the wonderful Akua closed the showcase as the featured artist of the night. It’s a little beyond my capacity of words to describe, but her electro sound, electric presentation and fabulously sexy voice with her original sounds and looping and personal world really drew everyone in and held us there. She’s got an interesting background, as a Canadian from London, Ontario with one parent of African origin and the other of Canadian-British origin. Loved the stuff. And she excused herself for playing solo as she said the band was not quite ready yet. But frankly, she didn’t need a band last night.
The atmosphere was so laid back and cool and Ralph had a lot to do with that with his professional but light and laid back presentation of the evening and the artists. He said he started out doing this as an open mic, but then changed it into the showcase to show off young, up-and-coming Canadian talent. And he wants to move the thing towards management and eventually take bands on tour. So far, so good, I’d say.