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Sunshine Sketches of a Big Open Mic: Mariposa, in Montreal

June 5, 2015

Mariposa open mic line up

Mariposa open mic line up

MONTREAL – In Canada, the word “Mariposa,” has two main connotations: A folk music festival of that name that started in Orillia, Ontario in 1961 and is still happening there (after moving around a lot); and the name of a fictional small town featuring in the short stories of the Canadian humorist, Stephen Leacock. Now there is a third: The Mariposa open mic in Montreal, which has existed as of today for five years, in a hippie-cool bar-restaurant-café in a residential area near the Villa Maria métro.

It was a bit of a trek from my hotel at Berri-UQAM, but I was delighted to find this place and take part in an open mic that was completely different from all the others I have so far done on this trip in Montreal. This is low key, quiet, music-oriented, in an environment that inspires creation: Laid back tables, good sound system, large window overlooking the neighbourhood, front porch with tables and chairs, photos on all the walls of rock and folk stars, guitars hanging up behind the stage area…. A blackboard where your name is chalked in on a time slot that is well organized with two songs, maximum 10 minutes, and if there is enough time, another round after the first round is done.

This was not the crazy, mad youth, rap, comedy and crazy oriented scene of the Escalier from the previous night, but this was very definitely a music-oriented open mic, where fine fingerpicking and piano playing and singing is the goal and the norm.

The atmosphere changed quite drastically as the evening – and the beer? – progressed, and the light from the large front windows faded, the curtains opened, and Mariposa took on its full sense.

It starts early, ends by around 11 PM, and there’s plenty of time to take the metro back downtown and reflect on an evening well spent.

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