Every Friday night, the Chatterbox Cafe in downtown Pugwash hosts a kitchen party beginning at 7:30 pm. It's an open invitation for local musicians to perform in front of an enthusiastic and supportive audience. In fact, the audience wins twice: admission is free and the food is fabulous (the cafe is licensed but Nova Scotia's repressive liquor laws means you have to buy a meal in order to enjoy a glass of wine or beer - worth the hassle). Every week, we're guaranteed a lively, good-humoured mix of jazz, blues, country, classic and original music presented by talented teachers, jewelry designers, high school students, landscape artists, retirees.
Really, there is nothing more exciting than a budding musician announcing, "I wrote this song and am performing it for the first time for you." Last week, Mark Stevens, middle, knocked everyone's sandals off with his debut song. Accompanying him on the banjo is Danny Patriquin along with Ben Smith on bass.
The evening is anchored by a trio: John Caraberis on guitar, Louise Cloutier on vocals and Ben, the original kitchen party host when this all began eight years ago at his instigation (dontcha love that kind of instigator?), on bass. The trio performs jazz standards. Last week, we were treated to classics such as "All Of Me" and "Paper Moon" while they closed out the show -- with audience participation -- with "I Can See Clearly Now". Sent us out into the twilight still singing.
A great time is always had by all. Cafe owners Greg and Norene Smiley deserve major kudos for their constant support of local artists and musicians, as well as organizations such as Communities in Bloom and the public library. They brought a new energy to the village when they bought the cafe in 2004.
See you at the kitchen party tonight!