Live In The Loft was an extra-ordinary musical venue that featured something very rare – that is, salon style musical performances in the heart of downtown Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
This one-of-a-kind venue was once situated on the upper floor of an unassuming red brick building on Courtland Avenue in downtown Kitchener (near the corner of Courtland and Benton). If you live in the Kitchener area, you’ve probably driven or walked past this building more than once and never suspected what might be within its walls.
Live in the Loft
Go up a few steps, and around a few corners and you would have reached…Live in The Loft.
Live in The Loft was once here in this very building up until about 2014, and it was home to many magical live musical performances by some of the highest caliber Canadian musicians you could ever hope to come across. Gregory Hoskins, Jacob Moon, Alan Gerber, Kurt Swinghammer, and George Koller were just some of the great musicians who performed at Live in The Loft on a regular basis. The shows were usually packed and full of a heightened sense of anticipation.
To show what kinds of collaborations took place at Live in The Loft, here below is a video of Canadian songwriting and musical dynamo Gregory Hoskins performing at The Loft with artist Tina Newlove painting nearby, with all of her colors being projected onto the musician…
Just in case you are not aware, these types of events are not ordinarily found as part of the Kitchener music scene on a regular evening, so this was a special time.
Live in The Loft, which saw performances regularly and lasted for several years until about 2014 when the old building itself gave way under duress of weather, was more than just a place to go see great music performed live.
In addition to being a great venue, Live in The Loft was a concept created by Gregory Wilson, a music lover who appreciates a wide variety of musical genres. Greg, a musician himself, is a fan of improv jazz, and he spent years playing keys with his band The Colour Tasters, before deciding to broaden his horizons and open Live in The Loft to the public in 2012.
The Listener’s Group
It was Greg’s idea to have a place where musicians who love to play could come and be listened to and appreciated in a space which welcomed those who still upheld the value of music in the highest regard.
The acoustics in The Loft were excellent as well, with wood floor and a high ceiling, and the audiences who came were always warm and receptive, thoroughly enjoying performances that ranged from solo performers to full bands from all across the musical spectrum.
Art and Music Salon Style
This environment also included a backdrop of original artwork from some of the area’s local talents, not to mention the big name musicians that frequently popped up on a monthly basis. It was this unique combination of art and music in a small, intimate space that distinguished Live in The Loft as a special place where cool things were always happening.
With The Loft, the idea was to bring performers and audience members as close together as possible in an inviting atmosphere which created a certain type of creative and symbiotic synergy.
Events were usually presided over by a house M.C., who would guide the listener through the experience that was in store for them that evening. Often, that M.C. would be the Kris MacQueen, a great musical performer in his own rite who could just as often be found performing at The Loft as M.C.’ing a show. Once the mood was properly set and everyone was feeling cozy, the show would start and the action would commence.
New Talent Encouraged
As The Loft evolved, shows were put on which featured more and more local up and coming talent.
Loft mainstay Amy Blackwell was one enterprising young person who would take the reigns and set up shows at The Loft, showcasing new talent with her very own Basement Entertainment. This featured mainly teenagers who were interested in pop and acoustic-style performances.
There was also Syd and Goran’s more eccentric Jazz Hub, which was an effort that involved acts which were jazz, blues, or experimental in nature. They could be either new and emerging bands from the area, or simply solo performers who wished to have a chance to showcase their talents and play in front of a receptive audience.
Thus, these types of shows featuring younger performers eventually became another feature of The Loft, with many great upcoming talents having the chance to gain new fans. Sam Dlugokecki, Binary Forest, and Meghan Elizabeth Weber are just 3 of the many, many performers that were able to strut their stuff at The Loft.
One thing that helped keep Live in The Loft so tightly knit was the presence of many enthusiastic volunteers. The Loft was definitely a community effort, with artistic folk from around the way always stopping by to help out. The volunteers were usually artists themselves, and would take care of duties such as manning the bar, the coatcheck, the backstage areas, and of course someone would be at the door to greet guests with a smile. Oh, and let’s not forget those who were in charge of the sound itself! Responsibilities large and small required an “all hands on deck” mentality.
As it happened, most Loft events were lively and quite busy, but once the music got underway, a hush would fall over the crowd and it would be time once again to listen.
Another huge thing you would find with Live in The Loft, that is often lacking in some musical venues is the fact that guests are given a musical experience that encourages communication. Much mingling would occur at a Loft show, either before or after, or during the intermission. Guests who might come in alone to check out a performance, would often leave having made a new friend or two upon their exit.
This was just the welcoming charm of The Loft at work. That is to say, with music in the air, and art all around, and creative people here there and everywhere, it was almost impossible for anyone to be in The Loft and feel isolated. This was another great facet of this venue that is sorely missed in the Kitchener music scene. Small salon style shows that you’d find at Live in The Loft simply aren’t common whatsoever – especially in the KW area, sadly.
Never say Never
The Loft was not just a room in a building, it was a concept and a community atmosphere that bubbled over with creativity. As such, The Loft may one day come back in some way, shape or form.
In fact, the next time you bump into Gregory Wilson, ask and he might tell you his latest plans for the next Live in The Loft style show. You never know – a comeback could be just around the corner!