Oakville’s Hidden Songwriters' Open Mic Night


Every Tuesday night at the open mic night in a small cafe/music venue down on the corner of Kerr Street and Rebecca Street in Oakville, The Moonshine Cafe, a community of local creatives come together to share a pint, a laugh or two, and God’s greatest gift of all - music.

Between eight and nine the regulars start flooding into the bar and set up their instruments. The spectators usually start coming in closer to nine. By about nine-thirty, everyone is pretty much settled in and the show gets underway.

Headed for the last 3 years by Neil MacNaughton of Oakville’s Cosmic Mojo, the Moonshine Cafe’s Tuesday night Open Stage has become a thing of folk legend here in Oakville, Ontario. You hear whispers about it on the streets and in the inner circles of young people, but you won’t have truly experienced the Open Stage at The Moonshine Cafe until you’ve attended a few of them yourself.

Neil starts every night with two or three songs of his own, and then hands it over to the ever-growing list of people who sign up to perform as the night progresses. The atmosphere is very inviting, so you won’t hear much criticism in the Moonshine crowd. This is a good thing for beginners.

Folks are given ten minutes of stage time, a total of two songs. Neil and John both serve on the soundboard and sometimes people will have merchandise on sale at the back. It’s a great little community who supports each other musically as well as professionally. People use each other’s resources to help everyone achieve their goals. It’s really a beautiful thing to see in a world where such values in a community are very scarce.

Some of the regulars, Rob Birmingham, Shelley Marie Budd, Jimmy Humbucker, are all great songwriter’s in the Oakville area and come out to play a lot. Unlike most concert venues, The Moonshine has a very different vibe to the crowd. Everyone is here for one common purpose: to support local talent and enjoy a night of great music.

John Marlatt, the owner of The Moonshine Cafe, is very involved in the open stage scene as well. His one rule for the Moonshine as an establishment is for it to be a place where local Oakville songwriter’s can come together and showcase their talent without fear of criticism, rejection or ridicule so that creative talent can flourish.

Neil is a member of Cosmic Mojo, an Oakville band that got their start in 2013. Cosmic Mojo tours the clubs of the Oakville area (Less Than Level, The Moonshine Cafe) and other surrounding parts of the GTA, playing a mix of covers and originals. Their Facebook page says they are a groove rock band, a combination of funk, disco and progressive rock. Check out a sample of their music below!

Shelley Marie has started her own spin-off of the open stage night (if you will). At the end of every month, she hosts Shelley & Friends: A Songwriter’s Place, a songwriters-in-the-round styled evening where she invites 3-4 other fellow songwriter’s to take the stage with her.

You can find out more about the Tuesday night Open Stage events on The Moonshine Cafe’s official Facebook Page. Hope to see some of you come out!

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