LITTLE CURRENT—Music is a passion for George Williamson so when his sister Joan returned from Florida bubbling about the jam sessions she saw taking place over the winter in Gillespie Park, the idea fell on fertile ground.
“I thought it would be a nice idea to set something like that up here, I just never seemed to have the guts,” said Mr. Williamson. But the intestinal fortitude must have come from somewhere, because he kicked off the inaugural Friday night jam session with pal Gordie Greenough this past week.
Mr. Williamson is no stranger to the stage and microphone, having hosted a very popular karaoke night in a small Val Caron bar for many years. “It grew into a great place for an open mike session,” he recalled.
The informal jam sessions in Little Current are taking place by the gazebo and cenotaph located beside the municipal building on Water Street. “The downtown is really the perfect place for people to have a place to perform,” noted Mr. Williamson. The bandshell located by the cenotaph stands witness to a time when such entertainment on the main street was more common than today.
An open guitar case collects donations for Manitoulin Family Resources. “I just thought that would be a good charity for any tips to go to,” he said. “What better charity than to give toward helping needy families?”
The jam sessions are intended to be light-hearted affairs, mostly unplugged. “I have a small PA for vocals,” said Mr. Williamson. “I have a jack where someone who was just a singer could plug in a karaoke or recording if it is something too complicated for us to back them up.”
Mr. Williamson’s wife Linda will manage the list of performers, should so many show up, to ensure that everyone gets time in front.
“Some people want to sing and be out front, other people just want to play and accompany,” said Mr. Williamson. “They can do either if they like.”
Part of the fun of these kind of events is that you really don’t know who is going to show up,” said Mr. Williamson, who recalled an evening when John Marcon, a backup musician for Anita Paris, turned up at his karaoke night. “There are a lot of retired professional musicians out there.”
Mr. Williamson said that he hoped other Island communities would take up the idea and that it would spread across the Island. “It would be a great idea for South Baymouth where the people are waiting for the ferry,” he said. “It would give them something to do.”
“This kind of thing works best if it takes shape on its own,” said Mr. Williamson, who suggested the sessions will grow organically into a form that suits the venue.
The Little Current jam sessions take place from 6:30 pm to 9 pm each Friday night and musicians and musicians/singers are heartily invited to come down and take part.