NEW "Music Lab Mondays" Start Next Week!

The people behind Collingwood's Live & Original Music Series are presenting something new and awesome: Music Lab Mondays!  These will be monthly open jam sessions for all ages and experience levels, happening at Simcoe Street Theatre here in Collingwood.  Each month's session will be led by different musicians and people in the local music industry.  It'll be an opportunity for music lovers and musicians to get together and collaborate, network, and have a fun Monday night full of music!  People are also welcome to just come, watch, and hang out.

I'm so excited to be a part of this!  I think it's a great opportunity, especially for younger players, to get out, play some tunes, and meet like-minded artsy people in the neighbourhood.  If you have any questions, you can reach out to me directly at, or Town of Collingwood's Arts & Culture Co-ordinator, Tanya Mazza at

live & original Music Lab Mondays Collingwood simcoe street theatre

Unmissable Jazz Performance This Friday at Heartwood!

So, my jazz nerd boyfriend (saxophonist Nelson Beattie) has converted me from someone who just enjoys jazz as much as the next guy (you know, like the occasional Billie Holiday or Oscar Peterson album on the record player while prepping dinner) to a full blown jazz lover!  I’ve been learning more about the language, history, and intricacies of jazz over the course of our relationship, and it’s been totally eye opening.  And if there’s one local jazz artist and band he won’t shut up about, it’s Tyler Wagler and his band HWO (Thom Hammerton, Tyler Wagler, and Dave O’Neill).  These guys are pros who know their stuff inside and out, and they’re right here in our neck of the woods!

 Tyler reached out to me recently to discuss their show THIS FRIDAY, March 23rd at Heartwood Hall in Owen Sound.  Joining them will be 18 year old trumpeter Kaelin Murphy, who is quite the young prodigy (I’ve heard a lot of amazing things from Nelson about this guy as well, partly because Kaelin is now touring with a band that Nelson co-founded—but is no longer involved with—My Son the Hurricane).  Kaelin’s folks used to own a jazz bar in Owen Sound called The Avalon, which HWO played at a few nights a week, and where Kaelin and his younger brother Riordain would sometimes sit in with the band.  Tyler told me about trying to keep up with Kaelin at a jam night a while back, remembering, “It was so much fun, but at the end of the night I rememberbeing just completely exhausted mentally and physically.  I thought to myself, "I've got to get my shit together and start practicing more, this kid (he was maybe 16 at the time) is kicking my ass!"”  He says that Kaelin has been a natural fit with HWO, and he’s so pumped to play with him again on Friday.

Kaelin Murphy, likely killing it on the trumpet, pictured.

Kaelin Murphy, likely killing it on the trumpet, pictured.

I asked Tyler and Kaelin some more specific questions about their music and the local scene.  Here’s their feedback.


 LC: How long have Hammerton/Wagler/O’Neill been making music together?  And how did you come together?

Tyler: The band started as a piano/bass duo with Thom Hammerton andmyself.  Thom and I had attended Humber College at about the same time, had a lot of the same tastes, played with a lot of the same
people and went to a lot of the same shows but somehow never really
crossed paths. When he moved to Guelph we hit it off immediately and started playing together in a bunch of different contexts. We played duo every other week at place called Manhattan's in Guelph. We mostly played jazz standards, but we also started sneaking some songs by Radiohead and The Beatles into the set. I have to acknowledge the
influence of The Brad Meldau Trio, in that we basically just started by lifting their interpretation of Radiohead's "Knives Out".  From there, we started working more and more modern covers into the sets
including songs by everyone from Sufjan Stevens to Tom Waits.

After we had been doing that for a year or so, we met Dave O'Neill at some jams in Guelph.  Dave was really enthusiastic about playing with us and there was definitely some instant chemistry.  Dave is a REALLY
intense musician and adding him to the mix caused us to work harder. Much of what we were doing as a duo sometimes veered into background music, as we were playing at a venue that was more of a restaurant. But playing with Dave, there is no background music. He sort of commands an audience to listen!  Aside from being a fantastic drummer,
Dave is also a great writer and just generally really knowledgeable about music, theory and improvisation so he was pushing us in a lot of different directions.  After playing with Dave for a while we started doing more originals and expanding the scope of our covers.  We actually started rehearsing, which is somewhat unusual in jazz.  We
released our self-titled CD which features all originals in 2014.



LC: Your interpretations of pop music songs are gorgeous!  What ones have you been working on that you’re most excited about for Friday’s show?

Tyler: Your readers will have to come to the show to find out!  At thispoint we have a pretty long list to draw from.  We're going to throw a bunch of ideas at Kaelin and see what sticks in rehearsal.  But it's a safe bet that there will be a couple of Radiohead songs and a couple of Beatles' songs. Chances are that we will also touch on Joni
Mitchell, Tom Waits, St. Vincent, maybe some Genesis.  People will have to come to find out!


LC: Your trumpet player, 18 year old Kaelin Murphy, sounds like quite a young prodigy.  How would you describe him to new listeners?

Tyler: How would I describe Kaelin?  He is certainly one of the most uniquely talented and hardest working musicians I've ever met.  I don't know if HE feels like he's hard working. I think he grew up in an environment surrounded by so much different music that constantly learning new things was just what you did.  I've known his parents since before he was born, and they are both really wonderful people, and talented musicians in their own right.  And both his brothers are as well.

I used to hear the family busking at the Owen Sound Market and Kaelin definitely caught my ear.  Several years ago we did an impromptu show at The Frog Pond, just playing standards.  It seemed like a good idea, but then just before the gig I remember having second thoughts.  We had never actually played together, we didn't rehearse or anything and I think he was about 14 at the time. I was hoping he would be able to
improvise on the fly at that level. But it was great!  He just showed up and we called tunes and had a wonderful time just playing.

The next time I heard Kaelin was when I asked him to guest on one of my solo singer/songwriter gigs.  We rehearsed and it was a little sketchy.  I think it was a very different style for him, definitely
not jazz.  The rehearsal wasn't great, but on the gig?  Man...he played so beautifully it just about choked me up in the middle of the

So what will Kaelin sound like?  He'll sound beautiful, but beyond that I don't know.  Kaelin has done so much over the last few years, playing all over Toronto as well as in Ottawa and NYC. Not to mention touring across Canada with My Son The Hurricane. Every time I hear him he is evolving in leaps and bounds.  I'm really looking forward to playing with him again!


LC: Who are some names in modern jazz that have been inspiring you lately?

Tyler: There's lots of great things happening in modern jazz right now. My biggest influence is probably Brad Mehldau Trio.  Although I guess they've been around for close to twenty years now, it depends on how you define modern! Kamasi Washington, Christian Scott and Nate Smith all have great new records out.

Frankly, most of the time I spend just listening to records is when I'm hanging out with my one year old.  And in that context I've really been reaching back into older jazz styles.  Much of my jazz education has come from studying bebop and everything that came after, roughly 1945 and on.  But I've been really digging Louis Armstrong's bands
from the 20's and SO much music from Duke Ellington, both big band stuff and his work with Mingus, Coltrane, Ray Brown.  There's so much traditional stuff that is so heavy, I feel like I'm playing catch up.

Kaelin: Right now, I'm really enjoying listening to trumpet players Ambrose Akinmusire, Peter Evans, and Marquis Hill. I've also been listening to a lot of Vijay Iyer and Steve Lehman's music.


LC: What do you think of the Owen Sound music scene and Heartwood Hall?

Tyler: Heartwood has been such  a huge influence on the music scene. Just having a beautiful venue, with good sound that people want to hang out in.  It attracts more people out, so more bands from out of
town want to play, which attracts more people's a beautiful circular thing.  I play in a reggae band from Toronto called The Human Rights.  Before Heartwood opened, when we would come to OS we would struggle to bring 60-70 people.  Since playing at Heartwood we've sold
out every show there.  (Also, were coming back April 21st!)

I come back to OS pretty regularly to see my family.  I like to go out at night and it used to be that I would be really bored wondering
where to go for a pint.  Since Heartwood opened I'm always checking the calendar looking for an excuse to come back, because more often than not something wonderful is happening there.

Kaelin: The Owen Sound music scene needs more jazz going on, and I'm glad that
Heartwood is offering this space for musicians to come and play this
type of creative music. There's a lot of music happening in Owen Sound, but it's really nice when something different than your usual
folk/indie/rock/funk show happens.

LC: Where can people go to hear more of your music?

Tyler: People can here from HWO at as well as our youtube page at

Kaelin:  I play a lot all over Toronto, you can find me in lots of the jazz venues there usually a couple times a month, but I have also played my music in Ottawa and New York over the past year. I am also touring
with My Son The Hurricane, so you can find me all over the continent with them.


Cheers for the excellent words, boys!  This sounds like an incredible group of players and an amazing show. 

"Montreal's Gain is Collingwood's Loss" (GUEST POST by George Czerny)

I received an email this morning from George Czerny, who attended Austin McCarthy's EP Release show last night at Crow.  He sent me this wonderful story about the evening to pass along to everybody! - Laura

Austin McCarthy's EP 'Reverie' is now available on iTunes and Spotify.

Austin McCarthy's EP 'Reverie' is now available on iTunes and Spotify.

Montreal's gain is Collingwood's loss.


Austin McCarthy is a very talented guitarist and singer.

Now, add composer to that list of talents.
Austin McCarthy, who once attended Collingwood Collegiate Institute is now studying finance at Concordia University in Montreal.

But he's also making a name for himself in music.

That started in Collingwood, where he has musical roots including his dad Mike McCarthy and mother Erica Prinn-McCarthy, who perform as the Mike McCarthy Band.
Mother Erica and father Mike, complete with his trademark cowboy hat, were virtually glowing with pride at the Crow Bar and Variety this evening as their son Austin took to the stage at one end of the restaurant. It was time to release “AMC Reverie”, a CD which carries five numbers.

On the CD, Austin McCarthy is accompanied by Carl Rabinowitz on bass and Mike Giles on drums.

This evening, performing live, Austin was accompanied by Mike Giles on drums, Dave Giles on guitar and Trevor Robertson on bass.

The Crow Bar and Grill is on Huron Street, right across the street from the BMO Bank of Montral. The Crow is one of the newer restaurants in Collingwood and is making a name for itself in a positive way. We have been there to dine with friends twice and enjoyed it both times.


This evening, my wife Nancy and I got to the Crow for 9 p.m., to find it packed. We should have made reservations, but with Christmas being as busy as it was, we took our chances.
For a little while, the friendly hostess Dierdre, had us at one end of the bar, which gave us a good view of the business in the kitchen, as well as an overview of the restaurant which has large windows at the Huron Street end.
Then, Dierdre found us a table for two, closer to the Huron Street end of the restaurant.

At 9.20 p.m., the sound of a packed house of patrons was a testament to the good time they were having. Then, within a few minutes after Austin McCarthy and his fellow musicians took to the stage, the sound of patrons dimmed and the sound of music flooded the restaurant.

There's a sign on the wall above the musicians' stage. It's a red ring with blue letters inside the circle. The letters glow as a neon message: “Music Saves”. That was for certain, as Austin McCarthy did not take long to find the frets during a solo part of his first number and ran off with an applause-grabbing riff. That was just the beginning of the musical fun!

An hour latter, Nancy and I had drinks along with a delicious pizza. As we ate, the room rocked with Austin McCarthy's music. We bought a couple of CDs from one of Austin's friends who was circulating through the room.


Austin McCarthy, 21, has a website, as does the Mike McCarthy Band with which he has played in Downtown Collingwood at such events as the Local Live Lunch and the Downtown Collingwood Farmers' Market.

Now, Austin is making more and more of a name for himself. In Montreal, he has a new bass player lined up and five gigs in the offing. All this while he attends Concordia!

Nancy and I enjoy music, local musicians and helping to support and promote local talent whenever we can. But we have forty, or fifty, years of age on most of the patrons at the Crow earlier this evening.


So, by 10.30 p.m., we were heading home just as Austin McCarthy picked up an acoustic guitar and did a solo rendition of a number by the “Boss”, Bruce Springsteen.


Springsteen will be playing in New York on March 29, 2018. The “Boss” is already famous. But given time, my betting is that Austin McCarthy, who's friendly and modest any time I have seen him, will be following in Springsteen's footsteps. 

My guess is that as I write this, The Crow is still rocking and everybody is loving being “saved musically” by Austin McCarthy and his backup band. He hasn't left for Montreal yet!

Austin McCarthy releasing NEW TUNES

Austin McCarthy is a known name in the local music scene.  An awesome performer and songwriter, and a member of the very musical McCarthy clan alongside his folks, Erica and Mike McCarthy.  He goes to school in Montreal, but still manages to find the time to play a bunch of shows in Collingwood and area whenever he's in town.  And, remarkably, has even found the time to record and release a new EP - Reverie - at Villa Sound in Singhampton.  EP Release Party is FRIDAY NIGHT (December 29th) at Crow Bar & Variety in Collingwood.  Here's a Q&A I did with Austin.


LC: The album sounds great!  I love the combo of funk/disco type grooves with this fabulous songwriting.  On the bio on your site it says some of your biggest inspirations are Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King, and John Mayer, and I totally hear all of those influences in your sound.  What's your songwriting process like?  Do you come up with the words first or the riffs/chord progressions?

AM: First of all, thank you! I’m still figuring out my songwriting process to be honest. Sometimes I come up with a chord progression and add in lyrics after the fact. Sometimes I start with a line (that usually determines the direction of the song) and then I add a chord progression on top of it. One thing I know for certain is that all of the songs are influenced by situations/experiences I have come across.


LC: Who else plays on this album? Have you been working with the other musicians for a while?

AM: I brought Mike Giles (drums) and Carl Rabinowitz (Bass) in for the recordings. Mike and I were playing together over this past summer and I saw Carl play many times and knew he would be a great addition to this EP. Both Mike and Carl are fantastic guys to work with.


LC: Tell me a bit about the recording experience at Villa Sound.  Who mixed and who mastered the album?

AM: The four days I spent in the studio were some of my favourite days spent during this past summer. My favourite part was experiencing the process of studio work. This studio experience will definitely help with my writing process in the future. Adam Fair was the mixing engineer and Noah Mintz mastered the album.


 LC: It seems like outside of school, you're taking every chance you can get to gig!  In the summer your name was popping up everywhere, and now for Christmas break it's happening again!  How do you balance between your studies and your music?

AM: It’s tough, especially around exam time! I normally try and get my work done during the day so I have all night to play. I’m pretty great at procrastinating, so if I pick up the guitar before my school work is done I’m normally up till 2am trying to finish it. 


LC: What have been some of the highlights of your music career so far?

AM: Opening up for Kim Mitchell a couple years ago was definitely a highlight. Also, this past summer playing 40 shows was incredible. Recently, I have started a new project in Montreal and we have some dates coming up in the new year. I guess I can foreshadow this as a highlight. 


LC: Who would be your all time dream artist to perform with or do a double billing with?

AM: That is a really tough question. Being on stage with the likes of B.B. King would have been something else, but we both know that’s impossible now. Being billed with John Mayer would be a time for sure. 


LC: Lastly, where can people hear and purchase the album once it's released?

AM: It will be released on iTunes and Spotify on December 22nd! Looking forward to finally getting this EP out to the public.


Thank you SO MUCH Austin for taking the time to share some insights with me!  Check out the new EP below, and come in from the cold at Crow Bar & Variety on Friday night to hear him live! 


Apple Music: