Let me tell you about my night in St Catharines on Easter Weekend --
I arrived to St. Catharines around 6pm to meet up with an artist. Many months ago, I applied to show work at Mahtay Cafe, and today we started the planning stages of our show. After speaking with her, I was able to drink kombucha brewed right here in the city while working on personal projects in this hub. When I finished, I walked south on St. Paul Street, and immediately heard live music. Walking a little further, I realised it was coming from the streets: a full electric live band, playing as a cohesive unit. Wow! I entered Plan B Beer Works, where craft beer is brewed and sold by a local man who does not have any TVs in his space. I sat at the window bar, where the garage window was pulled up, so as to be practically outside, while the sun went down. For the next three hours, I got to work on my own projects while listening to this band play, watching as street walkers stopped to listen, all of us smiling. And, if should I feel like it, I can walk north up St. Paul Street and dance with other artists until my legs fall off.
This experience is so very St. Catharines, but I would love very much for these kinds of moments to be possible in Niagara Falls. For one thing, Queen Street does not have a single music space without a TV! What bars in the city allow art made by locals? The Old Crow has a single piece of art. Where are bands able to set up in the street and play for three hours just because it feels right? Where can I meet with an artist to discuss planning a show together that encompasses a common theme among artwork and music? Where can I go to dance that prioritises art over a club atmosphere?
While Niagara Falls does have numerous positive cultural initiatives in the works currently, there is no space where you can try craft beer, listen to live music, and not be subjected to a screen all at the same time. We are not able to play music in the streets. There is nowhere safe to dance that I know of. I hope someday that this changes: because Niagara Falls has many spectacular natural venues, and some of my favourite moments on the road have been spent playing music in alley ways or other natural spaces with great acoustics.
PS -- I *love* the sound of trains, especially as forlorn train whistles mingle with the spring frogsong once the noise of the day dies down