It’s a Wednesday evening. You’re off work, done dinner and sitting around the house, strumming some tunes on a crappy beater guitar while watching old sitcom reruns.
A pretty routine, lacklustre evening… but it doesn’t have to be!
Why not take yourself and your instrument of choice and head over to the weekly Ginger Jam at Foxy’s Cabaret?
An open-mic event that welcomes musicians of all skill levels, Ginger Jam is a free-form jam night hosted by house sound tech, musician and token redhead, Marshall Charlebois, whose long, ginger-coloured hair and beard inspired the event’s name.
Is your battered 5½ string guitar too unsightly for the stage? Not a problem; Charlebois has a collection of house instruments that you are free and welcome to use.
Charlebois and his co-conspirator, Ryan Dorward, created Ginger Jam in April 2011, with the idea of starting what Charlebois describes as “a true open stage”.
“Everybody’s welcome,” he says. “Almost anyone can come and have a backing band behind them, or be in the backing band. We’re just out to have some fun, meet some people and make some noise. It’s about getting people to be comfortable onstage.”
It really is “anything goes”, explains Dorward.
“We’ve had everything from opera to reggae to heavy metal onstage. The finest of Yukon talents come down and form these makeshift bands, it’s great. When we combine efforts, it’s so much greater. Lots of people who’ve never played before just come up and give it a try.”
The jam isn’t just for casual amateurs either; between 8 and 10 p.m., the stage is open for bands to use as a rehearsal/performance space, often featuring the talents of local groups such as CHS, Common Knowledge, and Off the Menu.
The latter, an indie-folk group, played for their first time as a band on Foxy’s open stage, as did the heavy metal groups Kyruel and Exanimation.
“There’s not too much good rehearsal space in town,” says Charlebois, “so I like to offer that, and then the bands stick around after, too.”
After the band rehearsals, the stage is free to any and all with something to share.
“I try to keep it relaxed and comfortable,” he says.
“Every other stage is rushed,” Dorward agrees, though he adds that even with the relaxed attitude of the jam, there’s no dead time between acts.
“It’s never canned music, though every week is different,” he says. “It’s just like the best kitchen jam, only in a bar, with free beer after three songs.”
It’s true, every night brings a very different turnout, especially since the jam has now been moved from Tuesdays to Wednesdays. Attendance has slowly been growing, which Dorward says is great, as they have only been advertising it through word-of-mouth.
“It’s great when everyone shows up there ready to jam,” he says.
One night, Charlebois adds, there were 18 people onstage at once.
And it’s not just musicians supporting the Ginger Jam, either.
“The community support has been amazing,” he says.
“We’ve had lots of instruments donated.”
He hopes to start doing some more advertising, and also aspires to produce a “Ginger Jam” album, compiled from the sessions that he has periodically recorded.
But spreading the word isn’t really what’s important for the event, in Charlebois’ mind; keeping it fun and open is what’s first and foremost.
“We’re just keeping on making people comfortable,” he says.
“It’s all about music and camaraderie. If you have something you want people to hear, I’ll make it happen!”