Posted on March 13th, 2013 | by Leslie


The Moonshine Cafe

How do I put this into words?

In December I went to one of my dear friend Bill Craig’s gigs, and we performed one of my songs together, called “Already Gone.”  His cousin’s husband heard me, we were talking about local open mics I was thinking about going to, and he recommended Tuesday nights at a place in Oakville called The Moonshine Cafe.

And a path opened up.  I had no idea by following it I would discover one of the greatest collections of musicians and music-lovers I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing.

That first night in January seems like a lifetime ago, and I was so uncertain.  I’d never performed on my own for strangers before.  But they didn’t stay strangers for long, and my uncertainty could not stand in the light of their overwhelming and continued approval, encouragement and support.

John Marlatt and Jane MacKay have created and maintained – against the odds – an environment that puts live music, and the people who honour and make it, first.  I’ve only scratched the surface of what goes on there from week to week because who can keep up?  They have live music 7 days a week, open mics and stages, jam sessions, performances by performers of international acclaim, and the rest of us still finding our way in their company.

I love my Tuesday nights.  It’s Cheers with better music.  And it’s hard to convey how much talent this one room can hold without resorting to hyperbole.  Last night we were absolutely packed, with 4 hours of music, collaborations galore, new and old faces, and Alexander Quail who has spoiled me for life.  He’s set the hosting standard so high I just can’t go anywhere else.

This week alone I was at the Folk Night open stage Sunday night, played my harp for the first time, sang acappella folksongs, and reprised my “Caledonia” duet with John Cottle.  Monday I had a prep session with Manteye, then we performed his song “Genius” Tuesday night.  Lorne Allen wrote a parody of Neil Young’s “Helpless,” called “Popeless,” and wouldn’t let me hear the words until I was playing along and trying not to laugh into the mic when I was supposed to be harmonizing.  And then John, Charlie and I sang back-up on Mark Pettigrew’s “Down To The River.”

And what, it’s only Wednesday?  Unbelievable.

If you are looking for entertainment, or a place to play, or good people to spend an evening with, this is where you should be.  It’s where I plan to be every Tuesday night for a good long while.  After all, there are still about 20 regulars I haven’t collaborated with yet.  We’ll keep each other busy.

To everyone at the Moonshine:

You guys have made me one of your own, and I am so very grateful to share the stage, and the songs, and the fun with all of you.  You’ve changed my life, and I mean it.  Thank you.

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2 Responses to The Moonshine Cafe

  1. Leslie, I experienced the exact sentiment almost four years ago – and I’ve been going ever since ! It’s the calibre and character of the people that make The Moonshine a second ‘home’ for so many of us, to say nothing of the musical relationships and collaborations that seem to naturally flourish out of there. Speaking of which, where do we sign up for those Leslie Hudson collaborations ? Peace. Rob B.

  2. john cottle says:

    Leslie, on behalf of ‘The Moonshine’ I must offer thanks to YOU!
    Sure we have a great time every week but, since you became a member of the cast, our status and talent level has been elevated substantially. You are an amazing, writer, performer and musician.
    Keep comiing!

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