ARTS October 10th, 2016

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Coffee house offers sanctuary to budding musicians

Groove Room calls St. Augustine home every second Friday of the month

Led Zeppelin, Police and Tragically Hip tunes crank out from the unimposing St. Augustine of Canterbury Anglican Church at the corner of Bayview Avenue and Broadway Avenue.

Performing at the Groove Room Coffee House on Oct. 7, is a great way for David Staveley and his 12-year-old son, Conor, to hang out and just jam.

The 46-year-old Leasider is coming off a set at the coffee house held in the sanctuary of St. Augustine.

Beside him is his budding Stewart Copeland, whom he bought a drum kit for five years ago.

“I used to play guitar as a teenager, so I thought, I better get playing too, to get him involved,” David said, the Irish brogue honeying his voice. “I try to do Jimmy Page’s sloppiness, but I end up doing it more sloppy.”

The duo get lessons from Kevin McCloskey, one of the co-coordinators of the Groove Room.

Before the show, McCloskey and collaborator Mike Rapson shared the motivation behind the Groove Room, which was started two years ago in a smaller room in the church.

“We wanted to have a safe place where people felt like it’s okay that they’ve never performed in public before,” Rapson admitted.

The sense of community shows itself in the two dozen attendees seated around tables. Cake, pie and coffee are served, and the tunes are non-stop.

“For me, it’s all about that experience, relationship between people and music,” McCloskey, a music teacher, added. “What happens is you end up with a positive experience.

“Most people that don’t play in front of people walk away feeling (good). It’s a drug, and it feels good. It’s like going to a really good gym.”

It costs $5 to take in the show, and the proceeds go to several local charities: the Moorelands Camp, a refugee family from Aleppo, Syria as well as the music program at the Aphasia Institute.

Les Garant, a professional bassist, said he loves the community feel, adding he needed to get involved.

“(The Groove Room) is a community that gives an opportunity to people who don’t normally get to perform in front of people,” the 50-year-old said.

He’s been performing Willie Nelson and Grateful Dead tunes at the show for a year and a half.

Of course music is what keeps the neighbourhood coming.

“For me, it’s all about that experience, relationship between people and music,” McCloskey said. “We’re just doing it because it’s a good thing to do.”

The next Groove Room event is Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. Rapson and McCloskey are always looking for performers, including younger talent from the Leaside area.