When Pam Burns began an open mic night at Kanaka Creek Coffee, she was just following her heart.
The Maple Ridge resident has always run arts evenings wherever she has lived because she strongly believes in sharing the arts, especially music.
The location has to be a place without televisions, somewhere you can see nature.
“I really wanted to create a safe and nurturing place for musicians and poets to come and share their songs and words,” says Burns, whose event marked its fifth anniversary two weeks ago with a Bob Dylan tribute night.
There are no “Simon Cowells” at Kanaka, it’s not a competition, adds Burns but “more of a sharing of souls.”
Since the first open mic, there have been several musicians who’ve gone on to big and better things. Ria Jade, a student at Thomas Haney, has her own TV show while indie group Alexander France have been signed by micro-label Dangerous Pastry Records.
Other bands have formed after meeting at the Kanaka open mic sessions including Celtic-inspired band Shades of Green, who played at Samz Pub on St. Patrick’s Day.
Burns’ band Tiger Mountain Peasants also met at the open mic and will perform as the “house band” at this year’s Bard on The Bandstand.
The open mic has also had its share of unusual acts from a Celtic harpist who played medieval tunes to “Thirsty Bill”, who wears a ten gallon hat and plays Johnny Cash songs on his guitar and four-year-old Emma Gloag, who sings thrills the crowd with her rendition of “Five Little Monkeys”.
“Every week is like a wonderful adventure, and it’s not just for musicians,” says Burns.
“The open e is for anyone who would like to come and listen to some live music and poetry, have a few laughs and be a part of a really lovely local community.”
• Kanaka Creek Coffee’s open mic session take place every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 101-24155 102nd Avenue, Maple Ridge. Info: 604-463-6727.