For the past four years, every Wednesday night at Café Mirage in Scarborough belonged to the Groove. But on Oct. 11.Collin Coltez, the creator of the open mic showcase Night of the Groove (NOTG), announced the following show on Oct. 18th would be the last show – but not the end of Night of the Groove.
“Night of the Groove is not a dead name,” Coltez told the crowd, “The Night of the Groove is just going to continue to grow.”
Café Mirage’s liquor license and logistic reasons restrict the number of people allowed to come in and watch the show. Coltez said everyone involved with the NOTG didn’t want to jeopardize the café’s business for a one-night show each week.
Kevin Vieneer, usually referred to as Bigg Kevv, is the NOTG’s sound technician and has been involved with the NOTG for over two years. Veneer joked with the crowd and reminded them this would not be the last of NOTG.
“In order to grow, it does require some sort of pain.” Veneer said, “This has been our ritual for the past couple of years. … I don’t even know what’s on T.V. on Wednesday nights. And it better be good.”
The Night of the Groove showcases local R&B, Hip Hop, reggae, spoken word and comedic performers from all over Toronto. The idea came to Coltez four years ago,he presented his proposal to the café’s previous owners, Coltez’s vision came to life in Jan. 2003.
“The concept was providing a venue for people such as myself who love R&B and spoken word to have a setting, and hear these kind of performances in the middle of the week, while at the same time giving people the chance to showcase their talent.” Coltez said.
Café Mirage was packed to capacity for the rest of that year and has been growing ever since.
“On the average, we have anywhere between eight to 12 performers per night, we’ve done over 230 shows. … When you combine that with just general performances, I’d say we have had about 1,000 or 1,500 performers overall for the four years we’ve been doing it.” Coltez said. “We describe it as an intimate environment where you can come and network get a great taste of what we have to offer and at the same time get home early enough to get up for the next day.”
Expanding the show
For the past two years, NOTG has been trying to launch itself as a radio show The idea came from Vieneer’s experience and knowledge of radio and Coltez says they are doing well. NOTG has made two pilot versions of the show, compiling performances and video clips from the past four years.
“Right now we’ve talked to community radio stations and they’re really into it. But we’re trying to target the mainstream radio first to see if they’re going to pick it up, “ Coltez said, “So at this point in time we’re in the process of sending it to 91 different stations throughout all of Canada.”
Coltez says NOTG is also trying to pith the show to outlets in America, for a larger audience and reception.
In their short farewell to the crowd, Vieneer, Coltez and Carol Allen, the host of the NOTG, all said the business side of the Canadian music industry is tough on local artists. Allen called it unfortunate that local artists have to push for years for a glimpse of attention. Coltez said it’s not the talent the city’s missing, but the support from labels.
“We know Canada and Toronto has some of the best talent. But getting that talent exposed to a larger audience is very hard so, having a venue such as this, can really help local artists.” Coltez said.
Coltez, Vieneer and Allen all have business backgrounds and not only provide a stage for local artists, but advice and tips as well. Coltez says they apply their knowledge from different areas to help artists write their bios, improve their stage presence and create their demos.
“We’re more than just an open mic,” he said.
Even with the Café Mirage shows ended, Coltez says their support for local talents and the Night of the Groove is in no way, coming to an end. Currently, in the process of getting an investors group for NOTG, Coltez says in the next five years he hopes NOTG will be a nationwide radio show, a television show and have its own café and lounge.
“We’re not just a open mic and a lot of people misunderstand that with us,” he said. “We’re more that that. We’re trying to provide a solid foundation for all local artists in all aspects and facets of the industry.”