Apple Crisp spices up music scene

Local music series serves community concerts—with a side of dessert

Tea for the Voyage is one of the local bands featured by the Apple Crisp Music Series. They’re headlining tonight’s show at Queen Street United Church.
Tea for the Voyage is one of the local bands featured by the Apple Crisp Music Series. They’re headlining tonight’s show at Queen Street United Church.
Credit: 
Photo supplied by Dave Perreault

For those who feel Kingston is missing out on Canada’s independent music boom, the organizers behind the Apple Crisp music series have a remedy: create a space where musicians of all ages can play and listen to Kingston-based and national bands, enlist an army of the community’s music-lovers with website, promotional and writing skills, top it off with organic and local desserts like apple crisp and repeat every Tuesday.

This do-it-yourself recipe evolved this past summer as a way to do something about the frustration surrounding the paltry number of live music venues available in Kingston—these complaints coming from both local bands and touring acts passing through.

“We really need something where the control doesn’t rest in the hands of people who are interested in packing houses and selling drinks,” said Nich Worby, a local musician and ArtSci ’07.

“We have all the resources of successful music communities ... We’re not taking advantage of it. We need to nurture it.”

Volunteers came out of the woodwork in the shape of the city’s music promoters, musicians and writers. Upon meeting, they decided to establish a regular concert series at the Queen Street United Church that would draw on the city’s young talent.

“In order for a music scene to grow, musicians in Kingston need to be inspired, especially young ones,” Greg Tilson said.

Tilson is a key organizer of the Artel concerts, the Skeleton Park Music Festival and now the Apple Crisp music series.

He also plays in local bands the Dirty Colours and the Backyard Sex Band.

The series focuses on fostering the town’s music scene by making concerts affordable and inclusive. The all-ages aspect the church space provides is a way to unite musicians and music-enthusiasts of any age in a comfortable setting while attempting to break down the divide between audience and performer.

“We’re trying to bring a sense of community to the music,” said Laura Kelly, an Apple Crisp organizer and CFRC volunteer. “Our aim is to have an array of people. We’ve definitely had that—young and old.”

Apple Crisp’s last show matched The Gruff’s mature folk country with the jazzy Tangible Ears, fresh out of Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Insitute. The church hall was packed with people, all varying in age.

“It was interesting to see [the Tangible Ears] and then to have them play in an environment where they could pull in a huge crowd,” said Wendy Huot, Apple Crisp’s website designer and volunteer.

The learning curve flows both ways. Young musicians in the community are exposed to Canada’s music scene and the community hears what teenage bands are brewing.

“It’s a place where musicians can show off whether they’ve been playing for years or it’s their first gig,” Apple Crisp organizer and local musician, also of the Backyard Sex Band, Annie Clifford said.

Clifford brings to the table her experiences with music in Halifax as well her culinary skills.

The music series also connects to the community through other facets besides the music. Local and seasonal ingredients are used to make desserts served with fair-trade coffee and tea at the shows, hence the name of the series.

Serving homegrown food adds a small but important layer of awareness to the series and depending on local sources for these desserts, keeps with the group’s musical mandate. It also nods to past music series in Kingston. In the 1980s another generation of music-lovers came together under the name Sticky Bunz and put on community-minded shows at the Queen Street Church in order to jumpstart the Kingston music scene.

Apple Crisp is resurrecting Sticky Bunz’s spirit of keeping in-tune with local music and giving it a space to grow.

Another extension of the DIY music series is the zine by the same name. The first copy was made this past summer and distributed through the Sleepless Goat. It contains writing and comics that discuss the Kingston and high-school music scene.

“The zine is a good example of [Apple Crisp] reaching out to other strengths that people have in the community that still relates to music. … We’re creating a common space for people,” Tilson said.

Five-dollar Tuesday night concerts fit snugly and cheaply into the week without stepping on the toes of The Grad Club or Kingston Punk Productions, both inspirations to the Apple Crisp series in their ability to bring shows to Kingston. Tonight a young ska band, Tea for the Voyage, will play as part of the Apple Crisp series and OPIRG’s alternative frosh week as a way to engage new students with the Kingston community.

Although not yet a weekly series, with time and as more people of varying backgrounds get involved Apple Crisp may have the chance to evolve. “I would like to see it become something that is very consistent and regular,” Tilson said. “So that people know every Tuesday they can go down to the space and see great music.”

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The Apple Crisp music series, along with OPIRG, presents Tea for the Voyage @ 7 p.m. at the Queen Street United Church. $5 admission or free for frosh and OPIRG members.

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