Photo by Nastassja Pearson

On Friday night, we kicked off After Hours @ TPM: a late-night series intended to help us engage socially with audiences of all ages, backgrounds, and opinions. In other words, After Hours is a place for the place-less—for new audiences to meet old audiences, intermingle, talk about big ideas and leave our bar feeling connected to a broader community. Or at least that’s the hope. On Friday night, we did that by celebrating the marriage of Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger.

Yep, you read that correctly. To be clear, the evening was called Songbook Series Vol. 4 – Lessons for Avril and Chad: A Celebration of Musical Couples. And to be clear, there was definitely more poking fun at Chavril than there was celebrating their love. At each Songbook Series, we celebrate the work of a single artist, group, era or style that has had a significant impact on our collective musical history. Then we invite a variety of musicians from all disciplines to re-imagine that music in their own way. The key here is that re-imagining—to showcase that song in an entirely new way. Led by The Family Band who facilitate and host each evening, the series looks to celebrate the diversity of musicians and music that is present in our city. In other words, it’s much more than a coffeehouse. For the event on Friday, all participating musicians were asked to do a mash-up of two songs from both sides of a famous musical couple.

What’s interesting is that no one said no. None of these musicians thought it was a stupid idea to mash-up two songs and to completely alter the style of each of those songs. In fact, all of the musicians were excited about the possibility to showcase their talent through the music of someone else. They were excited to work with new people, and to create new music for a one-night-only show. Even after people had performed, they didn’t leave, and neither did their friends. Somehow the community that we’ve created is really there to support one another, engage with one another, (I dare say it) hear one another.

We started the Songbook Series to create a music audience at Theatre Passe Muraille, and to look for ways to use our space in new and wonderful ways. What we’ve affirmed is the unifying power of art, and it’s place as a social activator like no other. It might even be a community-builder. I know that’s what we’ve been saying all along with our season this year, but I think Friday night showed us just how much art can be reflective of a community and how exciting such a community can be because of their engagement with art. So whether it’s Chavril or the National Ballet, let’s try to find that community where we can be activated by art, rather than simply moved by it.

The next Songbook Series will be held on January 25 at 10:30pm and will feature the music of Michael Jackson.