CaRaVaN was founded in the fall of 2011 by Ali Tataryn, who also hosted. It originally took place on Tuesday nights in the confines of Frame Arts Warehouse as an art + music event, with art supplies provided by Ali and people encouraged to create while watching others on stage. The music portion was initially made possible by the generous donation of sound gear from Will O’Donnell, as well as the encouragement and weekly support of Roman Kravets, Dawson Blaine, Grant Trippel, Heather Lovatt, Stephen Evans, and Twyla Twalis. Beginning in the spring of 2012, Ali found multiple hosts to carry the CaRaVaN torch, such as Twyla and Stephen, and over that time it moved from Tuesday to Monday nights and morphed into the “anything goes” open stage it is today.
After a stint with Matt Moskal as a weekly host, eventually the foursome of Matt Moskal, Paul Little, Nelson Cordiero, and Ronel Amata were asked by Ali to become regular rotating hosts. After a time, Matt Moskal passed his spot over to Matty Rygiel.
In 2013, CaRaVaN moved from the A Gallery at FRAME into the Purple Room, taking advantage of all the amenities that came with CaRaVaN operating for the first time out of a full-time performance venue, but still remaining open and welcoming to all. Many memories were made and friendships formed in that space, not just at the open mic itself, but through CaRaVaN members regularly performing at shows in the space and becoming volunteers in the venue.
The tragic passing of our family member “Matty Rage” (Rygiel) during our time in the Purple Room hit the CaRaVaN community hard, and his hosting position was kept without a regular host for over 2 years, with guest hosts rotating in that spot instead. Guest hosts during that time included Tannis Kelm, Mason Kanne, Cathi-Anne Cook, Adam Orbanski, Marci Janss, Russell Abramson, Dave Sweatman, and Jolene Kaminski, amongst many others.
In the fall of 2015, with the Purple Room and FRAME closing their doors, CaRaVaN moved its main hub once again, this time joining the Dragon Arts Collective as a member, and setting up shop in the Rocker for 2 years. We welcomed in returning guest hosts, as well as bringing in new ones such as Jon Hoff and Pete of the Winnipeg Frets. During this time on the 3rd floor of the A-Zone building on Albert St., CaRaVaN also began our outdoor summer series a half a block away, setting up shop at the Cube stage at Old Market Square — for 10 Mondays that first summer, and 16 in the summers since (from May to September).
In the fall of 2017, CaRaVaN moved its main indoor location for another cold-weather season, this time rotating between Wee Johnny’s Irish Pub most Mondays and next door on McDermot Ave. at Forth Café once a month for a more relaxed, coffee house edition. During this season at Wee Johnny’s and Forth, CaRaVaN welcomed the largest influx of new regulars since the Purple Room days 3 or 4 years earlier, and began to have consistent performer numbers every week (which still remain). It was probably the cheap and tasty chicken fingers. 😉
After an even more successful run at the Cube stage during the summer of 2018 (with no rain-outs!), CaRaVaN continued to live up to the nomadic nature of its name, making X-Cues Café & Lounge a regular Monday location, alongside an increase in events at Forth.
Over the years, various incarnations of our open mic have also popped up at other spots around the city and beyond, including a string of monthly events at The Knndy, 2 years in the Winnipeg Folk Festival campground, at the Athlete’s Village at the Canada Summer Games, by the water in Stephen Juba Park, and part of the 2018 Vote Open campaign at Portage & Main.
Every so often, CaRaVaN has also been lucky enough to host feature headlining artists, whether acts travelling through the city on a Monday or locals interested in a full set. These headlining sets have occurred at the Purple Room, the Rocker, Wee Johnny’s, the Knndy, and the Cube.
Currently, CaRaVaN Open Mic & Open Stage’s organizational team consists of Paul Little, Tannis Kelm, Ronel Amata, and Mason Kanne (in association with the Purple Room). The foursome also rotates its hosting duties, with occasional guest hosts taking the reins.
Funds to pay the many ongoing and one-off costs associated with running this event regularly (sound and lighting replacements and upgrades, advertising, printing, and rental fees) are collected via weekly donations at events, sponsorship of our summer series at the Cube (in conjunction with Purple Room events) from local businesses, and occasional venue payments for running the event.
(If you’d like to donate to or sponsor CaRaVaN, please contact the Purple Room!)