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, 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. Regular guest hosts included Tannis Kelm, Mason Kanne, Cathi-Anne Cook, Adam Orbanski, 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, and solidified our updated group of co-organizers and co-hosts: Paul, Tannis, Mason, and Ronel. 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 just 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 on Sargent Ave. a new regular Monday location, alongside an increase in events at Forth.
Our 2019 summer at the Cube involved our most events yet (thanks to both the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival and Jazz Winnipeg for letting us use the stage during their set-ups), and despite lots of bad forecasts, we didn’t have a rainy CaRaVaN until early September. We also had feature visual artists join us 3 different Mondays throughout the 2019 summer in the DesignQuarter Winnipeg shipping container. For the 2019-20 indoor season, we moved to X-Cues Café & Lounge full-time, as Sal and their crew have become a big part of the CaRaVaN family!
We still feature guest hosts (like Paul De Bruijn, Russell, and the trio of Redd, Ren, & Devon) when Paul, Tannis, Mason, and Ronel aren’t available or there’s a 5th Monday in the month, and continue to look for new ideas to add to the open mic (which itself is stronger than ever, with consistent performer sign-ups and great audiences).
Over the years, various incarnations of our CaRaVaN 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 as 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, X-Cues, 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 and sponsorship of our summer series at the Cube (in conjunction with Purple Room events) from supportive local businesses.
(If you’d like to donate to or sponsor CaRaVaN, please contact the Purple Room!)