An American folk-roots musician will end his 20-show tour at Together We’re Bitter Brewery on Sunday, March 31 at 2 p.m.
Derksen, an American citizen who grew up in the Canadian prairies and spent a lot of time on the west coast of North America, said that his shows’ venues have ranged from large, ticketed events to living room concerts and the occasional brewery.
His bio describes his sound as having “the groundedness of harsh Manitoba winters, mixed with the optimism of British Columbia’s coastline.”
Like all of TWB Brewery’s musical events, Derksen’s performance is free of charge for anyone who wishes to attend.
Richard Garvey, the event coordinator at TWB, said that the brewery’s goal is to make music as accessible as possible to the community.
“We’re doing as much as we can to make it an inclusive and safe place for everyone to enjoy craft beer and music,” he said. “[We’re] doing our best to keep it accessible, keep events accessible and keep the cost of the beer as accessible as possible.”
Garvey said TWB pays musicians to come perform and then leaves a tip jar out so that people can still further support the artists, but there’s no pressure on the band to bring a crowd.
“We’re open as a brewery, so people come in and get a glass of beer or a flight or a growler or bottles,” he said. “It doesn’t really make sense to charge tickets because a lot of people come in and they’ll stay for a set or five or six songs and then continue on with their day. They’ll come in, listen to a few songs and be like, ‘That’s amazing, but I have to take my kid to soccer practice, so I’ll buy a CD.’ . . . We’re already a successful business and brewery; we just have music as a thing that we love and do and support rather than exploit.”
TWB has hosted musicians from all over the world, spanning from across Canada to Australia.
Garvey described the general atmosphere of TWB as low-key and a good time.
“The brewery is run by people who love beer and work really hard. There’s no owner who has millions of dollars and just said, ‘Oh, I’m going to open a craft brewery because that’s where the trend is.’ It’s run by people who are just very passionate about good beer, building a co-operative and building a community. You can taste it in the beer; you can feel it in the vibe. We have people come in who are very successful and then people who live in the community who are more casual. People come in after their long day of working construction, sit down and have a beer in their neon construction vests and people come in who are dressed very fancy. So it’s a very open and welcoming place.”
Derksen, meanwhile, jokingly describes his stage presence as being a little awkward.
“I want to make a joke about being terribly insecure and awkward on stage,” he laughed when asked about his performances. “I enjoy performing and I enjoy connecting with people. So my performance, my stage presence . . . it’s an invitation for people to engage with the music, with each other and with us up on stage. I’ll always try and ask people questions, try and get the audience involved to some degree, and maybe even feel a little uncomfortable.”
Derksen acknowledges that the places that he visits have a lot of influence on the music he writes.
“I’ve found every place has its own unique culture to it,” he said. “Every community, every small town has its own unique perspective and its own unique way of viewing the world that’s subtly or very different from other towns. So for me to get to travel across the country and play and perform in a lot of these communities and meet people, see the town, and get the insider’s perspective . . . That’s where a lot of the songs come from.”
Both Derksen and the brewery hope people will come out, have a good time with them and enjoy the music and the beer.
“People just to come with a willingness to engage with the expectation of enjoying themselves, ’cause I promise that they will and they won’t regret coming out to the show,” Derksen said.
TWB Brewery, located at 300 Mill St., Unit 1, Kitchener, hosts free live music every Sunday and a free acoustic jam session where anyone can come and play music every Thursday at 6 p.m.