It was a few weeks before Christmas (just last December) and I was hunkered over the buffet table at my friend Rick’s house party in east end Toronto. Somewhere between attacking the cheese tray and ladling myself another mug of punch I heard this melodic music coming from the living room – which suddenly morphed into a kick-butt, foot-stomping rhythm that shook the house in a good way.
I poked my nose into the living room and discovered a three-piece band playing live next to the Christmas tree. That was my first live experience of the Weber Brothers, the Peterborough band that bills itself as “The Baddest Band in the Land.” (Brothers Ryan and Sam Weber were heavily influenced by rock ‘n’ roll icon Ronnie Hawkins.)
I had already been a fan of the Weber Brothers (love their 2014 “We” album) so it was an unexpected treat to find them in my pal’s living room in Toronto.
Partway through the night, I realized it would be cool to enjoy this kind of laid-back music vibe on my next jaunt to Peterborough – which was planned for St. Patrick’s Day. So I asked Ryan Weber for his suggestions.
“The easiest way to find good live music in Peterborough?” said Ryan. “Just stick your head out your front door and you’ll find it!” Not having a front door in Peterborough I opted to pick Ryan’s brain for suggestions – not just for St. Paddy’s Day but for any night of the year.
Topping the list of recommendations: Red Dog Tavern (189 Hunter St W., 705-750-1710). “It’s a Peterborough institution – everybody has played here, including Neil Young, Jeff Healey and the Tragically Hip,” said Ryan. “It’s the best place in town to attend a music fund-raiser and it has an amazingly friendly vibe.” I can vouch for the friendly vibe.
No live music tour of Peterborough is complete without a pass through the old historic Morrow Building, insisted Ryan: “That’s where you’ll find the Black Horse Pub (452 George St N.; 705-742-0633). You can expect it to be especially lively on St. Patrick’s Day – but you’ll hear great music there any night of the year.” (They also host Jazz Nights Thursday if you’re looking for something other than rock.)
Every artist has an unexpected side. That goes for Ryan and Sam Weber. “Yes, it’s true,” says Ryan. “We do play a little bit of Indian music. I learned to play the sitar and my brother Sam plays the tabla.” The inspiration was Curry Village (306 George St N.; 705-742-1432). “The owner was our landlord actually,” said Ryan, “and we discovered we liked Indian music as well as the food. One of our earliest Peterborough gigs was at Currie Village.” Currie’s hosts a monthly all-you-can-eat-Indian-buffet with jazz!
If you’re hankering for southern bbq-style smoked meat and a good beer to go with your music? “You want Dr. J’s,” says Ryan. He’s talking about Dr. J’s BBQ and Brews (282 Aylmer Street N.; 705-874-5717) which was once the iconic Montreal House. “Lots of great local talent play here.”
If you’re passing through on a weeknight, swing by McThirsty’s Pint (166 Charlotte St.; 705-743-2220), a friendly Peterborough taproom with an excellent selection of local beers and live music. Check out Topper Tuesdays when DJ Jake Topper “plays whatever he wants.”
If you’re feeling brave, just follow Ryan’s advice on your next trip to Peterborough – on St. Patrick’s Day or any night of the year – and stick your head out the front door and follow the tunes. You won’t go wrong!