Arts & Entertainment, Music

Wednesday Night Fever in the Quartier Latin

One night this semester, at a bar on St. Denis, I was watching the closing set of Growve, a jam session I regularly attend. Some professional musicians barged in at the last minute, ecstatic and hugging friends they had not seen in a while. They were there to hang out, but given their credentials, the hosts immediately welcomed them on stage. For two minutes, the bassist, drummer, and keyboard player tried to lock into a groove. It was awkward, and the audience could tell that the jam was not going too well. Suddenly, the bass player found a rhythmic low end complementing the drumline, and the keyboard player played rich synthesizer lines. With every passing minute of their set, the music only got better. It was the closest thing I’ve experienced to a musical trance; I was locked into their unique soundscape. Sweat dripped off the drummer playing his final big lines while the keyboard lingered on the last chord of the set. The crowd roared in awe, and the host yelled out one last time: “This. Is. A. Jam!”

Growve occurs every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at Turbo Haüs. Musicians come and take a break from regular life, playing their hearts out. The three hosts, Shayne, Shem, and Marcus, offer a free performance for an audience that wants to dance to improvised R&B, neo-soul, and hip-hop. Among the musicians, you will find artists, industry producers, session musicians, and even hobbyists. The vibes are right, and the music is tight. Every session, Shem calls out “this is a jam,” the show’s motto, to a raucous crowd under the signature arrow-shaped lights.

“The quality of the jams [are] very good,” guitarist Joseph Anidjar said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “The hosts are very welcoming. Sometimes the jams are cutthroat, and this is what I like.” 

For those like Joseph seeking an artistic challenge, the jam often delves into technical and jazzier sounds as professionals drop in to perform. Yet, there is always a place for those going out with their friends or those who want to show their hidden talents on any instrument.

Growve traces its roots back to Le Cypher, a jam session produced in the now-defunct Bleury Bar à Vinyle. Shayne, Joseph, and Shem, who were CEGEP students in 2017, used to go to test their chops. 

“There were couches in the middle of the venue,” Shayne said. “We hung out and played tunes we could not perform in music school.” 

Soon, Shayne, Shem, and others began hosting Mercredi Live at Bleury. Even though the bar closed before the pandemic, Marcus joined in and the show moved shop to Turbo Haüs, bearing its current namesake.

Saxophone player Seuss (U3 Music) frequents the jams—his playing is improvisational and rooted in traditional jazz, but as he says, “I want to have fun, man.” 

“It’s relaxed,” Seuss told the Tribune. “You meet so many nice people, you get to show off, and you get gigs. All these people know me thanks to Growve.” 

You will find jazz students at the bar ready to play some Beyoncé or D’Angelo, casual flavours compared to the rigidity of academic music. The ease of the songs and their broad appeal keep the jam inclusive by bridging artistic backgrounds. Additionally, bands and artists that got started through Growve play their original music. The jam, and Turbo Haüs in general, showcases the city’s musical zeitgeist. 

“Many acts started thanks to this event,” Shem and Shayne said. “We can tell people where to go when they ask where the music is.” 

Whether you’re a suit, musician, or anyone else under the rare Montreal winter sun, everyone is welcome at Growve. The equipment and musicians on stage may cost thousands of dollars, but you won’t have to pay a Canadian dime to get down on a Wednesday night.

Share this:

One Comment

  1. Taz Scott-Talib

    Groovy article! Can’t wait for Wednesday

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Read the latest issue