Saturday marks the end of an era in this town with the closing of The Staircase Theatre and Cafe. But the folks a thte little venue that could are going to be celebrating it in pretty much the same way they have every other night during the past few years – with top-notch live entertainment. The Staircase has always been the round hole for the square pegs of this world, providing shelter to artists who really didn’t fit well into other places. Unfortunately, it became too much of a weight for the proprietors of The Staircase to bear. So, after hosting more than 3,000 events in their funky little place on Dendurn North, Kathy Garneau and Hugh MacLeod are calling it quits to spend more time with their two young children. The final night’s entertainment was booked before they decided to close the building, so it’s a pretty good representation of the kind of talent The Staircase has been drawing over the years. Up front in The Staircase Cafe there’s Kate Rogers, a singer-songwriter who’s better known in England – where she has earned rave reviews in The Times of London and NME magazine – than in her native Ontario. Originally from a farm near Barrie, Rogers went to England a few years ago to help her cousin start up a new music label called Grand Central Records in Manchester. She had received classical voice training during her school years growing up in Kettleby and she was quickly put to work singing lead vocals for an urban dance group called Aim. The group had a minor English his with a song called ‘Sail’, selling some 150,000 copies – a feat that would register platinum in Canada. Rogers toured up adn down Britain with Aim but still considered Ontario her home, commuting back and forth, keeping an apartment in Toronto and crashing with friends in Manchester during her English stays. She went home and wrote a pile of songs with her Canadian partner Matthew Bannister, a guitarist and keyboard player she met while attending the University of British Columbia. They found some like-minded musicians and recorded in Toronto’s Chemical Sound studios, then took the tracks back to Manchester for mixing.
Graham Rockingham – The Hamilton Spectator