Meet Raven Groves, allsaints’ new music programming director
Working Title Kitchen and allsaintsottawa have hired a new Music Programming Director, and there are already plenty of performances underway behind those red doors. Raven Groves started her role in early March but has roots in the neighbourhood that reach back much further.
Can you start by telling us more about your connection to Sandy Hill?
One of the first places we lived in my early childhood was at Charlotte and Daly. A lot of my fondest early childhood memories were in Strathcona Park — walking across the river — and walking tree-lined streets in Sandy Hill. My father (the late Stephen Groves, a gifted guitarist and jazz musician) grew up on Nelson and taught students from all walks of life from his studio, “The Ottawa Guitar School,” which was located on the 300 and 400 blocks of Rideau Street through the 90s and early 2000s. He was very active in the local community. So, essentially, I was a neighbourhood kid!
You used to perform with your dad as well. Do you have memories of performing with him here in Sandy Hill?
Definitely. There’s a willow tree in Strathcona Park that we would often sit under and sing our song, “How Deep Is the Ocean” [by Irving Berlin]. Recently, Justin Duhaime, who is a great manouche guitarist, came to perform at Working Title. We had never met before that night, but he knew of my father and invited me to sit in with him. I chose that song, and it felt like such a cool full circle moment, being able to come back to the neighbourhood and sing that tune in a new context, with a new accompanist, but still holding all of those lovely memories.
What’s it like for you to be back in Sandy Hill in this new role?
It’s really exciting! I’m looking forward to rebuilding some of the connections my dad made in the community and branching out on my own as an adult with my career and community building.
Events have restarted in full-swing at Working Title and allsaints. What do you have planned for the spring and summer months?
We’re going to be having live programming on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. On Tuesday and Thursday we’ll have performers and Wednesday will be our curated open mic. I’m really hoping that we can get a lot of different types of performers and artists in here — not only music but also visual art, spoken word, and maybe some storytellers as well.
The open mics are going to be a really exciting addition to the community. There are some other places running them, but this space in particular is a really unique one.
A lot of the programming is in the chapel room. It’s an intimate space with gorgeous stone walls, high ceilings, and great acoustics.
What has it been like to see people gathered together to listen to live music again?
It’s a beautiful thing after a couple of years of lockdowns and restrictions. It brings joy to my heart to see folks gathering here, enjoying the community and really what this space was built for.
In the back end of the chapel there’s a large semicircular couch. To see people sitting on it laughing, singing, and enjoying themselves was an incredible experience. That’s the kind of thing I’m looking forward to a lot more of.
To keep up with the latest performances and event schedule, follow Working Title Kitchen on social media or visit www.workingtitleottawa.com.