Ancaster’s Coach And Lantern: A Perfect Venue For Great Music

The Coach and Lantern


Last month’s Blues Studio show at the upstairs Coach and Lantern was sold out. Co-owner and general manager Andrea Cassis is in music heaven. Even after adding an extra night they could barely supply enough seats to meet the audience demand for The Blues Angels with special guest Michael Dunston. Matt Schofield’s appearances at the Blues Studio in May sold out four nights in a row.
This month, Canadian blues-harp master Roly Platt is already sold out. “People have been coming from all over, even as far away as Windsor,” Cassis reports. She happily acknowledges her love for promoting music and musicians, and it is plainly visible at the Coach and Lantern. “The Coach” is located at 384 Wilson Street East in Ancaster, in an easy-to-find heritage stone building. It has established itself as a great place to grab a meal and relax with friends. The stone-cut walls, wood paneling and labyrinthine layout definitely evoke an authentic “pub” vibe. 
Judy Marsales and The Noteworthies: Wednesday


The Blues Angels: Jordan John, Al Cross, Prakash John

The music, though, is what enables the Coach and Lantern to offer that extra helping of customer satisfaction. The management team is putting live musical entertainment at the centre of its plans, and has moved way beyond dabbling or experimenting with live music in the way that other venues have been known to operate. The Coach and Lantern, nearly five years under the direction of Cassis and her husband, deserves recognition for the way it hires, promotes and partners with musicians.

The downstairs room is an intimate pub setting. It seats less than 100 and has a medium sized stage that fits 3 to 6 performers. While there is no fixed dance floor, it’s not uncommon to see patrons up in the aisles. Tables can be moved if necessary. The types of music range from solos, duos, full bands, covers, originals, to all star bands. They embrace a variety of styles, and the restaurant staff, mostly Andrea, do the bookings. When asked to describe some of the other awesome things about her venue, Cassis replies, “This may take a while.”

For example, some other Coach and Lantern staff are closely connected to local music. Cassis enthusiastically says, “Adam White, the lead singer and guitarist for The Reason works part time for us when he’s around town. It’s funny how many musicians work for the Coach part time and fun to have them get up and play Open Mic on Thursdays along with the Judy Marsales Singalong. When Colin Lapsley got up the other night while on shift and covered a Marvin Gaye tune, he had the ladies going crazy. Better tips for him I’m sure! Greg Preston (and The Great Machine) also has worked in our kitchen for almost 3 years now. We feel blessed to have so much talent on staff and get to enjoy them in more than one capacity.”
The biggest thrill these days is the Blues Studio shows. Blues singer and multi-instrumentalist Jordan John, who recently signed with Verve Records, and his band The Blues Angels are hosting a series of star-studded concerts featuring established and up-and-coming guests. The band consists of Prakash John, renowned Canadian bassist (The Lincolns, Blues Brothers, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Parliament Funkadelics, Bush), and Jordan’s father; and drummer Al Cross. Bob Hunt, the producer of the shows in partnership with Prakash, was looking for a venue that would represent an intimate dinner-concert setting. They chose the Coach and Lantern’s upper level. It’s got the perfect up-close dynamic that the musicians love because they can see and feel the audience’s enthusiasm and it comes out in their performance! It all makes for a great video product.

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