Live music, drinks, a caterer, and a packed room on a Saturday night.

Location?

The public library.

The Pairs playing at St. Thomas Public Library crowd and band

Songs in the Stacks was a night of music featuring St. Thomas singer songwriter Deni Gauthier with his band the Horrible Mischief and London band The Pairs. Hosted by the St. Thomas Public Library and Home County Music & Art Festival on Nov. 24th, the concert was complemented by delicious hors d’oeuvres by Yoda’s Kitchen.

The event’s unconventional location – the history department of the library – proved to be a draw for guests, with over 70 in attendance. Songs in the Stacks sold out the day before the show, forcing the organizers to think on their feet and move locations within the library to fit the influx of people.

St. Thomas Public Library band in reflection

Mallory Pearce, Marketing Coordinator of the library, was “a little surprised” with the turnout, as this was the library’s first ticketed concert and they didn’t know what the response would be from the community. The positive feedback from the numbers alone bodes well for the direction the library is moving. According to Mallory, they are “trying to transition from the idea that the library is just books and it’s a really hush-hush place where you have to behave yourself.”

crowd smiling listening to music

While you might see more events like this in the future, it doesn’t mean the library has completely changed course. “We still have books, we still do a lot of work with literacy but we’re trying to keep it relevant to what our customers need,” Mallory says.

One guest, Victoria Banman, loved seeing the library bring people in for something different. “I’m so proud of our library for promoting all variety of the arts. Not just literature but all the ways we experience culture, from books to music, people and food – the things that feed our souls.”

The Pairs three singers in a row
Renee Coughlin, Hillary Watson, and Noelle Coughlin of The Pairs

The Pairs  three classically trained vocalists and a former punk rock drummer – were the first group to play, and got the crowd moving with their upbeat rhythms and impressive harmonies. The quartet loved playing in the library. Noelle Coughlin, one of the three singers, says, “I love the idea of making any space a music space. I think that it doesn’t matter where it is as long as there’s a group of people and the energy willing to be there – music can go anywhere.”

The Pairs have recently played at two other venues in the area, the Port Stanley United Church for Harbour Sessions Live and the Elgin County Railway Museum for Railway City Tourism’s culinary tour. Like the library, these aren’t typical venues for a concert, but The Pairs aren’t complaining. “There’s something so awesome about being able to yell-sing in a place that’s traditionally supposed to be quiet,” Renee Coughlin says with a laugh.

deni gauthier singing at library

Deni Gauthier was also happy to be breaking the mold for a concert venue. Though he’s played music in libraries in the past, having a fully licensed concert with catering was new to him. “I love libraries. I grew up in libraries. I love the idea of doing something out of the norm and inviting a bunch of people to take part.”

A master storyteller who combines honest lyrics with beautiful loops and layers of music, Deni was a perfect fit for the space. He felt right at home too, as the couches and laidback atmosphere of the setting made it feel like a house show, where he often plays. Deni is excited about the growing music scene in his hometown, as well as the way culture as a whole is changing in St. Thomas.

“I think St. Thomas is gonna kick it off. There’s a lot of cool things happening.”

the pairs band playing music in a library

The evening was the first of many Songs in the Stacks events to come. Follow along with the St. Thomas Public Library on social media or our events page to find out about the next one!

Photos: Grayden Laing | Laing Studios/Establish Media