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Canada 150


      BBAM! Gallery brings the coffeehouse to Montreal

      Feb. 28, 2013

      Just over a year ago, Ralph Alfonso and Alison Rogers opened BBAM! Gallery in Montreal’s St-Henri district. The space was somewhat modest and a little rundown, but the couple had big plans.

      Fast forward one year, and the little space that could has become an eclectic space where one can enjoy a good coffee, a live afternoon jazz performance, or even purchase a rare movie poster or vinyl.

      BBAM! Gallery is part art gallery, part record shop, part café, and part live music venue. It’s a haven for local artists and their crafts, and for folks who love to collect odd and rare pop culture items. The set up lends well to whatever event might fall on the day’s schedule. The stage is always ready for a performer, a big screen hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room makes a film or video screening effortless, and most of the furniture is on wheels.

      Saturday and Sunday afternoons bring a variety of live music and performance to the BBAM! Gallery stage. Instead of a fixed admission price, audience members are encouraged to “pass the hat.”

      The inspiration for the space came from the groovy Seattle and San Francisco coffeehouses that Alfonso and Rogers frequented when they lived in Vancouver.

      Alfonso himself has a vast vinyl record collection that he would sell at various events. People always asked him where his shop was, to which he had no answer. Rogers has extensive experience in retail and entrepreneurship.

      When they moved to Montreal, they began to look for a space of their own, and came across 3255 St Jacques Street.

      “When we saw this space, we thought, this is it,” explains Alfonso.

      “The building is falling apart. But it has a charm and people love it. The neighborhood too is unique. Although we’re still trying to figure out the rhythm of this area,” he muses.

      “We’re providing a really nice place for people to come together and enjoy music. When you come here it’s really an impulse buy, because you never know what will be here. We’re kind of a Mile End store in St-Henri. People who get it, get it.”

      “Alison and I definitely have a good balance in terms of experience. Sometimes I want to bring something in and Alison will say, who will buy that?”

      Alfonso himself is a reflection of his gallery. He has worked as a music journalist and record label rep, he’s a musician and poet, a performer, and a graphic artist. He also runs his own record label, BongoBeat Records.

      “That’s one of my problems. I wear too many hats,” Alfonso muses.

      “Sometimes people don’t know what to make of me. Even with my music. I had my 15 minutes of fame. Now I’m considered 90s nostalgia.”

      BBAM! Gallery is located at 3255 St Jacques in Montreal. For their live music lineup, please visit

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