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Galt Jazz begins its third summer of outdoor shows on May 26th

The non-profit monthly jazz concert series brings people brings people together downtown

When Dave and Ruth Ottenbrite first visited Cambridge for a wedding, they fell in love with the city while driving through the historic downtown. In 2019, after retiring, they decided to make the move from Mississauga.

“When the music stops, it stops. You have to find new things to do when you retire,” says Dave.

Dave and Ruth are “huge” jazz fans, a passion that brought them together as a couple. While living in the GTA, they frequented popular jazz venues in Toronto like The Rex and Jazz Bistro, and visited The Jazz Room in Waterloo. But at their new home in Cambridge, they felt that the downtown needed more support and culture.


The couple didn’t know anyone in town, but had a couple of years during the pandemic to get to know the area. The pandemic further inspired them to help revitalize the downtown core, after all that the businesses and community had been through. They decided to start Galt Jazz, a non-profit monthly jazz concert series.

“We can show people that our streets are safe. As urban planners say, it’s important to bring eyes on the street, bring people on the street,” says Dave.


Galt Jazz is in its third year now, and so far has held 24 consecutive shows. They host five street shows and seven indoor “cold weather” shows each year. The indoor shows are held at 13 Food & Beverage, a cozy downtown establishment that Dave says Galt Jazz has great loyalty to. These indoor shows can fit about 50 people, consistently sold out.

The five-show outdoor series starts up again on May 26th, and is held on the last Sunday of every month on Main Street. The summer series brings over 300 people to the streets of downtown Cambridge. At one of the first outdoor shows in 2023, Dave had a long-time resident tell him that it was the largest amount of people he’d seen in the downtown in years.


“That made me feel so good,” says Dave.

Dave says that some locals, and even some visitors, didn’t think that downtown Cambridge was a safe place to be. He and Ruth hope that visiting the area for Galt Jazz shows helps them rediscover or discover the downtown.

“Here in Cambridge and in Galt in particular, when we arrived here, people had incurred so many losses as businesses moved out of the downtown. But we came there anew and all we saw was potential,” says Dave.

The couple is happy to see new faces at every Galt Jazz show, bringing in tourism from out of Cambridge. When visiting the Waterloo Jazz Festival, Ruth, Dave and their friends took the opportunity to distribute 1,200 fliers for their shows. At the next Galt Jazz performance, Dave met many new attendees from the Kitchener-Waterloo area.


As Dave says, “for some people, jazz is a four letter word.” With Galt Jazz shows, Ruth and Dave stick to largely accessible jazz that people know or can enjoy. One woman who told Dave she hated jazz ended up attending their next five shows.

In addition to loving the music, Cambridge locals are recognizing Ruth and Dave’s hard work. They were nominated for two awards from The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce last year, and this year Dave has been nominated for the Bernice Adams Legacy Award, which recognizes individuals and groups for their contributions to artistic and cultural life in Cambridge.

In 2023, Dave and his friend Jeff Vetere held a “Dinner on the Grand” fundraising event for the Cambridge Food Bank. Despite a weather forecast that moved the dinner away from the Grand River, they were still able to raise $6,300 for the food bank. They currently have plans in the works for another food bank fundraiser, to be held in the fall.

“Sometimes your cause is parallel with needs. Just as our cause of going downtown with our shows is about the need to have people come back downtown, the same thing could be said for food insecurity,” says Dave.

For more information about Galt Jazz and their shows, visit