Home | Featured | UNZIPPED: It’s Only Rock’ n Roll (But I Like It)
by Alex Kinsella | December 2021

Music is the heartbeat of any city — and Waterloo Region is no different. We’re home to Juno-award-winning rocker JJ Wilde, Mystic & Miranda, Errol Star Francis, John “Beetle” Bailey, Steve Strongman, Carlos Morgan, and so many more amazing musicians, engineers, and songwriters. We’ve even got our great music stories, like how the Guess Who wrote “American Woman” in the building that’s now a Home Hardware (there’s a plaque there to prove it).

We’ve got even more great music and history to share as the home of the only Canadian stop on The Rolling Stones | UNZIPPED exhibition at THEMUSEUM in Downtown Kitchener. The exhibit runs from November 30, 2021, to February 27, 2022, and features a fantastic collection of memorabilia, artwork, costumes, stage design, and storytelling from one of music’s most influential — and longest-lasting — rock bands.

UNZIPPED features over 10,000 square feet of objects and material from the Stones’ personal collection, as well as items on loan from music collectors and musicians across the world. One of the most unique parts of the exhibit is a realistic reconstruction of their Chelsea flat ‘Edith Grove.’

A recreation of the Rolling Stones' Chelsea flat known as Edith Grove. It is a squalid, messy kitchen display, with garbage and dirt everywhere, dingy cupboards and furniture and dirty walls
The Rolling Stones’ Chelsea flat (Photo: Alex Kinsella)

The exhibition has something for everyone — whether you’re a Rolling Stones fan or not. There are original costumes from across the Stone’s 60 years of performing, set designs from their sellout world tours, and a massive collection of artwork — including seven original pieces by Andy Warhol.

Andy Warhol lithographs of the Rolling Stones. The art is part of the UNZIPPED exhibition at THEMUSEUM in downtown Kitchener
Andy Warhol lithographs (Photo: Alex Kinsella)

THEMUSEUM CEO David Marskell said that UNZIPPED celebrates music across Waterloo Region.

“UNZIPPED is part of our festival strategy. Our team got together and started to think of how to connect across different venues, bars, and restaurants to celebrate music in our community,” Marskell said.

The Stones were named after Muddy Water’s song ‘Rollin’ Stone,’ which inspired Marskell to raise the awareness of Black musicians and Black music locally, including Mel Brown. Brown was a blues guitarist and singer born in Jackson, Mississippi, who lived and performed in Kitchener. In Spring 2022, the Mel Brown Music Festival will celebrate the musician’s life and impact on the music world.

UNZIPPED also features Reverberations, a mini-exhibition celebrating Waterloo Region’s long history of live music. Reverberations features local music memorabilia from historic venues like Lulu’s Roadhouse and Pop The Gator and posters of major acts that have played locally, including The Bee Gees, BB King, and Led Zeppelin, Queen, and more.

A view of the Reverberations display that is part of UNZIPPED at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener. Reverberations features local rock and roll stories and artifacts.
Reverberations at UNZIPPED (Photo: Alex Kinsella)

Reverberations also features locals who have had a hand in bringing those musicians to town, including Ethel’s Lounge owner Glenn Smith.

“We have four brilliant people captured on tape sharing their experiences and what they brought to this community with those bands playing in the backyard. It’s not meant to be a history, it is meant to be cool moments of rock and roll here in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and across the region,” Marskell said.

The festival feeling of UNZIPPED stretches across Waterloo Region with art and music to explore, listen, and feel. Here’s your guide to a sample of the music and music history events happening across Waterloo Region during UNZIPPED. You can view the complete list at unzippedkw.ca/events.

Paint It Black Fridays

THEMUSEUM | 10 King S W, Kitchener

On January 21, 2022, enjoy a night at UNZIPPED along with a screen printing workshop in The Underground Studio MakerSpace at THEMUSEUM.

Frock On

Fashion History Museum | 74 Queen St E, Cambridge

Celebrate a century of fashion, music, and teenage culture from December 1 to February 27, 2022.

UNZIPPED Film Series

Princess Cinema | 6 Princess St W, Waterloo

The Princess Cinema will feature a selection of Stone’s concerts and films from November through March 2022, including a screening of Godard’s Sympathy For The Devil on December 16.

Ronnie Wood Art Exhibition

95 King St W, Unit 110, Waterloo

Curated by Laurel McKellar, Senior Director of Curation, Exhibitions, and Program at THEMUSEUM, the exhibition includes approximately 70 works of art, featuring a combination of original works, prints, setlist works, lithographs, and paint-over works.

Jeans’ n Classics Rock Symphony

Centre in the Square | 101 Queen St N, Kitchener

Celebrate 60 years of the Stone’s with an exciting, engaging, and memorable concert with the Jeans’n Classics Rocky Symphony.

Spend the night together with the Stone’s and The Walper Hotel

Walper Hotel | 20 Queen St So, Kitchener

Make a night of UNZIPPED with the Walper Hotel in the heart of Downtown Kitchener. The boutique hotel has one and two-night packages, including tickets to UNZIPPED, gift certificates for their onsite restaurant TWH Social, and a merchandise voucher for the UNZIPPER gift shop.

For more information on UNZIPPED, visit themuseum.ca.

The Rolling Stones' logo - red lips with the tongue sticking out. The tongue has been painted with a stylized Canadian flag motif on it
Photo: Alex Kinsella


Alex Kinsella is a freelance writer and marketer based in Waterloo Region. He’s the guy behind TL;WR – Waterloo Region’s weekly events newsletter. He’s worked with some of Canada’s most well-known tech companies in roles including customer success, development, product management, PR, social media and marketing.

Alex has contributed to publications including BetaKit, Grand Magazine, Community Edition and more. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.


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