Open Mics, or Rock Till You Drop

The Geyserville Mud Open Mic

I rocked and I almost dropped last night! Whew!  I am supposed to be running an Open Mic on Sunday Evenings at a Coffee House cum Club, Geyserville Mud, in my hometown of Geyserville.  Last night was the first of many we will do.  It turned out to be more of  of a Hilary Show than an open mic.  Which is not a bad thing when one is trying to start a function such as this, but it is tiring.  Also this is not supposed to be about me.

I played the equivalent of three sets.  Three sets is a lot of work when I play with 45-90, but on my own they can really be tiring, and, besides, this does not match my concept for what an open mic should be like.

In my not so very humble opinion an open mic should be just that, open.  While lead one can be a great platform to promote yourself as a leader and a musician, it should not be a place where you can hog the stage as a great performer.  Performance opportunities ought to come from venues where you can legitimately claim the stage.  The open mic is where you help, encourage, impel other musicians to perform.

I get so tired of half-assed musicians, sitting around and carping about beginners at open mics who are, “beginning” — doing poorly but trying and actually doing their best.  What’s up with that?  Well I thing that it is self aggrandizement at someone else’s expense–wolves attacking a weaker wolf and thereby thinning the heard.   Great moves for wolves but not so great for humans.  I’ve noticed that this crap is always done by the ego-driven wannabes.  Go figure!

I do understand that in areas such as Nashville there are open mics for professional musicians and songwriters that are forums for getting their songs heard.  That’s different.  And the kind of open mics at small bars and coffee houses, should be places where it is safe for beginners to actually “begin.”

Rick & Hilary — compliments of Cherie M.
Greg & Hilary — compliments of Cherie M.

Last night turned into an abridged jam session, which is not such a bad thing.  There were a couple of kats who were musicians and wanted to sit in.  I did not bring what I needed for them in terms of mics for acoustic guitars, but I will remedy that next week.  But for a first time, and the lack of advertising we did, I thought the whole experience was great.  Rick got to perform some of his songs, and I backed him up on the harp.  Greg, who was also the barista, sat in on the bass when he could break away.  Also there were two poets who read their material, and the audience quieted for them and showed respect–I was impressed.

What was really important for last night was that there were around 25 to 30 folks who came through over the course of the evening.  Some stayed all night and had a great time.  They will tell their friends and more will come next time.  More musicians will show up as well.  We are advertising this an an acoustic open mic that is of a quieter nature.  We won’t get the hard core heavy thrashers, but we don’t want them.  We will get singer/songwriters and musicians who won’t drive us to ear plugs.

I would like this to be a safe place for both the experienced musician and for the beginner to show up and play a song or two and get their feet into a music setting with an appreciative audience.  I believe we are on our way!


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