Listening Local: Open Mic Nights Open Doors
By: LUKE VOSE, May 8, 2014
As soon I printed my name on the sign-up sheet I regretted it. I was at the point of no return. I waited and sipped my Coke until I was called. Here I go, dead man walking, I thought.
The microphone was adjusted and I was introduced. I launched into an angst-filled number called “Hypothermia,” no doubt inspired by my hero at the time, Kurt Cobain. When the last chord rang out, I opened my eyes. The crowd hadn’t fled or gathered fruits and vegetables to pelt me with. They clapped and nodded appreciatively. Sure, it wasn’t a stunned, slow clap that developed into deafening applause like in the movies but it was good enough for me.
I was 12 years old and I’d just played a song I’d written—in public. In the years since, I’ve had a lot of great experiences playing music with different people all over the world. I can’t for the life of me remember how to play “Hypothermia” but I will always remember that night, the excitement, sheer terror and elation of playing in front of a crowd my first time. Thank God for open mics.
A great open mic has a mix of seasoned artists, first timers and acts that aren’t ready to fill an entire night but make for a very interesting 15 minutes. For an aspiring performer this is where the rubber meets the road. For someone with a lot of experience it can be a great place to try out new material. For those who enjoy music it is a chance to see a variety of entertainment in one show.
Often times open mics are the breeding ground for a local scene. Musicians meet there and may go on to form bands together. I know I have.
The aforementioned experience took place at Pie in the Sky in Woods Hole. They have been running an open mic every Monday, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, for as long as I can remember. Local acts from Old Silver Band and Dan Byrnes to P Dub have made appearances over the years. The acts vary greatly: folk, rock, jazz, reggae, hip-hop, poetry and stand-up comedy may be heard on any given Monday. Local musician Randy Gummow, who has hosted for the last 13 years, said, “It’s outside and it’s all ages, which makes it a really inclusive event. I like it also because it starts early; sign up begins at 6 PM.”
These Monday nights are a long-standing Woods Hole tradition. The audience stretches from the bakery’s outdoor picnic tables to the sloping lawn across the street.
If you are looking for a pub-style open mic, acoustic duo Nicholas Vecchione and Michael DeVaux host three open mic nights in Falmouth: Sunday at Jack’s, Tuesday at J.R. Brody’s and Friday at The Conference Table.
If you want to show your talent to the world, start with an open mic. Art is meant to be shared, it’s how it comes alive. Go ahead and sign up. You never know, you might even get a stunned slow clap that develops into deafening applause, just like in the movies.