Having lived in this small town for 10 years, I thought it was time to venture out and play locally, for free, just to see what was going on and maybe meet some nice people.A local pub had the obligatory "open mic-all welcome' sign up so I decided to go.Ever cautious, the first week I go as a punter to check out the scene-it was run by a very well known local musician called Ivor Problem (names have been changed to protect the guilty).It all seemed very inclusive,Ivor seemed well friendly.I introduced myself and said what I did and he said sure come along next week.So I did- as I started up he put the mic up on the pa stupid loud but someone else hurriedly rectified it.I guessed he'd just made a mistake.well I launch into 3 songs-the punters are stopping drinking and standing open mouthed and its cheering all the way.I'm conscious of not stealing the show so when the crowd ask for more I tell them I dont wanna hog the time and ask if I should do one more-Ivor says one more.I do it and having played 4 short numbers thats that. Ivor goes on next and he plays his heart out-dont get me wrong this guy can play-he musta hit every note possible on that Strat.
He acts all friendly toward me but the very next week he rings last minute to tell me the open night is cancelled.I think uh oh..alarm bells..am I being paranoid..so the following week I turn up but again as a punter.Ivor is rockin out on his strat.I sit down with his crowd but I cant help but feel they seem a little awkward due to my arrival.Well, Ivor finishes playing, comes over to the table, sits down next to me, turns his chair 180, and leaves me looking at the back of his head!! no shit! I look around the table but they avoid my gaze or take sudden interest in their shoes.Sheesh-unbelievable.I drink my Guinness and pretend to not feel as awkward and embarrassed as I do.Well Ivor goes back on, inviting various others to sing/play with him and of course, at last, the penny drops..this particular open mic is only inclusive if you aren't as good as Ivor- this pub is Ivors Kingdom and he'll be damned if any else is gonna excite the crowd more than him.I finish up my pint, bid everyone fairwell and leave.
I'd hate for this post to put anyone off open mic-but when you see a sign saying 'open mic-all welcome', remember that sign might contain the unprinted suffix-'unless you're more exciting than the host'.
Wow, what an ass.
As a guy who runs one of these open mics, I compare my job to that of a babysitter... a babysitter of drunk adult rednecks sometimes. My crowd often brings cell phone cameras or digital cameras to snap some shots for Facebook (I've copied a few to my profile in here). I can always tell when someone amazing is playing...because there's always a picture taken of me with the biggest, goofiest smile on my face.
Gimme good players any day. I can't stand when my mics are filled with hum-and-strummers or drunks playing some cliche'd Crosby Stills and Nash.
I recently started bringing this beast to my mics (below). It's totally transformed them. Everybody walks up to it and plays it at some point in the night. We all have a good time.
Hollowbelly, move to Pennsylvania!
There are few "open mic" venues in my locality since most of the Pubs have closed, though maybe one or two exist if i look hard enough.
One i visited was an acoustic-only-no-drums in a tiny bar, mostly absolue beginners with one song but "air time" was fairly distributed.
Another Pub i visited was Rock and Blues once a week... if there was no Football on the TV..., the same people used to turn up, ridiculously loud and one guy came every week with his Jimi Hendrix sound effects box, the "house" band played the same songs every week, but anyone was allowed to play once they'd chalked their name up!
Another now- closed Pub had a great open mic scene, regular house band but any one ableto get up and play - once a Saxophonist turned up and joined the regulars in an amazing jam version of "Summertime", the best version i've ever heard!