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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
reggie miles Open mic acts that completely blow (95* d) RE: BS: Open mic acts that completely blow 20 Mar 11

Firstly, isn't this thread about music and therefore shouldn't this be above the line, with the rest of the music threads and not in the BS section?

We all have our own path to tread. Some folks begin their musical explorations at a very young age and essentially, get a head start on those of us who might not be as fortunate. Others, like me, did not have the opportunity to get involved with music at an early age, despite our desire to do so.

Some seem naturally inclined to being able to play and/or sing. Maybe, it's just the right combination of genetics and/or cultural encouragement. I've heard some singers open their mouths and seemingly without effort, sing like angels and yet there are others who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket.

I attended one open stage where such a singer/player seemed to be making their first steps along their musical path. Though, I had been to this event before, when you could barely get in the door, much less find room on the list to play, on this night, the event wasn't well attended. Like the various descriptions offered in previous posts, this person made a lot of decisions that caused their performance to be more challenging than it needed to be.

They not only played long, slow paced songs, that would have been a challenge to play effectively by a very skilled performer but they also chose songs that were originally performed by singers with a tough vocal range to emulate. Yet, they insisted upon getting up and trying their best. They toughed it out through forgotten lyrics and their stumbled fingering of tricky chord formations.

I found myself unable to turn and look away from this performance. I was transfixed by the show of determination that this person was giving in their struggle to learn to play and sing in front of an audience. I found it fascinating that they were willing to get up on stage, something that many folks would not even attempt to do under any circumstance and despite all of their weaknesses, try. I applauded the performance for that reason.

As bad as this fellow you describe might have been, it's no reason to discourage his exploration of music. I'm thinking that there are far worse things that he could be involved with in his spare time. Would you rather he be rifling through the glove compartment of your car, while you're on stage at the open mic?

The mistake that you've described, that he made, choosing to sing a song that was vocally challenging to emulate, is a common one. At least, it's one that I've heard many make. I've even heard players getting well paid to offer their music at various events who had this affectation.

Sometimes, it's just a matter of finding the right key in which to offer the song. It may be a matter of the individual being inexperienced and not knowing how to make that determination. Training and educational instruction in music can help to eliminate some of common mistakes that we make in our musical pursuits but what if that's not available or affordable? Sometimes, it's simply not having the capability to reach the same notes in a given melody structure that another, more gifted, singer can easily reach.

We, who choose to involve ourselves in this activity, at whatever level, are all on our own individual paths of exploration and growth. We don't all manage to attain the same level, at the same rate. Nor do we all even reach the same level via our individual endeavors. It's a very personal exploration that varies in every aspect from person to person.

"In the eternal reoccurrence of Spring, some branches grow short, while others grow long."

The art of playing and singing might look easy to those who have little or no background in this pursuit. Certainly, for some, it doesn't appear to be a challenge. However, it is a discipline that requires inspiration, intuition, patience, time, practice, diligence and at least for me, a lot of hard work.

One morning, while flipping through the channels on boob tube, I heard Dolly Parton make a total boob of herself while singing on a morning talk show. She chose to sing one of her own songs, "I Will Always Love You", along with a backing music track and ended up offering her vocals in a completely different key. It was as bad as it sounds. I would have been thoroughly embarrassed after committing such a vocal catastrophe, while being so well known for my vocal abilities. You learn to accept that not every performance will be perfect or glitch free and just continue to do as best you can.

Yep, even the best and the brightest have technical difficulties, that they face, which can completely alter their efforts. This glitch was about as big a goof as I've seen and heard on national TV. That's not to say that there haven't been worse.

Any similar mistake, made by any self taught amateur singer, might not have made as much of an impact or been nearly as significant. It's expected that those with less experience would be more prone to making mistakes but when I heard this whopper of a flub being offered by Dolly, it caused me to ponder my own songwriting efforts. Until that point, I was a bit standoffish about bringing my songs out of the closet. After hearing this icon of the industry get up in front of the entire nation and make such a huge goof with one of her own songs, it caused me to reevaluate my decision regarding singing my songs in public. From that point on, I made a more concerted effort to write sing my own songs.

Since making that decision, to play and sing my own stuff, I've reaped some significant rewards via my songwriting, recordings and performances. I've had an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from listeners. None of that would have happened had I not been flipping through the channels that one morning and caught Dolly's blunder.

These days, some of the new genres of music being offered up have names that sound as weirdly twisted as the musical explorations are. Still, there seem to be lots of fans that appreciate it and support it. As esoteric as those explorations are, I would not dissuade anyone from their fun with music.

So, there you go. Offering poorly executed songs in public forums, like open mics or morning talk shows, while a bane to some folks, can be an inspiration to others. Who can say, for certain, how the actions of some will ultimately affect the decisions of others? None of us can know the future, or predict the outcome of how our actions will affect those around us.

In my own explorations along this musical path, I've influenced countless numbers of others to get involved in the same curious paths that I've explored, like playing washboard percussion, playing bottleneck slide guitar or making their own guitars, as I have, and playing musical saw. I like one of Gandalf's lines in "The Fellowship of the Ring". He tells Frodo, "Even the very wise cannot see all ends."

And, who can say what new genres might be spawned by all of the efforts of those who persist in their musical pursuits despite their less than mature abilities, shortcomings or technical failures along the way. Hey, in this day and age, anything can and does seem to happen. In the case of Dolly's blunder, perhaps a new genre will arise, where singers sing out of tune, or off key, along with their favorite songs. It might be called, Kara-yucky.

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