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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
reggie miles Open mic acts that completely blow (95* d) RE: Open mic acts that completely blow 24 Mar 11

After running an errand on Tuesday, I knew that I would be in the neighborhood of a long standing open mic. So, I made certain to pack my Nobro and hand saw and I planned to make a stop at the cafe on my way back home. I arrived late and inquired, when I entered, whether I would be allowed to sign up or if I was too late. The fellow working the list said that there was room. So, I brought my things in from the car and waited my turn.

It had been years since I had played this event. The place wasn't crowded but there was a good show of performers. Most seemed to be middle-aged performers that had solid foundations in the musical approach that they offered, original and/or folkish acoustic songs. However, there were some younger players that also braved the stage.

I was last on the list. A lot of the players played their sets and then left. Only a handful stayed until the end.

Just before me, there was a young man on stage. He wasn't a real strong player. Nor was he a great song writer. Like so many young players, he was still in the process of discovering his voice and gaining confidence.

By the way that the MC introduced him, it was apparent that he had played there before, perhaps regularly. I could hear a lot of elements in his style that were characteristic of a musical approach that I've heard many other young players using. We all are influenced by the music we listen to and our individual styles of playing and singing then becomes infused with some of those traits.

I was seated way in back, as far from the stage as I could and trying to very quietly prepare, because I wanted to be ready when it was my turn. While in the middle of scraping my bow hairs clean, on the edge of my hand saw, one of the older players came over to where I was seated and said, "I've got another good use for that saw. Why don't you use it to saw that guy's guitar to pieces? He's up there trying to sing in a French accent and he's not even French." I explained that he was a young player, still trying to find his voice and style of approach.

I didn't counter this older player's comment. The young man wasn't trying to sing in French. That's not what was going on at all. His singing style was just influenced by another singer, that used a certain vocal affectation in the way he sang. It's very common to have our musical expressions influenced in this way.

The older fellow mumbled some apology about being jaded and wandered back to his seat. What was going on, in this brief exchange, is a perfect example of how a more experienced player has lost all memory of his own first footsteps along this musical path. Instead of giving his attention to what was happening on stage, it was easier to not listen closely to what the young player was offering and then characterize it as being something that it wasn't and deride the player.

The thing that bugs me about seeing this thread and reading the comments being posted is that many seem to be doing exactly the same thing as this older player that I met at the open mic on Tuesday. Many seem more than willing to scoff or jeer at those that don't meet their expectation of competency. Well folks, guess what, we were all young and inexperienced at one time in our lives and I'm not just referring to our musical endeavors, but no matter how bad we were, through practice, diligence and determination, most everyone got better, more skilled and more capable of functioning adequately if not excellently.

I should also bring up this point. There was at least one of those rather inexperienced American Idol or America's Got Talent guys that were belittled by the judges and the media on national television, who later went on to reap some rather huge free publicity and success via his less than stellar performance.

"At another venue, I walked up on several performers talking about him and I didn't even have to ask who they were talking about. I coud tell by their comments who it was and I was right."

josepp, just as you pointed out, the other performers were all talking about this guy and you didn't even have to ask who it was, because you knew. I'd say that the guy has managed to make quite a name for himself, via simple word of mouth advertising, among those who have heard him. That kind of word of mouth advertising is a huge part of gaining name recognition. Name recognition is a big, and some would argue, very necessary part of this business.

In the advertising business, there's a saying that goes like this. "Any advertising, even negative advertising, is good advertising." So, by sharing your negative views about him with others, you and those who are doing the same, are actually helping him gain attention for efforts. Yes, negative advertising works just as well as positive advertising to draw attention, as you have admitted in your comment above.

I can recall the first time that I played my musical saw in public. It was around Christmas and I had tried my best to learn some slow paced Christmas songs to offer passersby down at our local outdoor Market. Being a novice player, something that I didn't consider was that the cold weather would make my saw blade less cooperative.

I can remember making lots of mistakes and nervously laughing a big guffaw after each rather monumental blunder. Those listening started laughing along with me and the entire experience turned into one giant laugh fest for everyone involved. After more than twenty years, I can honestly say that I still make some bad moves as I bow my saw blade. However, today folks tout my efforts as the best they've ever heard, by anyone, anywhere.

My point is, that if, along the way, I would have succumbed to the negative reactions that a few folks have offered my explorations in this pursuit, and allowed their negative attitudes and comments to turn me from that path, I would not have gained the ability that I presently have. What's kind of sad is, after all these years, there are still some, though few in number, who feel that offering negative comments about my playing is going to alter my commitment to this pursuit. That just ain't gonna happen.

The above can also be said of any of the other instruments that I've enjoyed playing. No, you can't please everybody. Like my experience in this thread, I've found that there's little that can done to dissuade those that love to stew in their negative juices. So, I don't often try to do so. Instead, I stay focused on my path.

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