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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
blt Open Mike Schmooze (18) RE: Open Mike Schmooze 04 Jan 01

This IS a place for open mike stories, so you weren't in the wrong place, JH, if you happen to look back. I hoped that folks would talk about both the management issue (which is often part of the story) as well as personal adventures.
When I first began playing at the Folk City Hoots, Folk City was in its last years (although I didn't know it at the time). Open mike slots were determined by drawing from a pack of cards. I used to be puzzled by the fact that one Suzanne Vega constantly drew the coveted 9:00pm spot while I was just as constantly playing to 3 grizzled drunks at 2:00am. As a young folksinger/songwriter, I was awed to be playing in a place that had so much history as far as the NY folk scene went. However, by 1980, that scene had long gone. The only remnant were the grizzled drunks, who would sit next to me at the bar and tell about the time they heard "Bobbie" sing...and the photos circling the walls.
I still get more nervous playing at an open mike than I did playing a full concert, partly because I often don't know when I'm going to play. I end up waiting for my name to be pulled out of a hat, which seems to be the most popular form of scheduling. At Fire and Water in Northampton, Ma, which has a very eclectic open mike (but no mike--the place is so small, you don't need a PA), musicians sign-up ahead of time then their names are called at random. I did play at Victory Music's open mike once in the late 80s, I think there was a sign-up sheet and a cut-off process of some kind. This was when the open mike sessions were broadcast live over the local public radio station.
I also managed an open mike for women performers only, on Thursday nights at Zoo Zoos, in Eugene, OR (it went out of business by 1985). This specialty pissed a lot of men off and they weren't shy about letting me know. What seemed to really bother them is that I kept the stage dark when no women showed up to play, as a way to remember and honor the struggles women musicians have had. Seems like I was always in some heated argument with some guy over this.
I agree that new singers/musicians need a place to play, but I've also found that open mikes are a way I can continue to play, meet other musicians, be around other musicians, especially as I've turned toward a non-musical trade in order to make a living. I don't know if I will ever complete a CD of my own work but I really like to perform, so open mikes will just have to do for right now.
peace, blt

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