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Help! Open Stage and C**p performers

GUEST,In a quandary 28 Jun 02 - 08:51 PM
Bobert 28 Jun 02 - 08:58 PM
Little Hawk 28 Jun 02 - 09:54 PM
Mark Cohen 28 Jun 02 - 10:47 PM
wysiwyg 28 Jun 02 - 11:05 PM
Genie 28 Jun 02 - 11:22 PM
Clinton Hammond 29 Jun 02 - 01:16 AM
michaelr 29 Jun 02 - 01:45 AM
NicoleC 29 Jun 02 - 01:58 AM
Liz the Squeak 29 Jun 02 - 02:04 AM
Stephen L. Rich 29 Jun 02 - 03:29 AM
GUEST,Sonja 29 Jun 02 - 04:09 AM
JedMarum 29 Jun 02 - 10:50 AM
john c 29 Jun 02 - 11:18 AM
alanabit 29 Jun 02 - 01:28 PM
Little Hawk 29 Jun 02 - 03:14 PM
GUEST 29 Jun 02 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,maryrrf 29 Jun 02 - 05:15 PM
Celtic Soul 29 Jun 02 - 05:34 PM
GUEST,Quandary 29 Jun 02 - 09:15 PM
Justa Picker 29 Jun 02 - 10:43 PM
wysiwyg 30 Jun 02 - 12:08 AM
musicmick 30 Jun 02 - 12:20 AM
Genie 30 Jun 02 - 12:30 AM
Suffet 30 Jun 02 - 11:23 AM
John P 01 Jul 02 - 08:39 AM
jmdornan 01 Jul 02 - 10:14 AM
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kendall 02 Jul 02 - 10:23 AM
GUEST,Sonja 02 Jul 02 - 12:56 PM
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Skipper Jack 03 Jul 02 - 02:30 PM
GUEST,Sonja 03 Jul 02 - 04:25 PM
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the lemonade lady 05 Jul 02 - 07:14 AM
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SlickerBill 06 Jul 02 - 01:11 AM
GUEST,Quandary 06 Jul 02 - 04:04 AM
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Blues=Life 06 Jul 02 - 09:37 AM
Genie 07 Jul 02 - 01:00 AM
GUEST,Q 07 Jul 02 - 05:11 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 07 Jul 02 - 12:31 PM
wysiwyg 07 Jul 02 - 12:34 PM
Coyote 07 Jul 02 - 01:00 PM
GUEST,Sonja 07 Jul 02 - 02:46 PM
musicmick 07 Jul 02 - 04:21 PM
GUEST,Quandary 07 Jul 02 - 09:09 PM
Nemesis 07 Jul 02 - 09:14 PM
wysiwyg 07 Jul 02 - 10:09 PM
Dave Bryant 08 Jul 02 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,Sonja 08 Jul 02 - 11:38 AM
SharonA 08 Jul 02 - 12:03 PM
SharonA 08 Jul 02 - 12:22 PM
Genie 08 Jul 02 - 12:41 PM
Hawker 08 Jul 02 - 03:05 PM
Nemesis 08 Jul 02 - 03:09 PM
GUEST,Peter from Essex 08 Jul 02 - 05:09 PM
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HuwG 09 Jul 02 - 08:25 AM
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Nemesis 09 Jul 02 - 11:42 AM
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jonm 26 Feb 07 - 06:45 AM
Jack Campin 26 Feb 07 - 07:27 AM
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Bernard 26 Feb 07 - 11:11 AM
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treewind 26 Feb 07 - 12:35 PM
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Leadfingers 26 Feb 07 - 12:49 PM
Tim theTwangler 26 Feb 07 - 01:36 PM
catspaw49 26 Feb 07 - 02:21 PM
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GUEST,dax 26 Feb 07 - 07:19 PM
Janie 26 Feb 07 - 09:40 PM
Stewart 26 Feb 07 - 10:05 PM
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Scrump 27 Feb 07 - 08:00 AM
GUEST,Neovo 27 Feb 07 - 08:13 AM
Tim theTwangler 27 Feb 07 - 09:29 AM
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Scrump 27 Feb 07 - 11:51 AM
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Girl Friday 27 Feb 07 - 05:49 PM
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Subject: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,In a quandary
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 08:51 PM

It has to stop .. it just has to stop .. you run an open mic and every session you get some appalling performers along who (this week grabbed my list out my hand to see who else I had when I said we were full!)

I've tried rigidly enforcing prebooked slots only - partily successful - except your regulars good performers think that doesn't apply to them. I've tried stretching out good floor spots to squeeze em out. I've tried "New faces! - they could be fantastic, they could be crap - oh, it WAS crap! Sorry, my paying audience - we have highs and lows at this club - thank goodness for the highs - even though you might wait weeks and test your powers of endurance, loyalty and patience waiting for them"

Why, oh why, is it in the 'folkish' world we inhabit - is it okay to sing and perform appallingly and think (or not realise) that it is "only fair" that everyone gets a turn - so long as we are keeping the tradition alive or everyone is entitled to a chance, when some people should actually be confined to their bedrooms as a public health hazard?

Why is it learning one chord or strumming and singing out of tune entitles someone to instantly call themselves a MUSICIAN and thus have an EGO that they are good enough to inflict it on everyone, fer krissake? Would any other profession put up with dismal or nonexistent standards? Example - at a concert of World Class musicians and your no-hoper gives you to understand that there is no difference between what they do and what he/she does !!!! Are we just TOO nice to these people? Shouldn't we put them out of our misery?


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Bobert
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 08:58 PM

Hey, it's your club, right. Put the new folks on late or real early and limit their sets. This way, you'll get an opportunity to judge them for your prime time and they'll get a chance to prove their worth or lack there of. If they're lousy, just keep 'em out of your prime time and maybe take 'em aside and suggest they tighten up their set before performing again...


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Little Hawk
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 09:54 PM

Yes, give the Newbies a brief slot...like 2 songs...till they've proven they deserve better. Either that or...audition them (gasp!) beforehand. I used to play regularly at an open stage club where the MC would let his 6 year old daughter have a 15 minute set whenever she wanted one. She couldn't sing at all, but she pretended to. She also pretended to tell jokes and stories. This went on and on for months and months. It was pretty outrageous to have to sit through it time after time. He also allowed some neighborhood teenage boys (The "Weasel Brothers") to "perform" stuff that was so unutterably bad that it was downright indescribable. It was not music. It was the demonstration of "attitude" for the benefit of their young friends...and I mean bad attitude.

This MC's utter disinclination to in some way regulate the quality of the acts on his stage led to my loss of interest in going there, and contributed to the demise of the entire establishment eventually, though it was not the only reason for that. His daughter now performs at home, I presume, and the Weasel Brothers are probably vegging out in front of their Nintendos or sneaking beer and smokes illegally in back of the barn.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 10:47 PM

I understand your dilemma, but "open mike" does include the word "open"... Sometimes lousy performers get better with experience or as their stage fright evaporates. Sometimes they don't. Putting them on early or late would work the first time, but not after that. I would suggest talking with the person in a kind and supportive way after the performance...but it's true, some people are just convinced they're wonderful when they aren't. Unless you restructure your "open mike" to require auditions -- this is what happened at the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle, which was originally open to anyone who applied -- I think you'll just have to try to talk to those who will listen and let peer pressure deal with the rest. It takes a lot of courage to stand on a stage in front of people...

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: wysiwyg
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 11:05 PM

1. What do YOU think you should do about this? What would you really like to do?

2. What's in the way of your doing that?

3. Go for it! Adjust as you see results. You're smart and you will not kill anyone by being in charge-- go for it!!!!!!

4. GO FOR IT!

Here's to good music, and you getting it to that level.

~Susan


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Subject: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Genie
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 11:22 PM

Well, guest, I guess there are really lousy singers out there (some of whom become major c/w, rap, and rock stars), but when an activity is staffed by volunteers, isn't it to be expected that some of 'em won't be "professional?"  You expect musicians to play for nothing, and--surprise!--some of 'em suck!

You could try having each person have no more than 10 minutes on stage unless the audience clearly demands an encore.  Other than that, I really don't know how to hold a true "open mike" without allowing the lousy ones as much time as the enteraining acts.  Of course, you could restructure it as a "showcase" and require auditions, tapes, or prior knowledge of the person's work.

On the other hand, as Mark suggested, some of the good entertainers may have really sucked when they first started doing open mikes.  For one thing, stage fright can make you sing off key, forget lyrics, and play sloppily.  Nothing will get you used to performing in front of an audience except performing in front of an audience.

Also, if the lousy performer brings in a slew of buddies and they all order drinks, some pub owners may welcome them in preference to a better musician who comes in alone.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 01:16 AM

An Open Mic I know of got rid of one horrid guy by banding together...

When it came his turn, while he was getting up to get onto the stage and getting set up, a BUNCH of us would pick that time to file outside for a smokebreak...

Twice, maybe 3 times was all it took, and he quit coming out...

;-)


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: michaelr
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 01:45 AM

GUEST - you mentioned a "paying audience". If that means you're charging admission at the door, you have a responsibility to keep the level of talent relative to the door charge, and keep the really bad ones out. People don't like to pay to get into bars/nightclubs in the first place, and if you don't make them feel that they're getting their money's worth, they will quit coming in.

If you only meant "audience paying for beer", you can afford to be more tolerant of beginners. I began my public performance "career" (more a "careen", as Richard Thompson used to say) playing open mics, and that was extremely useful to me for overcoming stage fright and developing an idea of how to address an audience. I've been playing semi-professionally for 16 years now.

As far as telling someone he/she sucks, I'm all for it (if it's done with kindness), but these days many shrink from leveling any criticism at all, however well deserved, for fear of appearing impolite or hurting someone's feelings.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: NicoleC
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 01:58 AM

It seems like most true "Open Mic Nights" are at music stores or small clubs where the performers also tend to make up the paying audience. In that case, you have a bunch of musicians that understand what Open Mic Night means, and they'll deal with the worst of the lot.

One option I've seen work fairly well is to skip the "Open Mic" part and install a Jam Session instead. Have a (paid) guy host it, have a set or more or less regular performers, perhaps on the dinner and free beer plan (and you already know who'll work from past evenings), and make it the hosts' problem to allow people onstage a second time or not. It seems to generate a higher caliber of talent, because there's more pressure to live up to the guys onstage and it looks like less of a free-for-all.

It also deflects the blame of "I want to perform and they won't let me" on the host performer and away from the establishment. :)

But it's a different feel. I agree with Michael -- if you have folks paying for the entertainment, you really need to make sure the entertainment is worth the price tag.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 02:04 AM

If someone is dreadful, I mean REALLY dreadful, you have to tell them.... it's cruel to let them get their hopes up and then have them smashed as soon as they start thinking they can make something of this.... the recent Pop Idol and Pop Star programmes on UK TV have shown this.... many of those who turned up for the auditions couldn't carry a tune in a bucket! To make matters worse, those who COULD sing were often eliminated on grounds of their looks or body shape. This gives the impression that no matter how crap you are, if you look good, you'll get the gig.

There is one guy who regularly travels the festival circuit in the UK with a penny whistle. He plays at sessions, but he only plays with the fast sets. He doesn't play any known tune, he just stands with the crowd, running his fingers up and down this whistle, whilst overblowing and not paying the slightest attention to anyone else. He will bask in any applause as if he'd just played the Albert Hall solo. No-one has ever had the courage to tell him he sucks (*well, he blows really, it being a penny whistle), they just move further away from him. One year, people sort of started to go and get beer as soon as he got the whistle out, or play slow airs and feature solo instruments, so he sort of got the message, didn't stop him though. Consequently, whenever he is seen, the session vanishes, or else he's blocked out of the door. He appears to be alone, and aching to be one of the crowd.

Hedging and stalling will only stir resentment. If you can possibly tell the person that they are not really suited to a musical career, then do so. Sometimes it's just a change of material, instrument or attitude that's needed. Suggest, rather than criticise (Hey, you know what, I bet you'd be really good at ......)but if they get bolshie, then I'm afraid you have to bite the bullet and tell them straight.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 03:29 AM

I am somewhat torn as to how to respond to your dilemma. On the one hand, having spent many years of my career as M.C. of one form or another of open stage, I know exactly how you feel. My empathy is boundless. On the other hand, your attitude would seem to be at odds with the resposibilities of your job. You would appear to be displaying roughly the smae level of arrogance as some of those "C**p perfomers" about whom you complain. My anger at that nearly cancels out my empathy. Here are a few things which you need to keep in mind. 1)Bad performers at such events are inevitable. They are to open stages what tides are to oceans. In order to do your job properly you have no choice but to accept this fact. 2) Don't under estimate your audience. Most people understand that open stages are like Vaudeville (or, if you're in the UK, Music Halls): If you don't like this act, hang around for a few minutes. The next one may be wonderful. 3) You have two basic responsibilities: A) Keep the audience happy. B) Make the performers feel as comfortable and welcome as possible. Despite bad performers, the first part isn't that hard. Use what skills you have to get the crowd up again (humor, sining, juggling, biting the heads off of rats or whatever). Have these techniques polished and ready for whatever occasion might arise. For example develope some poetry jokes to follow someone who has just assulted the audience with his or her latest twenty-minute, suicide epic. I don't mean ridiculing the poet. I mean something like, "What a wonderful thing it must be to be able to write or recite poetry. I only know one poem. 'Mary had a little lamb... and a little mashed potatoes, and some peas, and a bit of mint jelly...'". The latter is not all that hard to achieve either. Remember that although you are being paid (with as much guff as you have to put up with in that job, I darned well HOPE that you getting paid) the other performers are not. For that alone, regardless of the quality of their work, they deserve a bit of extra coutersy. Make sure that the sound is properly balanced for each artist. It requires extra vigilance and some extra fussing with the P.A., but it's worth it in the long run. Enforce whatever rule there are universally (INCLUDING YOURSELF). If the rule is three songs or fifteen minutes, whichever comes first, don't make your opening set half an hour to fourty minutes. Do three songs then introduce the first act. Above all, remember that, as the host, YOU set the tone;YOU shape the attitude and nature of the event. If you are courteous and friendly so, for the most part, will they be so. Finally, ALWAYS thank them,from the stage and personally, for having been there to perform. They are playing for free and, even if they sing badly enough to commit the musical equivalent of fellating dead frogs, they deserve that much. This won't reduce the number of bad acts, but it will make them easier to deal with.

Stephen Lee Rich


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Sonja
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 04:09 AM

Well said, Stephen.

I'm especially glad mentioned setting the sound right for each performer. I've been at open mikes where the sound was set at certain levels at the outset and you dared not ask for it to be adjusted for your voice. I'd rather sing with no amplification (provided the room isn't too huge) than with the sound set for talking or for a bellowing baritone with a small-bodied guitar--which makes my voice sound tinny (if you can hear it over the guitar at all).

Quandary guest, I'm not saying you run sound that way, just that sometimes performers at open mikes can't 'put their best foot forward' because of the stage set-up itself.

~SWO~


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: JedMarum
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 10:50 AM

You could have a 'performer's selection' team (you and the bartender, you the manager and the waitress, etc) who gives you the authority to tell a c**p performer that they have one song tonight, and it's the last song - OR that the team has decided that performer needs to go off and rehearse his/her material before she/he can play again (in say 6 weeks). You don't need to involve the 'team' much in those decisions, just let them know you need their occasional concurrance on matters.

I have seen some really terrible performers at open mics. And some who keep coming back week after bloody week. They will eventually drive out the non-performing audience if allowed to conitinue. Youhave to find a way to weed 'em out.

It's a good idea to limit all new comers to a very short set. Even one song - with a time limit (no songs longer then 4 minutes). I saw one lunatic drive out the audience at an open mic when the MC gave everyone 5 songs, and this c**p performer sang 5 ten minute songs; all terrible, all badly played, all badly sung, all with missing words for which we had to wait (because presumably they were important). The songs were all deeply personal. He was 30 years old and still angry at his parents for 4 songs - angry at his girlfriend for the last one. The Cmissed the whole set because he chose that time to go smoke refer in the parking lot, then to cruise back and forth between the kicthen and the bar. He apparently didn;t notice that the absolutely c**p performer took up most of the prime time, drove out the listening audience and the rest of the folks who did follow the rules (5 songs or 15-20 minutes) got pushed off the list or played to a room emptied by this as*hole.

As an MC you gota figure out how to make it work, and how to keep it reasonable.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: john c
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 11:18 AM

Back in the sixties in Edinburgh, they had this problem at a folkclub I used to go to. There was one young would-be performer who turned up regularly, played pretty good guitar but couldnt sing to save himself. As he was a quiet, sensitive sort of guy, it wasnt easy to stop him from playing without hurting his feelings. Somehow they managed but still he persevered, improved and became nobody less than the great Bert Jansch!!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: alanabit
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 01:28 PM

His singing must have improved an awful lot, because it sure dosn't sound too bad now!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Little Hawk
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 03:14 PM

Jed - This is what happens when young, lonely guys listen to Dylan's bitter stuff or Jackson Browne's melancholy stuff, and then decide to bare their souls to the world at large...without having first learned how to do it in an effective and interesting manner.

OUCH!

The set you describe probably surpassed anything I've yet witnessed...but my early stuff was a bit like that...some of it.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 03:20 PM

There is one word.
Auditions.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,maryrrf
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 05:15 PM

Yes, that is a problem with some singer songwriters. You can only be introspective, bitter, angry, etc. in your songs if you can find a way to make it interesting or compelling for the audience (if you want to have an audience, that is) - be it through your skill with lyrics, your delivery, or whatever. I've seen so many singer/songwriters sing what appears to be lines from their diaries, and most of the time it just makes me feel like "Well get over it!". However, some of these people have gotten away with it because I hear their songs on the radio. And, many probably do get better with age and experience.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 05:34 PM

You're charging the entrants to come in and listen, but not paying the people to play?

I am a firm believer in the old adage that "You get what you pay for". If it's an open mike, you're making a crap shoot each and every time. If you want guaranteed decent performances, audition folks, and pay them what they're worth.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Quandary
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 09:15 PM

A couple of things: I don't get paid for doing this - in fact I subsidise the club up to hilt with time, phone calls and other stuff I loose the receipts for, like petrol driving about far and wide either promoting the club or sussing out acts within striking distance, printer ink, shoe leather slogging around town sticking up posters. We have a professional sound engineer who also donates his time and equipment for free, we have a doorman who hates folk music but does it as a favour to me and to local community ie., there is no other equivalent within 10 / 20 miles to play at. We have 100 quid in the kitty which we keep hoping we will increase to pay a decent guest with. Performers pay £1. The next nearest place to play is free to get in (if you can get a spot booked months in advance) and your supporters, last week, would have paid £6 each. The other nearest place charges £2 to everyone which subsidises guest nights - the other place charges £3 to everyone regardless. Or there is always karaoke.

Steve L Rich. In fact, altho' only this evening I was told that I have been 'blessed with a beautiful voice' I don't consider myself a musician (God knows why not then?) In mind, 'Real' musicians can sing unaccompanied and/or play an instrument - so running the club for those people who can do those things is my priority - because I think it's important. Is that arrogance? I get tremendous support and goodwill from most of the club but I AM getting ticked off with performers who don't co-operate or try and blag aggressively on the door about or whinge at £1 (when my phone bill alone for organising a special event was over £100) and then when being told "2 songs!" go on to sing Sir Patrick bloody Spense very badly in half time and then have a go at me because everyone's walked off to the bar or started talking amongst themselves.

Several solutions have been suggested: 1) the sound engineer pulls the plug after 10 minutes 2) I get REALLY Arrogant :) 3) I give it all up and run a Blues club instead with no open mic spots at all. 4) I get past my mid-life crisis of confidence (Why I am I doing this? What is the meaning of life, etc)

Actually - I'll post back later as I'm reaching a point where, well never mind ... I'll post back later (muse.. muse..) a guest MC, actually had one a while ago ... I think I need someone else doing that .. I think this is down to overwork ...


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Justa Picker
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 10:43 PM

I like option # 3!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: wysiwyg
Date: 30 Jun 02 - 12:08 AM

I think you have spotted this for yourself quite accurately-- overwork. It would be a shame to burn out on something you love so much. I hope you will find good people to help spread the load around a little more, because it's starting to sound like you versus THEM-- and the list of THEM sounds long. What might help would be to focus firmly on what you fairly think each of these folks does best-- and then love that out from them. It sounds like you are providing a really good thing-- if you focus on what you love about it and get help with the rest, I bet you can keep providing it for a long time to come and have even more fun with it. And-- what would it take for it to pay its own way? (Not what do people say it will take, what do YOU think could happen?)

GO FOR IT!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: musicmick
Date: 30 Jun 02 - 12:20 AM

Dear Guest,

I'm sorry that you are having the open mike blues and I'm sorry that some of your acts are not up to tyro-par and I'm sorry that these unworthy souls are driving you and/or your audience to drink. There are, I think, some things you might consider before throwing in the crying towel. First, you are not paying performers, so you are unlikely to get real, working professionals on your stage with any degree of regularity. Those pros who do show up are coming for reasons of rehearsal, material tryout, or whim. You cannot depend on their attendence and you surely cannot advertise, either directly or by inferrence, their participation. Stiil, I am aware that a pro brings a level of compitence and showmanship that any show requires, so you might consider some covert token of payment to insure some quality (you still cant advertise his appearence but after a while the audience will come to expect a wothwhile show, and your landlord will find that he is selling as much hooch to music fans as he was to the squawkers' friends) You will then simply preselect your performers adding only those you are sure will please your customers. Unknown artists will have to audition and your decision will be final. It is, after all, your club, your show. Yeah, I know, then it wouldn't be a real Open Mike but truth in advertising is never in question when the customer gets an even better deal than he expected. And dont feel too bad about saying no. If an act cant please a commited music nut like you, you'll be doing them a favor. If I dont have the confidence in my talent and ability to audition for an opportunity to expand my market I dont belong in this business. When I was on the road I sang at open mikes in areas where I was not known. As I am a professional entertainer, I never gave my host the tsouris that some of your wannabes give you. That's not bragging. when you do a job long enough you learn how to do it well. Showcases audition and so should you. Good luck.

Mike Miller


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Genie
Date: 30 Jun 02 - 12:30 AM

maryf, I know what you mean about singers seeming to be singing lines from their diaries. Some of them get by with it because they have really good voices or because there's are good studio musicians behind them or because they have some good guitar licks, but how they dare call themselves "songwriters" is beyond me. I guess the bottom line is: Do they entertain the audience?

Quandary, I think you need a break -- not just from the c**p performers, but from the whole thing for a while. The scenario you describe is all too familiar, and no one person should have to do all that.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Suffet
Date: 30 Jun 02 - 11:23 AM

Give the audience credit for knowing that when they come to an open mike they are attending a crap shoot. Most of the open mikes I have gone to, and the few that I have run, have provided enough pleasant surprises to counterbalance the horrors. Anyway, here in New York City, time is generally at a premium, and most open mikes allow everyone only 2 or at most 3 songs. (The open stages at the Postcrypt at Columbia University allow performers a 10-minute slot regarless of how many or few songs fit into it.) So the suffering is never so long as to drive anyone bonkers.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: John P
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 08:39 AM

Guest Quandary, you said:
"Why, oh why, is it in the 'folkish' world we inhabit - is it okay to sing and perform appallingly and think (or not realise) that it is "only fair" that everyone gets a turn - so long as we are keeping the tradition alive or everyone is entitled to a chance . . . Would any other profession put up with dismal or nonexistent standards?"

Two things on this: it happens in any genre where people are allowed to get up on a stage without being vetted first. Have you ever gone to an open stage at a comedy club, or an open jam at a rock, blues, or jazz club? Also, the profession of folk music DOESN'T put up with dismal standards. The performers you describe will never have a professional gig.

Since you are charging musicians to play, you are getting exactly what you are asking for. All the "professional" musicians I know laugh at the concept of paying to play. Why not just stay home and play? Are you really surprised you are getting acts that can only get on stage by paying for the honor?

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: jmdornan
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 10:14 AM

When I got started, a number of "pros" took me under there wings, and told me what was expected in this buisness!! WOW I was given the chance to NOT make the beginners mistakes. When I look back on some of my first performance they WERE crap.. there was no staging, there no order to it, and most of all quality was embarassing! I was lucky to have a "mentor", perhaps if more of the Pros were willing to give encouragement, and help uplift the beginners, we would all raise the quality! An open Mic night is a pot luck dinner of music. We've all done them, and have all sat through some bad sets, and at times were the bad set :) Sometimes a good sencere chat with a musician is what is needed so they understand the AMOUNT of work that goes into a show. There will always be the ones who need to make a new career choice... but if we can help them ENJOY music anyways...why not. Put you musicans who have earned the audience's in your prime spots, explain to the newbies it's all about the crowds they draw and the biggest draws get the best and longest stage spot. We do this for the audiences. Put in in perpective for them, and help them attain there goals in the same way, the ones who continue to work on it will get there spots. Also if there is someone who is doing something SOOO bad, pull them aside and tactfully tell them you expect a certain standard for the paying customers, and they have to meet that standard. We all have to get used to the criticism, and the rejection since ther eis more of that thn there is "glory" :) It's good that you are thinking first and not doing what some have done, and just be harsh and mean! Good luck! Jill


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Hecate
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 10:49 AM

People at my folk club have varying levels of ability from those who could be professional down to those who couldn't at present. Our youngest member is just a kid, and he only knows a handful of tunes, which we hear most weeks. (he does play them quite well and is coming along in leaps and bounds, its nice to watch.) On singers nights this is fine, and we give performance opportunities to those who are just getting into it and those of more limited skill. With time, the tuning improves as the nerves go away, the quavering goes, the volume increases, the repertiore broadens and those who started out as 'dubious' make an unmistakable march in the right direction. Some who at first hearing might have been written off bu the less tolerant have since grown to be very good performers and a real asset to the club. There's a good atmosphere as well, and I have to say that the vast majority of developping performers have never behaved in any sort of antisocial or demanding way.

I think there's a lot to be said for nurturing people and giving them a chance to develop. That said, come a guest night, only the people already performing at a high standard are asked to do spots - I've found that those who aren't so able are generally far less inclined to get up the front anyway. I've also found that if I open singer's nights to 'vote for the last few spots' it is always the really good singers/musicians who are asked to sing again. Everyone has to start somewhere, you need a balance between nurturing the beginners and showcasing the talents.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: MAG
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 11:03 AM

Our (Friends of Acoustic Music society)open mike charges $1 a head, which covers room rental, with no charge to anyone who gets up to share -- er, perform. Naturally, everyone, mostly, comes up with a little something to do.

The local duo of Wink Wink started an open mike at a (very smoky) tavern which is very very well attended. no cover. People are glad for the experience, you do have to sign up first thing (which means I never perform there because I work until 8:00 that night), and a couple of people have ended up cutting very decent CDs with the local studio (Satellite City). Every community is different.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: mooman
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 11:32 AM

I probably won't make myself popular here but IMHO some of the replies above seem to suggest that the organizers or "good level" regulars at such an open stage have just as much of an "ego" problem as the people they are criticising or calling "appalling" and this seems to me to be part of the problem.

Let's face it, we all started somewhere...even the top professionals...and somewhere, sometime, somebody gave us all a chance. Some of us haven't progressed to any great degree since even in decades. I have several students who couldn't play a note six months ago who, today, are beginning to do things I can learn from myself.

I MC'ed a club in the UK for 6 years and I can remember we had everybody from the the very best to the very worst at some point doing a spot. Perhaps it's because we tried to foster a "club" atmosphere that even the "worst" performers were accepted and, funnily enough, these "bad" performers gradually built up confidence and more skill due to a supportive environment and it was a joy to most people to behold their progress even if they never became "good" performers (whatever the criteria for that is). I've also been to some clubs where the MC has berated performers and, frankly, have not cared to go back because of that attitute.

Surely "folk music" or "acoustic music" (I'm not going to attempt to get into a definition or split hairs on this) is by its very nature by everyone for everyone. That implies, at least to me, trhe need for a certain level of tolerance as to the varying degrees of confidence and proficiency of ones "guests".

Respectfully,

mooman


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: mooman
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 11:36 AM

P.S. The act that we put on that I personally felt was the very "worst" over the six years I went to that club was incidentally considered one of the "best" by a club regular...so it just goes to show...! That was actually a real learning experience for me and I am far less judgemental and more accepting now.

mooman


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: SharonA
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 12:09 PM

My solution was to give up being an open-stage MC (at least for now). Maybe some of these tips will encourage me to give it another shot, but... I dunno... toward the end I was hosting two open stages and, in addition to the c**p-performer problem, the owner of one establishment was stiffing me part of my payment (and giving me hell for wanting to be paid at all), while in the other establishment the teenage audience was getting unruly and stealing tips from the waitresses' tip-jar. Besides, the boyfriend who was my "roadie" had broken up with me and moved west, so I had to set up and break down my equipment myself (and trust that any performers who helped were not breaking anything!). I finally realized that it wasn't any fun for me anymore – and I already have a day job that's not always fun, so I figured "Why am I spending my off-time doing something I no longer enjoy? And am I making it a less enjoyable experience for the performers and audience by struggling on when I'm burned out?" So I decided to give it a rest; I quit the job where I was being given hell (the other was cancelled by the owner, who then changed the theme of her place from coffeehouse to "upscale" restaurant with no amateur musicians); and did not seek any more open-stage MC gigs.

But I do remember that one thing I used to do was to schedule a "showcase performer" to do a longer set, usually in the middle of the evening. The aim there was to let some folks do their 2-3 songs, then hang out and enjoy the showcase (and, in some cases, learn something!). Then, afterwards, those folks could play again (or if more performers signed up in the meantime, it would be their turn). This method met with mixed success; too often, the young-adults who'd already played or who were waiting to play would go out back and smoke. Entreaties to stay and listen to their peers fell on deaf ears.

Kudos to all those who are sticking it out and putting up with the disadvantages in order to provide a place for performers to be seen, to hone their craft, to find support and advice. I know from experience the personal cost and the sacrifices you are making!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: breezy
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 12:52 PM

Refer them to this thread, print it out and hand it to them, saying this could help them.When they come again, if they are below par, tell them they have either not read the thread or that they have missed the point.Recomend them to another venue.
At my club, small 'm' it by invitation or audition a I have to keep the punters happy first and foremost.Good luck .However a session or singaround is a different kettle of fish, and fish smells when its off.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Foe
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 02:11 PM

It might be of value for some seasoned performers to run a "performance workshop" where anyone could do a few songs and then get instantly critiqued in a constructive way aimed toward helping him/her become a better "act".


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Genie
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 04:10 PM

Good point, John P. It's bad enough when the performers don't even get a free pint for their trouble, but to have to PAY for the privilege of providing entertainment?? Like you said, it's only worth it if you're still cutting your musical teeth or you're just so bad you can't even get an audience by playing for nothing!

What jmdornan, Hecate, and mooman said, too.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: wysiwyg
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 04:15 PM

Foe, that's a great idea!

As we get things started up in our area, open mikes are very much on my mind, and I see much to learn from, here in this thread.

One thought for our area as it develops-- If the people who come to our monthly jams graduate to being able to do "open mikes," and if we keep the jams a mutual teaching-learning experience, maybe we can head off some of the stuff that can otherweise run away with the whole program.

Another thing-- I never knew till this thread that some open mikes are on an audition basis, or that they could be. I really like the idea that a quick audition could happen as people sign up and tune up their instruments.

And how to structure the thing-- It sounds like it should be possible to say to newcomers, "OK, you get one song/4 minutes limit," and then as they come off the stage, put them on a ready-list for NEXT time if they should get a longer slot. Imagine how affirming it would be to hear: "Wow! Can you do a 15 minute mini-set next time?" And if the mini-set folks go first, as a rule, then paying customers could get a lot of good music before sitting through the less-polished folks' efforts.   

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: SharonA
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 05:10 PM

The one song/4 minute limit may work for someone who needs no set-up time, but typically it takes 5 minutes at the very least to get one performer unplugged and off the stage and the next performer up onto the stage and situated and preliminary sound levels checked. Keeping the performer on-stage for at least two songs means a higher ratio of music (no matter what quality of music) vs. emcee-chatter filling the empty air between performances. And more music means more audience interest!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: SharonA
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 05:21 PM

BTW there's a showcase in the area that invites performers to send an MP3 of their work to the showcase organizers for review before the performers are actually invited to participate in the showcase. Perhaps the same could be done for an "open-mike audition"... but at what point does it no longer become an "open" mike, if those who fail the audition are allowed less performance time or are barred from the stage altogether? Doesn't it then become a showcase format, for most or all of the evening?


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 09:41 PM

Mudcatter Suffet is too modest. The open microphones I have seen him run are always filled with pleasant surprises because he works his darndest to bring out the best in everyone. He believes even a marginal performer has at least one thing she or he does well enough to be worth sharing with others.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Davetnova
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 06:59 AM

While not a singer (and not that much of a musician) I have mixed feelings about this thread. While I can sympathise with Qnandry, Folk music is for everyone. It may be nice to give polished professional performance, but polished performance isn't all. Listen to some of the travelling folk. Mary Morrison comes to mind or some of the American old timey music. Is their singing tolerated because they are travellers and/or old and they have been the guardians of the music? If so this is no better than succeeding because you are good looking. I was brought up in a tradition of parties where everyone did their bit talented or not and I feel that open mikes and singarounds are places where people should be encouraged. If you want proffesional performance go to a concert or a guest night.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: greg stephens
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 07:24 AM

I'm sure the best way to deal with these problems is to walk away from them. Being an MC in these circumstances, or running a session or whatever, is a very difficult art, involving painful moral decisions taken at high speed while other people are having fun. You burn out,naturally. Run away when it stops being fun,and come back to it weeks/months/years laterwhen you're ready for another crack.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Gervase
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 07:50 AM

From the pont of view of a member of the audience, I sometimes welcome the crappier slots because it gives me a smoke break and a chance to empty my bladder and refill my glass.
At one club I know there's a very nice chap who sings the most dire songs of his own composing (with, it has to be said, a superb 12-strong accompaniment) who prompts a Gadarene rush to the bogs whenever he comes up to the front, and who is often drown out by the squeak and squelch of the beer pump!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: SharonA
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 07:56 AM

Greg: Thanks for validating my own decision to walk away! I've sometimes wondered whether I did the right thing, or just the cowardly thing. But ultimately I've had to tell myself that, with my medical problems, getting out of a stressful situation that I didn't need to be in was the right thing for me.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 08:12 AM

I think that sometimes the quality issue could be smoothed over by paying attention to the mix of style/songs. If there are several dire-ish performers then they need to be scattered throughout the evening rather than following eachother - otherwise you risk the mood dropping irretrievably, and you can get a lopsided effect to the evening if it was crap for an hour, then good for an hour &tc.
So I suppose that means that you'd have to go for a point-and-shoot "your go next" MC-ing.
Hopefully you could then use your good regulars to pull back the mood from time to time. But I suppose you'd have to vary that duty a bit, otherwise some poor sod will always have the hard work of regaining a bored audience.

Personally I don't mind the odd crap performer, because it gives you a chance to rest your concentration (its hard to listen intently all night). But what really drags me down is if I can see that there is a run of naff stuff coming up. That becomes a chore to sit through.

I have in the past been to a regular open mic where a couple of lads would stand up each week and sing stuff from a book, badly, because they had not bothered to prepare at all. They always had rapturous receptions because they were popular local lads - which made it doubly annoying for those of us who had prepared!!! Then, one night, a seasoned performer took them aside and suggested that they should practice a bit before the next time. They took it very badly initially - and disappeared for ages with confidence shattered. But when they reappeared they were TONS better and starting to really get somewhere. So people clearly do NEED the feedback if they are going to improve - it might feel harsh, but its actually a big favour. The same seasoned performer had a word with me about the fact that although my voice sounded nice, the words were very indistinct. I was pleased that he thought it worth telling me, and have sorted that problem out now. So, having been the criticisee I would still say - go ahead and give these people some advice, limit their performances until they are of reasonable quality, and if they are still dire and not going to improve then you'll have to gradually fade them out somehow (that'll need another thread I expect).

Finally - if this thread makes no sense then I apologise - but I am at work and supposed to be busy, so don't have time to proof-read.

KRis


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: kendall
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 10:23 AM

AUDITIONS. Your main loyalty should be with the audience, not the dork who couldn't carry a note with a co-signer.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Sonja
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 12:56 PM

Dunno about auditions per se, Kendall.  If you have to audition beforehand --and, especially, if you can only "qualify" by being pretty good (as opposed to just so-so--, it's not an open stage/open mike any more, is it?  Most of the open mikes I've been to are on nights of the week that would otherwise not draw crowds to the coffeehouse or pub.  Sometimes they're even in late afternoon to early evening, with the paid performers or the unpaid "showcase" performers taking the stage at, say, 7, 8, or 9 PM (depending on the night of the week.  It is the open mike performers and their friends who ARE the "audience."

Given that, it would seem that the ideal arrangement would be to rotate the performers the way TV variety shows often do.  Performer A does 2 songs, then B does 2, then C, then A comes back for 1 or 2, then B again, etc.  That way, performer A  and her friends don't leave as soon as her set is over, and so on for B and his friends, etc.

Mike and sound set up can be tricky if folks have a lot of gear to amplify, but in some acoustic clubs the set up is simple enough that it doesn't have to take too long to adjust to each new act--especially if the sound person writes down the settings from A's first set to use for A's first set, etc.

The open mike performer's first performance can be the "audition," and if s/he is hopelessly bad or offensive, there should be a way of uninviting her/him for the future.  At one club in Portland, OR, where a friend of mine holds an open mike, the owner told one guy he couldn't be on stage any more, thus being the "bad guy" and letting the emcee stay in a nurturing, energy-boosting mode.

One humane way of dealing with folks who are so bad that they shouldn't be inflicted on an audience would be to tell them what it is that they need to change to pass muster.  E.g., "Learn to sing on key," "Learn to tune your guitar,"  "Please limit your original songs to 7 minutes apiece,"  "No singing The Ball At Kierimuir when children are present," "We don't allow groups with only banjos and accordions," etc.  Constructive feedback should be tactful, of course, but if you can tell folks where it is they need to improve, they'll probably take it better than if you just  say "You suck."

~SWO~


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,maryrrf
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 02:22 PM

The above is good advice, I think. At most open mikes I've noticed that it IS the performers and their friends who compose a lot of the audience. I think the tolerable should be tolerated, the really bad ones should be given some tips for improvement, and the intolerable ones should be told they can't come back till they "get their act together". And this could certainly be said in a constructive way.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Skipper Jack
Date: 03 Jul 02 - 02:30 PM

We call our "Open Nights, "Come All Ye" or Singers Nights

I recall the time when I was M.C at the Swansea Folk Club. A punk came into the club complete with what looked like a bin-liner for a dress and the "statutory" safety pins, etc. But she wanted to sing. Well it was an open night, so I gave her a spot. Needless to say she sang everything but a folk song, but she didn't have a bad voice!

Some months later, a rather attractive female came into the club, she was modestly and respectably attired, she wanted to sing and I gave her the opportunity. She sang a couple of traditional folk songs. The voice was familiar and I realised that it was the "Punk" girl who had come along previously. I spoke to her afterwards and discovered that she was converted to folk music by that first visit to the club. It also changed her view of life, hence the transformation.

I felt good that I had made her feel welcome and had given her the opportunity to sing.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Sonja
Date: 03 Jul 02 - 04:25 PM

Great story, Skipper!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: mack/misophist
Date: 03 Jul 02 - 06:50 PM

I'm in a bind here. I really, really, REALLY, want to say that music's important enough that any one who wants to try should get a shot, no matter how bad. With a paying audience, though, I don't know what to say. Perhaps you could make an issue of the lack of space and let the audience decide who gets to return? Now that I've said that, I realize you're doing something terribly right. Figure out what it is and tell everybody else. That's wonderful.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Mudlark
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 02:10 AM

I think the untried, timid, uncertain people who hope one day to become better musicians should be given a lot of encouragement and a very small spot until improvement develops. For the brash and bad, sometimes The Hook is the only thing they understand.

I used to do open mike nights at a folk club in LA. The MC chose the order of the acts by having us pick numbers out of a hat. We were all allowed 3 songs/15 minutes. But no second turns if the MC didn't deem a would-be musician worthy of it. He was not particularly kind or tactful about it, just very matter of fact. It was his call.

And lets's face it...most people who love music and want the thrill of performing it KNOW, at least to some extent, how they measure up against the rest of the performers. The brash egomaniacs don't know and don't care...music is not why they are on the stage anyway.

Thanks to all who do this. It must be a largely thankless task, but it provides a wonderful opportunity for real, but untried musicians to get their sea legs. Sounds like you've paid your dues with this, Guest Quandry...maybe a rest would do you good, and save you from total burnout with the music as well as the MC'ing.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Quandary
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 01:33 PM

Will try and take this all in (offline :)

Yep ... burn out is rapidly approaching - with musicians now argueing the toss about the size font I've used for publicising them compared to another group which is not to say that I am favouring one act over another (Aaaagh!) I'M IN CHARGE! -I keep trying to convince myself :)

Tomorrow is our next night - hem, maybe I'll take a moment, imbibe all this advice and report back on Saturday


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 09:14 PM

Good luck, Quandary, and thanks for raising a question many of us ponder over. The advice in this thread (and the tactful and friendly manner it which it is advanced) is IMHO first-rate: I'm going to print it out and hand it round the Board of our folk song society, because I think it will help us address problems we've had for many years in our come-all-ye nights.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: paddymac
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 11:03 PM

I happened to drop in on an open-mic night the other night that I hadn't been to in several months. I really went for a pint, and then realized the session was on in the back room. I walked in the door and saw a character on stage whom I remembered as awful - one atonal note and one chord on his guitar - and turned to walk out. I spied a friend I wanted to chat with and went over and sat down. Much as I tried not to listen, I became transfixed with the guy on stage. I couldn't believe it was the same guy. He isn't ready for prime time, but he would be a welcome addition to most any session in town. Just reminded me how rewarding it can be to give someone an opportunity and a little encouragement.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: musicmick
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 11:53 PM

All this "give 'em all an opportunity" talk is nice sounding but, if you want to hold an audience, you have to have some kind of quality control. You do purport to be presenting an entertaining evening, for which you are charging a real price of admission. You must decide where your responsibility lies. If your open mike is a training session for undeveloped acts, for whom you provide an audience, then charge the performers and let the audience in free. This is not sophistry. This is exactly what major showcases do, they charge the performers for a place on their stage and the performers are happy to pay. The presenters (club owners, program chairs, recording companies, etc.) are invited guests. It is, after all, their favor that the artists are trying to win. I have some experience in this area. For thirty years, I ran the Festival Campfire at the Philadelphia Folk Fest. The performers ranged in expertise from novice to touring professional (occasionally a singer came over to the campfire after their set on the main stage. Michael Cooney was a frequent drop-in and Susan Werner and Tom Paxton stopped by to spice things up) I was careful to prescreen my singers as I had been burned too often by sincere but tedious tyros who sang on and on and on until My audience was torn between lynching and wholesale desertion. Eventually, we solved our problem by turning the evening into a contest with an afternoon of preliminary heats to cull the finalists down to the very best singers. This way, everyone had their chance to perform but my audience heard only quality product. I must admit that I didn't make Paxton audition. I would have but he has no sense of humor.

Mike Miller


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Genie
Date: 05 Jul 02 - 01:52 AM

The first time I ever performed at an open mike was in 1962 at Gerde's Folk City in Greenwich village, and they called it a "hootenanny." No cover, just a (2 drink?) minimum. They had folks sign up for pretty much sequential slots, and mine was initially scheduled for about 10 PM, but their policy -- at least, their practice--was to insert into the roster any established acts (Paxton, Van Ronk, etc.) who dropped by during the breaks at their paid gigs. Enough of these ringers dropped by that by the time I got on stage it was about 1:30 AM and I'd had 5 hefty gin and tonics. As a result, I slurred some lyrics, twisted my tongue, missed some chords, etc. -- i.e., really sucked, at least from a technical standpoint--, but I had no stage fright, so I had a good time. The audience actually seemed to enjoy what I did,too, --no doubt because they were pretty sloshed by then, too.

Anyway, that format--letting the pros 'play through,' as it were--seemed to work pretty well. They got the priority spots but the rest of us got a chance to play, too. (And by making some of us wait till the end of the evening to perform, they sold us more drinks, too. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Trevor
Date: 05 Jul 02 - 04:34 AM

Sal and I and the rest of Rapsquillion did an open stage the other night. There was everything from a brass band to a Russian singing dirges of the homeland, via a group of young Spanish girls doing some kind of salsa dance and one of the organisers' nine-year old playing a cornet.

We were asked to do a second spot to close the show and immediately before us was the familiar spotty youth with Fender, yelling into the mike. The MC had told him he could do two numbers but when he'd finished he bawled to the corner where his mates were 'Do you want some more!...' They of course shouted that they did and, when the MC said that there wasn't time, the lad slung his guitar across the stage shouted that 'you can all fuck off then!' and kicked his way through the tables back to his mates.

Imagine us shuffling on stage to do our set including our brand of rousing non-conformist, close(ish)harmony, hymns, waiting for the bottles to start flying.

It didn't happen but Sal was shaking for a couple of hours - character building or what.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Deni
Date: 05 Jul 02 - 05:01 AM

Having noticed that some good performers were not appreciated by the audience, we set about finding an audience that did like them. It's pretty hard for traditional singers to charm a devoted contemporary audience etc... but a different audience might love them.

We do themed concerts. The audience know exactly what they're getting and pay £3.50. We get four or five specially chosen acts and ask them if they have any songs to fit into a particular theme. (loose themes)Then we can publicise them as heavily as possible, which is the only benefit they get from performing.

So far we've done bards and Ballads, Mirth and Merriment and Love and Loss. Attendances were good, in some cases very good. And for all the adverse comments about suicide songs, the Love and Loss concert went down a bomb. We're also trying taking the show to different venues to prevent the wearing out of the same audience.

our open mics are £1 to get in. We have many MCs on a rota, which means different acts are preferred and used and in some case giving ;longer slots. I can't say everyopne's happy,(are they ever?) but it works for most people!!!

Hyde Folk Club and Plymouth Folk Festival, Devon, UK.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 05 Jul 02 - 07:14 AM

Trev: that was such an accurate discription of that night, it b b b b brought it all back. What a night that was! (but we did get a little reward for it!)


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 05 Jul 02 - 07:48 AM

At one "Open Mic" club which I used to go to regularly, there was a particular singer/guitarist who was so bad that he was hilarious. When he had a pickup inserted in his guitar, he asked the club organiser to make him up a lead for it - and the next week was presented with one with a 1/4 inch jack on one end and a mains plug on the other - the audience found it hysterical. Incidently, the organiser said afterwards that he hadn't actually connected the mains plug - just in case! However, after this incident he had singing and guitar lessons - and improved. I can remember someone saying later that "He'd gone from being hilarious to merely mediocre".


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Arjay
Date: 05 Jul 02 - 04:25 PM

Great story, Trevor!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Bardford
Date: 05 Jul 02 - 05:02 PM

One of the local open mic nights has two buckets for performers' names. If you played in the last week or two, your name goes into one bucket, if you haven't played there in while, drop your name in the other bucket. I'm not sure how this system is actually used, but could see how it might be utilized creatively by the host. I think performers have a three song/15 minute limit.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: SlickerBill
Date: 06 Jul 02 - 01:11 AM

Now, I know what is meant here by "good" vs "bad" singing and all, but recently I was at a session where a comment got me to thinking. I was about to do a Neil Young cover, and stopped to tune (it was outdoors) and made some comment to that effect. And some guy says " No matter; it's Neil Young". Now I know this guy and I realized that to him "good" singing is pretty much the crap you hear on pop radio, all oo baby, no substance. To this guy, and MANY people like him Neil and Bob and Steve Earle and all these people are crap. Personally I think the guy doesn't know what's good, but that's just me. I guess there's singin' and there's singin';).

All that aside, quandary, kudos to you for all you do for your local scene. Watch yourself though; don't burn out. I would say with all you do, that earns you the right to make the calls. I think you give em a chance, but a limited one. And you're nice and polite and give'em all the respect you'd give anybody, UNTIL they pull some of the crap you've mentioned above. See, I teach high school for a living: the way i see it, you give people respect, and yeah you cut people some slack here and there, but if they disrespect you the gloves come off baby. That way they learn to respect others. It's a two way street out there, and anybody that needs to learn that better bloody well hurry up and learn. There's nothing wrong with using your clout. "Good luck gettin' back up again", I'd say, and if they bugger off fine. If not, and they wise up, great. Maybe give em another go, but YOU say when and for how long. Good luck to ya. sb


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Quandary
Date: 06 Jul 02 - 04:04 AM

Another night done and dusted ... Last night: all pre-booked open mics spots and they all turned up (phew!) Q: Which is worse not knowing if ANYONE is going to come or people booking and not turning up? One performer peripheral to the evening floated in (drunk) and constantly sulking big time because they couldn't just do a spot like there and then. (Some nights this is possible, last night everyone had booked their 15 minutes and because they ALL turned up late we couldn't accomodate any additional spots). Q: Regulars - who make a habit of turning up late deliberately in order that they will get a later spot (perceived as higher status) 1. Pulled the plug on one act who is consistently told firmly '10 mins or 2 songs, etc' and then becomes transfixed to the spot carrying on and on - incidentally one who never books a spot either and also always turns up late. Happily, HE is BIG enough to accept when he's pushed his limit. 2. One performer who every time they come, comes accompanied by disruptive elements. They have alienated and lost the club both customers and other performers. Their 'argument' is that if the other acts were any good then people (and they presumably) WOULD shut up and listen. They will be banned - and I am pulling their act from the festival showcase: they haven't earned it, they don't deserve it, they drive away more than they pull in (which are the disruptive elements I mentioned earlier.

(Plus: after they had flounced off after being asked to keep it down, they were waylaying people as they were coming out (I didn't realise this).

- I was tackled the night before at another event about my expectations of people lending a respectful hush - apparently I am 'heavy' about it (actually no, I'm not) because 'they' want, and it should be, fun. Fun, however is not at everyone else's expense. 3. My top act (which people had come to listen to and stayed through the rest of evening to hear) let themselves down (and the club) - under-rehearsed, pissed, here's one we made up earlier today, and, let's insist on pushing our experimental boundaries with an excruciating fuzz box which was uncontrollable via the PA. They will be spoken to (using very good guidelines that people have raised above). 4. We had some great acts - it has to be said. On the evidence of a very genre-challenging(?) demo which I had been holding my breath about, one new act was the surprise hit of the evening! He can come back! Altho', critically 15 minutes is about right for that particular (very different /alternative) genre. 5. Of all the issues which I had taken on board from the great advice above, all the contingency plans I had - which all worked (and actually I enjoyed the evening) the one unprecedented scenario last night was the number of performers who were drunk and the supporters with them who were drunk. I wasn't flummoxed but I was deeply, deeply bemused and now have my protective instincts for the club in its entirety (audience, reputation, other performers, etc) finely honed without any emotional baggage about confrontations and 'upsetting' people in order to try and keep everyone happpy ..

Thank you, Mudcatters, thank you, for helping me see the woods for the trees and the way out!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 02 - 04:16 AM

Run it like the MudCat Cafe. EVERYBODY WELCOME!!! Poetry, Free Verse, Prose, Child's Verse, Speaking in Tongues, Possum Farts, and every other sort of hideous sound at ANY time.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Blues=Life
Date: 06 Jul 02 - 09:37 AM

One possible solution that would kill two birds at once is to require auditions and sound checks from all new acts. You get to dial in everyone's sound requirements ahead of time, and you also get to audition the new unknowns.

Of course, the other option is to let everyone in who wants to play, but to have a bushel of overripe tomatoes on hand just in case! :-)

Blues


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Genie
Date: 07 Jul 02 - 01:00 AM

Good for you, Q!

Genie


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 07 Jul 02 - 05:11 AM

Blue-Life: re. tomatoes - that thought had already crossed my mind in one form or another!!! Alternatively, the big shepherd's crook from side-stage to gently yet firmly remove acts!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 07 Jul 02 - 12:31 PM

I helped run an open mike for about five years. During that time we had to change locations three times. We started out in the back of a co-op art gallery where refreshments were on a BYOB basis. When that gallery lost its lease a restaurant let us set up there. They sold food and beverages, including beer, but no BYOB. When the restaurant owner decided he wasn't really making enough extra money for his efforts, we moved to a bar. Need I say more?

Of these three venues, the restaurant, where the level alcohol consumption was the least, had the best overall level of performance. At both the BYOB and the bar there were always people who really weren't much good that were emboldened buy alcohol and people who may have been ok if sober that were too drunk to do well.

So, if you really want to minimize the c**p at open mikes, have them at coffee houses. A lot of the c**p comes straight out of a bottle.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: wysiwyg
Date: 07 Jul 02 - 12:34 PM

Yeah, Q, I think your post about the alcohol begins to show where the problem actually lies, and why YOU are getting blamed for it instead of people taking responsibility for themselves and recognizing your leadership. If you aren't willing to be blamed anymore, but instead welcome responsibility, you should be well on your way to clearing this up.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Coyote
Date: 07 Jul 02 - 01:00 PM

Obviously hit a sensitive nerve with this thread. At one club where I sometimes play they have a sort of Beginners workshop night where people can sign up, they get three numbers (two if one of them is Matty Groves) and then get a critique. You have to go through the beginners night if you want to get to the open mikes. Everyone does at least one beginners night .... (yes, Virginia, it is actually an audition, but with some helpful hints for the shy, the true beginner, and etc).

I remember the very first time I stood up to sing solo as a folk musician and how scared and unsure I was. If I'd been slammed instead of encouraged a lifetime of music might have been missed.

A little compassion and/or empathy would not be amiss.

the Coyote


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Sonja
Date: 07 Jul 02 - 02:46 PM

Coyote, I think that Beginners' Night is a great idea. One problem with the usual "audition" is that it's done under conditions that don't simulate the conditions of the performance itself. Many good entertainers -- maybe all good entertainers (as opposed to just good technicians)--play off the audience, and it's hard to show your stuff if you're trying to impress a lone judge (especially if s/he's sitting there with a sour or poker face). If you're doing comedy or singing funny songs it's even harder.

Then there's the flip side -- some performers freak out when they actually do have to perform in front of an audience--especially a big or rude one.

Also, the Broadway clichŽ of the audition is some director yelling "Thank you," after the poor singer has sung only a couple of bars of the song.

"Auditioning" via a Beginners' Night where you have a real audience and get to do 2 or 3 songs seems ideal.

~SWO~


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: musicmick
Date: 07 Jul 02 - 04:21 PM

Beginners Night sounds like a good idea. That way, the audience would know what was in store, you could offer critique (usually unwelcome unless it's positive), a sympathetic audience (more realistic than one might imagine. Audiences, as a rule, really want the performer to succeed.)Your bar owner will be content as long as he sells his libations, and you will not have to face an unanticipated wave of disappointments. (The acts may, well, suck but you will, at least, be expecting the worst) I think I'll suggest such a plan to our local open mike venues. Of course, it would be the very height of chutzpah to expect the audience to pay an entrance fee for these shows which, although they might present an occasional star to be, are more likely to be of the Chuck Barris genre.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Quandary
Date: 07 Jul 02 - 09:09 PM

Well one can never keep all of the people happy all of the time.

However, I feel so much better that whatever formats we tinker with or what ever venues we decide to change to for example, that the feedback is positive: audience and performers alike want a decent respectful properly-run with clearly defined expectations on either side environment and the one that don't can just stay away and gripe away about 'heavy' policies that preclude them from having fun with no consideration for everyone else!

I've put together a tentative draft guidelines which (i'll just sign up to membership) anyone interested can PM me for.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Nemesis
Date: 07 Jul 02 - 09:14 PM

Hey, it works!! (that cookie membership thing) :) :)


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: wysiwyg
Date: 07 Jul 02 - 10:09 PM

Q, I'd love to see your guidelines posted.

Welcome to Mudcat!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 10:18 AM

One bit of advice - when you give a performer a specific number of songs do make them understand that PART of a song counts as a song. There's been many occasions where I've heard a singer forget the words over halfway through a song and then start a new one - they often seem to think that they can keep going until they actually manage to complete one !

When I ran a Folk Club, I would only give any unknown floorspot performer(s) one song to start with. If they were up to scratch they got more.

There are usually many sessions where less-talented or inexperienced performers can improve their skills - we all had to start somewhere, but if you are charging an admission fee or receiving payment for the entertainment, then you must set a minimum standard.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Sonja
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 11:38 AM

On the other hand, Dave, if it's "three songs or 10 minutes," a performer shouldn't have to quit after 3 minutes if s/he wants to throw in 3 "quickies" (e.g., the Smothers Brothers' versions of "Hangman," "Blood On The Saddle," and "Streets Of Laredo"). Personally, I prefer to have a time slot specified and have the emcee give a finger signal when I have, say, 3 min. left. [As long as they don't signal you that way when you have ONE minute left. ;) ] Some judgment is called for, of course. If you finish a song at the ninth minute, you don't do another one unless you can finish it in about 30 sec.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: SharonA
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 12:03 PM

Then there are the performers who try to "get around" the 2-song or 3-song limit by playing medleys!! (This is where the time limit comes in handy!)


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: SharonA
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 12:22 PM

By the way, the open mike nights I've hosted have all been at coffeehouses – no BYOB – and I've run into most of the problems mentioned on this thread. So the problems aren't all alcohol-fueled by any means!

And Quandary, let me also welcome you to the asylum Mudcat!!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Genie
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 12:41 PM

Yeah, Q, bienvenu au Mudcat!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Hawker
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 03:05 PM

When I was 16 my then boyfriend sent me some poetry when he had been grounded for playing truant, most poems were soppy love peotry, but there was one that I will never forget, though the sands of time may have altered the wording slightly and the author I have no idea about, but I often think about it at open mike torture sessions:

There was a man with a tongue of wood
Who loved to sing
In truth, it was lamentable.....
But there was one who heard
The clip clatter of the tongue of wood
And knew what the singer wished to sing
With that, the singer was content

It helps me a little..... but it there are many wooden tongues.........AAAAaaarghhh!!!!!! Cheers, Lucy


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Nemesis
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 03:09 PM

Hi,

Thank you all for the welcome - it's positively nice to be here.

These are the DRAFT guidelines I've come up with. Please note they are draft only and apply to the circumstances our club is grappling with. If I issue them I'd point out to folks that they are not intended to be 'heavy' just trying to ensure everyone knows where they stand and also what they can expect (to encounter) and also to get in return. ----------- DRAFT Performers' Guidelines

The team of people involved in organising the club work extremely hard and are committed to providing a worthwhile, sustainable, venue for performers and audience alike. These notes are intended to clarify any misunderstandings and misconceptions. ---------------------------------------------- General Information 1) PA – The Sound Engineer volunteers for and does a commendably good and dedicated job in addition to supplying the PA equipment. He is a reasonable person, albeit pressurised during performances. So - if you have sound-problem issues: · Arrive promptly before the Club starts (8pm) to speak to SE to sort them out before you perform. (See notes on PA technical specs). · You always have the option of performing without PA.

2) Entry fees on non-guest nights: · #2 to pre-booked performers · #2 to audience including performers' supporters and fan club, etc.

3) The club aims to make a profit: with profits to be ploughed back into the club - to provide a quality venue and good reputation for performance – and to put on festival events together with the town arts group – which includes your act.

4) Entry fees go towards running costs of the club, including advertising, photocopying, office materials, etc. Donated for free to the club are huge amounts of telephone costs, time arranging free publicity, petrol, and hard work trudging around putting up posters; visiting, supporting and co-operating with other local clubs. ---------------------------- The Club believes in cross-Club co-operation and collaboration in order to promote live music, in particular, and performing arts in general - including your act. *************************** Do you want to support a healthy venue for live performances - with a sympathetic, music- loving and loyal audience and the support of other musicians? Then please respect these: Performers' Guidelines: 1) Pre-book a spot · Whenever possible · Not pre-booking means a spot cannot be guaranteed. Pre-booking facilitates the smooth running of floor spots including yours. 2) Not pre-booked? · Arrive by 7.45pm and you can be put on the Reserve List. (First come basis) 3) Late arrival can mean losing a spot 4) Advance notice of late arrival · Can be accommodated. · But not to performers who consistently contrive to turn up late to perform late. Strong opening acts have as much impact as strong closing acts. 5) Prioritising · Pre-booked Performers will be prioritised. · Prompt arrival performers - will be prioritised. (Prompt means by 8pm) 6) Amateur status does not mean amateur standards: · A floor spot comprises 15 minutes of rehearsed material. · Instruments should be tuned and, by and large, ready ' to go' · Liase before performing with S.E. (Sound) to agree your sound. · If time allows, encores may be solicited - performers will need other rehearsed material available. · Stunning, shocking or deafening audiences into silence with an act – does not always equal a good act or one that they might return to see. 7) Respect other performances: · Performers and audience travel considerable distances to the Club – performers/ audience will not come or return to a club where loud, drunken, talking disrupts acts that they have paid, to hear, or perform. · First-time audience/performers - may not come back · Regular audience/performers - may stop coming · With no performers and no audience – there is no club. · If you positively want the club – then support the club positively. ---------------------------------------------------- Performers' Guidelines are intended to make the Club enjoyable and run smoothly for all. Performers, their friends and audience members, who consistently and selfishly flout them, to the detriment of everyone's wellbeing – WILL BE EXPECTED TO LEAVE.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 05:09 PM

Sounds a but heavy put down like that but its no more than what any well run club should be doing. If the public pay to come in then they deserve no less.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Nemesis
Date: 08 Jul 02 - 07:51 PM

Thanks, Pete - hum! Yes, 'heaviness' especially to new performers or regulars who are already towing the line - I think as much as anything it has helped to get my thoughts clarified as to what we should be doing - Maybe I should cut out the last paragraph - does sound a bit threatening! (Altho' expecting people 'to leave' was far less radical than what I was contemplating doing to at least 5 people last club night :) !


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 09 Jul 02 - 05:37 AM

I usually do give a time limit, but you can't really cut a singer off in mid song - although I have curtailed a couple of very dire performances. I can remember on one occasion, it took three of us to drag a singer(?) off - to huge cheers from the audience. Strangely enough the chap turned up the following week and wanted another spot.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: HuwG
Date: 09 Jul 02 - 08:25 AM

It usually takes three people to drag me on stage; and as for time limits, I generally need separate times for my voice and my guitar.

However, there's nothing like friends to cheer me up afterwards.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Jul 02 - 08:57 AM

Hille, I've taken the liberty of re-running your guidelines with some line breaks added.

~Susan

=================================================

DRAFT Performers' Guidelines

The team of people involved in organising the club work extremely hard and are committed to providing a worthwhile, sustainable, venue for performers and audience alike. These notes are intended to clarify any misunderstandings and misconceptions.

----------------------------------------------

General Information

1) PA – The Sound Engineer volunteers for and does a commendably good and dedicated job in addition to supplying the PA equipment. He is a reasonable person, albeit pressurised during performances.

So - if you have sound-problem issues:
· Arrive promptly before the Club starts (8pm) to speak to SE to sort them out before you perform. (See notes on PA technical specs).
· You always have the option of performing without PA.

2) Entry fees on non-guest nights:
· #2 to pre-booked performers
· #2 to audience including performers' supporters and fan club, etc.

3) The club aims to make a profit: with profits to be ploughed back into the club - to provide a quality venue and good reputation for performance – and to put on festival events together with the town arts group – which includes your act.

4) Entry fees go towards running costs of the club, including advertising, photocopying, office materials, etc. Donated for free to the club are huge amounts of telephone costs, time arranging free publicity, petrol, and hard work trudging around putting up posters; visiting, supporting and co-operating with other local clubs.

----------------------------

The Club believes in cross-Club co-operation and collaboration in order to promote live music, in particular, and performing arts in general - including your act.

***************************

Do you want to support a healthy venue for live performances - with a sympathetic, music- loving and loyal audience and the support of other musicians? Then please respect these:

Performers' Guidelines:

1) Pre-book a spot
· Whenever possible
· Not pre-booking means a spot cannot be guaranteed. Pre-booking facilitates the smooth running of floor spots including yours.

2) Not pre-booked?
· Arrive by 7.45pm and you can be put on the Reserve List. (First come basis)

3) Late arrival can mean losing a spot

4) Advance notice of late arrival
· Can be accommodated.
· But not to performers who consistently contrive to turn up late to perform late. Strong opening acts have as much impact as strong closing acts.

5) Prioritising
· Pre-booked Performers will be prioritised.
· Prompt arrival performers - will be prioritised. (Prompt means by 8pm)

6) Amateur status does not mean amateur standards:
· A floor spot comprises 15 minutes of rehearsed material.
· Instruments should be tuned and, by and large, ready ' to go'
· Liase before performing with S.E. (Sound) to agree your sound.
· If time allows, encores may be solicited - performers will need other rehearsed material available.
· Stunning, shocking or deafening audiences into silence with an act – does not always equal a good act or one that they might return to see.

7) Respect other performances:
· Performers and audience travel considerable distances to the Club – performers/ audience will not come or return to a club where loud, drunken, talking disrupts acts that they have paid, to hear, or perform.
· First-time audience/performers - may not come back
· Regular audience/performers - may stop coming
· With no performers and no audience – there is no club.
· If you positively want the club – then support the club positively.

----------------------------------------------------

Performers' Guidelines are intended to make the Club enjoyable and run smoothly for all. Performers, their friends and audience members, who consistently and selfishly flout them, to the detriment of everyone's wellbeing – WILL BE EXPECTED TO LEAVE.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Nemesis
Date: 09 Jul 02 - 11:42 AM

Thanks Susan!

If I'm going to hang around here I'd better learn these things *G*!

Actually - it's the last bit that I think is OTT - scrubbing that for Draft 2 :)


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 05:29 AM

just trawling thru my old 'traces' and found this. Quite amuzing.

Sal


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: jonm
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 06:45 AM

Apart from the thought of having one night in six or so as a "new talent" night for people who have never performed at the club to try out and get some constructive feedback, I wonder whether there's an opportunity for new technology here.

It may be possible to hook up a cheap digital recorder to the PA and create an MP3 of each performance, which can then be given to the performer - on a USB pen, or via email etc. etc. They feel they are getting something for their money and also have an opportunity to hear what they really sound like!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 07:27 AM

I'm amazed that everybody on this thread thinks *beginners* are the problem. Round here it's usually people who might have been good 30 years ago but have lost their voice, memory for the lyrics, taste and sensitivity to other people before almost all the current club-goers joined. You can't tell them anything.

In contrast, there is one really crap instrumentalist I often encounter who really *is* a beginner (and has been that way for 10 years) but seems much less problematic. He *knows* he's not very good, he puts a lot of effort into it, and he keeps his spots short and to the point. Everybody I know likes him.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: leeneia
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 10:53 AM

"Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: John P - PM
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 08:39 AM

Guest Quandary, you said:
"Why, oh why, is it in the 'folkish' world we inhabit - is it okay to sing and perform appallingly...Would any other profession put up with dismal or nonexistent standards?"

Of course! In fact, a person thirty years old has heard very little good singing unless her family took her to church or to classical performances. Wretched singing has become standard. When I shop or eat out I am forced to listen to some of the ugliest sounds I have ever heard - singing out of tune, singing through the nose, the gurgling of phlegm, shrieking, wailing. Many people today think that's what singing is.

As for open mic, I can stand anything if they are only going to sing one song.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Midchuck
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 11:03 AM

In fact, a person thirty years old has heard very little good singing unless her family took her to church or to classical performances.

I don't fully agree. A person can hear what I consider to be good singing from good folk, old-fashioned pop, or even older country, or bluegrass, performers.

Wretched singing has become standard. When I shop or eat out I am forced to listen to some of the ugliest sounds I have ever heard - singing out of tune, singing through the nose, the gurgling of phlegm, shrieking, wailing. Many people today think that's what singing is.

That part, I do agree with.

Peter


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Bernard
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 11:11 AM

My pet hate is the performer who hasn't learned the songs, relies on reading the words from a book and rummages through the book when it's their turn to sing! Oh, and once they've deicded what to sing, they can't remember the tune...

Aaaaargh!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 11:15 AM

gurgling with phlegm.........great name for a band!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Scoville
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 11:24 AM

One of our local venues has singer/songwriter night, in which several promising local acts play half-hour or so sets (depends on how many of them are scheduled). Sort of a step above open mic. I think they sometimes do semi-open mic--meaning that the performer has to contact them ahead of time and probably has to either play fo them first or submit a recording--with very shorts sets as an opener, and then if there is a good response, they might eventually make it to the longer set as a featured artist.

Requires more work but keeps the bar at a reasonable level.

If you really want a true open mic, though, I hate to see the institution bashed so badly. Open mic was invaluable for getting me over a crippling case of stage fright and learning not to talk too much, to talk into the mic, etc. But people do need input--it's dangerous if you let them go on forever in abject crappiness.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: treewind
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 12:35 PM

Jack:
He *knows* he's not very good, he puts a lot of effort into it

Nail hit firmly on the head, especially the bit about putting effort into it.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: The Villan
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 12:44 PM

>>the gurgling of phlegm<<
leeneia
Could that have been applied to Joe Cocker, one of my favourite singers.

Or was Joe gurgling with grit and phlegm.

Nothing wrong with modern music, just like all eras, some good some bad.
I think you may have grown old and not moved with the times.

A young 62 year old :-) Most listened program on the radio for me - Radio1. Bring on the changes.

To think my father used to be just the same as you - whinging about modern music wasy back in 1956. By the time he was 60 we had converted him LOL


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Leadfingers
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 12:49 PM

The only 'good' thing about crap performers getting spots is that it CAN encourage some one else to 'Have a Go' !


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 01:36 PM

Hi started singing and playing about three years ago here in the UK
I was lucky enough to find a local pub The Tap and Spile in Grimsby.
Here there is a monthly open mike and the landlord pays for avery proffesional sound guy to make us all sound the best we can.
I have sat through some prety rough performances and I have given worse ones.
I have seen some of the best players/singers around here crash and burn.
But this is one of the finest most helpful and encouraging bunch of people you could ever hope to meet.
I have also been lucky enough to be allowed to play at the recently renamed Faldingworth LIve.
Again great bunch of supportive and generous folks.
But the people at Faldingworth pay to get in.
It is a concert style club. most of the people attending travel a fair old way to get there(For the UK).
So the guy that runs it has to maintain a higher standard and (apart from me) he does that very well.
Think you gotta decide which you want your event to be and what you need to acheive.
Then take the plunge and go for the one or the other.
I do realise how lucky I have been falling in with peopel who care enough about music and their fellow human beings to give generously of their time and experience.
I hope that it is the same all over the world because it is a great way to make sure we keep music live.
Cheers Tim


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 02:21 PM

Just put up a sign that says you don't take no fish of any sort, carp or otherwise. That oughta' do it.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Jim Lad
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 02:57 PM

Tim theTwangler: Excellent post. I cut my teeth on the coffee house scene. People were very good to me and I'll never forget that.
Most clubs I've attended start the night with an open stage and the "Feature" takes over after the break. I've gone home after the third song of some feature performers but have never walked out during the opening acts unless it was time to tune up.
I just love to watch people, early in their careers and track their progress through the years. There will always be some who disappoint me but I don't think they should be besmirched for not living up to my expectations. As for thinking they're better than they are .... hmmm!
Guilty, Your Honour. (aren't we all?)


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: LukeKellylives (Chris)
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 06:39 PM

I have problems with stage fright if I'm in front of someone that's hearing me for the first time. I've been called above average, but I can't get over thinking that I'm just...crap. Then again, I have low self-esteem when it comes to music. :/


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Jim Lad
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 07:11 PM

Oh, I think we'd have guessed that.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,dax
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 07:19 PM

I can't believe some of the postings on this thread! We all have to start somewhere and most are scared shitless at the time. We can't help but sound like crap at first. With encouragement most will improve as they gain confidence, but if some asshole shoots them down they will probably just give up. Folksongs by their very name are songs of the people and the roots of the music is neither professional nor polished. Much traditional music has been preserved over the years by people singing for the love of song. Today it seems more motivated by greed and and over inflated egos.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Janie
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 09:40 PM

Glad I saw this. I have almost no experience singing through a mic or PA. Have been told I ought to sign up for some open mic nights to get the experience and the feedback. After reading through the majority of these posts, I now know not to do it.

Sheesh.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Stewart
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 10:05 PM

Janie - I don't know where you are, but I don't think you should give up on open mics, not yet at least. Victory Music, a non-profit acoustic musician's association in the Seattle/Tacoma area of Washington State runs several open mics in the area. As the term implies, they are open to anyone. One of the most satisfying things is to see people improve through this experience, from very scared amateurs to become very professional level performers. This is the way to do it.

We are a very friendly and encouraging group of musicians, and our open mics are characterized by having good listening audiences. In addition, the contacts with other musicians can be very helpful in developing performance skills and later in getting gigs.

Oh yes, we have had our share of truely awful performers, but they don't usually stay around, even though we try to treat everyone well. We have a good community of people who are very encouraging and helpful.

So give it a try.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Jim Lad
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 10:13 PM

Well said, Stewart:
                   People have a tendency to say things here that they wouldn't dare say at a performance. They're just venting and I'm sure even the scariest folks here would be ever so polite at an open mike. Particularly if you appeared nervous. I really like the idea of folks learning how to use a P.A. Makes a lot of sense to me.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Scrump
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 08:00 AM

The only 'good' thing about crap performers getting spots is that it CAN encourage some one else to 'Have a Go' !

For a moment there I thought you were talking about teenagers with acne, Leadfingers :-)

But actually, you make a valid point. Usually the first time I go anywhere new (session, etc.) I feel a bit apprehensive about what sort of standard the 'regulars' are, in case they're all brilliant and much better than me. If they were, I might be a bit scared of performing in front of them.

But usually what happens is that there are some people who aren't really that good, which gives me confidence that I'll be accepted OK.

From that point of view, I guess it's good that there are people around who aren't very good but don't realise it, or maybe they just don't care what other people think.

But letting these people perform a floor spot is a different issue - they shouldn't, IMO.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,Neovo
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 08:13 AM

Dax is right about newcomers starting out who should be encouraged and nurtured but there are people around who have been c**p for forty years and never seem to get any better. The heart sinks when you see them walk in!


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 09:29 AM

Glad I saw this. I have almost no experience singing through a mic or PA. Have been told I ought to sign up for some open mic nights to get the experience and the feedback. After reading through the majority of these posts, I now know not to do it.

Sheesh.

Janie
Dont you dare give up without trying.
If is your first time prepare well as you can.
When you get on the stage dont be rushed but be tuned up and ready to roll.
Say hello and see how it goes.
Even the experts on hear wouldnt lynch a girl on her forst attemt.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST,HW
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 11:34 AM

OK - a few points that I'd like to make about my view on the subject. They are only my views, of course and I'm not trying to criticise anyone else's perspective but ...

1. 'Open mike' (or 'singers night' as it would more usually be known amongst the British folk venues) means anyone can have a go. People attending know that, or if they don't, then they should be informed. Therefore as audience members they are expecting to take the good with the bad.

2. People's opinion of what is awful varies. Me - I can't stand flash guitarists who concentrate on their playing at the expense of the sense/words/projection of the song. But I can happily listen to any number of unaccompanied ballads sung by people who may not hold a tune great, or structure their breathing perfectly, but who can nonetheless convey the soul of the song and their love of it. (I'm in a minority, and I know it, but it makes a point!)

3. As has been pointed out, everyone has to learn. Doesn't matter how much you practice at home, it's fundamentally different performing to an audience, and No-one will get it right first (or third or twentieth) time. I can afford to look sympathetically on beginners cos I've been there myself. And so can almost everyone I talk to.

4. I've seen some of our most revered performers have a dreadful time. Sometimes it's caused by nerves that you spend a lifetime fighting, sometimes there are outside influences distracting you. Sometimes it's just plain goblins at work. If it can happen to them it can happen to us, too.

5. These evenings don't often occur in isolation. They are generally a regular event with at least a core of regular attendees. That means that a particular person's stage performance is only a part of what they contribute. I don't expect my friends to attain some pre-specified standard in any skill before they can be my friends. I like them for who they are. And any organisers who are worried about the standard of performers might remember that the other club members may not be expecting to be amazed ... they might just enjoy each others company.

6. Sometimes 'crap' perfomers astound you and come out with a real gem. I've seen it happen and it's given me more pleasure than yet another beautiful rendition from the best singer in the room every time!

7. If you don't like the prospect of potentially having to hear less than perfect performances, then don't go to an 'open mike'. Go to a concert instead. But don't deny the people who enjoy the format the opportunity to do so. And allow that the people who return to the 'Open Mike' may not share your aversion to the differing standards they find there.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Scrump
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 11:51 AM

I have almost no experience singing through a mic or PA. Have been told I ought to sign up for some open mic nights to get the experience and the feedback.

If you do get feedback, try moving the mic away from the speakers :-)


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Scrump
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 11:57 AM

There have been a lot of scathing comments in this thread about 'crap' performers.

This seems insulting - if someone who happened to be better than you described you as 'crap', I daresay you might be offended.

I would never dream of describing some of the poor performers at the sessions I go to as 'crap'. Even though some of them aren't very good, at least they have a go and can be entertaining in their own way.

Shouldn't we brilliant performers show them more tolerance?


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Bernard
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 12:02 PM

Erm... what's with this 'we' all of a sudden?!!

;o)


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Scrump
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 12:05 PM

Why, is there only one of us then Bernard? :-)


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Jim Lad
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 12:13 PM

Scrump: I think a few of us have tried breathing a little tolerance into this thread. Thanks for joining in.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 12:13 PM

I only been doing this about three years.
All the people I hear who are great with the instruments they play
Seem to have at least twenty years of experience under their belts.
The majority of them are helpful and will find something kind to say after the latest disaster and are well worth listening too.
I do not however expect them to stop enjoying their evening out to wet nurse me through my trauma and if you do keep bothering someone who is initialy pleasent and helpful you may find that their attitude cools somewhat the more of their time you take up.
I have noticed that the more I play in public places the more I come to realise that the performers I look up to and admire make mistakes of their own.
I would hate to be one of those really good performers who have no time or patience with the begginers of this world who then step up to the mike and errrrrr are less than the perfection they believe themselves to be.
SOrry going of topic will bugger of now gotta singaround to go to.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Girl Friday
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 05:49 PM

I've read most of the postings on this thread. Yes, thank heavens the voice of reason has surfaced. May I come in on a few points here... My Club would not survive if everyone who plays didn't pay!
Not everyone is top quality - they'd be playing elsewhere if they were, and getting paid for it.
We have a guy- he's only allowed to sing on singer's nights. He's so bad he's become a cult figure.
My duo TDL are often thought c**p, but we too are a cult, and are constantly surprised when our songs go down well. We were interviewed on local radio today, because they had heard about us.
These open mic/ singers nights are just that. You never know who may turn up, and good, bad, or indifferent, they all deserve a hearing without the organiser's ego getting in the way.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Stewart
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 06:09 PM

This reminds me of an open mic several years ago. A young fellow was up flailing away at his guitar unmercifully and hollering at the top of his voice. It was BAD, and I moved to the back of the room to get as far away from the noise as possible. I then turned and rolled my eyes at my friend Jim, one of the long-time open mic regulars. Jim then said,"you know, this is an open mic and we have to give everyone a chance." With that remark, I knew he was right. Fortunately a string snapped and put the guitar player and everyone else out the their misery. I think another open mic regular talked to him in a nice way, suggesting how he might improve. But then he never came back. So that's how it goes sometimes.

We have another singer who's so bad that he's developed a sort of cult following, and always gets a big round of applause. But then we have some great performers and everything in between. That makes the open mic interesting. We have a great community of musicians that really care about the music and helping new performers. And a great listening audience. The only downside is that we're too popular and most times it's just a one-song night.

I can't think of a better way to get involved in the music. The more participants the better.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 09:37 PM

Any club where they give the emcee or bartender a small gong to use in case of true emergency?


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 10:01 PM

Thank you GUEST HW for your comments. They are both well stated and true.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 07 - 02:42 PM

What is all the fuss about? If you can't live with the quality of whoever shows up, don't hold open mics. Open mics do give new performers a chance to develop their skills, and give seasoned performers the chance to try out new material and new styles, and once in a while you find an unexpected gem at an open mic. So there are many good reasons to have them. But if you would rather not put up with the few really terrible performers and with the masses of mediocre performers, then don't have them. That's an easy solution to this problem.


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Subject: RE: Help! Open Stage and C**p performers
From: Scoville
Date: 28 Feb 07 - 02:57 PM

Amen, HW. Thanks. Everybody has to start somewhere.


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