To recap (or see part 1), the first two qualities of an open mic that feels like a second home are – variety of performers (age, talent, and experience), and performers who lack egos and are willing to support those less experienced than themselves. It should be mentioned, however, that there will always be that visiting performer who thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips and wonders why everyone’s not telling him how good he played.
While I’m using the Poor David’s Pub open mic as an example, there are a number of open mics that have these qualities in varying degrees. The Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA) open mics and song swaps are welcoming and supportive. I’m hoping other open mic hosts will chime in with comments on their open mic. I’ve also tried to show that open mics have a hard time getting started. It takes the performing community to support it. Some members of DSA and their friends play at open mics several nights a week.
In fact, the third quality of an open mic that feels like a second home is a sense of community – like a weekly reunion as I mentioned in part one. An atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie. The fourth quality is friendly hosts, bartenders, and staff. Mr. Troll (host), Samantha Sanders, and Kevin Hale at PDP are excellent examples. The fifth quality – last, but no way in hell least – is a good sound man. Carlos Sanchez, in particular, is past good.
So there are the basic qualities of an open mic that feels like a second home. Yet for the first quality, variety of performers, something is missing. And that is you. Go to an open mic near you, or near where you are going to be. Sing your songs, sing covers, read your poems, do comedy, spoken word, whatever. Or just go and listen – performers need listeners, too.
Then spread the word. Open mics are places where young talent hones their performing and writing skills. They learn, not only from playing, but from watching more seasoned performers. Open mics are where songwriters go to try out new songs. When word gets out, people come to perform and bring their friends. People come to listen because of the combination of qualities I discussed. So play an open mic tonight or go and listen. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Peace be with you.