June 2009 Archives
Feeling nervous at that first (or second, or 20th) open mike? You're not alone.
So are, roughly, all of the other performers. They're just more practiced at dealing with that.
Case in point. I've been playing for... argh... 35 years. And performing for, let's say, 30. But I'm currently in the leading-up-to-a-gig phase, and I, uh, don't handle it flawlessly.
Read about my nerdiness, and maybe feel better about yours. Then go out and play.
An openmikes.org user, starting up a new open mike, asked for some hints on running an open mike.
From my perspective — watching nights come and go from the listings, and personal experience as a host and performer — a couple of hints:
- Have a regular schedule. Every week, every other week, first and third Tuesday, etc. "2nd tuesday except the third week, when it's on Friday, and an extra Wednesday if there's a fifth Tuesday..." will die, quickly, because no one knows when to show up.
- Spread the word — here, elsewhere. craigslist, upcoming, Facebook — everywhere musicians may look. Preferably a few weeks before you start.
- Make the rules and sign-up times clear — bad word of mouth comes quickly if people come expecting a different format, or show up too late to sign up. Singer-songwriters finding what turns out to be a full-band covers-only jam will not leave happy; nor will aspiring MCs who show up at a piano bar.
- Similarly, players will love you forever if you let them know what equipment is available / expected. Are amps available, allowed, or forbidden? Can guitars be miked, or must everyone be acoustic-electric and plug in? And piano players will flock if they know a keyboard or upright is available.
- The host can make or break a night. Encourage people to listen; praise one and all for having the balls to get up there in the first place; and please don't let your best buddy play his full 35-minute Seals and Crofts medley while everyone else watches and waits for their allotted "2 songs or 10 minutes".
All better now. Thanks for your patience.