Open Mic Nights

In March of this year I started pulling together a show with my cousin Ray. I know that in order to perform for an evening you need at least 30 songs, but the reality of the situation is you need more like 40 songs. In order to deliver a quality performance you need to be able to engage the crowd and that means you have to have eye contact.

Eye contact means no cheat sheets, so you have to learn and memorize 40 songs. It’s taken the balance of the year, but by Christmas we should be 90% there. One of the steps in this process is learning to perform to a live audience and I figured that open mic nights would be a good way to do that.

That said, there were a number of things that I needed to experience or perhaps re-experiance in order to remind myself that the whole process is not without challenges.

Things that you can look forward to at open mic nights include:

  • bad sound systems
  • lots of noise and distractions
  • being nervous
  • wait times as others perform
  • painful performances, mostly from others [grin]
  • Audiences that are not paying attention

My first open mic night was pretty much a disaster, because I experienced all of these things at the same time. I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, so I returned the next week, brought my own sound system and my cousin Ray. There were still a number of rookies that contributed to the chaos, but we did a good job.

I only did the two open mic nights, but I should probably do a few more as they are a good training tool. Thursday night seems to be the night for Open Mic nights in Ottawa, so what I recommend is that you move around to get different exposures. There are some songs that I can do on my own, but there are others that require the rest of the band.

I highly recommend being selective with your material for Open mic and don’t set your sights too high. Your friends will be there to hear you, but everyone else is there for someone else. Don’t expect a really engaged crowd…

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