Open Mics – Our Philosophy

ImageHere is an article that was written by Trish and Phil Knudsen regarding our reason for attending open mics, and posted on their homepage I'm using it here with their permission.

"We are
now into our fourth month of hosting the TCAN open mike. We felt the
time was right to tell you something about our philosophy of the open
mike- here at TCAN and in general.

We see
the open mike as a community event – not necessarily a performance
event. It's a time to hear, and really listen to, other people who
share their gifts with us. The performers are at various stages in
their musical development. Some may see the open mike as their only
musical or spoken word outlet, some may use the open mike to test new
collaborations and musical styles. Some people may use the open mike to
showcase their talent in the hope of being offered a feature, or an
opening slot at some venue. All of these are valid reasons for
involvement. The key thing holding all these ideas together is that we
are here for each other. We shouldn't get involved in the open mike for
ourselves only – although performance may also feed our own souls as we
sing, express ourselves and receive appreciation from others…

So – to the point of this note on philosophy. We have been asked
several times why TCAN is a one song open mike, or why we don't start
earlier, or why we don't do a second round of songs. The answer simply
is: time. Our goal is to provide the opportunity to play but there is a
great deal of support and work that goes on to make it happen. You may
come to the open mike and sit for a long time listening to other folks
and then get your chance to perform your song. If the night is only a
success for you because you are performing – you are missing a huge
aspect of the open mike – I might say you are missing the point

TCAN is a "listening" open mike. There are no distractions like
alcohol, dinner plates, loud talking or TV screens. You have the chance
to perform on a stage with a great sound system and stage lighting. The
people who volunteer each week have full time jobs and do this as
volunteers because we believe in community. No, we don't get paid. We
arrive early, set up the refreshments, make coffee and take care of
some administrative tasks. The sound volunteer sets up microphones for
multiple performers, for guitars, and for the piano. We run a sound
check which can often take some time. We get everything ready for you
to come and play.

At the
end of the night we clean up, take out the trash, take down the sound
system and make a final look around the venue for trash and anything
people may have forgotten. On a given night we get home between 11:30
and midnight . This may get later as we advertise and more people come
to the open mike. Currently, we range from 6 to 20 open mikers. On
occasion, when there is a light crowd we go to a two song format. It is
not the norm.

There are some people who rarely come to TCAN's open mike because it's
only a one song open mike. There are only a couple of two song open
mikes on evenings: Amazing Things (for now), sometimes "The Sit N Bull"
and that might be it, locally. Other one song open mikes include: The
Emerson Umbrella, The Continental Cafe and the venerable Club Passim.

We can't start the open mike at TCAN any earlier because we sometimes
need to stay at work a little late, and we like to eat dinner before we
come. An 8PM start works well for those of us who volunteer to host and
run the sound board.

So – let's leave our very practical reasons for a one song open mike.
Here is the best reason. With a one song open mike we give more people
an opportunity to perform. That gives each of us more chance to hear
our very talented friends share their music and poetry with us. We
build our community, we get to enrich our own creativity, and we
encourage each other. In my opinion, that IS what the folk community is
all about. That's why we love open mikes!

We would love to know what you think. There is a guestbook on page one that you can use, or email Trisha and me at:"

This entry was posted in Notes and Musings.

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