I've been trying to play one open mic a week as much as I possibly can. I have missed a couple of weeks, but got back on track this week with the Thursday night open mic at Hideaway Cafe in Newtown, CT. I had originally planned to play the Georgetown Saloon, but realized their acoustic open mic is on Tuesdays and their open jam is on Thursdays, so I was in search of another open mic to play. Some open mics are better than others, and it can be hit or miss from place to place, and even from week to week. I'm so glad I found this one! Hideaway Cafe's open mic is hosted by Michel Rae, a singer/songwriter from Brookfield. Most of the musicians playing that night were regulars, except for my friend James and me. I started my 3-song set with Anyway. When I play40 Years On, I always scan the crowd to see if there is anyone old enough to be a Vietnam veteran, and if there isn't, I send it out to all veterans. There did happen to be a Vietnam vet in the audience, as well as a veteran from a more current war. At the end of that song, he stood up and applauded. I thought he was standing for my song, but he was playing next, so that's probably why he got up. He did thank me for writing the song when he opened his set. It really means a lot to me that my songs reach people. I cannot explain what that feels like -- to be able to make that kind of connection with people through my words and music -- there's nothing like it. I closed my set with Angel From Montgomery, a John Prine cover. The audience was great. It's so nice to play for people who are there for the music.
In between sets, Michel announced that a band had canceled for Saturday night if anyone was interested in playing for tips. Jeff Smith and I both raised our hands, so we decided to split the bill and share the night. I immediately made announcements all over Facebook and the Twitterverse to get the word out to bring in an audience. It's so hard to build a fan base. I have a global audience through my shows in Second Life, but procuring a local one is more difficult.
On Saturday, Jeff opened the show, playing an array of originals on guitar and ukulele with a few covers sprinkled in. He did a great job. I enjoyed his set very much. He called me up to sing harmony on Damien Rice's Delicate but I just couldn't find it. I was a bit embarrassed, but oh well. I opened my set with Emotional Vampire. Having broken the cardinal rule of singing by having a grilled cheese sandwich just before I sang, I was worried that my voice would be affected. Thank goodness my voice was okay. The crowd was sparse at the beginning of the night, but people started to trickle in. I recognized several people who had been there on Thursday night, so maybe I'm starting to get some local fans...I played an hour and a half or so of originals and covers, including There's A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths, that I think sounds better in theory than when I actually play it, but it was fun to play. All in all, it was a good night. I really enjoyed myself and hoped the crowd did too. I sold one CD, and there was money in the tip jar too. Jeff and I were invited to come back and play whenever we want.
That's what I call a successful open mic. Great crowd, networking opportunities, CD sales and a gig. They certainly all aren't that way, but you never know who's in that audience. Could be a new fan, a venue owner, a fellow musician or a new friend.