Busy Night at the Open Mic

My last post about the Twinsburg Public Library Open Mic Nights mentioned the irony that in February, with bad weather expected, we actually had a big turnout. It was even busier in March, with 21 participants.

We had a bit more audience as well as more performers, and with each of us performing two numbers, audience members were there for three hours. Still, all seemed to enjoy the evening. (Or if not, they left.)

We had a flutist join us, performing a Bach air and a folk song, which added quite a variety to the performances.

Lately, I have been scheduled last (at my request) in the interest of reducing setup time. But now that I’m using my own mic and amp separate from the guitars, setup time isn’t an issue. I’m being encouraged to go back to taking my regular spot in the order we sign in at. I won’t mind that, and it will permit Tom Honsa to finish up the evening, which is fitting.

For my own numbers, I selected the challenge calling for the “Worst or Best Song for a Father-Daughter wedding dance,” and actually offered one of each.

  • For my first number, I chose “Unforgettable.” Nat King Cole recorded the classic version in 1951. I figure that the “virtual duet” released forty years later by his daughter Natalie qualifies it as among the best songs for a father-daughter wedding dance.
  • Since my second number would be the last of the night, I wanted something more lively. I offered “When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love,” from the 1947 musical Finian’s Rainbow, which is both uptempo AND thoroughly inappropriate as a father-daughter dance number. (You’ll have to listen to find out why.)

The challenges for April 6 are:

  • Teen Idol (Laura says, “anyone from Frank Sinatra to Leif Garrett! I’ll even allow a Backstreet Boys Cover!”);
  • Songs about rain-or rain in the title; and
  • Neil Diamond.

In case you missed it, the library has published this short video about Open Mic Nights, which gives a good idea what they’re like and also explores the origins of the event at TPL.

‘Bye for now.

TPL Open Mic Surprises

February’s Open Mic Night at the Twinsburg Public Library was held on the eve of an expected storm. T’burg schools had already been closed for the following day, but so far it was just raining: the weather wasn’t expected to get serious until overnight.

So the February 2 Open Mic Night went on as planned, with an announcement that we would omit the usual round of encores and get everyone out by 8:30. As we started, it seemed we had a small group; but somewhere in the evening we “snowballed” to 15 performers, and even without encores we ran a bit past 8:30.

We welcomed two new performers: Bob, who appears to have a way to use his guitar as the front end for a synthesizer; and Larny, who plays ukelele and harmonica (not at the same time.) Larny took down the house with a performance of Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is” on the harmonica.

This month the quality of all the performances really seemed to have gone up a notch. All three of the challenges (love songs, Rod Stewart, and folk songs) were represented, and it seems that the sharing is helping us all to improve. One of the remarkable things about Open Mic is the encouraging, supportive culture; in a real sense, we become a circle of friends.

I have a wonderful Roland FP-60 keyboard, and I brought it last month. But it’s hard to rationalize that much setup when there’s a fairly good keyboard there at the library, so this month I just brought my amp and hooked it to their keyboard.

Balance between my voice and the piano has been a problem. I think I got a bit closer, but it’s still not right. Next month I think I’ll use my own mic hooked into the amp, so that I can work out the balance in practice rather than rely on a quick mic setup between sets.

Among this month’s challenges, you just know I had to go with love songs, although I did hear some nice Rod Stewart numbers I hadn’t thought of. I had a third love song ready, but it can be saved for a future opportunity. Recordings of my selections for this month:

  • “Night and Day” (because there’s always room for more Cole Porter); started a bit shaky, but ended up OK;
  • “The Twelfth of Never” (an interesting backstory, told in the recording; actually based on a 15th-century folk song).

The challenges for March 2 sound pretty exotic: Original Song; Worst or Best Song for a Father-Daughter wedding dance; and “Yacht Rock,” otherwise known as soft rock. Not in my wheelhouse, but we’ll see.

Well, the Mic Was Open

Friends told me about the monthly Open Mic Night at the Twinsburg Public Library for some time. Finally, a year ago, I participated in one; I liked it and have been participating regularly. I find this very challenging because it’s so different from playing and singing at church: obviously the repertoire is different, and accompanying yourself is very different from accompanying a cantor, choir, or congregation.

Each month library director Laura Leonard announces some voluntary “challenges.” For January, those were 80s acoustic; Elvis; and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Not everyone participates in the monthly challenges, but most of us try to do at least one song that relates to at least one of the challenges.

Most participants are guitarist-singers, and I have the piano field mostly to myself. Performers are all supportive of each other’s efforts and tolerant of goofs, which was good for me because I had some concentration issues on two of the three songs.

TPL’s Open Mic starts with a round where each participant can do two songs. Then if there is time, we’ll have a second round where each participant can do one more song if they wish. I’ve learned to prepare three songs.

Here were my recordings, warts and all:

On February 2 (6:30 EST) the challenges are love songs (Valentine’s Day, natch), folk songs, and Rod Stewart. These events are free and open to the public. Over the past year they have been conducted on Zoom, outdoors, and indoors; presently February is scheduled for the library’s combined meeting room, which is big enough for plenty of social distancing.

You can see more about the event on the TPL calendar page at https://twinsburglibrary.libcal.com/event/8591523. If they switch to Zoom because of the pandemic, that’s where the announcement will appear. Registration gets you a reminder and an update if anything changes.