I’m getting cabin fever these days, so I headed up to the Nazareth Arts Center for their monthly Open Mike. I hadn’t played one of these yet, though I played a family show their on their opening weekend several years ago. I though I’d replant some seeds for a return.
There was a scattered crowd of 15 folks or so and was signed up to follow the host’s opening set, two songs of religious and social commentary.
I was introduced with some overblown verbiage which I quickly tamped down. I did Don’t Call Me Early in the Morning, a good opener that gets folks singing and has a strong ending. I followed with Giants, Pay Bo Diddley (which I got all the guitar players to play a lead in the middle) and finished with Mama Wants to Barrelhouse All Night Long. It was a strong set in a new venue.
A lady asked me what ‘barrelhouse’ meant. It was funny in that I assumed folks knew what that meant, but, come to think about it, the blues lingo is not familiar to the general public. I told her to look it up, and she might be shocked with what I think it means.
The host asked me to come back behind the scenes to talk. He said that local players do not draw crowds and are not worth paying a guarantee. Folks come to see folks from out of town. I told him I understand that. He then offered an opener for a group returning for its third time, one that packs the place. I said that was fine and that I am into simply playing for the playing and not terribly concerned with a fat payday. He was comfortable with that.
I mentioned the importance of community during my set, and that it was important for these folks to support the open mike. It was a fairly low bar of talent, but that’s not the point in these affairs. I get spoiled with some of the OM’s and jams I go to, but I appreciate the opportunity to get out and play, and play in front of new folks, too.